Why Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 Doesn't Have A Traditional Campaign

"Development is a journey."

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Now Playing: 6 Things We Learned From Black Ops 4's Blackout Beta

Breaking with tradition, this year's Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 does not feature a traditional campaign. But why? Treyarch design director David Vonderhaar and studio head Dan Bunting answer that question in a new video from Game Informer.

"Development is a journey," co studio head Dan Bunting said. "We try a lot of different ideas and a lot of different things. The game that we are making has evolved over time, and that's just a part of development. I can't remember a single game that we've made that hasn't had a dramatic change in the prototyping stage. That's what prototyping is for. You prototype ideas; some of them work out great, some of them don't work out great and you pivot. You find a new idea [and] focus on that. We follow the fun."

Vonderhaar pointed out that Black Ops 4's battle royale mode, Blackout, also changed a lot during the development process. "It's normal," Vonderhaar said about how video games can change substantially and significantly in the development process.

Bunting added that Treyarch had a huge ambition for Black Ops 4 when development started. He stressed that the studio was always planning to have Black Ops 4--across all modes--being an entirely social experience. Vonderhaar went on to say that Black Ops 4 never had a campaign in the traditional sense. "It wasn't a campaign as people usually refer to it anyways," he said. "How can you say what happened to this thing that wasn't. It was a multiplayer game."

The interviewer went on to point out that it's interesting that the prototyping process led to a traditional campaign falling by the wayside the same year the team greenlit a battle royale mode for the game. Fans might wonder if the campaign was scaled back so the team could allocate its resources to a battle royale mode, a notion that--true or not, or somewhere in between--might rub some the wrong way. Bunting didn't answer the question directly, but said adapting is critical to Treyarch's success.

"Everything tends to work together for a reason," Bunting said. "Internally, we have built a culture of adaptation. The most important aspect of game development is being able to adapt. If you can't look at something that you're doing honestly and say, 'This thing isn't good enough,' or, 'This isn't what we want,' and 'We need to make a change.' If you can't do that yourself, then you're not adapting. You're not going to evolve in a way that's going to constantly deliver exciting experiences for your fans."

While Black Ops 4 doesn't have a traditional campaign, the game will deliver story and narrative elements through other means.

Call of Duty executive VP and GM Robert Kostich said earlier this year about the lack of a campaign, "Look, it's not a dedicated campaign like it was in the past. We're telling stories differently this year. We think our community is going to love this game from end to end, because it has so much to offer."

"I don't think that's going to be a problem really. I think what our community is going to love at the end of the day comes down to the gameplay and the fun you have with it. And I think that's what this game is going to have in spades. This is a little different from what we've done in the past."

Black Ops 4 launches on October 12 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. A beta for the game's battle royale mode, Blackout, just concluded after a slightly longer-than-expected run.

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Avatar image for quintex96

They just said a whole lot of nothing, they are dancing around the notion that Activision clearly are the ones that made them do this chance.

Avatar image for 2ndalarm

I only play single player games , so I won't be buying this at all .

Avatar image for worldcitizen

Here’s my take. I don’t enjoy MP. I like a good story. Endlessly getting killed and respawning is just so boring and makes for shallow unimmersive gameplay. But today they are selling gamers dog manure and they are willing to buy so because there are so many gamers who like eating the stuff they give us more. Nothing beats a good story with action and an end goal. Monotonously doing the same thing over and over again is madness.

No way I’m buying this cheapened trash. No story driven campaign is for $Profit nothing else. Then they just reskin it next year and resell it to the gullible.

Avatar image for Schizycho

@worldcitizen: Exactly.

Could not agree more. I don't play MP (very much) because most multiplayer games are just arena crap. The same location and activity over and over and over. Sure different people, tactics, but in the end some maps get favored more, and then you end up playing the same spots. Same reason I don't play arena style games with, "horde," modes. Boring as shit. Same map, find the best defensible spot, dig in, kill the same things over and over.

Give me a story any day. The interview answer to the question of why could have been shortened to one short 3 word answer, "following the money." With eSports taking off more and more, these competitive MP style games have a strong market right now, every young kid wants to grow up to play video games for the rest of their lives. So why not just say that? Be honest, Blops4 is cashing in on the current market star.

I hate being lied to, but like all the other companies out there, these 2 guys assume their customers are all mouth breathers that will believe any pile of shit they put out there. Thankfully, the sales numbers will probably prove them correct.

Avatar image for superthu

don't worry BioWare's Anthem game that drops February is going to pick up in the areas that you didn't deliver. and the job posting on LinkedIn from Infinity Ward is a clear indication that there's going to be a Call of Duty game dropping in the near future and we know that's going to have a campaign

Avatar image for harcsh

Battlefield is much better.

