History of the Call of Duty: Black Ops Franchise
The year is winding down and the most anticipated releases are rolling out! Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has been the source of both excitement and doubt for gamers since the announcement of an online-only game without a single player experience. Before we get our hands on the title, let’s take a look back at what has lead to this upcoming release and check out the history of the Black Ops franchise.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
In 2009, Treyarch began development on Call of Duty: Black Ops as the successor to World at War. during the game’s development, Treyarch used several different teams to focus on specific games modes for the finished product. The team also implemented motion capture technology to replicate facial features and movement to fully capture the actors’ performances. Treyarch also consulted several ex-special forces personnel from the Cold War era to research real-world combat tactics that would be used in specific circumstances. The game was released on PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii November 9, 2010.
The game takes place between 1961 and 1968 during the Cold War era and was a successor to the previous title World at War. The campaign revolves around players stopping a sleeper cell embedded in America with control over a deadly nerve gas, Nova-6. Through the use of a sequence of numbers shown to sleeper agents, they will activate and release the deadly gas. To prepare for the event, the U.S. is preparing a pre-emptive nuclear strike that would inevitably cause World War 3. The team of special forces must take out the transmission stations before they are activated to stop the world ending plan before it is implemented.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
In November of 2011, Activision Blizzard announced that they were working on a new Call of Duty game slated for a 2012 release. While many leaks began to spill out at the beginning of 2012, the official announcement of Black Ops II came on April 23 and promised a fictional 21st century Cold War setting. During development, Activision was intently focused on revising the multiplayer mechanics for the new iteration of the franchise including multi-team matches, a focus on objective based gameplay and a new matchmaking system that would help pair players together based on their player skill. After its release on November 13, 2012, It was the highest grossing entertainment launch of all time until Grand Theft Auto 5 dethroned it a few months later in 2013.
The plot of Black Ops II begins in 1969 after the events of the first game where the main protagonist Mason is called back into action to clean up the aftermath of an attack on a Marxist state and find missing members of the initial team sent in to help a rebel army overthrow the government. After tracking the man responsible for betraying the team, Menendez, Mason is eventually killed and the surviving members of the team are left for dead with Menendez swearing to take his revenge in the future.
Years later in 2025, Menendez stages a massive cyber attack in China disrupting their economy and attempting to leverage them into igniting a second Cold War with the U.S. A special team of Navy SEALs is dispatched to capture Menendez before he launches his second cyber attack that would cripple the world economy. Once he is captured, players are given a choice whether to kill him or not which will give separate endings, one of which sets up the future plot of Black Ops 3.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III
In 2015 the official confirmation came that Black Ops III was currently in development to match the various developers three-year release cycle for the various Call of Duty titles. Alongside of the current generation of consoles, the title was also being developed for PS3 and Xbox 360 but with missing features which included the game’s campaign.
Black Ops III takes place in 2065 in a dystopian future where advanced technology is used to fight wars. After taking severe injuries in the opening act, the player is thrown back into action to track down the group responsible for stealing valuable data in Singapore. After finding out that the leaked information is directly connected to a mysterious explosion ten years prior and the location of the chemical weapon Nova-6, the team travel the world to track down the terrorists responsible.
We can’t take a full look at the Black Ops franchise without taking a look at one of the tentpoles of the series, the wave-based Zombie mode. While Black Ops was not the first Call of Duty to introduce the zombie horde mode, it has become synonymous with the series. Players take control of survivors which vary from standard grunts to world leaders and are thrown onto a map where points are earned by killing zombies and used as currency to buy new weapons and unlock new areas within the map.
The game mode does have an overarching storyline which begins with the occult experiments by the Nazis in World War 2 and going throughout history visiting various historical and fictional conspiracy sights from Shangri La to Area 51 and even a trip to space.
The Call of Duty franchise is undoubtedly one of the most popular series of all time and with the power of AAA developers behind it does not seem to have any intention of slowing down. With the removal of the campaign all together in the upcoming Black Ops IV release, we have the addition of the highly anticipated battle royale mode Blackout. During the beta test of both the Team Deathmatch and Blackout modes previous to release, it’s looking like the franchise will be on gamers minds for the foreseeable future. Call of Duty: Black Ops IV launches on October 12, 2018.