With the influx of Battle Royale games on the market, many thought Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Blackout would reign in as one of the most popular games to take that genre over for those looking for an alternative battle royale to play. But almost 3 months into the game’s life cycle, there’s less excitement amongst the community about the mode’s future and sustainability.
With new titles like Apex Legends coming into the market, the competition against Blackout continues to increase.
Blackout was one of the first AAA battle royale games on the market, with Fortnite and PUBG both independently published by smaller companies at the time. Blackout was also one of the first FPS battle royale from a AAA developer available across PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. But, Blackout’s $60 fee to start playing, alongside with the slow release of content, has started to limit the excitement for the game. The increased competition has started to overshadow Blackout in the community’s view.
Apex Legends, Respawn’s new battle royale game, marks one of the first AAA-backed battle royale games available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC that delivers, so far, an incredible experience for players. It was announced and released the same day, and thus far, has delivered a polished day 1 experience. It features new twists on the battle royale genre that other games did not adapt, like hero based abilities, 3 player squad, an active ping system, and more.
And, most importantly, it’s free to play. Apex Legends has already taken over Twitch being the #1 streamed game across the site for 3 days since its launch. Some may attribute to streamers being promoted to share the game, but many streamers playing have already acknowledged its excitement and their plans to add Apex into their rotation of games shown on their stream.
Being free to play, many players are bound to jump on to try a new experience on Battle Royale. A big question on Apex Legends’ future will be the cadence of content being released post launch, something that has, thus far, limited Blackout’s growth. Respawn has already taken it a step further by providing a road-map of content to expect for the entire first year of the game, something we’ve not seen from Treyarch. Treyarch so far has stuck to the “later this month” or “soon” in regards to updates for Black Ops 4, without providing any direction on what to expect next for the title.
Blackout launched on October 12, 2018. Three months into the game’s cycle, there has only been one update with new changes to Blackout (beyond the balancing updates) back in December. The map still is fall themed, only has had one new location added, and the variety of weapons has remained stale throughout the game’s cycle thus far. Many have been asking what happened to the promise of “delivering more content with more frequency.” Activision’s blog post from June 2018 even said that Treyarch plans to deliver “a more frequent cadence to keep things fresh and deliver new maps and content more regularly throughout the year”. Some community members have pointed out that Sledgehammer Games actually released more content for Call of Duty: WWII at this point then what Treyarch has for Black Ops 4.
Treyarch seems to be tying their ability to add more content to new operations only, and with each operation lasting over 60+ days, that’s a long drought of no new meaningful updates that is driving many players to check out other battle royale experiences.
With how much the industry is changing, I think it’s time for Activision to re-evaluate their strategy with Call of Duty and how to approach battle royale with the franchise. The yearly $60 release will probably always be there, but for Blackout or the franchise to sustain long term with increased free to play competition on the market, Activision should start to adapt to the new industry direction before the company gets pushed out. There’s also a lot of uncertainty with Activision overall, as industry analysts have started to wonder what Activision will do to replace the revenue loss from no longer having Destiny.
Even EA, the last company anyone would expect to do what they’ve done this week, has started to adapt with Apex Legends being free to play!
Treyarch created a good foundation for a battle royale with Blackout — the gameplay, mechanics, and features of the core of the mode, like zombies spawns, vehicle integration, and more have been implemented in a good way thus far. There’s obviously some balancing issues with armor and equipment, but the core of the game is still good.
But, for Blackout to be successful in the long run, Activision really show un-bundle it from Black Ops 4 and make it a standalone free to play product across PS4, Xbox One, and PC — and allow it to grow and be updated without being tied to the other modes in Black Ops 4 with new content updates more often compared to large updates that actually don’t bring new in game content (not just Black Market updates).
5 biggest problems with the PS5 launch in UK
The PlayStation 5 launch in the UK was anything but smooth.
The highly-anticipated Sony PlayStation 5 finally became available at retailers in the US and Japan on November 12. Lockdown kept people from visiting stores but they were able to place their orders online, or simply have the console delivered to them if they pre-ordered.
Earlier this week, Amazon EU informed customers that the console would be available for purchase in limited stock at 12pm UK/1pm CEST on November 19. Now it has finally launched in the UK and throughout Europe but not without a hitch. There are reports of many different issues being faced regarding the availability of the console and delays in delivery.
This has led to gamers throwing blame with a massive online outcry over the many different problems with the console’s European release. Let’s go over each one.
Game delivery delays
Customers placed their pre-orders for the PlayStation 5 at the UK retailer, Game. Now, those dedicated players are facing disappointment as Game has announced delays in delivery of the consoles. They have attributed this to unexpectedly large demand along with the large size of the console. Game sent out the following email to customers:
It can be seen from the message that Game is placing the blame for this delay squarely on the courier firm Yodel. The latter has denied responsibility by stating “Yodel does not work directly with Game. Our client is GFS, a fulfillment business that works in partnership with Game.”
