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Things CoD: Blackout does better than Fortnite

Both Fortnite: Battle Royale and Call of Duty's new multiplayer mode Blackout bill themselves as battle royale games. And on the surface, they do appear to employ the basic tenets of that genre. You drop down onto a map full of enemy players with survival as your sole objective. You have one life to live, which means a single death is game over. And it's a good idea to forage around for supplies before you jump into any gunfights — lest you get outgunned by someone with better weapons.

But those above examples are where the similarities end.

Until this year's Black Ops 4, the Call of Duty franchise has sat out of the battle royale craze. Games like Fortnite and PUBG have come in and made names for themselves. But the undisputed king of shooters, Call of Duty, has simply sat back and watched. But that time wasn't spent idling by. Instead, the team at Treyarch watched, listened, and then built a battle royale game that feels like a Call of Duty game, yet adds new twists to the CoD multiplayer experience. The end result is a game that many feel outdoes Fortnite in a lot of different ways.

Today, we'll look at some of the things this new Blackout mode does better than Fortnite.

There's no building

Fortnite: Battle Royale, for all its popularity, isn't strictly a shooter. Sure, it helps if you've played shooting games before, and if you have the fast thinking and quick reflexes needed to be good at them. But there's a whole other side of Fortnite that some feel sets it apart for the worse. Because in addition to gunning down any opponents that cross your path, you have to collect resources. You have to chop down trees, take a pickaxe to brick walls, and turn cars and light poles into heaps of scrap. And then, as the player count dwindles and the storm drives you closer, you have to use all of those materials to build. Build high. Build low. Build like your life depends on it, because it does.

Fortunately, Call of Duty's Blackout mode has none of that.

Blackout is a battle royale game more in the vein of PUBG. You'll drop down onto a map full of unfriendly faces. You'll need to loot yourself some weapons. And yes, you'll need to be strategic in order to stay alive. But you absolutely won't, under any circumstances, encounter any building mechanics. When the match is nearing its end and it's you against a handful of other players, you won't have to watch them build a fortress into the sky in what seems like seconds. Instead, you'll all be forced to settle things with a good old fashioned gunfight. And that's how it should be.

Air and sea vehicles are part of the experience

Vehicles in Fortnite are more novelty items than anything. For starters, they're sparsely spaced around the map, so the odds of you coming across one aren't all that high. And if you are able to find one, they don't really do all that much. A golf cart can help you cross the map more quickly, sure, but that's about it. And a shopping cart is ... a shopping cart. You have to push it yourself, and it only ever serves as a speedy mode of transportation once you find a hill. Add to that the fact that these are only land vehicles, and you may come to the conclusion that Fortnite's vehicles are pretty limited.

Which makes Blackout's approach to vehicles such a breath of fresh air.

The vehicles in Blackout aren't just about transport. The Little Bird helicopter, for instance, comes with its own weapons. And they're not tied down to dry land, either. Yes, there are vehicles for buzzing around hills and streets, such as ATVs and cargo trucks. But that Little Bird helicopter gives you an air option if you want a view from the sky. And the Zodiac boat offers you a way to cross large bodies of water quickly. No more trudging across a lake or taking the long way around. Variety is always a good thing, and Blackout definitely has variety in its vehicles.

New characters are unlocked via progression

Let's make things clear: Fortnite is a free-to-play game and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a full-price retail release. The two games make money in different ways, and as a result, handle things like unlocking characters and skins in different ways. With Fortnite, you either pay out of pocket for V-Bucks to purchase the skins you want, or you purchase a Battle Pass and unlock your characters throughout the course of a season. And depending on how much you play the game and how many skins you buy, those costs could add up. There's a chance you could actually spend more than the $60 a typical game costs.

Blackout, however, takes a different approach. All the characters are in the game at the start. You just have to progress to unlock them.

In a world where microtransactions are becoming more and more common, it's kind of nice that you can just pay your $60 and know that you don't have to spend any more. Blackout doesn't ask that you drop $10 for a new character, or purchase a Battle Pass of some kind. Instead, leveling up in the game will unlock your first few characters. After that, additional characters will have quests tied to them, requiring you to achieve milestones in game in order to unlock them.

