Black Ops 4 ditches single-player campaign, adds battle royale mode

At a community reveal event today, developer Treyarch confirmed previous rumors that the upcoming will be the first game in the series without a traditional single-player campaign. Instead, the new game will launch on October 12 with a focus on a new “three-pillar” structure of traditional multiplayer modes, alternative zombie-mode side missions, and a new battle royale mode called Blackout.

“It’s all about having fun with your friends,” Treyarch Chairman Mark Lamia said at the end of the event. “More fun than you’ve ever had. doesn’t have a traditional campaign; we’re weaving narrative into each of the modes.”

For those who might prefer playing alone, Lamia promised “unique ways to play solo in multiplayer and zombies [modes] regardless of your skill level,” without going into further detail. “Those of you who just want to ramp up on your own, we’ve got you covered, too,” he said.

While multiplayer modes represent an overwhelming majority of the hours spent on previous games, the single-player campaigns have their devoted fans as well. Treyarch team members even highlighted many of the characters and moments from previous campaigns in the hype-heavy ‘s reveal, highlighting how much of a gap the removal of this pillar will leave.

The move away from an explicitly single-player story mode in one of gaming’s most popular franchises highlights just how much the gaming market has shifted in recent years. As recently as 2012, Lamia told Kotaku explicitly that a single-player campaign was “what we want to do… what we want to create” for , arguing that single player provides a complementary emotional state to the popular multiplayer modes.

“When you’re playing the campaign, you’re sitting down to have that sort of epic and cinematic experience, right? You want to have that first-person role in that experience,” Lamia said at the time.

Last October, EA’s Patrick Söderlund identified the industry-wide move away from these “story-based, linear adventure games” as “fundamental shifts in the marketplace.” That move helped stymie a Star Wars project at the now-shuttered Visceral Games. While such story-driven, single-player adventures are far from dead, the industry’s biggest publishers seem to see more earning potential in focusing heavily on the never-ending, keep-them-coming-back multiplayer competition found in multiplayer-centric hits from and to and .

Blacking out on Battle.net

Treyarch Director David Vonderhaar didn’t bother to hide the fact that ‘s new blackout mode is a direct response to the success of last-man-standing multiplayer shooters like and . “I don’t have to describe to you how battle royale works,” he said, “[but] for us to even consider this kind of experience, it had to be unique and done in a way that only can do.”

The blackout mode itself was only shown in a brief “freeze frame” trailer highlighting many playable characters from the universe’s past, and the new mode wasn’t available to test at a hands-on event after the announcement. But Vonderhaar said the mode would take place on “the biggest map we’ve ever made, 1,500 times bigger than Nuketown.” That map will integrate “the most iconic parts of your favorite maps” from previous games, he added, along with the ability to “navigate with land, sea, and air vehicles.”

Vonderhaar also announced that would be the first game running on Blizzard’s Battle.net online platform for the PC. Activision subsidiary Beenox will be working on a version of the game that’s “custom-built for the PC,” Treyarch co-studio head Mark Gordon said.

PC players will get dedicated servers for “performance and security,” as well as uncapped frame rates and support for 4K HDR ultra-wide monitors. The PC version will also feature tightened gunplay and customized weapon knockback tuned for mouse-and-keyboard controls, much like that seen on ‘s PC port.

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