Above: Seraph in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

Image Credit: Activision

GamesBeat: I played the Recon character, with the sensor dart. You want that to be useful to everyone, right?

Leslie: That’ll hit a wall and it’ll reveal an area. The new fog of war on the mini-map, now that it’s in a specific area—that’ll pulse an area, so it’s very localized. That’s where you start getting the teamwork aspects, the very tactical nature. If we’re rolling together, you and me, and you’re Recon and I’m Ruin, I’m going to say, “Hey, I need you to put that goddam sensor dart on that rock so I can go grapple and grav slam, because my stuff’s ready to go.” That’s something we couldn’t do before. You hit yours, I hit mine, and then Tony is Crash and he’s going to heal me before I go in.

All of a sudden you have all these things playing together that you’ve never had before. It’s really interesting for us. You have all these comps. How do we do things together? That’s some of the most interesting stuff that we key off in this game.

Pirello: It’ll be really exciting to see what types of combos the players can come up with.


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GamesBeat: The reactor core seems very team-oriented.

Pirello: Yeah, that’s really good to pair with the sensor dart. “I know those guys are in that building next door. Let me hole up next to it.”

Flame: Part of that design consideration is also to create specialists and opportunities for players who aren’t as good at the core gunplay. That’s always there for everyone, but if you want to focus on the more tactical side of things, you can pick Recon or Crash, who can help their teammates succeed. You can pick specialists that are about making yourself better, or you can help the team. That way there’s something for everyone.

Leslie: Firebreak is awesome, because every single playtest—if you’re playing Domination or Control and you’re on the point, you want a Firebreak. He’s going to go in and hit that core, and all of a sudden enemies have to get off that point. Now, for the first time, what do you do? If he’s behind cover you can’t get to him. Maybe that’s when Ajax comes in with the shield. You try to counter that in some meaningful way.

Pirello: You get rewarded for that too, which is cool. If you don’t have as many kills, you still feel like you contributed and accomplished something.

Ajax in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

Above: Ajax in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

Image Credit: Activision

GamesBeat: With Blackout, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like given what I know Call of Duty multiplayer is like.

Leslie: I want to tell you everything, trust me. [laughs] Even the trailer, when we’re looking at it, we’re like, “Oh my God, I want to show you more than that, but I can’t.” But if you imagine the history in the trailer, using your favorite characters and weapons and vehicles, in the biggest map you’ve ever seen before, with the most players in a single map as well, and then sprinkled around landmarks you know—you’re fighting in a house that might resemble some of the elements in Raid. You get that nostalgic feel, but you’re playing it in a brand new way. That’s the experience can only be Black Ops, because we can lean in to our history of all the things players love.

GamesBeat: So you’re not just taking Nuketown and plunking it down in there.

Leslie: No, no. It’s not just taking an MP map and putting it into Blackout. We’re crafting it for the Blackout experience. If I had those landmarks, I could call them out. “Hey, everyone, let’s jump in at the Nuketown sign,” or whatever you like. The things in there and how you interact with the world, that’s a brand new experience, which is really exciting.

Flame: When you layer in the Call of Duty feel, these mechanics that are super refined over all this time—we just focus on making it better with every single game. That history with all the characters, all the maps, and the opportunities you can imagine within that—the world is going to feel so much more alive and meaningful. The gigantic map space, the play space, that level of meaning and history and going to really resonate with players.

GamesBeat: How do you stop it from being just a giant sniper festival?

Leslie: [laughs] Lots of iteration and lots of playtesting. It’s one of those things here we just keep crafting over and over. It’s finding meaningful ways to set it up so you can be successful if you want to snipe, but also make sure that if you want to do short range or middle range, you can also be successful. It’s crafting an experience across this large map where you can do all these things. Related to what you said, you take an MP experience where you can be successful with different play styles, but now the challenge is, how do you do that in the biggest map ever? That’s been exciting, but we think we’re on to something special that players are going to respond to.

Pirello: It goes back to what you saw in the presentation. It’s all about guns and gunplay, for multiplayer and Blackout as well.

GamesBeat: Are you going to be able to do the sorts of things you can do in the rest of multiplayer? Change your weapons and things like that?

Leslie: We’re not talking about all of those details yet. I can tell you that we’re thinking holistically about what would be the best experience. Like everything, we’re starting fresh, and we’re going to make the best experience we can for Blackout. Don’t make any assumptions, because we’ll always challenge those.

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