Yodel further clarified by saying “We have been consistently clear on the order volumes we are able to carry for them and it is deeply disappointing that Yodel’s name has been incorrectly used in an email to customers on the status of orders.”
Regardless of who’s to blame, there are rising tensions and Game is now trying to ease customers by letting them know that the “vast majority” of deliveries will be completed successfully and the remaining ones will arrive by tomorrow.
Their site has gone back up for PS5 re-orders since then.
Curry’s launch misfire
Currys PC World’s website had extremely large virtual queues that grew to 150,000 long. The original plan that the company excitedly announced was to start selling at 9 a.m today. However, this became complicated as some people were able to work around this system.
It turns out a large number of early customers were able to place orders much earlier than the announced release time. These customers stated that they were able to get their consoles as early as 5.30 a.m. This has left many of the customers who went by the set schedule without a PlayStation 5.
Curry has now canceled these orders and announced that they will not have any more consoles available for purchase today. Many of the affected are being refunded right away while others have to wait.
One now deleted tweet from Currys’ customer service account stated the following:
“Unfortunately due to an error on our site we were allowing customers to check out the PS5 before they went live at 9 a.m. Due to this, we have had to cancel orders and the funds will be released back to you. Please accept my apologies.”
Many customers will have to wait for their refund before they will be able to search for another place to purchase the PS5 from.
The delivery challenges are not just limited to Game and Currys PC World. Many other retail sites are facing technical issues that are keeping people from being able to order the PS5 through them. Sites like Amazon, Tesco, and John Lewis’s have reportedly not been functioning properly.
Customers have tried logging on to the sites to get their consoles only to find that the pages were failing to load. Some of the sites have been straight-up broken throughout the day when customers tried visiting them. This is unfortunate, as many of these people had placed their pre-orders as far back as September.
Currently the PS5 is out of stock at many of these retailers and it is not yet known when it will become available again.
The biggest outcry from all these issues is obviously coming from the people that have been most closely affected by all these problems. The paying customers who had made their pre-orders months ago have taken to Twitter to express their discontent with the way this day has gone.
Some have immediately focused their frustration at Yodel for the delays. They are also upset because quite a few of them received the message “We’re sorry but your parcel has been reported to us as missing. Please contact your sender for your next steps.”
Customers aren’t happy with the idea that Yodel may have been holding on to their console for a couple of hours only for it to have been possibly stolen by someone else.
It is entirely possible that the consoles may not have been stolen and instead, this is just an error in the reports of available stock. However, at the moment we can’t say anything for sure.
Some of those who had pre-ordered from Game asked why they had paid an extra fee to have a Royal Mail delivery that has now been given to another courier firm. Other tweets complained about the delays from Amazon and others.
Some even took issue with the way Walmart handled the launch. There were reports that they had the console in their cart but were still unable to finish the purchase. Eventually, the retail store ended up canceling today’s PS5 orders due to supposed quantity limits.
Ampere gaming analyst Piers Harding-Rolls has stated:
“Clearly it is disappointing for consumers that have pre-ordered not to receive their console on launch day. The situation is exacerbated as there is no opportunity to buy on launch day at physical retail as in the past.”
“Whether you are impacted or not appears to come down to the retailer you pre-ordered with which indicates that this is a company-specific issue rather than a broader industry problem. The UK is not alone in this respect – some US retailers also had their challenges last week during the launches.”
“Queued for download” bug
Those who were lucky enough to receive their PlayStation 5 in today’s chaos may end up confronting an entirely different problem. There is a bug that is preventing players from downloading digital games due to it getting permanently stuck at “queued for download.”
Many players have reported that when they download a PS5 version of a game, it will show up in the game library but not in any download queue. As a result, any attempts to download the games are proving unsuccessful once this bug has been encountered.
Sony has yet to address this strange problem and the only known way around it is to factory reset the entire console. You will lose any games you already own and then have to go through the process of downloading them again. This will be particularly frustrating when the games are heavy.
Although this is a problem that players in Europe will face today, it is not exclusive to the UK launch of the console. In fact, players have been reporting this since the PS5 first launched in North America and other regions on November 12.
In light of all this, the PlayStation 5 launch in UK and wider Europe has been very troublesome. Many players are left without consoles and wondering where to look next.
Opinion: Cold War’s new Scorestreak system needs adjusting
Black Ops Cold War’s new Scorestreak system has some teething problems, so here’s how Treyarch could address the issues.
Black Ops Cold War introduced a new Scorestreak system but it isn’t without teething problems.
In the new Scorestreak system, Scorestreaks no longer reset on death. This means however many points you accumulate towards earning the next Scorestreak carries into the next life. To make earning high-end Scorestreaks more rewarding, points earned accumulate through killstreaks. The higher the streak, the more points you earn for each kill.
