Activision responded to Polygon’s request for comment by stating: “We don’t comment on rumor and speculation. We look forward to revealing Black Ops 4 on May 17th.” The non-answer isn’t unexpected, but Waypoint’s Patrick Klepek said he was working on the same story when Polygon’s report was published.
From Polygon’s reporting, it sounds like time was the main factor in Treyarch’s decision to drop the single-player campaign. Although this seems odd, considering the series is developed in three-year cycles by a trio of studios, it’s possible that the series’ move from an early November to October 12 launch with Black Ops 4 contributed to the time crunch.
As a result, Treyarch has shifted its focus to beefing up the competitive multiplayer and cooperative Zombies mode. It’s also possible that there will be additional cooperative modes in lieu of a single-player campaign, although it doesn’t seem like that idea is a sure thing yet.
If a rumor from Call of Duty fansite Charlie Intel is true, a Black Ops 4 battle royale game mode could also fill the void. Shortly after Polygon’s report came out, Charlie Intel reported that Raven Software is developing a battle royale mode for Black Ops 4. Raven Software previously handled Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered. Treat this as more of a rumor, but Charlie Intel often leaks accurate Call of Duty news — the site also reported that the main multiplayer offering could be more similar to Overwatch than past Call of Duty games, possibly with different traversal mechanics than we’ve seen from the series before.
In light of this new development, it’s interesting to rewatch the Black Ops 4 teaser Activision released in March. Although it contained just brief flashes of gameplay, it opened with story beats that would appear to fall in line with the rest of the Black Ops subseries. Now, though, as Polygon pointed out, the “Forget what you know” tagline at the end of the video can possibly be viewed as a fresh start.
This will mark the first time in the series’ 15 year history that a game will launch without a single player campaign. Admittedly, Call of Duty has become mainly known for its multiplayer over the past decade, starting with the release of 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
But it wasn’t like the single-player campaigns were floundering. Just last year, Call of Duty: WWII‘s campaign was a critical hit and delivered one of the best World War II stories we’ve played. And the mind-bending Black Ops timeline would’ve been neat to explore again.
For those who appreciate Call of Duty campaigns, cross your fingers that Black Ops 4 is merely an anomaly. It would be strange to see Call of Duty go down the multiplayer-only path.
Activision is set to reveal Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 on May 17. The game launches on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 12.
Update on April 19: Added info from Charlie Intel report comparing competitive multiplayer to Overwatch.