With over 100 million players since its inception in 2003, the player base for Treyarch and Activision’s Call of Duty series is staggeringly large — the biggest of any of today’s shooters, if not of all shooters ever. Few, if any, developers can boast of such an audience, and few series have consistently delivered the goods in the face of such steadily expanding expectations. But the developers are doing just that: expanding the concept while honoring the tradition they created. They recently announced the beloved zombie mode will return for Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and the single player campaign will be tackling new thematic territory in the form of cyberpunk and dystopian themes.
But as much as Call of Duty has steadily expanded in size and scope, there’s one thing fans have wanted all these years — and they’re finally going to get it.
In a blog post today, Treyarch announced modding and mapping tools are coming to Call of Duty: Black Ops III for the PC. Much is subject to change, but the developer stated players will be able to create maps and game modes, and have access to Unranked Dedicated Server files with which they’ll be able to run modded content. There will also be an Unranked Server Browser allowing players to find servers with modded content. The alpha for the toolset will be closed and released in March 2016.
Console gamers may be frustrated to learn the toolset is only confirmed for the PC version of the game, but it’s unclear if they’ll be able to access the unranked server and play with the modded maps and content. It’s also unclear if Xbox One gamers — since Windows 10 will soon be added to the mix — will have access to the toolset or modded content in ways their PS4 brethren will not. And lastly, asset creation (characters and weapons) is also unconfirmed.
March 16 is a fair clip away from the game’s release this Friday, but the tools should reinvigorate the player base and extend the game’s life cycle (if the game’s online presence is slowing down by then). Given how large and enthusiastic the Call of Duty audience is, Treyarch is opening a potential Pandora’s Box. A wealth of new COD experiences is on the horizon. And if asset creation is included, we can expect new maps and game modes in all the previous milieus of the series: World War II and modern warfare, and can also expect maps and game modes from wars not yet explored by COD. Vietnam, the American Revolution, the Fallout universe, Star Wars — we’ll stop ourselves there, but the possibilities are endless.
Even if asset creation is impossible, or if the modded content is unplayable for console gamers, this is still big news. The biggest player base of any shooter is being given the keys to the kingdom. We can expect great things.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III arrives on November 6.