Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has three fantastic multiplayer modes on tap. Blackout is the sole newcomer of that bunch, and we’d understand it if more than a few of you have more than a few questions. Read these tips and take what you learn into Blackout mode to see if you can survive as the last one standing.

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Blackout basics

As Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 doesn’t have much in the way of a tutorial for Blackout, let us help you. This mode is what we like to call Battle Royale.

The schtick is that there are up to 100 people dropping into a huge map, and their sole goal is to survive as the last person or team standing. That means others will be hostile in their attempts to make it to the end, making this a bloodbath from start to finish.

You’ll drop from a chopper and race to the ground to pick up your first gun, shooting anyone who threatens you and picking up better guns and more useful items on the way. Rival players aren’t the only ones gunning for you, though, with a safe zone that continues to collapse and force everyone inward until, eventually, there’s no more room to run.

You will die and fail, a lot. But don’t let that get you down. The only way to get better at Blackout is to continue playing it and trying to be a little bit better than you were the last time. That said, we have some tips that’ll give you a better fighting chance than if you were to go in blind.

Don’t use vehicles unless you absolutely have to

It isn’t often we get vehicles in a Call of Duty game, but there are a whopping four of them to use in Blackout. Land, air, and sea are all covered with a truck and ATV, helicopter, and boat providing your transportation options, respectively.

We understand it if you’d want to hop into these things and take them for a spin every chance you get, but we’d exercise caution with these things. Not only are they loud (which means you’ll be drawing the ire of any hostile bystanders), but they also leave you and your teammates pretty well exposed to gunfire, and the vehicles are also relatively weak to damage.

A fire team of even just 2 people can blow up a military truck with just dozens of rounds. Use the vehicles for desperate getaways or to escape the collapsing circle, but ditch them as soon as you can.

Learn how to land like a pro

Blackout’s skydiving is some of the most forgiving you’ll find in a battle royale game. It’s smooth and fairly easy to land exactly where you want, so long as you aim your camera roughly at the location you intend to go.

But it can be tricky when you want to land somewhere a bit of ways away from the flight path. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to reach any corner of the map if you employ the trusty “S-Drop” technique.

As you jump from the chopper, tilt your camera downward until your character hits a swan dive and the meter on the right reads 70 miles-per-hour or faster. Once it does, pull your camera back and level your character out.

Not only will you continue to fly at comparable speeds, but you’ll also be flying horizontally. Do this in a cycle and it’s possible to go cross-country without spending too much time rocking back and forth on a parachute.

Never go without armor

Don’t go anywhere without armor if you can help it. Level 1 armor will suffice, but level 2 armor will block enough body damage to buy you some time in a firefight. Level 3 armor adds even more protection with you gaining a helmet, though you’ll have to be lucky and find this thing in a supply drop or Mystery Box if you want one.

Stay out of the danger zone

The game will warn you about this an annoying amount of times, but it bears stressing anyway: stay out of the danger zone, at least while you’re still learning the game. You’ll find that the first circle starts hitting your health bar for 2 damage per second, and late game circles do far more. You’ll be fine if you have a pocket full of meds, but then you won’t have any of those for when they really count.

Aim for the head

Headshots are everything in Blackout, especially because the most widely available armor doesn’t offer any cranial protection. Go straight for the head during firefights, because you’ll do way more damage and drop your opponents faster than they can react to your gunfire.

Pick up trauma kits for extra health

Health items are actually plentiful in Blackout. You have bandages and medkits at your disposal, but nothing is better than the trauma kit. These things not only heal you to full form any state, they actually give you an extra 50 health to bring you up to a total of 200. That’s the only way to get that much health in the game, and if you’ve seen how fast the time-to-kill is, you’ll know that every little bit helps.

Use your wingsuit for quick getaways

If you ever find yourself trapped atop a structure, cliff, or even inside a helicopter and you’re looking for a safe way down, just jump off. No, we’re not trying to nominate you for the Darwin Award. You can do this because it’s possible to redeploy your wingsuit at any point in the match. Just jump off like you normally would, only instead of tapping the A button, you hold it. How’s that for a dramatic exit?

Shoot, then look, THEN loot

You should always exercise caution when looting in any Battle Royale game, as all the gear in the world won’t mean anything if you’re dead. But that’s doubly true in Blackout because the game actively makes looting a dangerous affair.

You have to actually open enemy bags and scroll through items one by one to see what’s on them. Swapping attachments from one gun to the other requires opening your inventory screen which blocks your vision and makes you unable to move. And you have to actually look down at items to pick them up if they’re sitting on the floor instead of quickly opening a menu and looting an entire building in seconds.

Oh, and if you’re looting out in the open, go prone. Remember, you can’t move, so if anyone sees you while your head is buried in a bag you are as good as dead.

Horde all the ammo

Unlike some other games, ammo does not count toward your hard inventory space in Blackout. Ammo actually has its own place in your bag, allowing you to store massive amounts of ammunition of all types.

