For the past two weekends, players from across the globe were able to test out the newest instalment of the popular Call of Duty FPS franchise. Black Ops 4 will be the 15th Call of Duty main game and Treyarch’s first attempt at the famous “boots on the ground” style in just under six years. Being the fan-favourite developer, all eyes were on Treyarch to deliver.

Overall, the beta for Black Ops 4, and the Black Ops 3 feel (without the advanced movement) was well received. Highlight reels have been created and opinions formed. Today, we have an interview with James “Spratt” Spratt to gather his thoughts of the game’s sniping aspects.

Spratt’s Thoughts

“Black Ops 4 felt incredible. I was a huge lover of BO3 and it matched that game in all areas, minus the jetpacks of course,” said Spratt. “Although they were aiming to make this game 5v5, I spent most of my time in chaos TDM, which is 6v6, and there was always something happening.” Spratt said, adding “That's the kind of game I love. Where I can always find the action I need or find space to chill and recover. Treyarch always does so well in map design to allow for both types of playstyles, allowing you to adjust your gameplay based on the lobby.”

When asked about the balance of the game and what he felt should be changed, he was quick to express that he looked at the game from the “sniping point of view” and judged his thoughts on “what’s good for the scene and what things allow for negativity.” With this in mind, he replied, “The Koshka has 'Quickdraw 2' which allows for an insanely fast ADS time, and 'Speed reloader' which makes your no scopes almost as accurate as your quick scopes. Most snipers won't admit this, but as fun as it is using them, those two things hurt the scene more than they help.”

Spratt likes the fact that Treyarch often makes ‘sniping only’ a “skill” (as seen by their bold move in Black Ops 3 to remove Aim Assist) but admits these two factors reduce that skill gap and ruins the “spectating view of sniping.” Spratt finished off saying “The rest of the game felt amazing, apart from the flinch... That damn flinch.”

Spratt reiterated much of his previous points when asked about how he thought the game felt from the sniping side “In my eyes, it feels perfect. The removal of aim assist on snipers really does separate the casuals from those who focus solely on sniping and I love that. I'm always up for a challenge and knowing you have to put more time into using that specific weapon to be dominant allows for a larger skill gap and makes it so much more rewarding.” If his points above gets tweaked, he reckons it’ll be a “very enjoyable year for snipers and those who love to watch sniping content,” especially as ‘sniping only’ is always difficult and Spratt feels Black Ops 4 “has the possibility to be the most challenging yet.”

Black Ops 4 adds several changes to the traditional Call of Duty franchise, over even what we have seen from the past few years. The changes include mixing the Specialist abilities to a “boots on the ground” game, the new game modes and probably biggest of all - a manual healing system. I asked Spratt how he felt this new system affected snipers, who generally are a little more aggressive and reckless: “The general healing system definitely slows you down when running and gunning with a sniper. Sniping is not the easiest thing in the world, so pairing that with manual health regeneration throws you into a lot of awkward situations. However, the 'Stim Shot' gear flips that, allowing for insanely fast regeneration time and on a regular basis too. I can say I didn't play many games without it as I was in love with how I could push and outsmart certain enemies with the surprise of stim shot in my pocket.”

The biggest thing with sniping on YouTube is the clips - more specifically the standards of said clips (Quad feeds, Five-ons etc). I asked Spratt what he feels the clip standard is going to be like for Black Ops 4. “It's usually the same thing every year. We start out with quad feeds being pretty impressive, but as we learn and adapt to the game, that'll become a thing in the past. By the end of the CoD year we'll be hitting the unthinkable.” I also asked whether the ‘unthinkable’ will be anything like the six/seven-ons that we saw in previous games--especially the last games of the previous boots on the ground era. “I don't think we'll ever match what has been hit on previous games, especially BO2. Ground war is a huge help in terms of these 'big clips,' and apart from the spawn beacon that can be equipped by the Seraph specialist, allowing people to spawn in bunches, there won't be too many possibilities to hit those huge clips again. With BO4 being primarily 5v5 as well, it'll definitely keep the standards lower until another game mode rolls around to allow extra players.“

Spratt has always been renowned for his incredible sniper shot - most notably on the Black Ops series. He made a name for himself on Black Ops 1, starting his big montage series, “Example:” he released Example 1, 2 and 3 on Black Ops 1, before releasing Example 4 on Black Ops 2. After a hiatus on the series, he then released Example 5, which was once again on Black Ops 1. I asked him whether he felt that he had his famous sniper shot back, like on the previous three Black Ops titles. “To be honest, I get my view of that from the feedback on my videos. I'm my own worst critic, so in my eyes there's always room to improve and I'm never fully happy with my shot/gameplay.” Spratt added, “I almost had that down on the Beta. But yes, it's safe to say people are back to appreciate what I can do with a sniper, on a game you wouldn't think it'd be possible to do that well on. That's the best kind of motivation, knowing you're doing something not many can do, and you're doing it consistently across multiple Call of Duty titles.”

Another thing Black Ops 4 implemented was new game modes. One of the most notable was Control, a hybrid between Search and Destroy and Hardpoint. To win, you had to capture/defend two points until the time runs out, or until the enemy team ran out of a set number of lives. I asked Spratt whether he liked this game mode and whether he feels it will be used for clips, like how Modern Warfare 3 had Drop Zone. “I'm always excited to dive into a new game mode, but to be honest I'm not too big of a fan of Control. It wasn't as intense in terms of pace, it's slower than expected and allows for too much downtime. I'm all about the action and apart from being the last alive to clutch up for your team, I couldn't find many other opportunities to be excited in my gameplay. There's not much incentive to dive on the objective like there is with Drop Zone, or say Hardpoint. You can win the round just by out-slaying the enemy team, which doesn't make for most objective gameplay.“

Quickfire Questions

Paladin or Koshka?

“Paladin.”

Favourite class setup for the answer above.

“Attachments: High Caliber 1 & 2, ADS Reloader

Perks: Scavenger/Dexterity

Gear: Stim Shot

Specialist: Seraph

Streaks: UAV, Counter UAV, Mantis.”

Favourite map and why.

“Gridlock because there is always action happening towards the middle of the map.”

Favourite specialist and why.

“Ruin because grappling is incredibly fun.”

Most overpowered gun.

“ABR.”

Most underpowered gun.

“Strife.”

The biggest thing you want to see changed before release.

“An Extended Mags option for the Paladin.”

Example 6 when?