Polygon reported that the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 “won’t include a traditional single-player story mode.” As someone who buys Call Of Duty every year and plays the campaign on launch weekend, the thought that Black Ops 4 won’t have a “standard campaign” saddens me.
Many outlets publishing news stories based on Polygon’s article are saying that Activision has dropped the campaign entirely, but a line in the report has me thinking that a single-player exists, we just won’t see it for a while.
“The sources, who asked for anonymity, said that as Black Ops 4’s release date approached, it became evident that development on the single-player campaign wouldn’t be completed. One source said Treyarch has since focused Black Ops 4’s development on expanding multiplayer and the series’ popular Zombies mode. The source described an emphasis on cooperative modes as a potential stand-in for the typical single-player campaign experience.”
The source says that “it became evident that development on the single-player wouldn’t be completed.” It makes me believe that the single-player wouldn’t be ready for launch but does that mean it will never see the light of day?
While multiplayer is the reason many people play a Call of Duty game, there are a lot of people (myself included) that look forward to the yearly campaign. The Black Ops games featured some of the best campaigns in the franchise. My feelings are leaning towards the campaign coming at a much later date–and in the form of a Season Pass.
Call of Duty is no stranger to Season Passes. Every installment in the franchise has had a season pass, adding more multiplayer maps and more recently, zombies maps. What if, one of the expansions in the Season Pass included a single-player campaign?
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus and Far Cry 5 both have Season Passes that focus primarily on narrative experiences. Wolfenstein 2 is a single-player video game, so all of the content in the Season Pass reflects that. Far Cry 5 features a campaign that can be played cooperatively and an Arcade Mode that can be played with others. The Season Pass for Far Cry 5 comes with three unique campaigns and the full download of Far Cry 3.
It surprises me that Activision would even consider dropping the single-player campaign. Star Wars Battlefront didn’t feature a single-player campaign, and fans were very vocal about it. Titanfall didn’t have a single-player campaign, and I believe that’s the reason why the game didn’t do as well as Microsoft hoped. It’s worth noting that the reception to both Titanfall and Star Wars Battlefront led to the developers adding single-player campaigns in their respective sequels. Activision and Treyarch may assume that people don’t want a single-player campaign. But, just like any other assumption, it could come back to bite them.
Too many studios focus on multiplayer to add longevity to their games. Destiny and Star Wars Battlefront 2 are games that come to mind. You can play through the story by yourself, but the main draw is the competitive multiplayer. 343i and The Coalition both focus on single-player and multiplayer modes..
Halo 5 and Gears of War 4 have extensive campaigns and rich multiplayer components that keep the player-base returning after each new installment to the franchise.. Having both a solid campaign and multiplayer aspect is the ideal way to go. The new direction that Call of Duty is heading in is concerning. If Black Ops 4 is successful (let’s face it, the game will sell a lot of copies), we may never see a single-player campaign in the franchise ever again. Multiplayer focused games keep adding nails to the single-player coffin.
Many people jump to the multiplayer right away, eventually returning to the campaign down the road. I suspect the reason Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is launching earlier than its usual November release date is due to other potential top-sellers, like the anticipated Red Dead Redemption 2. Maybe Rockstar’s western is the reason for the mid-October release date. Something interesting is that the multiplayer portion, especially the rumored Battle Royale mode have taken a front seat over the single-player. Battle Royale has become popular over the past year. With the three-year development cycle in the Call of Duty franchise, Treyarch has been working on Black Ops 3 since 2015-2016. Surely, the studio has not been making a Battle Royale game-type for a lot of the development time.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is an enigma. Will we be bombarded with countless multiplayer modes? Is this the end of the AAA first-person shooter campaign as we know it? If this experimental strategy works, how will affect the entire industry? While we don’t know what Activision and Treyarch have planned, I’m hopeful that we’ll see a campaign for Black Ops 4. I’m not sure how or when this will happen, but I doubt that Activision will completely ditch a single-player campaign. Not only does it alienate a large portion of their fan-base, but if successful, could lead to a dangerous trend for others to adopt.