As Activision reloads its arsenal for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, developers at Treyarch reveal why they decided to ditch the franchise's single-player story mode.
Undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated Call of Duty games in living memory, Black Ops 4 will mark the longest-running sub-series in the entire franchise. Rumors about what the title would (and wouldn't) contain have been doing the rounds for months, but players finally know that it will be a boots on the ground multiplayer experience unlike no other.
The popular Zombies mode will be back, but in a case of out with the old and in with the new, the standard single-player campaign has fallen by the wayside. Now, speaking to Polygon, Treyarch head Dan Bunting explains why Black Ops 4 is very much a cooperative game:
"When we set out to make this game, we never started with the idea that we would make a traditional campaign. That was just not part of our plan. We started from a place that we were gonna make a game that across the board can be playable with friends. That’s been our mission from day one.
"Of course, through the course of development, as always happens with every game, we’re to challenge our conventions … trying different things. Sometimes those things are bold and crazy and innovative sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t work out. As development goes on though, you’re always pushing the best ideas forward and that’s what was reflected today.”
While Bunting claims that it was always the plan to shift focus entirely onto multiplayer, it contradicts previous rumors that Treyarch had to ditch story mode due to it simply not being ready in time. He still refutes those claims and went on to reveal why Treyarch would do away with something that is so core to the Call of Duty franchise:
"If you look at the Black Ops series and how players have interacted with it, how our players are engaged with our games — changes in the industry around us [are] obviously a big part of it — it’s being more and more experienced as a social thing.
Of course we have a very large Zombies following with the Black Ops franchise ... and when you look at how they interact with our game, whether it’s in the game itself, online, forums, streamers, YouTubers … everybody’s interacting as a community and it’s a pretty massive phenomenon. When you see that kind of a passion for our game that we feel is potentially underserved, we want to make sure we have more of that. The same is true of multiplayer.”
It is certainly true that the series as a whole has seen a move to online and a swell in popularity towards multiplayer gameplay. There is also little surprise that the popularity of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite has seen the introduction of a Battle Royale mode. Either way, Treyarch is sticking with the story that single-player was never going to find a place in Black Ops 4.
That being said, single-player isn't totally out the window, and while the likes of Zombies will allow gamers to play alongside some AI bots, the vast majority of Black Ops 4 will rely on finding some friends to play with. Considering that 2015's Black Ops 3 fell short of the mark, there are high hopes that a shake-up to the classic formula can inject some new life into Black Ops 4.
The jury is still out on whether Black Ops 4 is making the right decision by discarding something as well-known as single-player, however, the first reactions to the multiplayer trailer have been overwhelmingly positive thanks to the use of hero-style specialists and a wide array of near-future backdrops to take aim at. Alongside an expanded focus on multiplayer and Battle Yoyale, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is certainly bucking the trend on a franchise that has already been running for the past 15 years.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 12, 2018.