While today we learned a great deal about what was in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, we also confirmed one thing that was not in the game, a single player campaign mode. While multiplayer based game modes have always been the part of Call of Duty titles that get talked about the most, the single-player campaign has always been there when you needed a break from Team Deathmatch or if you just weren't into playing online. I had a chance to speak with Treyarch Game Designer Matt Scronce and Senior Producer Yale Miller following today's big reveal event, who confirmed that, while the team was working on a single player focused story mode at one point, it wasn't really a "campaign" as most players would be familiar, and more importantly, it just wasn't working the way they wanted, resulting in it being scrapped. According to Scronce...
We were working on a version of a story driven mode that was the campaign, and as we do with other things we iterate and try things and if they don't hit that bar that we expect ourselves and the players expect from us we're not afraid to let it go...But it wasn't a traditional campaign as you know it.
The pair declined to go into exactly what it was that the Black Ops 4 single-player mode would have looked like had it continued to be developed, but they did confirm that many of the elements that they were developing for this mode would survive in elements that will be present in the other parts of the game, such as the Zombies mode and the new Blackout Battle Royale. Ultimately, it seems that since the developers were trying to do something a little different with the traditional campaign, they were working with ideas that just didn't end up working out as intended.
While it isn't clear exactly why the story mode didn't measure up, it very likely had to do with the fact that a single-player story mode just didn't meld well with the larger goals of the game, which, in this case, meant game modes that could be supported with new content for the long term, as Yale Miller explained.
The goal was to not do a traditional campaign. We wanted to make things that can live longer, are more social, out of those different pieces. So I think where we've gone is something that we will be able to support in an ongoing fashion.
While a lot has been made about the growing importance of "live services" among developers and how that has impacted single player games, it has to be said that for a game that was always going to focus on multiplayer, a single player story mode was never going to have the lifespan that the multiplayer potentially could. It's honestly a little shocking it took this long for a Call of Duty title to just scrap the story mode entirely.
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