The summer and fall of 2017 was the peak of the battle royale craze for my friends and I. Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) was our game that year, and it had a level of charm that kept us coming back to it, despite its janky gameplay. Then came along Fortnite. We started to lose steam on the game as more people started to trickle out of the PUBG camp and started to get heavy into Fortnite.
By the time we tried to make the switch, we were outclassed completely. Other players knew how to take advantage of the building mechanics, and we were just getting outclassed regularly. It just wasn’t fun for us, and the strategy behind the gameplay was going way over our heads. We couldn’t get into it, and we lost interest in playing battle royale games at all.
Now, I haven’t purchased a Call of Duty game since Black Ops 2, and I wasn’t planning on getting Black Ops 4. Until Black Ops 4’s Blackout beta launched, that is. As soon as I touched down in my first match, I knew that Treyarch did it. They got me out of retirement like Bruce Willis in RED, and I knew that I had to get the band back together for one last ride (We don’t talk about RED 2). I was in the trenches with Call of Duty again, and they got me back in battle royale with Blackout.
So what made Blackout the battle royale alternative to Fortnite? Well for one, Call of Duty is just about one of the strongest FPSs out right now in terms of mechanics and gameplay. It feels great to play, and it feels familiar.
Fortnite is a more alien game to people like my friends and I. We are deeply ingrained in the basic mechanics of twitch shooters, and felt that the style of Fortnite’s gameplay and building mechanics proved to be too much to get into when so many people had mastered that gameplay. FPS mechanics are self-explanatory to many people that are already familiar with video games.
Where Fortnite’s focus is on the ability of the player to effectively use building systems and gimmicky weapons to gain an advantage, the playing field of Blackout feels much more level. You have a fighting chance against just about anyone you come up against, as long as you have some kind of weapon (don’t try punching everyone to death). Sure, some weapons are obviously better than others, but I never once felt like I was at a complete and utter disadvantage in an encounter with other players despite the only mechanics I knew how to effectively use were firing my weapon, and tossing a grenade.
The biggest learning curve in Blackout is the looting system and using perks, which is something that has already been in prior Call of Duty games. Beyond that, there are special items that you can use in gameplay, such as deployable turrets and blockades, which add a layer of gameplay similar to that of the building in Fortnite, except that it’s not as vital to a player’s success in Blackout. The game can be as complicated or as simple as you’d like.
The bottom line is that Blackout feels like the battle royale genre’s homecoming to many people that favored PUBG and people that favor a simpler FPS style over Fortnite’s gameplay style. It is the perfect alternative for people that fell out of PUBG for whatever reason, and people that couldn’t get into Fortnite alike.