It turns out that the earlier rumors were too good to be true after all. There will definitely be a season pass attached with Black Ops 4 and despite Activision flaunting a live service model, the Black Ops Pass will once again demand extra for access to core post-release content.
While other multiplayer offerings are moving into the future by doing away with the traditional season pass, the Call of Duty franchise continues to live in the past. Activision should know better than to keep testing its passionate player-base.
Here are six improvements for Activision to consider for the dreaded Black Ops Pass.
Make the multiplayer maps free
The first and foremost step in the right direction is to vanquish any thought of locking meaningful content behind a nasty paywall. The fact that there are twelve multiplayer maps in the Black Ops Pass is unacceptable. These will only serve to split the community between players with the new content and those without.
This segregation is what casts a dark shadow on any such season pass. Someone who has purchased your product at the asking retail price should not be forced to pay extra in order to continue playing with friends.
It is pitiful that Activision is claiming the Black Ops Pass to be an “evolution” that promises to “keep things fresh” in Black Ops 4. The additional multiplayer maps planned for post-release should be available for everyone regardless.
Allow separate purchases at the very least
Every season pass in the past has featured multiple expansion packs that can be purchased separately. The idea is to choose your desired content or save a few bucks on everything by getting the season pass in one go.
It is pretty evil to say the least but the Black Ops Pass moves away from this tradition by forcing the community to go with the bundle. The option to purchase expansion packs separately has been taken away from Black Ops 4.
Activision probably feels that this decision will solve the segregation problem. It will not. It is only going to make it worse. There should firstly be no meaningful content like multiplayer maps locked behind a paywall but if they are, players should not be stuck between either buying all of them or none of them.
XP boosts are pretty okay
Including a few experience boosters to help players level quicker would add a bit of flavor in the Black Ops Pass. It is actually surprising that Activision has not already done so because they are a pretty common sight in a season pass.
Rainbow Six Siege, for example, includes boosters with every season pass. The past Battlefield installments had them as well, and the new Battlefield V should offer them through the free live service called Tides of War.
There might be some players who feel that experience boosters account for pay-to-win since leveling up grants access to new weapons in Black Ops 4.
The argument has merit but only if there are overpowered weapons in the early-game. Treyarch has a pretty good record when it comes to balancing the armory. Hence, it is unlikely for anyone with a few additional levels to have a distinct advantage over others.
Where are the Call of Duty Points?
For whatever reason, the only way for players to earn some premium currency for free is by pre-ordering the game. Simply purchasing the Black Ops Pass on the side will get you nothing.
The amount also depends on whether you go with the Digital Deluxe Edition, the more expensive Digital Deluxe Enhanced Edition, or the overly expensive Pro Edition. The basic offering is just 2,400 CP to start with and this needs to change.
Firstly, the premium currency needs to be part of the Black Ops Pass. There is no reason why it should not be unless Activision has a thing about locking core content with the season pass and premium content with pre-orders.
Secondly, the amount currently established needs to be increased. This is one good way to make the Black Ops Pass feel premium. In fact, being able to obtain free CP from pre-ordering the game and buying the Black Ops Pass would be greatly appreciated.
Where are the Loot Boxes?
In all honesty, it would be better if Activision just went ahead to discard loot boxes from Black Ops 4. However, the controversial gameplay feature is set to return this year and if players are expected to spend extra, the least the publisher can do is include a few loot boxes in the Black Ops Pass.
There is something called “digital bonus items” but they are attached with pre-orders for the aforementioned three bundled editions. They are probably post-release weapons and should have been part of the Black Ops Pass to begin with.
There is also the idea that owners of the Black Ops Pass get access to daily or weekly loot boxes as long as there is no pay-to-win content being unlocked.
Giving away exclusive Cosmetics
Much like any other multiplayer game these days, Black Ops 4 is also going to feature a variety of cosmetic options for players to pursue. These include skins for characters, weapons, and vehicles; as well as other ways to brighten up the online experience with multiplayer emblems, calling cards, emotes, and more.
These are all going to be available in Black Ops 4 through microtransactions but it would have been better if some of them were part of the Black Ops Pass. Suffice to say, Activision is losing an opportunity to sweeten the deal by adding an exclusive skin or two to commemorate the launch.