The rumors were all true and 2018's Call of Duty has been officially announced as Black Ops 4, the same week NBA star James Harden spoiled it by wearing an officially licensed Black Ops 4 hat. While not totally surprising, the news does serve as a bit of reversal for the franchise. The most recent release, Call of Duty: WWII was self-described by publisher Activision as a "back to basics" approach for the series. Call of Duty returned to its roots as a pure World War II shooter, signifying that they'd learn and addressed the franchise fatigue with near-future set, over-to-top games in the series.
Call of Duty: WWII did extremely well, critically and commercially. It smashed the sales figure set by previous Call of Duty entry, Infinite Warfare. WWII was one of the best selling games overall on consoles too. Despite that success Call of Duty is moving ahead with more Black Ops - their top-selling sub-franchise - and its increasingly complex storyline. Although the Black Ops off-shoot of Call of Duty began in the Cold War era, it's now set in the rather far-flung future. The exact opposite of the intentionally slower (and older) Call of Duty: WWII.
Call of Duty publisher Activision and studio Treyarch made the announcement themselves for Call of Duty Black Ops 4, on the same day Ubisoft officially announced The Division 2. In addition to the official reveal of the game and the title, a community event was dated for early this summer for a full reveal alongside the game's release date. Call of Duty Black Ops 4 will release on Friday, October 12 2018. However that won't be the first time that fans will be able to get their first look at the game. There will be a community reveal event on May 17 that will unveil the next chapter of the Black Ops saga to fans. This event is set for nearly a month before E3 2018. Although it's almost guaranteed that more information about Black Ops 4 will come out at E3.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 release date is Friday, October 12 2018.
In the official announcement, Activision described the next entry of Call of Duty thusly:
Black Ops is back! In what represents a game-changing experience, Call of Duty®: Black Ops 4 will revolutionize the top-selling series in Call of Duty® history when it launches worldwide on Friday, October 12 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Call of Duty fans can tune in Thursday, May 17, when publisher Activision, a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI), and award-winning developer Treyarch host the community reveal to a worldwide audience.
The return Black Ops is a definitely a U-Turn for Call of Duty but takes advantage of their being three lead developers embracing three different styles (or time periods in this case) alternating years. However, as previously discussed here on Screen Rant, it's a reversal that makes a lot of sense. Call of Duty: WWII did extremely well but its sale figures don't match up to the second entry in the Black Ops franchise. Call of Duty Black Ops II is the best-selling Call of Duty game by far and to this date, Black Ops III is still getting strong DLC support despite debuting before Infinity Warfare and last year's Call of Duty: WWII (which happens to be the best-selling Call of Duty game on the current generation of consoles). Still, WWII couldn't match the numbers that Black Ops turned out on the elder generation of Xbox 360 and PS3.
Black Ops 4 represents a new chapter for the franchise when it comes to the narrative structure. Typically Call of Duty hasn't continued a single story line (or subtitle) for more than three entries. Modern Warfare ended after Modern Warfare 3 and the first entries in the series stopped their numbering after they hit 3. The release of Call of Duty Black Ops 4 makes the storyline, officially, the longest running one in the franchise. This is especially true if the game World at War is included. Even though World at War has a different branding it did launch some of the characters and plots that continued in the later Black Ops games.
Obviously Activision and Treyarch are keeping the extensive details of Black Ops 4 close to their chest for the moment. However, it's possible that Black Ops 4 could attempt to merge the two sides of the franchise into one entry. Even though the campaign of Black Ops 3 was set in the future, the Black Ops franchise has a long history of jumping around in time. It's likely that, building off the success of WWII, Black Ops 4 will attempt to join the futuristc and historical eras of Call of Duty into one game.
This is, of course, nothing but speculation. Fans will just have to wait to hear more about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 in the build-up to it's release date on October 12.