Feature

Breaking Down Blackout’s Vehicles

by Javy Gwaltney on Sep 05, 2018 at 02:00 PM

Earlier this week, we revealed the kinds of vehicles Treyarch is bringing to Black Ops 4's battle royale mode, Blackout. However, during our trip, we also got hands-on time with the game to take the vehicles for a spin ourselves and see strategies the developers used with them to surge toward victory.

Here are our impressions of the vehicles, and some helpful hints on how to use them once the Blackout beta hits.

The ATV

Fast and deadly, the ATV is the perfect vehicle for roaming the hilly countryside bits of Blackout’s map. One of the strategies Treyarch discussed is squads tracking down ATVs and then moving together in formation across the map, speeding by firefights and picking up loot until they’re forced to fight when the circle closes in during the endgame. The ATVs are, unsurprisingly, the easiest and smoothest rides on the map, though the tradeoff is that they’re also the most vulnerable. All it takes is a well-placed shot with a sniper rifle to end your off-roading spree, so keep that in mind as you roll about.

The Cargo Truck

The cargo truck is more than meets the eye. “The cargo truck is particularly cool because it’s a moving platform so you’re not locked into a passenger seat,” says studio design director David Vonderhaar. "You can all freely move around the cargo truck.” This means you could have a friend drive you and the rest of your squad around as the three of you stand or lay prone in the back, unleashing fire on whatever foes you come across. Beyond acting as a moving platform for you and your buds, the cargo truck also lives up to its name and is useful for carting around loot to bypass individual inventory limits. “I would recommend going to a destination with a lot of stuff, grab whatever you can’t carry, and put it in the back of the cargo truck and take it with you,” Vonderhaar says.

Unfortunately, there’s also the danger of putting all your eggs in one basket and then having that basket explode. “We don’t make vehicles complicated to blow up,” Vonderhaar says with a smile. “There is a rocket launcher to find, after all.”

The Zodiac

An inflatable boat, the Zodiac is mostly useful as a getaway vehicle for when the circle starts to close. A huge river cuts through the right side of the map, so having the boat makes zipping away from that particular danger easy. It’s also fun to drop into the water when you see a helicopter approaching overhead and then surfacing back onto the boat once it’s passed by.

The Little Bird

The most noteworthy and eye-catching vehicle, The Little Bird is a small helicopter capable of carrying you and your squad around the map. “It’s pretty fun to have a helicopter in the early stages of the game,” Vonderhaar says. “You can base jump from the helicopter and glide with your wingsuit.”

As you’re piloting the helicopter, your squadmates can fire on foes, transforming the vehicle into vicious death machine that rains lead from above. The Little Bird is also useful for spotting. “You’ll see a guy flying around just pilot, he doesn’t have his squad with him,” co-studio head Dan Bunting explains. “You’ll think he’s not a threat but he’s actually scouting for his squad. They’ll be flying ahead, circling, just trying to find targets and their team will come up on the ground to try and mop up.”

Don’t be fooled: getting The Little Bird doesn’t mean an ensured victory. Vonderhaar cautions players against going for the helicopter every time. “In a game that’s single-elimination, you’re basically flying around, advertising where you are," he says. "That’s a surefire way to get yourself killed. That’s the tradeoff to the Little Bird: super fast, super maneuverable, very vulnerable.”

Other Things To Keep In Mind

Treyarch stresses that though vehicles are a big part of Blackout, choosing not to play with them is also often a wise strategy. “I tend to avoid vehicles unless I have to get them,” Bunting says. “You become a moving target, you make a lot of noise.”

Vonderhaar describes the vehicles spawn locations as places that “make sense.” “We don’t want it to be difficult to find a vehicle, but we kind of indirectly let the map influence where they are," he says. ATVs will likely be in areas with rolling hills while you'll find helicopters on helipads and so on.

It’s worth keeping in mind that Treyarch envisions Blackout as a growing game, so how it evolves will be dictated by conversations between the developer and the community. More vehicles could hypothetically be added or the current ones tweaked after the beta.

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