Like so many gamers during the weekend, I got the chance to experience the beta for Blackout, the Battle Royale feature for Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII. My overall opinion of the game was mixed, I did enjoyed the experience but felt it was just another Call of Duty game while bringing nothing new to the genre to make it stand out.
I’ve been a fan of the series since Call of Duty in 2003 and have seen how the series has changed the shooter genre. So it’s worrisome that the series is now trying to focus on what is popular rather than establishing what should be popular. As YongYea noted in his take on Black Ops IIII announcement back in May, the series has always been a trend setter but for it to embrace the Battle Royale genre is troubling as it has now become a trend chaser.
By focusing their attention on Blackout, Activsion seems to be more interested in trying entice a group that is fiercely loyal to one title at the risk of truing its back on their own fans. Now one may ask if Call of Duty shouldn’t embrace the Battle Royale genre, what would have been a better alternative? The answer is simple, virtual reality.
The last few years has been a boom for the concept of virtual reality thanks to the technological advancements made by Oculus along with the emergence of PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive. What was once available in the works of science fiction are now becoming a reality. VR has dominated the expo floor during the Game Developers Conference, with Facebook and PlayStation having a major show of force. There are numerous groups and media outlets (Silicon Valley Global News being one of my favorites) in the Bay Area focused on the advancements of VR technology.
However, there really isn’t that many good VR shooters available on the market. Despite its promise as being VR’s answer to Call of Duty, sadly Bravo Team ended up becoming a mediocre experience. At the moment I would have to say that Doom VFR and The Killing Floor are the two best VR shooters available while Evasion will bump that number to three. Every other game is just experimenting with VR or they are just shovelware.
Activision could have easily entered this market and set the standards for other VR titles to follow. One may see this as a risky move given that not many gamers have easy access to VR and most good headsets are expensive. However Activision could have found a middle ground that would allow innovation while being accessible to all their fans. Like what Capcom did with Resident Evil 7 (the measuring stick for other VR titles to follow), the Call of Duty VR experience could have been interchangeable between a standard mode and VR mode.
At this point, the Battle Royale market is dominated by Fortnite and PUBG while being over-saturated by an abundance of shovelware. Given how fans have wanted the series to evolve, Activsion should have embraced the concept of a VR Call of Duty instead of Blackout. Given the lack of options at the moment, Activsion could have dominated the VR shooter market for several years had it taken the lead.
What were your thoughts on the Blackout beta? Do you think Activsion should have embraced a Call of Duty VR over Blackout? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.