Whether it happens by accident or they do it on purpose, Activision is terrible at keeping secrets when it comes to new ‘Call of Duty’ games. The subject matter and title of their latest release always seems to leak months before the company themselves put out an announcement, and that’s proven to be the case yet again with 2020’s major ‘Call of Duty’ release. Almost every video game news source in the world claimed to have been told that the Cold War would provide the inspiration and backdrop for the next ‘Black Ops’ game about six months ago. Activision remained tight-lipped on the matter for as long as they possibly could, but the silence has finally broken. The publisher has spoken and confirmed what we all knew already. The forthcoming game will go by the title of ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War’, and our first sneak-peak of in-game footage suggests that it’ll be well worth waiting for.
In truth, neither Activision nor anybody else needs to do much in terms of advertising or promotion for a new ‘Call of Duty’ game. It’s one of the most well-established, widely-played gaming franchises in the world. There are many tales of relationships being put under strain when a new ‘Call of Duty’ game comes out, because one of the two people in the relationship stops paying attention to their partner and focuses on playing the game instead. The games have been cited in the paperwork of multiple divorces. There have been on-and-off talks about a ‘Call of Duty’ movie, and the game has even crossed over to gambling by making appearances at UK slots website. In fact, the success of the first official ‘Call of Duty’ online slots game, based on the fourth installment of the franchise, was so significant that someone made a bootleg ‘Call of Fruity’ slot to cash in on it. When even online slots using little more than the game’s iconography make money, you know you’ve got an intellectual property in good health.
We probably shouldn’t read too much into a teaser, but let’s take a deeper dive into what little content we’ve been allowed to see so far. The tag line is an ominous one, reading ‘know your history or be doomed to repeat it.’ We’re not sure about the efficiency of ‘Call of Duty’ games as a means of familiarizing players with the finer points of history, but if that’s the angle Activision wants to go with, who are we to tell them that they’re wrong? The full reveal of the game will happen on Wednesday, August 26th – possibly only a day or two after you read this – so we’ll have far more to tell you in the very near future. Companies don’t tend to become this active with footage and teasers unless they’ve reached (or got close to reaching) the completion stage of a game’s development, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that the game is in a finished state. With that in mind, we’re going to go out on a limb and say that the game will be released by November at the latest. We wouldn’t even be surprised to see it go live in October. That’s only two months away, and with the speed 2020 is disappearing in front of our eyes at it’ll be here before we know it.
‘Call of Duty’ games are such massive events now that the launch won’t be standalone happening. We already know that there will be a brand new map introduced into the free-to-play ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ game to promote the new Black Ops game, and there’s also been a brand new website with a delightful 1960s theme launched as part of the promotional campaign, too. Eagle-eyed gamers have already noticed the presence of a set of dates on a video player visible on the website, listed 1961-1962, 1968-1969, and 1972-1973. That’s probably a clue about campaign dates and missions within the game, albeit one that comes with a puzzle. Although all of those years were times of heightened tension between the USA and its allies and the Soviet Union, there was no combat – or at least, not any combat that anyone’s aware of – between the sides during those dates. The ‘Black Ops’ side of the ‘Call of Duty’ franchise has always been devoted to top-secret operations, but this time it looks like Activision might be pushing past that into operations that have no basis in reality whatsoever. That’s not necessarily a criticism; merely an observation.
When full details about the game are revealed, one of the first things people are likely to be looking out for is confirmation of which platforms the new games will be available for. November will place the game at – or close to – the anticipated release date of the PlayStation 5. Sony will be looking for a headline game to package with their new console, and headline games don’t come much bigger than ‘Call of Duty.’ if Activision and Sony haven’t been in conversation about this matter, both of them have missed a trick. Not releasing a next-gen version of the game doesn’t make any sense when the next-gen platforms are about to launch, but we still expect to see versions for current-gen consoles as well. Having spent so much money making the game(s), Activision will want to make as much money back as possible. Cutting off gamers because they don’t have the right platform wouldn’t make sense in that context, and so we’d be surprised if they decided to do it.
As we said earlier, it probably won’t take much encouragement or promotion from Activision to persuade players to buy this game. It’s a brand-new ‘Call of Duty,’ and brand-new ‘Call of Duty’ games fly off the shelves and sell out on pre-order long before the first reviews come in. If you’re a fan, we imagine you’ve already decided to buy this game long ago, and nothing that any reviewer said, good or bad, would change your mind about that now. We just hope that it’s as good as the ‘Black Ops’ games of the past, and we’re looking forward to getting our hands on it ourselves!