With the Multiplayer Beta wrapped and everyone anxiously awaiting the Blackout Beta coming September 10th, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the biggest pieces of feedback coming from the community over the course of the Beta.
But first, we’ve heard that several players found themselves unable to progress beyond level 34 (which was the level cap at the end of weekend 1), so we’re going to award the permanent unlock token to every player who reached level 34 in the Beta. Nice work, you’ve earned it!
Alright, let’s get into it…
This post won’t go into detail on every fix or tuning change we’re making – instead, we’ll cover the most-discussed topics that also intersect with the game’s design intent and talk about what changes we can expect for launch.
Game development is fluid – we know to expect the unexpected, and we’ll always work to solve problems quickly as the game evolves.
With Black Ops 4 Multiplayer, one of our biggest priorities has been to add depth to gameplay for an experience that will be more rewarding the longer you play it: we’ve added variety to combat, increased differentiation in gameplay items, extended counter play, and tightened the nuances of movement and gunplay. What you played in the Beta was an early version of all those changes working together for a game that we hope you found both familiar and new, challenging and rewarding, and fun for casual and competitive players alike. There is a meta to the game that will unfold over time, so we took a slightly conservative approach to changes in the Beta until all the gameplay data had been reviewed and digested. Now, we have a wealth of information and are excited to get to work polishing the game for launch.
Fog of War & Minimap Awareness
Fog of War in the minimap was designed to strengthen situational awareness and guide moment-to-moment decision-making with a benefit to the entire team. Because we know a lot of players don’t want to talk on the mic or engage in teamwork, we designed it (and all gameplay features) to be effective first and foremost to the player using it, and then also helpful to teammates even passively. An enemy that’s spotted by your teammate will appear in your minimap as well, so even lone wolves are helping their team whether they mean to or not.
The full Fog of War reveal circle around each player in the minimap was designed to increase situational awareness for a fighting chance against attacks from the back. The circle generated just as much passionate debate within Treyarch as it did within the community, and we wanted to let it play out in the Beta to see where it landed. It’s proven to be too powerful as default functionality, so we’re making a few changes for a more balanced Fog of War:
- The full reveal circle will be removed as default functionality, and the standard reveal area will be a cone that reflects the player’s field of view. This will continue to always be blocked by solid objects in the game, so it can never be used to “see through walls”.
- We’re moving the full reveal circle to the Team Link perk. This way, players who want that power will need to spend a point in Create-a-Class to get it and compete with their choices for other powerful items. This also gives Team Link a much-needed boost, as it significantly underperformed in the Beta.
- We’re adding an additional HUD indicator that lets you know when you’re visible to enemy players in the minimap so that you can react accordingly.
- Red dots in the minimap that appear when firing your gun will fade faster so there’s more time to evade after engaging in a gunfight.
- Those same red dots will no longer reveal teammates that are near the player firing their gun.
The spawn system is key to ensuring the gameplay of Black Ops 4 shines, and it is influenced by a number of factors which differ across every map and mode. We have a suite of tools that lets us track bad spawns (spawns where players give or receive damage within 3 seconds) and make changes to prevent them from happening. It’s impossible to get the percentage of bad spawns to zero, but we constantly tune to get it as low as possible, generally in the 2-3% range. Thanks to community video clips, comments, and gameplay data, we were able to identify several issues within the spawn system that were creating scenarios that did not meet our expectations. These issues were most prevalent in round-based game modes like Domination. The team is hard at work resolving those issues for the best possible spawn system on launch day.
The Tac-Deploy was designed to give the ability to redirect the flow of combat at strategically important moments by creating a secondary team spawn area in the map. The concept was inspired by the tactics employed by the community when playing Hardpoint in Black Ops 2, where a teammate would “anchor” spawns on the next Hardpoint to get their team to the objective faster. This cool, emergent behavior was not only a valid tactic but became necessary to consistently win the mode. The Tac-Deploy brings this idea into other modes with the goal of creating periodic team shifts to take or defend an objective, break out of a pattern, or strategically push in a new direction. An easy counter for the opposing team is to run the Engineer perk and hunt down any enemy-owned Tac-Deploys.
In the Beta, the Tac-Deploy proved to be a tad too strong and understanding when you spawned on a Tac-Deploy wasn’t strong enough. To smooth it out for launch, we’re making a few changes:
- We’ve shortened the duration that a Tac-Deploy is active, lengthened its cooldown time, and limited the number of spawns per use to 10. This will help to fulfill the goal of providing short bursts of strategic positioning shifts.
- We’re relaxing the radius around which players will spawn on a Tac-Deploy so that there is more room to spread out, and enemies attempting to disable it won’t suddenly get overwhelmed by a surge of defenders.
- We’re adding a notification to the death cam (where camera breaks into third person when you die) that displays when a Tac-Deploy is active and whether there is danger nearby, and another notification that appears in the game HUD after you spawn on a Tac-Deploy.
In service to the overarching goal of increasing gameplay depth, we introduced the Gear category to Create-a-Class in Black Ops 4. Each Gear item will compliment different styles of play, allowing players to optimize into their preferred style. If you like to play aggressively, preferring to move in fast bursts and surviving multiple gunfights, you’ll likely find Stim Shot to your liking. If you’re a player who prefers to roll the dice for high risk and high reward, you may prefer the COMSEC Device to push for bigger Scorestreaks. If you enjoy supporting the team for the win, you’ll likely gravitate to Equipment Charge to power up your Specialist content more frequently. If you rely more on positioning and situational awareness for victory, the Acoustic Sensor is for you. And if you’re a more cautious player who likes the push and pull of objective play, Body Armor should be optimal for that.
The balance for this category wasn’t quite dialed in for the Beta, and we’ll be improving that for launch. While Stim Shot was the most popular piece of Gear, Body Armor was the most controversial, so we want to address some of the changes that are coming to that specifically:
- Explosives should shred Armor – that was not working in the Beta, and we’re fixing that.
- Damage is now reduced by armor rather than being completely deflected by it.
- Some of the player feedback from the game when fighting against a player with Armor was “cranked to 11,” and made it feel a lot worse than it actually was, so we’re reducing it to feel less annoying.
- We added extra +25 bonus score reward for every kill against players with Armor to help feed your Scorestreak meter.
- We’re also experimenting with a number of ideas to better support its role while also making it less appealing to highly aggressive players (for example, impacting certain aspects of movement speed or protection coverage area).
While it was always our intention to support both d-pad and free cursor navigation in our menus, the discussion around this topic quickly reinforced our resolve to move this along! When the game launches, you’ll be able to navigate with d-pad through every menu if you want to. But you’ll also be able to move the free cursor quickly across the screen if you like navigating that way. It will be the best of both worlds to accommodate players who like both systems.
Loadouts in Killcams
This has been a frequently-requested feature, and we assure you… we feel the same way! We weren’t able to get the loadout information of the player who killed you into the Killcam for the Beta, but it will definitely be in the game for launch.
The Beta gave us a tremendous amount of feedback – it showed us what needed to be tweaked, tuned, modified, and analyzed further. What has been great is how constructive and articulate you’ve been. This is after all, why developers have betas in the first place.
Looking forward to Blackout in September, and onward to an awesome Day One in October!