Black Ops 4 did just about what anyone expects a Call of Duty game to do, and that’s to sell a metric buttload of copies. It’s destined to be one of the highest selling games of this year for certain, and its proven that the yearly CoD model is still a major cash cow for Activision. That said, Treyarch caused a major uproar over the way microtransactions were implemented into a full-priced game to alleviate a sluggish grind for cosmetics. But is there any real solution that could both appease the players while allowing for Treyarch to make money in the long run? Let’s take a look at some meaningful inclusions that could help the players now while leaving content available for the DLC.
1. New unlockable specialists
There’s a pretty clear parallel between the specialists in Black Ops and the operators in Rainbow Six Siege, so Treyarch should be taking notes on how well Ubisoft’s implemented new operators. Most, though not all, have fit well into the current Operator list, adding fun and interesting mechanics that change the game while not overpowering the older models. Not to mention, you could earn those operators through regular play, even if it was a bit grindy. This may be an area where Treyarch could show some goodwill and allow players to earn a new specialist through some event instead of having to pony up for the DLC. Allow for those characters to be a reward rather than a payment, and I’d be all for adding some older mechanics back into the multiplayer. Give me back my smoke grenades, you jerks.
2. Evolving Blackout map
I’ll be upfront with you: Fortnite is doing great things to keep their battle royale map interesting, and Black Ops should just follow that path. It’s not always a great thing to have multiple maps of tremendous size for your players to learn, not to mention most likely barring those new maps behind DLC paywalls. Instead, allow for the map’s modular areas to evolve more naturally over time, creating different areas to explore while not overwhelming the regular players with new content to learn. Fortnite has one map, and it’s the biggest game in the current market. Those map-changing events have been a tremendous boon to marketing, with sensational news stories continually advertising the excitement. Given the power and resources of Treyarch, they could certainly look to replicate that success in their own way.
3. Branching choices for the Contraband
The major concern for most players is that the system for earning cosmetic items, Contraband, is too much of a grind if you want to unlock the major items. The reason this grind is so ludicrous is due to this system being a completely linear experience down a couple hundred levels of Contraband, most being random loot drops that turn out to be stickers or something unusable until you get the full set. If instead they chose to use branching paths of Contraband, giving players the chance to unlock their favorite weapon skins at much more manageable levels, players would potentially be more okay with the total grind. Maybe covering all branches would take ages, but at least everyone could hit the high points that they actually want. I don’t really want a cool GKS skin, but I might be more motivated if it was the ICR skin instead. It’s a simple way to give players better motivation to continue the grind.
4. Featured Playlist bonuses
With the Featured Playlist area demonstrating its ability to include maps and modes that wouldn’t normally be available to some players, that unlocks a slew of options for Treyarch to placate its audience. Perhaps issuing a preview period in the Featured area could allow for those who don’t have the Season Pass to still get a chance to try the content before purchasing. It’d be even better if they boosted certain gains for when you play in the featured modes, so that it would incentivise those who don’t nomally vary their gameplay to branch out a bit. Currently, they’re just running double experience weekends, which is fine and all, but there are more interesting ways to help out your livid community.
5. Daily or Weekly Quests
The Contraband system is pretty clearly based on the cosmetic unlock sytem utilized in Fortnite, but they completely missed what made that system work. Even though Fortnite’s cosmetics unlock in a linear fashion, all of those unlocks open through missions. Completing certain tasks, using certain guns, and doing other engaging objectives made for a much more exciting grind than just playing until you get it all. Treyarch apparently missed that message and decided that the only thing that matters is dedicating your life to Black Ops. The double XP weekends have helped marginally, but it lacks the kind of player agency that missons offer. Simply adding in a few objectives that offer bonus tiers could soften the heavy grind substantially.
At some point, Treyarch will stop caring about Black Ops 4, as that’s the way of a yearly franchise, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to make right what they’ve mucked up here. The DLC will come either way, but no one’s going to buy extra maps if you don’t first address the fan anger now.