Treyarch released its latest Call of Duty Game with the aptly named Black Ops 4 on consoles and PC. Right out of the gate Black Ops 4 does not feature any single-player campaign. Treyarch made no secret of this fact during the game’s development which possibly split opinion for some players. The reason being, an attempt to streamline the game to suit those who enjoy competitive play. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for solo players looking for some action. Parts of the package remain wholly enjoyable for those avoiding the multiplayer which we will look at in this Black Ops 4 Solo player review.
Specialist HQ Mode:
To begin, Black Ops 4 introduces 10 specialists who come with individual weapons and skill sets. A first port of call would be the Specialist HQ tab. In effect this part of the solo play presents itself in a similar way to a tutorial rather than a story. Included in this mode, players view cinematic scenes giving some background info on the characters. Players can replay each specialist segment on tougher settings to unlock Intel and other scenes before moving on to the next. Each specialist tutorial offers an introduction to the game modes as well for example, the Seraph character introduces the Control game-type which is new to the series. Whilst Specialist HQ is quite basic compared to the set-piece heavy campaigns of the past, it is a neat way to learn about the 10 characters with complete hands-on play. That said, once bested is not a mode that requires any replay and for the competent completed in a few hours.
Looking at the main multiplayer offering, once the specialists become familiar ground and favourites mastered, solo players can dive into various game types. Rather than fight against human opposition, players can select up to 11 bots to fill the empty slots. The bots come with four levels of difficulty (recruit,regular, hardened and veteran). After jumping into a few online games for comparison the bot AI is fairly competent (not always) and mostly act like human players. However, anything below hardened difficulty becomes too easy to rack up the kills. For an authentic experience hardened or veteran is the best setting. Being able to play with bots across all game types (bar the new heist mode) serves as some practice in case solo players feel brave enough to tackle the online side of things. There are 14 maps available each offering a distinct visual element and fast paced gaming.
Control and Heist enter the roster as two new game types alongside the usual assortment of team death match, free for all etc. Hardcore options return but remain populated with less players in the online component. There is a lack of skill based matchmaking for the competitive play. If you start the game at level 1 then you play against players of much higher levels. There are no options for beginners sadly which gives the game a bit of an elitist slant. Unfortunately, players can level-up and unlock new gear etc. in online matches only. Playing solo with bots has no progression system of its own which is a shame. On the plus side, creating classes is open here so no need to unlock better gear.
Players can spend many hours in various game types with bots or invite a few friends over for some variety. Interestingly, matches can be setup with uneven teams for added challenge. Feel like going 1 v 6 or have a bot on your team versus the others then this is possible. This isn’t an option when playing online and can be fun in the absence of human opposition. The only thing missing is bragging rights if you perform well in these uneven match-ups.
The final piece of the action playable alone comes in the form of the Zombies mode which features three campaigns from the offset. Voyage of Despair, Blood of the Dead and IX. This is the survival horde mode where up to four characters team up against the undead. In past games when playing solo playing with bots they weren’t as useful as real players but now appear to be much better suited for survival. Solo players can dive into a tutorial and then on to the real deal to see how long they can last. For some, Zombies Mode is a game in itself, which is fun to play as it gets progressively harder through each wave. The fact three campaigns are available from the start makes it a great component for Black Ops 4. Player can spend many hours perfecting their survival and when it suits even play along without bots or a smaller team.
Treyarch added a new Blackout mode to their game following the trend for a PUBG/Fortnite battle royale offering. It uses the Black Ops style of play from the other modes keeping it restricted to online multiplayer only. This means solo players cant play alone as no bot options exist unfortunately. This is a fun inclusion but doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It’s good that all bases are covered preventing the need to slip into another game if you want to play battle royale.
To conclude, the question to ask is, does Black Ops 4 allow single players a decent enough offering when you ignore the competitive multiplayer aspects? The answer is a resounding yes. Whilst the Blackout mode is definitely multi-player only and modes like Heist require human players, the rest of the game can be played alone. A warning though for players wishing to play offline. When playing on PC there is no offline play with the Blizzard app unfortunately as an Internet connection requirement exists. On consoles though playing offline is entirely possible. Another option not mentioned so far is being able to play local split screen. This is a neat option with little fanfare but does require an Internet connection. Up to four players can join in the fray here and Blackout mode is also available but limited on players for obvious reasons.
Black Ops 4, looks great with its excellent designed maps (which all run smoothly on PC by the way). The bots do a decent job of keeping players on their toes, and the zombies provide enough drama to keep you coming back for one more attempt. The entire package works despite the lack of an actual campaign. The bite-sized chunks of modes make up for this offering plentiful replay value. The bonus in all of this is once you feel competent enough to play with others then that option is available as well depending on how good your Internet connection is. Black Ops 4 is worth a punt if you enjoy the game modes on offer. If a more story based antics appeal to you more then it’s a no-brainer this isn’t going to scratch your itch.