Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s recently concluded multiplayer beta had a healthy dose of problems, but that’s what betas are for. Developer Treyarch did a commendable job addressing most of the biggest issues from the beta’s first weekend in time for the second, with promises that some of the more persistent issues will be dealt with in time for the game’s full launch. And yet, my problem with Black Ops 4 is not any of the issues the community has brought up, but the one issue they haven’t.
For the most part, I shared many of the same concerns as the community about the Black Ops 4 beta. Body armor was too powerful, the spawn system couldn’t figure out which way was up, and the weapon balancing seemed kind of all over the place. However, none of these issues came close to my biggest problem with the beta: the game’s cripplingly stiff target assist on console. Target assist—or the slowing of a player’s aim speed when passing over an enemy—is expected on console shooters, given an analog stick’s slight lack of precision compared to a mouse, but Black Ops 4 takes this handicap way too far.
When I tried to aim at someone during the beta, it felt as though my aim was completely locking up. This often prevented me from both minutely adjusting my aim to recenter an enemy, and effectively track moving targets. I play my shooters at fairly twitchy speeds, but even at the game’s maximum aim sensitivity, slight nudges to the analog stick were insufficient in microadjusting my aim, while more aggressive pushes to the stick would cause the target assist to suddenly snap and overshoot the enemy. This lack of flexible precision made engagements at any range unnecessarily frustrating, and much less skillful than they could potentially be. Just as aggravating was what would happen when a second enemy would run close to my initial target, ripping my aim away from where I was originally trying to point. This is a common issue in many Call of Duty games, but never has it been this problematic.
While Black Ops 4 does feature the option to turn target assist off completely, this left me woefully ill-equipped to face off with anyone at longer ranges. The person who can snap to targets will win out in long-distance fights essentially every time. As this suggests, Black Ops 4’s general controller settings are both the problem and the solution. Compared to other game series in the genre—Overwatch, Battlefield, Titanfall, etc.—Call of Duty has always had disappointingly limited sensitivity options, and Black Ops 4 is so far no different. Why can’t I adjust my own target assist strength? Where is the option to change my deadzone percentage? And would a target assist window adjuster really go amiss? These are the kinds of options Call of Duty’s competitors currently sport, and it is one of the areas in which the series is getting the most left behind.
The reason Black Ops 4’s target assist issues are getting my particular focus over the other issues being discussed is just that: no one is discussing it. Apart from some adamant agreements from my own peers, I have struggled to find more than a small handful of others online who have brought up the issue, and frankly, it is making me feel like I’m taking crazy pills. Everyone will have their own gripes based on what issues affect their personal playstyle the most, but I refuse to believe only my aim was impeded by Black Ops 4’s current design. Considering the number one counterargument to my point will undoubtedly be low-blow shots at my personal skill, I feel obligated to convey that I earned the top spot in nearly every single match I sought it, leaving me unable to figure out why everyone else seems satisfied with letting the game stifle our potential to excel.
More flexibility and options in gaming is objectively better than less, which is why I gravitated to the shooter series mentioned above. They allow me to find my own personal niche in the feel of my aim, never robbing me of a kill through something out of my control (at least in terms of precision aiming). Bringing Black Ops 4 to this level would be an easy fix, and the first step is simply getting people talking about it.