Call of Duty Black Ops 4’s new specialist, Zero, was so effective she’s already been nerfed. But even with the significant patch that came out earlier this week, she’s still one of the most powerful specialists on the field, and in the hands of a competent player, she can turn whole matches on their head in seconds.
Zero isn’t the first time Treyarch added a hacking mechanic to their multiplayer. Back in Black Ops 2, the Black Hat equipment played much the same role as her Ice Pick.
With a few seconds, players could destroy or take control of any enemy placeable equipment or streaks. The Black Hat returned in Black Ops 3 much reduced and saw limited use as a result.
The difference for Zero is that she can do all that, and hack other players, too. What in Advanced Warfare was a sometimes difficult to earn killstreak has become all but a certainty if there’s a Zero in the match, and even in her post-nerf state, you will see plenty of players making use of her skills.
So how can you take up the Zero mantle and make your enemies’ lives miserable? Read on to find out.
Disruptor’s Good to Go
Zero’s EMP grenade is everything you’d expect: it disrupts enemy HUDs, cancels their ability to use streaks, and destroys all equipment within a given radius.
Brainless, right? Not really. Like Ajax’s Nine Bang (itself on the receiving end of a significant nerf), the EMP’s use is somewhat situational and takes slightly more forethought to use effectively.
You want to know two things before you decide to toss an EMP:
- Whether enemies will be within its radius
- Whether its use benefits anyone but Zero
The first point should be obvious. An EMP is worthless if it doesn’t connect with anyone, even with its relatively short cooldown time. You’ll need to have a general idea of how troops flow on each map and some concept of where they’re likely to be in the middle of a round.
Luckily, few people run suppressors and Fog of War and UAV should give you a good idea of who’s where, when.
The second point is purely a personal choice. You can use the EMP as a survival tool, but it’s not going to stop someone from shooting you like Torque’s Barricade or Razor Wire might. It’s not going to blind anyone like the Nine Bang. That said, there’s always a chance you’ll catch someone off guard just long enough to duck behind cover.
In short, you have to put a little thought into where and when you use the EMP, but don’t hesitate to use it when you have it available. It will win fights for you or your teammates.
Zero Day Exploit
The Ice Pick. Perhaps the most powerful specialist ability, capable of affecting almost anything and everything the enemy team could use against you, including themselves.
It has no range limitation, no effective perk counter, and though it has a longer cooldown, once used everyone on the map immediately feels the effects.
It has a few weaknesses: the tablet takes up the whole screen, robs its user of mobility, and the hack takes enough time for spawns to flip, forcing a premature end to any Zero player’s plans.
Make no mistake, however. Its strengths far outweigh any of its limitations. That means the next question is:
“Why not use it as soon as I have it?”
Simple. A full team hack is nice to have, but if you can rob your enemy of crucial assets in the air and on the ground, you’ll get a lot more out of a single hack than just 60 points.
The best way to use the Ice Pick, then, is to wait until momentum shifts away from your team. The moment you feel like you and your teammates are standing on the back foot, because of killstreaks, equipment, or otherwise, make a point of removing those advantages all at once.
If you feel like the match will remain in your favor regardless of a hack, use it instead as a turbo boost. An enemy on the back foot is more likely to take additional caution when he hears a hack is on the way. Once it goes through, you’ll put any streak or equipment resistance on hold.
In either case, you’ll want to find a low-traffic area of the map, hunker down, and make the enemy team’s life a living hell. For 30 seconds, at least.
So we know how to use the EMP. We know the power of the Ice Pick. Now how do you play Zero at every other time, and how does she play with her full kit available?
Like every other Specialist with a focus on speed.
Crash, Battery, Ajax, Ruin. If you know what it means to play these Specialists, you understand the value of being in someone’s face whenever possible.
Zero is no different. Be aware that a hacked enemy can still shoot you, but everything else about them save their healing is unusable. They are a walking gun, nothing more.
You’ll want to focus on weapons you can count on, the fast, powerful stuff that grants mobility without sacrificing firepower. That means SMGs, ARs, and certain LMGs with the right loadout.
Lead an engagement with your EMP, then rush in when your opponent is disoriented. Also be aware that the EMP has a wide radius, so the enemies it hits might be farther away than you expect.
If the Ice Pick is up and it’s a good time to use it, do so and head to a high-traffic area of the map to take advantage of your foes’ disorientation.
When you’re playing on a more wide-open map, I would advise against Zero in some cases, especially if there are a lot of long sightlines that make her EMP less of an asset. Thankfully, there are enough close-quarters areas on Black Ops 4’s maps you can hang out and make the best use of her kit.
If you must play slow, you’ll be hampering Zero’s immediate effectiveness. Sure, you might have an easier time getting to the Ice Pick, but you deny your team the more localized EMP support. You’re also robbing yourself of the opportunity to make a real nuisance of yourself.
And at the end of the day, that’s what Zero is all about: being the biggest nuisance on the battlefield. Her job isn’t holding down a position, clearing a room, or making sure teammates have a better chance of winning their gunfights.
Her job is ensuring the enemy can’t do anything she doesn’t want them to do.
What’s more fun than control like that?
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 remains on track to be one of the best shooters of 2018 as long as Treyarch can keep from meddling too much in the core mechanics that make a Call of Duty title tick.
Zero comes dangerously close to crossing that line, but her addition manages to shake up the Specialist meta in a way some players won’t like, but others will love.
If you’re still on the fence about picking it up, check out our review. If you’re looking to take your gameplay to another level, read our Specialist guide. And don’t forget that there’s plenty of other Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 content on GameSkinny. It’s all right here.