The Competitive Call of Duty scene was rocked when Treyarch made the surprise announcement that they would be dropping a brand new game - it’s goodbye Black Ops 4, hello Black Ops 4.5. The brand new title was released surreptitiously late Tuesday night, and will now be THE game for the remainder of the 2019 season!
Okay, so maybe that's not quite true. There is no new game, just a new patch, you can all put your wallets away, they are safe... until November at least. In fact if you’re a casual player you probably won't have even noticed anything different, Tuesday’s update was just another update, some minor balance changes, maybe a bug fix or two, probably some fancy new camos, but certainly nothing to interrupt your game of Blackout.
The effect this update will have on competitive cannot be overstated however. This is a change that many have been hoping and asking for since day one, and now that it's here it is sure to mean big changes for the scene.
Specialists have always been a contentious subject since their introduction in BO3, you either love them or you hate them. It's all good fun until your team gets 1v5’ed by a guy with a war machine and then suddenly you’re on twitter, clamoring for them to be banned. When they are well balanced however, they are a great addition to the game, adding depth and skill, and there is no denying that they provide some of the most exciting moments that the esport has to offer, for the players and the fans.
The main issue people had with specialists in BO4, is that they were acquired too easily and too frequently. This often felt punishing for the winning team, as in spite of how heavily they outclassed their opponents, they are guaranteed to have to contend with game changing specialists sooner or later. It led to players inexplicably gaining their specialist in situations where they had done very little to earn it. It meant games could feel random, and chaotic, as teams repeatedly traded specialists back and forth without gaining any real control of the game.
Now don't get me wrong, as a fan this has all been thoroughly entertaining to watch. I don't remember ever having seen so many ‘down to the wire’ games, as we've been treated to this year, but as with anything, you can have too much of a good thing; when every game is a nail biter it can detract from the important games. One sided stomps are never particularly fun, but they are a necessary for the flow of a tournament, they can help paint the picture, setting the stage for the big games later on. It makes it all the more special when we do get those spicy games, with two really closely matched teams scrapping it out in a back and forth series.
This new patch (fingers crossed) should go a long way towards improving these issues. Making it so your specialist no longer charges over time and instead only charges off of your score should reward for aggressive play, it's no longer an option to sit back and rely on using your specialist to break a hill, teams are going to have to be proactive, they are going to have to be more coordinated, they might even have to win a gunfight every now and then.
Another thing to consider, is that while one means of earning your specialist has been removed, the points threshold required to earn it has not been changed. This means we’re going to be seeing less specialists all together. Players are going to have to be more calculated about when they choose to use them, and more controlled when they do. A wasted specialist now is going to be far more costly than before, teams are going to have to make them count and capitalise on every single one because they may not get another chance.
And the respawn game modes are the least of their worries, Search and Destroy may well be unrecognizable come CWL London. With limited lives and time to accrue score, certain specialists are going to be near impossible to earn in the strategic gamemode, meaning we may well see a complete overhaul of the meta, specialists we haven't seen much of before suddenly becoming critical to the teams success. With specialists generally being earned far later into the game, we are also likely to see some truly explosive round elevens.
With this update, I believe we begin to see a little more consistency in results, better teams should be able to more reliably close out games, and so we should start to see them rise up through the pack. It’s hard to predict exactly which teams this will end up being. Slow starters are going to struggle to recover from early deficits. Squads with a heavy emphasis on slaying might run away with games that they otherwise may have struggled to close out. I think it’s likely that some old household names may benefit from this more consistent gameplay, while those teams that have risen up and thrived in the chaos, may struggle.
What happens next is anyone's guess. Perhaps nothing changes and CWL London is another furious mosh pit, where the winner is the last team left standing, atop a heap of their battered and exhausted opponents, or perhaps Maven subs in for OpTic and they win the event without dropping a map.
Nothing is certain.
The only thing I can know for sure is that for anyone with even a passing interest in competitive, this update is huge! You might even go so far as to call it a game changer...
Welcome, to Black Ops 4.5!
You can find out how this new update will affect the Call of Duty World League at CWL London. Get your tickets now! CLICK HERE