As this is a brand new system for Cold War, issues with the system have been making multiplayer lobbies a frustrating experience.
Here are the most prominent problems with the Scorestreak system, and how they could be addressed by Treyarch.
Treyarch adjusted the earn rate of Scorestreaks between the beta and the full launch. Treyarch felt it was too easy to earn certain Scorestreaks and too difficult to earn others.
After these updates, most players earn their Scorestreaks at roughly the same time throughout a match.
There will be a point where the announcer calls ‘multiple enemy Spy Planes above’ as players all unlock the Spy Plane. Then there will be a portion of the game where Artillery and Cruise Missiles are spammed, and finally, in the end-game, several Attack Helicopters are called in.
Scorestreak earn rates need to be adjusted further. To keep games varied and Scorestreaks rewarding, they need to be more difficult to earn. Not being able to leave spawn due to a continuous barrage of Scorestreaks or earning an Attack Helicopter but having to wait in a queue of three to use it aren’t satisfying experiences.
There could also be a larger gap between points needed to earn Scorestreaks. For example, there are only 100 points between earning Artillery and the Cruise Missile. If you earn one, you’re likely to earn the other in the same kill. This leads to more Scorestreak spam.
The current Scorestreak system rewards getting kills much more than it rewards objective play. The points earned for kills drastically outweigh those for capturing flags or holding a hardpoint. Offensive or defensive kills do not increase your score enough to be worthwhile.
Low points earned for objective play is due to the score multipliers applied to killstreaks. As you rack up a high killstreak, the amount of points earned continues to increase. There is currently no such system for objective play.
To make objectives more rewarding, Treyarch could add score multipliers to objectives. The longer you hold a hardpoint for in a single life, the more score you should earn. The same goes for capturing and defending flags. Getting offensive and defensive kills should also add to score multipliers.
This way, earning Scorestreaks is a fair experience across all playstyles.
We know that Treyarch is aware of inconsistencies in the new Scorestreak system because of adjustments made between beta and launch. It’s possible that another overhaul is coming with Season 1 in December.
How Private Matches could change Warzone
Private matches are rumoured to be coming to Warzone; here’s how they’ll change the game.
Private matches are a long-requested feature in Call of Duty: Warzone and have been rumored since the launch of the game.
With several users having spotted the option in their menu, it’s all but confirmed that private Warzone lobbies will be arriving in the future.
Modern Warfare’s custom matches allow players to change almost every aspect of the game, creating their own game modes and rulesets. So far there is no information on the extent of customization options for Warzone private matches.
Here are the additions to Warzone private matches will bring.
A more casual experience
Private matches have existed in Call of Duty since CoD 4: Modern Warfare, and have led to some of the most memorable game modes in Call of Duty such as quick-scoping on Rust in MW2 and playing ‘Mike Myers’ lobbies. They are a casual and creative way to play with friends.
As players get better at Warzone and get moved up to higher tiers of skill-based matchmaking, the game becomes more difficult. With the massive success of The Haunting of Verdansk event which included Zombie Royale, it’s clear the Call of Duty fanbase is open to a more casual Warzone experience.
Smaller, private matches will allow players to play Warzone with whoever they like, in any way that they like.
A testing ground
YouTubers such as TheXclusiveAce, Drift0r, and DefendTheHouse spend a lot of time testing weapons and mechanics in Call of Duty. Much of this is done through private matches. With Warzone, there is nowhere that they can test Warzone specifically. Currently, they must try and load into a match of Plunder or Warzone at the same time so that they are in opposite teams.
With the community having free reign of a testing ground, it’s likely that issues can be addressed before they have the time to widely affect gameplay. On the other hand, Warzone players could also take advantage of exploits found through testing.
A competitive scene
It’s likely that Warzone’s competitive scene will evolve with the addition of private matches.
Currently, competitive Warzone mostly consists of ‘kill races.’ Popularised in Fortnite, players attempt to get more eliminations than their competitors over one or two public games of Warzone. These are extremely popular on Twitch and YouTube, with some competitors reaching 100k viewers. The tournaments take place in public matches so there is no safeguard against ‘stream snipers’ and cheaters.
- Read more: Modern Warfare & Warzone November 3 Update
The Call of Duty League matched professional players against each other in Verdansk. As part of the home series weekends, private matches consisted of around 60 CDL pros, coaches, and others playing competitive matches of Warzone. The rulesets changed as the weeks went on, such as adding placement points and points per elimination.
Streamers and professional players will have the option to host their own private tournaments which are likely to pave the way for a competitive Warzone scene. As seen by the CDL’s Warzone Weekends, gameplay in these competitive matches will be severely slowed down. With every player being a skilled professional and money on the line, players are much more careful and deliberate.
While there’s no final confirmation on when we’ll see Private Lobbies in Warzone, it’s could lead to new changes and experiences for all fans, including casual and competitive experiences.
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