You could think of it as the “Don’t forget about us announcement.” While Respawn’s battle royale rival Apex Legends is soaring beyond 25 million users, the makers of the Call of Duty battle royale mode have announced a new expansion.
Today, Treyarch and Activision revealed the Operation Grand Heist event and new content for Call of Duty: Blackout 4 multiplayer, Blackout battle royale, and Zombies mode on the PlayStation 4. This update seems bigger than the usual content drop, and perhaps that is a recognition of the tougher competition that Activision faces against rivals like Apex Legends and Fortnite.
Spiketrap, which measures engagement on social networks for games, noted a spike in engagement for Apex Legends which was higher than Call of Duty’s engagement in the past couple of weeks. But after that initial burst, Call of Duty is starting to hold its own again, said Adam Sessler, cofounder of Spiketrap, in an email to GamesBeat.
Black Ops Pass owners can now get immediate access to two new multiplayer maps and an exclusive Blackout character, with a new Zombies experience coming in March.
Additionally, the Zombies experience Classified, previously only available as part of the Black Ops Pass, is now available to purchase as a standalone map.
“With Operation Grand Heist, the team has packed in an incredible amount of new content, and we can’t wait for fans to jump in and check it out,” said Dan Bunting, the co-studio head at Treyarch, in a statement. “We love the 1970s-style heist theme of this Operation, and the fast-paced action that it brings to Blackout and Multiplayer, along with the brand-new Zombies experience following in March.”
With Operation Grand Heist, the new season of content features updates across the game, including a new Specialist, two brand-new Multiplayer maps, new playable destinations across the Blackout map, as well as a wide variety of personalization items, accessories, new vehicles, new game modes and much more.
“One of our favorite things at the studio is creating new ways for the community to play,” said Mark Gordon, the other co-studio head at Treyarch, in a statement. “We set out since day one to support Black Ops 4 long after launch, so we’re delivering a ton of new ways for players to engage with each mode of the game and we’re committed to giving fans new reasons to keep coming back week in and week out.”
Operation Grand Heist’s content includes the Specialist Outrider, who can silently take out enemies with longbow, the Sparrow, and its explosive arrows.
Blackout will get a new location, Ghost Town, which features two areas. Inspired by Standoff, an intense classic multiplayer map from Black Ops II, the above-ground destination provides flanking routes that call for strategic positioning with long and medium ranged combat.
Below ground, fans can also explore underlying caverns inspired by the classic Zombies map Buried, where they’ll find heavy-duty gear among hordes of the undead.
Additionally, Operation Grand Heist introduces a new Blackout mode called Hot Pursuit, launching on February 22 on PlayStation 4 and other platforms to follow. Hot Pursuit is debuts three new vehicles — SUV, muscle car and PBR assault boat, all in special variants themed to Operation Grand Heist — as squads race to supply drops placed around the map containing high-level armor, weapons, and grenades.
And the Black Market, where players can get customized gear, has been restocked with new weapon camos, outfits, gestures, and accessories themed for Operation Grand Heist. This includes weapons like the Rampage Auto Shotgun, Switchblade X9 SMG, and the Home Wrecker demolition hammer, all unlockable through the Contraband Tiers as fans play through the game.
A new long-range weapon called the Vendetta Sniper Rifle is also coming later in the season.
Operation Grand Heist delivers new features to the Zombies mode including a new round-based Gauntlet challenge mode for the Classified map, along with a brand-new perk addition called the Ethereal Razor that substantially increases a player’s melee damage with area of effect and life re-gen for each hit.
Black Ops Pass owners can access the new multiplayer map, Casino. It’s a medium-sized map set in a luxurious casino in Monaco where thieves plan to steal racecars on display. Casino features high-intensity combat as players weave through buzzing slot-machines and topple across gambling tables. This wide-open space allows for long-range to mid-range combat with little protection from enemies.
Another new multiplayer map is Lockup, a medium-sized map set in a Los Angeles police station. Lockup was the site of an assault to destroy evidence that led to the headquarters of an organized crime syndicate. Fans can occupy the rooftop positions, bail out when cornered and tactically shut down areas with operational doors to gain the upper hand on their opponents.
A new Blackout character is Cosmic Silverback. Black Ops Pass owners will unlock this deadly Zombie silverback gorilla, a boss originally from the Dead Ops Arcade from Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Ancient Evil, an all-new Zombies experience, will also launch in March for Black Ops Pass owners, with details being revealed soon.
The Zombies Classified experience features the “Ultimis” cast of characters in a chilling, survival experience as they fight the undead and investigate The Pentagon after mysteriously being teleported there.