As such, there’s no good reason not to pick it all up. Take what you can in the early going just in case you decide to switch guns later on, and if you’re in a squad then your mates will thank you later for having the exact type of ammo they’re looking for.

Stop bombs dead in their tracks

Blackout uniquely offers a trophy system as one of the gadgets you can find lying around. These things can be lifesavers. Camping in a house? Put one on the wall to protect yourself from enemies who might have the sense to chuck a grenade in there.

You can get even cheekier with the thing and attach it to your vehicle. This effectively shields you from any incoming projectiles like, say, a massive rocket. Save some inventory space to store one of these and use it at the right moments to save yourself from unsuspected objects flying your way.

Fix Blackout’s awful looting button

Annoyingly enough, Blackout’s default control scheme has you holding down the X button to pick up loot. Thankfully, Treyarch added an option to change the looting mechanism to a tap mechanic instead. This will make it much more natural and quick to pick items up.

There is a downside to this option, however: if you need to reload while you’re near items, it’ll favor picking up the item over the reload. This can be a deadly downside in a lengthy firefight, so only exercise this option if you’re comfortable with the risk.

Grab a gift from the sky

Seeing an airplane in other Battle Royale games is a common event, but it’s rare you’ll benefit from it unless you’re just this unkillable specimen of a gamer. Instead of chasing down supply drops that have surely either been looted or is being watched by snipers by the time you get there, try to knock one out of the sky. It’s possible if you’ve found the Hellion rocket launcher, so next time you thought you saw a bird, a plane, or some other strange flying object over your head, let her rip.

Use your items without skipping a beat

As dangerous as it is to go into your inventory, you should know that you don’t have to enter that menu to use gadgets, throwables, consumables, and perks. Simply press up on the d-pad and scroll left or right to access all these items on the fly. Press X to equip your preferred medical equipment, gadgets, and throwables, and hold X when hovered over a perk to activate it. You could even do all of this while in full sprint.

You can run and heal at the same time

Building on the previous tip, let us be perfectly clear that you can use and activate any item in your d-pad menu while moving, including healing items. This means it’ll be much easier to heal while trying to escape the danger zone or in the middle of an intense firefight. Keep moving and don’t stop healing!

Don’t overindulge on perks

Yes, Blackout has perks, and you’ll want to use them as much as you can. But don’t get too crazy picking all of them up and activating them, though. Not only does each perk take up one whole inventory slot, but that inventory slot stays filled throughout the entirety of its duration when activated.

So don’t overindulge. Pick up only what you need, and activate them when it makes the most sense. Some of the perks are highly situational. You won’t need Looter — which lets you see loot through walls — if you’re in the late game and out in the desert, while those who aren’t sniping can ditch the Iron Lungs perk which steadies your aim through a sniper scope (and also lets you hold your breath underwater longer, though that part of it isn’t quite as useful). It’s up to you to decide which scenarios call for which perks and when to pop them, so figure out your preferred playstyle and plan accordingly.

Find stronger weapons (and zombies) at the Mystery Box

Look in the sky and look for a beam of light erecting toward it: there are zombies there, but more importantly, there’s also guaranteed to be a Mystery Box. This little relic from the Zombies mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will grant you some decent weapons, and if you’re lucky you’ll even find crazy stuff like a ray gun.

The catch is that you’ll need to kill a horde of zombies in that area before the box can open, an act which not only consumes ammo but also makes a ton of noise. It can be worth the risk, though. Grab a cymbal monkey to attract the zombies and blow it up once they’ve huddled around it to make the killings a little bit easier. Snag the weapon and the box will be on its way to another random location.

And if you’re beyond the first few collapses of the safe zone, don’t even think about it. The zombies get stronger the longer the game goes, and you don’t want to be messing around with them when more deadly foes are sure to be right around the corner.

PS: There’s a chance for zombies to drop classic World War 2 weapons, so be on the lookout for those if you want some throwback fun.

Create your own rolling early detection system

This last little trick is worth trying for the cool factor alone, but it’s also damned helpful in a game where information is key. If you find an RC car, take it without hesitation. You can roll it up a hill and around a corner to scope out an area without putting yourself in harm’s way. It’ll be just like Home Alone, only without the terribly neglective parents and dirtbag criminals looking to capture the world’s cutest boy.

Now, if you are really lucky and also come across a sensor dart, you can attach the dart to the RC car and have yourself a rolling enemy detection system that’ll expose anyone in and around the thing. You can also do the same thing to an actual vehicle, though if you’ve been paying attention to now you’ll know that we wouldn’t advise using one of those for too long.

Don’t give up!

Most importantly, don’t let your first few or 10 or 100 games get you down. It’s tough to win a battle royale, and even the best players will eventually fall short of the mark. Just remember that Blackout is all about having fun, going as far as you can, and learning from each game you play,

So, our final tip to you is to shake those bad feelings off you’ll inevitably get after a loss and hop right into the next one. The fun of it all is that no two games are quite the same, so you never know what could end up happening in your next session. Have fun!

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