How to Hit the Ground Running and Wreck in ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’

Adam Mathew
Games PlayStation
Games PlayStation Call of Duty PC Gaming Xbox

E3 2018 has come and gone and so much about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 still lurks in the fog of war. You already know Treyarch has ejected traditional singleplayer campaigns like a spent magazine. You’re probably also aware an amorphous battle royale mode called Blackout is about to be slapped in instead.

Honestly, we can’t reveal too much more about the former. But what we can tell you — being one of the few players in the world to have in-depth hands-on with MP — is what to expect and how to wreck when several million boots hit the ground (and stay there) on day one. Join me now as I offer some handy tips on how to roll into the August beta like an alpha.

Finding That Specialist Someone

Important note before we begin: everybody plays differently and what works for one player might not suit the instincts of another. That said, the setup and stratagems we used (on a collection of the most lethal CoD streamers and YouTubers in the world) had us walking away with decent KDRs (Kill/Death Ratio). The meta might have changed by the time you read this, but for now you’ll get results by taking notes.

First up, Specialist choice is incredibly important. Much like a game of Rainbow Six Siege, you’re going to need to hitch your wagon to an operative whose skills both complement your own approach and shore up any weaknesses in your wider team.

My current pick of the litter is Recon, the “intel operator” who has way too much crap affixed to his helmet. Turns out none of it is ornamental though, as this specialist’s headgear is all about enhancing the situational awareness of its owner and his allies. Most attractively, you can be seen a team player while still getting to indulge in your lone wolf tendencies…

A Play of the Match shot of Recon. It showcases just how much flair he has on his helmet.
That's a lot of flair for a Recon.

Wrecking as Recon

To do this you’ll need to get familiar with your first piece of unique equipment, the Sensor Dart that sits on R1/RB with a 35-second cooldown. Before entering any suspected murder room, take half a second to harpoon one of these into that god awful mess. First benefit: this proximity-triggered beacon will peel back the fog of war on your teammate’s mini-maps.

From here, expect to become as points-rich as you are popular amongst your friends. You’ll reap +15 for “sensor dart assisting” your allies, not to mention +125 sensor detection kills for yourself. More points = faster scorestreaks and more wanton destruction.

Speaking of OP, exactly two minutes into the match you’ll have the option to unleash Recon’s Vision Pulse ability (L1+R1 / LB+RB). All of a sudden everybody in your crew will receive X-ray vision with absurd, full-map-length range. You’ll get an initial +75 payout for simply pulsing every unfortunate soul on the map, then it’ll be +25 for any vision pulse assist and +125 for doing a vision pulse kill. Work fast, however, as your fancy Superman specs only last 15 seconds.

Sometimes even the best laid plans can be ruined by the ground pound of some guy. Some guy named Ruin.

All About That Gat

The second most important factor to victory is, obviously, the thing you’re first-person shooting with. We had a chance to test out a fair few of the weapons in Black Ops 4 before settling on a tried-and-true head-popper — the ICR-7 assault rifle with a reflex scope.

We’d also recommend you further enhance this boomstick with Quickdraw and go with “Grip I” over “Grip II” – which means reduced recoil while aiming down sights (ADS) versus needing to stay in ADS to reduce recoil. You’re about quick kills and mobility; not eye-humping a scope as you camp on corners.

If everything goes to hell and you have to whip out a secondary, the Strife pistol with a laser sight is a great fall back (literally, fall down into prone with it and fan-fire like nothing else). Gear-wise we have to recommend you go with Equipment Charge to get your unique specialist skills to cool-down quicker.

Feel free to use your own discretion on picking three different perks and three different scorestreak rewards. Personally, we found great success with the Flak Jacket (take less damage from explosives), Scavenger (hoover up dead enemy ammo) and the sneakier footsteps offered by Dead Silence makes a lot more sense now that the mini-map is shrouded.

We also stuck with UAV at 500, Hellstorm at 700 and a Sentry at 800 for streaks.

Vision Pulse in action. The white things aren't ghosts. They're live enemies, soon to be ghosts.

ABC: Always Be Controlling

Thirdly, we’d like to recommend you don’t just accept the default controller options, something far too many players do. Adjust to the following settings and allow yourself a ten game experiment to see if you can acclimate to it. Change both the horizontal / vertical look sensitivities from a standard of 3 to 6, and then turn controller vibration off because it’s just a distraction.

Next, in button layouts, change from basic-as-hell “default” to “tactical.” Essentially this will swap crouch to your right-stick-click and melee to Circle/B. Being able to go insta-prone in a heartbeat, or to powerslide and aim and not take your thumb off a stick, are way more important than socking somebody in the teeth.

Speaking of tactics and getting more intimate with the floor, get into a habit of defending hardpoints in prone position. If you’re wounded and outnumbered in a firefight we also expect you to courageously take it lying down as well – i.e. tactically retreat behind a corner, grab some floor then reload and/or heal.

If you’ve withdrawn due to being severely wounded by a lone assailant, consider power sliding into the corner between you, right as they round it to mop you up. 60% of the time the ol’ disco slide cross-up works all of the time.

One parting tip on being in dire straits: if you need to make a decision between patching yourself up and feeding your attitude-adjuster, always prioritise reloading first. The new self-healing system of Black Ops 4 isn’t an instantaneous fixer of bad situations. To go from a near-death “1 bar” back to a full health of 6 bars requires one second for a hypodermic needle animation and about 3 seconds more for the refill to do its job.

Follow these tips and you’ll be a much more effective soldier in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. You’ll not have to wait long for your chance to test all of this out, either – beta season starts in August and the full game drops on October 21, 2018. See you on the battlefield!

Pre-order the Call of Duty Black Ops 4 Pro Edition now, only at GameStop.

Adam Mathew
I've seen and played it all – from Pong on a black-and-white CRT to the 4K visuals and VR gloriousness of today. My only regret after a decade of writing and 30+ years of gaming: hitchhiking's no longer an option. My thumbs are nubs now.
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