If you liked PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, but couldn’t stomach its uneven gameplay, you’re going to love the polish that Call of Duty is bringing to the battle royale genre. One thing that adds that waxy shine to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s battle royale mode, out today, is how good the game is at letting players vault over things.
In Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode, I felt unstoppable up until the moment somebody unceremoniously headshotted me. The reason I felt like a superhero is the game’s effortless vaulting, which it got from previous entries in the series. Playing it this morning, I easily climbed on top of crates, up and over fences and even through windows, shattering their glass. The environment was an obstacle course, and I was one of those very slick American Ninja Warrior athletes:
Blackout’s swift vaulting mechanic makes moving around the map fluid and easy. Long-term, that leaves your brain the space to focus on collecting weapons, shooting, hiding and positioning, which is what’s really fun for me. It also means it’s easier to move into the circular playable area:
Vaulting in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which didn’t arrive in the game until late 2017 (nearly eight months after its early access release), still feels frustratingly slow and inconsistent. I’ve found myself plotting escape routes when things get hairy only to find that I couldn’t get over objects I thought were vaultable. Worse, vaulting sometimes happens so slowly that it feels like punishment for moving around the map.
That said, in PUBG, thinking more slowly and strategically—instead of bull-headedly rushing into a new zone—might help mitigate the temptation to just throw yourself in front of enemy fire. In Blackout, it’s easy to just ride on your forward momentum until someone puts you in your place:
In the real world, vaulting isn’t this seamless, even if you’re good enough to compete on Ultimate Ninja Warrior. But I don’t need my video games to be realistic. Let me vault over a fence, or kick through a window. Death to fall damage.