When it released at the end of 2018, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 was remarkable for two main reasons. Not only did it throw a blockbusting battle royale mode into the mix, but for the first time in the series’ then 15 year history, the mainline console game launched without a single player or story campaign.
It was a big omission that led to lots of speculation as to what happened and why. Though Treyarch have claimed that a campaign mode was never planned for the game, leaks and reports even in the run up to the game’s release all pointed to the mode having been cancelled abruptly in early 2018 and replaced with the battle royale mode. Now alpha footage of that campaign and some of its more innovative elements have emerged online.
The roughly two minutes of gameplay come from ForeverDexus on Reddit:
Clearly still early in development, with placeholder assets for character models, it opens with the player getting the mission to ‘Find the Aquilus CEO’. Through the subsequent gameplay, the footage cut between two co-op player viewpoints of the same action, fighting through locations that can be found in some of the final game’s multiplayer maps.
The campaign would also have used the Operative characters found through the game’s multiplayer mode, using their unique abilities within the campaign, and explaining why the footage features a UI similar to that found in the final game’s multiplayer. It’s long been thought that the character introductions found in Black Ops 4 are what’s left of the game’s campaign story.
This all ties into the previous reporting from 2018. The game’s campaign was to be based around a two-versus-two multiplayer mechanic – albeit with a fallback to allow for playing with AI – throwing new gameplay ideas into the series after the fully four player co-op campaign found in Black Ops III. It was likely the difficulties of getting this to work smoothly that resulted in the decision to pivot the game’s direction at the last minute.
ForeverDexus has not revealed the source of the videos, but claims to have another video showcasing this particular mission, as well as augmented impact effects in the Black Ops 4 engine. Teasingly, they say there are more videos that have been available from an obscure source, and that it took “a few hours of digging before stumbling across it.”
Considering that his post has led to plenty of additional coverage, we’ve not been able to find that source as yet.