Activision and Treyarch have finally pulled back the curtain on Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and it's fair to say that the blockbuster shooter that was famous for sticking to its guns is completely changing this year. What's new? What's gone? What's with the time travel? Read on to find out more...
No single player?
That's right. Black Ops 4 will not have a standalone story mode for solo play, making it the first in the long-running series to ditch this traditional fixture of the FPS genre. Of course, when the big movers and shakers in gaming are titles like Fortnite and Overwatch, the idea that you need a linear story based around old-fashioned concepts like "levels" starts to become less important.
“When we set out to make this game, we never started with the idea that we would make a traditional campaign,” Treyarch co-studio head Dan Bunting said in a Polygon interview. “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.“
If you're thirsting for some solo action, the game will still feature standalone single player missions based on each of the multiplayer Specialist Operator characters.
Black Ops 4 takes place, chronologically, in between Black Ops 2 and Black Ops 3. That means while there will be advanced tech at your disposal, you won't be seeing wall-running, rocket-boosting mech-suited soldiers. It is, as Treyarch describes it, "boots on the ground".
Not all the ideas from Black Ops 3 have been ditched though. Specialists are returning, with Seraph, Ruin and Firebreak all getting new abilities. They'll be joined by new Specialists with similar GI Joe-style names: medic Crash, saboteur Torque and recon expert...er, Recon. Each will have their own tactical abilities, suggesting a more class-based approach than previous COD games, as well as weapon mods specific to their play style. The Pick 10 system of loadout preparation is also returning.
Other changes include "guns up" - a feature which means you can still shoot while throwing a grenade, calling in a strike, vaulting over objects or anything else that would normally leave you vulnerable for precious seconds.
There's more info on Black Ops 4 multiplayer here. Oh, and you no longer have recharging health. Wait...
Black Ops 4 has dropped recharging health?
Yep. You'll have to manually heal yourself using an injectable stim-pack. This is to force players to be a bit more tactical rather than dashing around constantly. You'll have to weigh the pros and cons of charging into a confrontation with the need to disengage and keep yourself healed. Not really an innovation in the FPS genre, but a dramatic change from how Call of Duty has worked for a long time.
Zombies mode is back
Of course it is! One of the most popular activities in the COD arsenal, and one that Treyarch can truly call its own, Zombies mode returns with a new co-op experience that will see four players traveling through time to defeat an ancient evil organization from conquering the planet. Three maps will be included at launch - IX will see you face the undead in a Roman arena, Voyage of Despair will have you battling on a doomed Titanic-esque ocean liner, while Blood of the Dead is set in a prison and is a throwback to the popular Mob of the Dead map from Black Ops 2. If you don't have any friends, you'll be able to play the mode solo with AI partners.
The mode will be more customizable than ever before, with over 100 features you can tweak to your liking including damage output, zombie speed and more. Treyarch is also planning a seasonal approach to Zombies content, with regular special content drops and limited time challenge events for the community.
For more info on the new Black Ops 4 Zombies mode, and lots more video footage, check out our report here.
What about Battle Royale?
Yes, as rumored for months, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has a battle royale mode. It's called Blackout, and takes place on the largest COD map ever with locations and features from every previous Black Ops game rolled up into one massive landscape.
You can use land, sea and air vehicles to get around, but Treyarch promises that while the mode will abide by the rules and expectations of the battle royale genre, it will do so with a uniquely Black Ops touch and will use "controls and gameplay systems" that fans of the series will recognize. We covered it more detail here.
When is Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 released?
The game launches on October 12 this year for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It will also be available on PC, where it will now use Blizzard's Battle.net system for online play and social features. Co-developed by Beenox, the PC version has been built from the ground up as a specific PC experience, and the shift to Battle.net is supposedly to allow this version to be "its own platform".
If you want to watch or relive the entire hour-long Black Ops 4 community event reveal from last night, it's right here.