It’s been exactly one month since the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, which made the risky decision to jettison the single-player campaign in favour of an online-only approach. So far, it’s been a smoother-than-expected ride, with a few speed bumps along the way.
While the launch content was plentiful, Black Ops 4 is meant to evolve and stay fresh with constant updates and events. Microtransactions have slipped into the game post-launch, and there’s been some controversy with how players feel being pushed towards emptying their wallets. Here’s a breakdown of what’s happened since Black Ops 4 released on 12 October.
- While it wasn’t perfect, Black Ops 4 still had one of the smoothest Call of Duty launches on console. PC players, however, struggled with a plethora of crashes and login issues. My Black Ops 4 review mostly praised the multiplayer and Blackout experiences, but I found Zombies mode to be overwhelming with its complex menus and options.
- Black Ops 4 came packed with more content than ever before, and in my opinion, it is genuinely really fun to play. However, there was still a lot of pushback from fans about the removal of the standard campaign. Black Ops 4 does have the Specialists HQ, which serves as a multiplayer tutorial and provides bits of storytelling through unlocked cinematic cutscenes. Some of us here at Kotaku think the cutscenes are really great, but many fans still desired the traditional campaign experience.
- Treyarch started off Black Ops 4’s launch weekend with prompt updates, dropping one on 13 October for general stability fixes, tweaking the spawns in Domination, and uncapping the PC frame rates. A 14 October update had more general stability fixes and a ton of balancing to Zombies.
- The PC version received a much-needed update on 16 October that fixed a long list of crashing problems, frustrating “Out of Memory” errors, and more of those “general stability” issues.
- A week after the game released, the Contraband Stream was introduced to PlayStation 4, allowing players to earn cosmetic gear simply by playing the game. Gun variants became the most sought-after items to earn, including one that could become a majestic unicorn. Xbox One and PC platforms had to wait a week to get access to the content, thanks to Sony’s timed exclusivity deal for Black Ops 4 content.
- Everyone loves free loot, but it didn’t take players long to notice that the progression system moved really slowly given the amount of time needed to grind all the tiers of the Contraband Stream’s first event. An update on 23 October made adjustments to improve the earn rates for the Contraband Stream in Blackout and multiplayer. Unfortunately, the progression through the tiers was still frustratingly slow.
- On Halloween, players got treated or possibly tricked with the addition of Call of Duty’s COD Points in-game currency, which seemed to explain the slow levelling in the Contraband Stream. Instead of grinding 200 hours of playtime, players could now choose to just buy their way to the top, if they were willing to pay triple-digit prices.
- On 6 November, an update brought additional stability updates to Zombies, specifically addressing crashing issues on the “IX” map. Treyarch later released a statement promising continual improvements to Zombies and more transparency moving forward with the updates. This was due to frustration from the Zombies community after high-round game crashes made the Easter egg quests nearly impossible to solve.
- The Easter egg for Zombies’ “Classified” map requires players to reach Round 150 just to unlock the ending cutscene, which took frustrated players 25 days to finally solve by using exploits and glitches. Zombies’ inability to remain stable in high rounds has made completion nearly impossible to achieve legitimately.
- A 2x Tier Booster Weekend ran from 9-12 November, allowing players a much faster levelling of the Contraband Stream. The doubled progression rate felt on par with what the normal progression should be for unlocking the tiers of free loot.
- Nuketown, originally from 2010’s Call of Duty: Black Ops, was announced to be returning once again. Black Ops 4’s reimagined version will be a snowy map, but despite the reskin, this is still Nuketown’s classic spawn-trapping layout that players love. PlayStation 4 users can enjoy the chaos on 13 November, while Xbox One and PC players will be waiting a week.
One month in, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has generated a lot of talk of microtransactions and received a boatload of stability updates. The extra launch content may have been too ambitious for Treyarch, but it shows the developer’s dedication to provide the constant Fortnite-esque updates that it promised. Zombies mode still has a way to go before being up to par, but Blackout and multiplayer are addictive experiences with room for growth.