Avatar image for the2ndvalentine

LOL at the people saying they aren't buying this because it doesn't have a campaign. If you are buying this only for SP you are playing the wrong SP game friends.

Avatar image for Kisalon

@the2ndvalentine: Really? Call of Duty always had the better single player campaigns. But not that i really care.... havnt touched a CoD game in a few years.

Avatar image for colbster

The fact is, the campaign takes the most time to create and requires writing, voiceover artists and direction. It's the most expensive to make. Honestly, multiplayer is 95% of what the end user probably plays. I get it. I also love a single player campaign as a warm up to the MP. I like a good story and playing solo without having to wait for matchmaking or hearing pre-teens screech into the microphone. I hope it has some sort of story based missions that you can play with AI.

Avatar image for quintex96

@colbster: Well plenty of us got sick of COD's MP years ago, as it seems to be aimed solely at people who live and breathe COD 24/7

Avatar image for xgalacticax

Why Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 Doesn't Have A Traditional Campaign = Why I am not interested in Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4

Avatar image for mbounce88

That was literally the most smug, insulting way they could have explained NOT having a single player campaign I've ever heard. Let's paste bops 3 mp and create br, call it bops 4. That's exactly what they are doing. Prototyping and adaption.... wow..

Avatar image for Foxhound1982

People still care about COD?

Avatar image for lodoss900

are we reading no Single Player? If so i"m out.

Avatar image for kgsg-19-2

As long as it has SOME sort of campaign or story mode that's not mp, it's ok. But if not, you're losing players like myself that only play cod for the sp.

Avatar image for TurboGraphix

They must have taken a lot of laxatives, all I hear is a bunch of shit and excuses.

Avatar image for poemann79

Pretty stupid thinking people won’t catch to this.

Black ops 4 will have no campaign

When they remaster Modern Warfare 2 it will be minus Multiplayer.

Both games they want a price that makes no sense or cents.

I been done with CoD they are not getting my money til they stop copying other games. CoD copying TitanFall was an epic fail. I hope CoD Blackops Fortnite fails as well.

Avatar image for Ant_17

Short answer.

Cause reviewers on YT deduct points from our lame story so we ain't giving them a reason to even play it.

Avatar image for PStrife

I didn't learn anything from this article. So is their a campaign or not? None of these Activision/Treyarch guys seem capable of answering the simple question, what is that all about?

Avatar image for craigtl

@PStrife: the masters if misdirection.

Avatar image for edwardnygma

Well definitely not buying then.

Avatar image for Runeweaver

Can we please skip the middle bit where idiot gamers keep buying cut down games and jump straight to the get upset enough to stick our fingers up at a publisher forcing them to back peddle, like EA and battlefront.

Avatar image for DeadManRollin

I didn't need to read this article to know the real reason for ditching the single player game--multiplayer is "da bomb" these days, and a lot of people are willing and ready to dish out bucks to buy that new weapon, or that new armor or whatever the hell they are selling simply to get an edge at killing other "humans", but they won't pay anything extra for the story mode.

I can't believe this is the same game that gave me some of finest gaming moments in the form of the first 2 Call of Duty games; both had brilliant campaigns that I could enjoy alone, at my own pace and my own free time, without bothering about internet connectivity or any other impediments.

No wonder I am spending more time playing RPGs like Witcher 3, Dragon Age, Horizon Zero Dawn, etc. than these broken FPSs.

Avatar image for craigtl

@DeadManRollin: I feel the same way. What scares me is they are starting to turn more games that were designed for single player into always online mp.

Avatar image for Schizycho

@craigtl: Yup, even companies that made their name on massive single player projects are cashing in and selling out. Bethesda Fallout 76 <cough> <cough>

Avatar image for Barighm

@DeadManRollin: I personally wouldn't have much of a problem with multiplayer centric games if they didn't encroach on established singleplayer franchises (Fallout 76, anyone? Wait, I know that answer) and didn't eat up so much of my hard drive. I usually end up focusing on just one of these types of games anyway for a few years.

It's one of the reasons why Overwatch is so great: small size, purchases are purely cosmetic, and it doesn't run away with the online stuff. Orcs Must Die! was also great that way. If more games were like that, I'd be okay with it. But they're not. They're trying their darndest to be the next Destiny or GTA5.

Avatar image for gunnyninja

Oh well. I JUST got to the point where I can play FPS without nausea due to playing so much in VR, and have started playing COD games. Finished BLOPS3 and Far Cry 5, and am playing Infinite Warfare now. Just in time for them to come out with a new game that's all about multiplayer. I have a beta key and I'm not downloading the game to play that. Run and gun has never appealed to me, and I haven't been into death match type games since Halo. Gaming seems to be following the Fortnite formula. I feel like that guy who gets shot at the end. Go on without me...