It's a welcome break from the norm — so long as you have the time to play.

The first-person perspective just works better for shooters

There's a time and a place for third-person shooters. Usually, games that make use of this perspective have cover mechanics, allowing you to duck behind cover and shoot out. But in Fortnite's case, the third-person view is necessary not because you can use cover, but because you need to build in order to protect yourself. And third-person does, indeed, making the building aspects of Fortnite easier to navigate. But it definitely detracts from the shooting experience.

Which is why it's such a relief that Blackout can only be played from the first-person perspective.

Blackout's decision to use first person shouldn't come as a huge surprise. The Call of Duty games have been first-person shooters for 15 years. And that perspective lends itself to shooting games far more than the third-person perspective can. The ability to aim down scope in first-person makes you far more accurate and allows your shooting skills to play more of a part. And hip-firing from a first-person view is far easier to accomplish than it is in a game like Fortnite.

Again, it's understandable why Fortnite plays the way it does. But when it comes to shooting games, the first-person perspective just feels right.

Gunplay feels more polished

In a different world, Fortnite: Battle Royale might not even exist. It's a game mode that was initially tacked on to a crafting and survival game — one that found inspiration from another successful title (Minecraft), borrowed some of its formula, and released at just the right time. It was never built from the ground up to be a competitive multiplayer shooter, so when you compare it to one, it's going to fall a little short in some key areas.

Especially if you compare it to the Blackout mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

When it comes to competitive shooters, the Call of Duty games have been at the top of the mountain for years. Each release has fine-tuned an already solid experience, and each year, fans come out in droves to buy the next game — even if they bought one the year before. The shooting experience in Blackout has that distinct Call of Duty polish, from the speed at which you can gun down an opponent to the feel of the movement. Fortnite has its bright spots, but if you're in the mood for a pure shooter and you're already well-versed in the Call of Duty world, Blackout is a huge step up.

A fog of war element keeps the action intense

Because Fortnite is, at is core, a crafting game, there exists a lot of incentive for you to build. You can build yourself some quick cover in a pinch. You can build yourself a walkway across obstacles, such as lakes or canyons. Or, if you have a bit more time, you can build yourself an elaborate fort and hunker down, waiting for your enemies to try and break their way in.

Fortnite basically encourages you to camp. But Blackout? There will be no camping in Blackout.

The Call of Duty games are notorious for their faced-paced, action-packed multiplayer modes. It seems that Blackout wants to keep that vision intact, which is why it's kept the same shrinking map mechanic that other battle royale games have made the norm. But on top of that, Blackout is also utilizing a fog of war mechanic to obscure distant players and locations, which means your enemies will have a harder time setting up shop across the map to shoot you down. Both the shrinking map and fog of war force players toward each other more deliberately, which means the fun part of a Call of Duty game — the shooting — can happen more quickly and more frequently.

Zombies in Blackout offers a PvPvE take on battle royale

Fortnite certainly puts a unique spin on the battle royale formula with its building mechanics. But it's a game that otherwise adheres to the rules of that formula. It's a 100-player game, either as a solo player or with teams, and the objective is to be the last player, or team, standing. It's a PvP experience, period, and unless you happen to fall a long distance and meet your end on the ground below, the environment isn't out to get you.

Which makes what Blackout is doing so interesting. Because that game mode was billed through and through as a battle royale game with Call of Duty gunplay. But the team at Treyarch is also adding another twist.

You might be familiar with the Zombies mode that's become a mainstay in the Call of Duty franchise. These experiences almost feel detached from the core title, as though they're another game entirely. But Treyarch, the developers of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, have confirmed that zombies will also be making an appearance in the game's Blackout mode, creating a player-versus-player-versus-environment dynamic that not a lot of games currently offer.

Which also means that Call of Duty, long derided for simply copying itself over and over, is now on the bleeding edge of battle royale innovation.