Since its 2017 launch, the Nintendo Switch has been blessed to welcome prestigious first-person shooters like Bethesda’s DOOM and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus to its software library. Despite the arrival and success of these AAA first-person shooters, Activision’s Call of Duty remains missing and its nonappearance is one that many have noticed.
Looking to rectify this problem, Gameloft is here to take advantage of Call of Duty’s absence and provide Switch owners with a military first-person shooter in the form of Modern Combat Blackout. It may not have all the spectacle of a Call of Duty release, but Modern Combat Blackout does have all the basics: a diverse single-player campaign and an online multiplayer mode packed with player customization options.
Due to its mobile origins, Modern Combat Blackout’s campaign isn’t a theatrical experience that can rival the campaign found in a Call of Duty release. The game lacks the Hollywood acting and top tier visuals of a AAA first-person shooter and it fails to offer lengthy campaign missions that feel and look like scenes for a summer blockbuster release.
Instead, Modern Combat Blackout’s campaign is structured as a series of short missions that can be completed anywhere from a minute to a few minutes. This approach reminded us of Sony’s PlayStation Vita exclusive, Unit 13. The campaign missions are designed for a quick burst of game time and they succeed in delivering that type of experience. However, due to this design choice, the game’s campaign feels disjointed and, ultimately, lacks any meaningful depth that may keep the player invested in the characters or narrative.
Conversely, by being bite-sized experiences, the campaign missions have high replay value and encourage the player to return to achieve a higher ranking. Furthermore, each mission offers multiple scenarios for the player to experience – meaning one scenario may be stealth and another be assault. This type of design approach provides the game’s missions with variety and allows you to play missions in numerous ways.
Modern Combat Blackout has an online multiplayer mode, complete with various game modes like deathmatch and the standard fare you’d expect from any first-person shooter. With a bounty of character customization options, the multiplayer mode feels robust and offers all the perks you’d find in a big-budget online shooter.
Regrettably, the online performance is subpar. Even after several patches, the online feels slow and lacks the precision you’d expect from an online shooter. Despite these shortcomings, there is entertainment to be had with the online of Modern Combat Blackout on Switch. The online mode is serviceable, and it is fun to play a round or two whenever you have a moment. For casual online first-person play, Modern Combat Blackout succeeds, but it lacks the finesse to be a competitive online option for Switch gamers.
Visually, Modern Combat Blackout won’t impress, nor will it offend. It is clear the game was originally developed for mobile platforms and the game doesn’t do much to take advantage of the Switch’s more powerful hardware. Performance-wise, the game is functional. There are some moments of slowdown during busy areas, but they are just slight hiccups and the game quickly recovers from the misstep.
Modern Combat Blackout isn’t a bad game, but it isn’t particularly impressive, either. It is a substitute for Call of Duty? No. Is it a fun, budget first-person shooter for Switch? Yes. Modern Combat Blackout delivers an entertaining first-person shooter at an affordable price. The bite-sized missions and short burst game design works well and achieves what it sets out to do. It won’t win any awards or be remembered as one of the Switch’s best first-person shooters, but for those looking for a cheap shooter, Modern Combat Blackout is ready for duty.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Gameloft