While there's nothing here for players interested in a story-focused experience, mature gamers looking for robust multiplayer are in for a treat. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 offers a polished traditional competitive multiplayer mode that keeps what's always worked for the series: a broad assortment of maps and modes, the ability to take advantage of powerful rewards to earn scorestreaks, and a growth system that lets players upgrade and customize their weapons and gear. All of this is done while providing fun new abilities designed to suit individual playstyles by letting players set traps and lie in wait, quickly cross the environment, or provide support in the form of health and ammunition boosts. Skill still trumps luck, forcing players to practice to be competitive. Zombies, meanwhile, is much more robust than ever before. Not only are players provided multiple maps immediately rather than being forced to wait and purchase more later, you can also ease yourself into this extremely challenging mode via a beginner lobby available until you reach level 20. Once you're confident in your abilities, you can test them in a new game type called Rush that ramps up the speed and difficulty and adds a competitive element via a new scoring system. Zombies has never been this strong out of the gate at launch.
But the most striking addition to this multiplayer-focused edition of the blockbuster shooter is Blackout. It might follow a formula already well established in plenty of other battle royale games, and the visuals take a noticeable hit compared to other modes thanks to the enormous map and number of human avatars at play, but it runs very smooth and loading times are almost non-existent. Plus, it has a distinctly Call of Duty flavor thanks not only to its locations -- easily recognized by any veteran of the series -- but also its willingness to include some distinguishing features from the game's other modes, including remote controlled recon cars, grappling hooks, and, in one area, even some shuffling zombies to slaughter. Whether you want to go it alone or group up, there's dozens of hours worth of exploration, strategy, and challenge waiting for players to discover here. Blackout won't replace what was lost for those mourning the death of the franchise's single-player mode, but it does add a compelling new ingredient to the Call of Duty multiplayer recipe, and it makes Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 one of the freshest and most memorable entries this aging series has had in years.