Electronics Arts and Activision haven't been quiet about the fact that their upcoming first-person shooters, Battlefield V and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, respectively, will offer battle royale modes, similar to games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite. The companies have been less vocal about how exactly their battle royale modes will play, but each shared more information this week as their new titles approach release.
We got our first real glimpses of what Battlefield V and Black Ops 4 have planned in August. EA released a trailer for Battlefield V showing a war-torn town slowly being engulfed by a ring of fire, and Activision tweeted a teaser confirming that Black Ops 4's battle royale mode will offer solo, duo and squad modes.
Battlefield V Battle Royale Mode: Firestorm
EA offered more details in yet a new trailer for Battlefield V this week. The new video reveals that the game's battle royale mode is called Firestorm--which makes sense given the ring of fire in the previous trailer--and that it will pit 16 squads of four players each against each other. This latest trailer also said that Firestorm will feature "destructible buildings, weaponry and vehicles" in "the largest Battlefield map ever."
Another interesting detail from the new trailer is the fact that EA singled Firestorm out from other multiplayer game modes. That could just be to draw attention to a mode unique to Battlefield V, rather than modes that debuted earlier in the series, but it could also mean Firestorm is separate from Battlefield V proper (cue fan speculation that Firestorm will be free-to-play so it can better compete with the likes of Fortnite).
We'll find out more as Battlefield V gets closer to release. EA and DICE recently delayed the game from October to November so the developers could better react to feedback garnered during the game's open beta, which starts on September 6. Note that the open beta won't support the ray tracing features debuting with Nvidia's Turing-based GPUs, but it's supposed to be added in a day-zero patch for the full release.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Battle Royale Mode: Blackout
Not wanting to be left out, Black Ops 4 developer Treyarch also shared more information about its game's Blackout battle royale mode with Game Informer. The developer revealed that Blackout will feature AI-controlled zombies, much like the ones from the wave-shooter-like Zombies mode, to introduce another hazard that must be managed by anyone who wants to outlive their opponents to secure that sweet victory.
The introduction of a new dangerous element to Blackout could drastically change the battle royale formula. Players often gravitate to hotbeds of activity, so if someone has to clear out a bunch of zombies, there's a good chance they'll be low on resources when someone comes to investigate. Assuming the mode also features the ever-shrinking safe zones of other battle royale titles, things could quickly get pretty hectic.
Treyarch also said that Blackout matches will feature 80 players during the beta, and potentially when it officially debuts, because it wants to optimize performance over hitting the somewhat arbitrary number of 100 players in a lobby. That's a lot of people to manage, especially if many of them survive to late-game, and games like PUBG and Fortnite often struggle to maintain performance when a lot of players converge.
Blackout could end up with a higher player count after the beta--maybe Treyarch will find a solution that lets it up the count to at least 100 players without sacrificing performance--but right now it seems like the developer is emphasizing the right aspect of the game. Part of the reason people are so curious about Firestorm and Blackout is their desire to see a battle royale from a AAA studio; that means it needs to be rock steady.
We'll get to feel the effects of these decisions ourselves as the Blackout public beta kicks off later this month. PlayStation 4 players have an early invite to the party--they'll get in on September 10. Gamers on Xbox One and PC, meanwhile, can experience Call of Duty's first stab at a battle royale mode starting September 14, or September 15 for PC gamers without early access privileges from pre-ordering the game.