This article is part of our Personal Playthrough series.
The Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 reveal is in the can and as usual, the Call of Duty community is losing its collective mind over it. This isn’t to say that the collective mind-losing is unexpected, or even a bad thing; this happens with almost every Call of Duty game these days. It’s important to note that the existing coverage of Black Ops 4 so far is full of conjecture, speculation, and yes, even opinion. None of these are bad, and they are to be expected when there’s as much mystery around a game as Black Ops 4 at this point. But it’s important to consider that there are a set amount of actual facts that we actually do know so far, and these facts run counter to certain malicious rumors being spread about. This article is an attempt to gather the facts known about Black Ops 4, and they will be presented here in a format that allows them to counter specific rumors about Black Ops 4 that are rendered false by these facts. Sources will be cited accordingly. Just remember that a game’s quality is in the eye of the individual player, ergo no one can truly be 100% objective about a specific game.
Rumor #1: Black Ops 4 will have no story to do with the previous Black Ops titles.
Busted. Black Ops 4 will lack a traditional single-player campaign that’s been featured in other Call of Duty games, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have lore that progresses the story. YouTube personality PrestigeIsKey has made a video pointing out that in Black Ops 3, the Specialists had backstories that one could unlock by grinding multiplayer. By achieving certain kill totals, and using Specialist weapons and abilities in a certain way, one could unlock the myriad story snippets that make up that Specialist’s backstory. These snippets could be accessed through the backs of the Specialist cards in the appropriate menu in Black Ops 3. Now, there’s little indication as to how the Specialist backstories will be handled in Black Ops 4, but considering how some Specialists from Black Ops 3 are making a return in Black Ops 4 (Battery, Firebreak, Seraph, Ruin, Nomad and Prophet), it would be quite foolish for Treyarch to include them without any kind of explanation as to why they’re there. Odds are, since there are no thrusters or Advanced Movement wall runs, the story one can unlock for the Specialists will be of their time before jetpacks or widespread cyber augmentation.
There is a potential twist, however. Treyarch have officially stated that when it comes to DLC, “anything is possible,” meaning a single-player campaign can be tacked on later. Will they? We honestly don’t know.
Rumor #2: Black Ops 4 is just a reskin of Black Ops 3.
Plausible? It honestly depends on your definition of a reskin. Since Black Ops 4 takes place in the Call of Duty franchise, there are obviously going to be similarities between it and other Call of Duty titles. It wouldn’t be called Call of Duty otherwise. But saying it’s a straight-up “reskin” of Black Ops 3 is a bit of a stretch. For one thing, as mentioned earlier there’s no Advanced Movement or jetpacks. This alone is a huge change, in fact such a big change that they had to give returning Specialist Ruin a grappling hook as a new Specialist ability so he can more effectively use his returning Specialist weapon Grav Slam. Many players who disliked Black Ops 3 thought the Advanced Movement was the biggest problem anyway. Moreover, there are four new specialists in addition to the six returning ones (Ajax, Crash, Torque, and Recon), and while some of their abilities might have similarities to previous Specialists (Recon’s Vision Pulse works similarly, but not identical, to Outrider’s version, for instance), there are some brand new abilities that can change the course of gameplay, such as Torque’s Barricade.
Honestly, though, whether people will perceive Black Ops 4 to be a Black Ops 3 “reskin” will ultimately depend on how far they want to take the definition of “reskin.” Which brings us to Rumor #3…
Rumor #3: Black Ops 4 has more in common with Overwatch or Rainbow Six than Call of Duty.
Busted. Or at least it’s busted considering Rumor #2. Yes, it can be said that Black Ops 4 has similarities to Overwatch; Treyarch said in their reveal that they collaborated with Blizzard (makers of Overwatch) on the multiplayer experience, at least when it comes to PC since Black Ops 4 is coming to PC via Battle.net. But consider how Black Ops 3 came out November of 2015, before Overwatch, which debuted in May 2016. Black Ops 3 had its Specialists before Overwatch had its heroes. In fact, Treyarch commented during the reveal that Blizzard actually consulted with Treyarch during development of Overwatch to make it a better shooter. So in reality, who is copying whom?
Furthermore, even though certain Call of Duty staples in Black Ops 4 might be undergoing some changes (such as a greater emphasis on teamwork and not so much on individual kills), there are enough elements coming back from previous Call of Duty games that Black Ops 4 will still have its distinction. For instance, the popular Pick 10 system that temporarily disappeared in World War II will make its return in Black Ops 4, something which neither Overwatch or Rainbow Six has. Players can still customize their weapons in ways that you cannot customize them in the comparative titles. And let’s not forget Scorestreaks - they’re still around, and some from previous titles in the Black Ops series (such as attack dogs, previously seen in Black Ops 2) are making a comeback! I dare you to say Overwatch or Rainbox Six have Scorestreaks. Yes, there are plenty of philosophical changes coming pertaining to multiplayer, but that doesn't mean the CoD franchise is gone as we know it.
Just remember that there are still a lot of things to be revealed when it comes to Black Ops 4. The only way we’ll know for sure if it’s great, if it sucks, or somewhere in between, is to get our hands on a final release copy. Seeing that the YouTube personalities who played it at the reveal were playing it in its unfinished state should say as much. The game is obviously not finished yet, and Treyarch can still make plenty of changes before its October release. Don’t panic.