Following the news that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will not have a single player campaign, it’s got me thinking… does it really need one?
I’ll unashamedly admit that I buy Call of Duty every single year and end up forgetting that I own it.
I even bought Ghosts and I think that says everything you need to know.
But I can also safely say that I’ve never completed a Call of Duty campaign.
I think that I got half way through the Kevin Spacey one before I lost interest.
This is something that Activision have always commented on: how few players actually finish – or even start – a single player campaign in their games.
Personally, I’m not buying Call of Duty for a campaign mode but for multiplayer, even if I am absolutely shocking at it.
The past has shown us that games without campaigns are generally received poorly but can end up being successful in the long run.
Whether or not Treyarch’s gambit to ditch single player will pay off remains to be seen, but there are a few recent titles which can give them hope.
And yes, we are now going to have a run through of those examples…
A necessary evil?
In recent history, we’ve had games without campaigns and fan feedback suggests that it’s something that they have been upset about.
Star Wars Battlefront (before the second ruined it all and got all money-grabbing) was a good game and had a lot going for it in terms of fan service.
One of the biggest criticisms that people had was the lack of a single-player campaign, which was eventually rectified in Battlefront II.
Based on this example it shows that people do indeed want to have some form of single player campaign experience.
Another recent example of a game that doesn’t have a traditional single-player campaign is Rainbow Six Siege.
Instead of focusing on a campaign, Ubisoft decided to devote all of their energy in creating a great multiplayer experience that was robust and full of components that they believed made up for the lack of single player action.
Despite a rocky start, in August 2017, Ubisoft announced that the game had passed 20 million players and that the game was played by 2.3 million players every day.
So we can see that a more refined multiplayer-focused experience without a single-player element can capture an audience and be very successful.
So, let’s talk about multiplayer
At its best, Call of Duty’s multiplayer is fantastic.
When it gets it right, games can flow well and the games are not all one-sided…
But when it goes bad, you find yourself on the receiving end of constant scorestreaks and rage quits.
For Black Ops 4 to succeed, it needs to find the balance in its gameplay and build a positive community that can support it and grow over time.
The specialists need to be able to impact the game, but it needs tie into a more team-based approach and less singular impacts.
In Black Ops 3, the specialists were terrible and their abilities felt like they could be wasted easily.
Hearing that they have learned from games like Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege where the abilities are more tactile is refreshing and immediately makes this Call of Duty feel different.
Maybe that change will be positive enough to create more intrigue despite the lack of single player campaign, plus it shows the developers are aware of the franchise feeling stale and are wanting to try something new which is evident in the trailer below.
The Battle Royale effect
With the success of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, it was inevitable that we were going to see others cashing in and Black Ops 4 definitely seems to be doing that.
Taking a game that is usually more close quarters and transferring it into its own Battle Royale mode is definitely interesting, but it comes with its own issues.
We don’t know how many players it’s going to support or how it’s actually going to work.
For a game that is releasing in less than six months, it’s a little concerning.
At a glance it seems like they are going all in on their own Blackout mode instead of a dedicated single player campaign and I feel that’s something that’s got to be commended – especially when it could completely change the face of their future titles.
Instead of single player campaigns, you have a new Battle Royale experience in Blackout- but is that enough?
It does screams a little bit of desperation with them trying to stay relevant and even though I’d expect to see it more, the impending saturation of Battle Royale modes can’t be good.
I remember the obsession with cover-based shooters and how that’s fallen off a cliff, so will Blackout mark the beginning of the end of Battle Royale games?
There’s always that pile of unfinished Call of Duty campaigns as plan B…