With Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 fast approaching, gamers have been heavily intrigued by the upcoming Blackout mode. Blackout is a Battle Royale game mode which will make its first appearance in the Call of Duty franchise. Fans of the popular mode have titles such as Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds to get their fix. The main question has been, could this hold its own among the competition? Connection Since this was a beta test, connectivity was a bit laggy, but not enough to hinder the overall experience. Jumping in and out of games took a while and became annoying at times. When its competitor, Fortnite, is able to find matches extremely quickly, this felt a bit out of the ordinary. Inside each game, rendering buildings was a bit of an issue, but not an extreme one. This is a bigger problem found in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds but not so apparent here. With that being said, the mode was incredibly well-polished. The graphics, locations, and items were all stellar. Loading of separate areas was never noticed; it all felt seamless after the first moments of dropping into the map. Fans of the Battle Royale genre are sure to be amazed at the level of detail and depth that can appear in this mode without heavy lag or glitches. Customization Blackout truly felt like an all-inclusive Black Ops experience, thanks to its choice of playable characters. Fans of the series will be excited to learn that favorites such as Zombie Mode’s Edward Richtofen, Tank Dempsey, Nikolai Belinski, and Takeo Masaki. In addition to them, Victor Reznov, Frank Woods, and Alex Mason from the original Black Ops and Raul Menendez from Black Ops 2 are included as well. Treyarch definitely embraces its history in this mode and it’s very appreciated. There is also a customizable character here, but with the above-mentioned cast, this feature was ultimately skipped over. Since this is a Battle Royale mode, character customization is the only aspect that players can control before each match. Guns are only able to be found around the map, but a twist on this is its perk system. Perks offer a limited-time buff to players that have varying advantages. For instance, Outlander reduces damage taken from the circle, and Looter shows the location of nearby loot. These can allow for many different styles of play while providing unique matches with different outcomes. Because of this, skill comes into play, but perks can help out both novice and veteran users. Combat The core aspect of this mode is its gameplay, which is addicting but can last longer than expected. Each match is an involved approach, strategizing is very much needed, as well as stealth. Due to the immense size of the map, camping also becomes easier to run into. Blackout feels more in line with PUBG rather than Fortnite due to these factors. There are plenty of well-placed hiding spots and vantage points, so hearing a gunshot feels very intense. Zones take its inspiration from popular maps like Nuketown and Firing Range, but they aren’t simply copied and pasted. They have new appearances and twists that enhance their looks and make it feel like something not experienced before. In between the maps are plenty of houses and buildings containing loot which ultimately helps in ensuing battles. Gunfights can become tactical in trying to find cover and enemy weak points. Dying takes longer than normal thanks to armored vests and the 150 starting HP. This can grow frustrating extremely fast. It would help to lower health down to 100 with vests boosting the total to 200 HP, but this appears to be an issue with Black Ops 4 as a whole and not just found here. Looting houses and enemies take more time because items can’t be seen well from a distance. Players must walk up close to see what they can get their hands on. In doing so, simply finding weapons and perks can be risky. The safe zone starts off wide and doesn’t close too quickly, but not too slow either. All of these make it a truly enjoyable mode with plenty to offer in terms of replayability. Call of Duty has so far taken the popular mode and added its own flare to it, in a good way. Blackout is an engaging mode and surely demands its own spotlight in a sea of competitors. This will no doubt shake things up once Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 launches Friday, October 12 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.