Treyarch revealed the teaser trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII (yes, that’s IIII not IV) this morning. The trailer is a montage of clips from the first three Black Ops games. It also details the dates for the global reveal event, May 17, and the launch date, October 12. The trailer ends with the ominous message “Forget What You Know”, leading to speculation that the series is rebooting. The YouTube comment section is already alive with jokes about Treyarch’s interpretation of roman numerals and the number four. My personal favourite comes from TheseKnivesOnly saying “I love you 3arch”.
With “Forget What You Know” both in the trailer and the YouTube description, Treyarch is emphasising that this game will be different from the others in the series. Call of Duty: WW2 was a clear attempt to return to the series’ roots and to bring back lost fans. Kotaku wrote that without all the tech and gadgets, WW2 was “a welcome trip back to classic Call of Duty gameplay”. However, it failed to return the series to it’s glory days, with Modern Warfare 3 still setting the series record in sales. As the Black Ops series, and Treyarch as developers, is seen as the best the franchise has going for it, is this Treyarch’s attempt to do what WW2 failed to? The teaser trailer highlights clips from the original Black Ops, so a return to roots isn’t out of the question. Treyarch could easily strip away the thrust jumping and wall running to return to the simpler Vietnam setting. The popularity of 2016’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered shows the demand for simpler gameplay.
However, Treyarch could go the other way and push the series in a new direction. After all, it was Black Ops 2 that introduced the series’ new Sci-Fi tone. It was also Black Ops 3 that introduced many of the multiplayer innovations that streamlined the unlock system. The focus on more mobility and “guns up” gameplay, being Treyarch’s buzzword for enhancing player movement so they can shoot at all times, made the Call of Duty gameplay even faster. Treyarch are also infamous for their quality campaign and groundbreaking zombies modes. They could be focusing more on these parts, especially with the multiplayer formula being near perfect at this stage. With Sledgehammer and WW2 returning to the series’ roots, could Treyarch and Black Ops IIII instead be reinventing and innovating the franchise?