Avatar image for Mon_Dieu_Mel

"Because you'll pay for whatever the hell we're selling, and thank us for it. Any questions about the mandatory off-the-shelf Season Pass, or you good with sucking that one down, too?"

Avatar image for SCImonTemplar

I watched the video interview for this, and whenever this was brought up, they both just seemed so smug and arrogant about the whole thing. Like they were subtly giving the gamers the finger through their "evolved" game choices.

Avatar image for Barighm

Wouldn't it be refreshing if, instead of bullshitting, they just tell the interviewer "You know we can't tell you the real reason, so instead of wasting your time, how about we eat cake instead"?

Avatar image for quintex96

@Barighm: The real is Activision wants to jump on the Battle Royale bandwagon.

Avatar image for 3partan341

Devs seems to forget that they are totally allowed to make a new game if that's what they want to do. They don't HAVE TO call it Call of Duty. If you wanna make a Battle Royal clone then go ahead. You don't have to bu!!$hit fans about it being Call of Duty.

Avatar image for NTM23

I don't usually buy COD, my brother buys it or I might help buy it, so I've played every COD campaign (although I couldn't finish the last one as it was a bore). They're hit and miss, but I am disappointed that this one doesn't have one and it'll be the first we don't get. I wonder if the remaster of MW2 is actually coming at some point. I'll probably play that; depends on price. The issue with the campaigns is its length which often lasts around four hours, and that alone, no matter how good they can be, isn't worth full price, or even half of the full price. I wish they put out a remaster of all three MW games and put in all spec ops missions. That would be a good value right there.

Avatar image for nsa_protocol44

Activision: "Holy crap guys this game called Fortnite is raking alot of money, our money. Quick put a Battle royale mode into the next COD. Forget the Fucki*ng campaign, no bullsh*it just a multiplayer guys, so we can rake in more money. I hate you Fortnite for stealing our money, Activision must have all the worlds money"

- Activsion 2018

Avatar image for santinegrete

Translate and summarize:

-Campaign was ditched from the start in favor of BR.

-It is not what you want as a dev, is what Activision demanded: exploiting popular novelties.

-They'll put basic story elements in loading screens and a wikia. If they're stupid enough, they'll put radio chatter in multiplayer that will (and always will) be disregarded as white noise in the middle of the match.

I hope the game delivers enough, because it doesn't reach the 'new classic' status or little less, the disc will be worth nothing in 1 year.

Avatar image for johno357

Why waste 80 million or so when we can charge full price and idiots will buy it anyway?

Avatar image for caj1986

Because we cN get away with charging u full price along wit season passes & dlc. Because the sheep will buy our product & we can continue to milk this franchise

Avatar image for Pupchu

Based on the bullshit answers these two gave: BlackOps4 HAD a campaign, but was ditched in favor of the BR.

Avatar image for Hagan

Does it really matter? The people only interested in SP games and campaigns weren't going to buy it anyway. People buy it for the same multiplayer modes they've been playing for the last decade.

Avatar image for sdzald


Then why continue to buy it if all it is the same game, why not continue to play one you have bought already?

There is one born every minute.

Avatar image for Hagan

@sdzald: I don't play the series anymore so I can't answer why current players are playing. But usually each new iteration comes with new MP guns, maps, and modes, so I guess those are enough reasons for consumers to buy the new yearly iteration.

Avatar image for sdzald


Realtor "I can sell you a great new house, full price of course."

Home owner "Hey you are trying to sell me a house I already own."

Realtor "Yea but we will rearrange the furniture and toss in a few new appliances, it will feel new."

Home owner. "COOOOL who do I make the check out to?"

There is one born every minute.

Avatar image for driveinns

@Hagan: I have bought and played every Call of Duty over the years and never played Multi. I love their stories, especially Black Ops and this one not having a campaign means I won't buy it. I know I'm not the only one, so there's that. I know me and some others not buying this as a result probably won't effect their sales in a major way, so whatever. Still Black Ops was the best of them in my opinion and it saddens me that they won't be making another awesome outing into the amazingness that those stories were and represented.

Avatar image for Hagan

@driveinns: If I had to guess, I would say you and players like you are in the minority in that you purchase the game for the campaign and not the multiplayer or zombies mode. Activision/Treyarch probably saw more money in devoting resources to the multiplayer and BR modes rather that developing a campaign for a small group of players to play through.

Avatar image for Javier

@driveinns: +1

Avatar image for jyml8582

They’re right about one thing: ppl are going to buy it anyways.

Avatar image for Pyrosa

LOL... Because money.

Avatar image for darth_zaramoth

Because they know plenty of fools will buy the yearly COD no matter what. Why invest more resources in a single player campaign when you can get almost the same amount of sales by cutting it out completely. Superb business decision but an absolutely anti-consumer one.

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