Many big titles have been revealed so far at E3 2018, and one of them is Call of Duty Black Ops 4. The title surprised many fans with the removal of its single player campaign, a new Battle Royale mode, and exclusive provision of the PC version to Battle.net.
We had a chance to see Miles Leslie, a developer of Call of Duty Black Ops 4, at E3 2018 and hear more details about the game and its changes.
Q. Let’s talk about the removal of the single-player campaign first. Although the series has an excellent level of content in multiplayer, the movie-like campaign has always been one of the most notable features.
Removing the single-player campaign means that we are not following the tradition anymore. In fact, this mode has always been like a part of our DNA that we had to make. When you have a look at previous titles, Black Ops 1, 2, and 3, all stories, content, and the way we delivered these have been different from each other. They have never been the same. So, Black Ops 4 was like a challenge to all of us, because we’ve been considering how to deliver this untraditional approach that the fans were not expecting at all. They like a narrative way of delivering the story after all. From now on, we’ll do our best to adjust [the series] to the way that fans have always loved for a long time.
Also, this change isn’t that unexpected. The multiplayer, zombie, and blackout all have different storytelling methods which have been implemented using everything we’ve experienced so far. We tried these storytelling methods through multiplayer and specialist in previous titles.
Above all, we also tried to deliver a story through the zombie mode which was one of our biggest challenges. I believe that this provided an opportunity for new players to come in and for hardcore players to return. We’ll deliver the story in various ways like this in Black Ops 4 as well.
Q. The multiplayer also shows a significant change compared to previous titles. Particularly, features and the way each specialization works are very distinct, to the extent that people even say the title is similar to Overwatch. What was the reason behind this change?
As you know, there were specialists in Black Ops 3. These specialists already had their unique features, and we wondered how we could make them more characterized. Of course, each of them had their own characteristics, and we and the fans loved them in Black Ops 3. However, we still had intented for them to stand out more.
That’s when we thought to make them support each other. Players have their own playstyle. For example, if you are a real man and want to get more kills, you would pick Ruin. If you are not really good at attacking and killing opponents, you would pick a supporter and heal other players. This allows everyone to experience different playstyles on the team.
However, we thought this was not appropriate for Black Ops 4, because you need a more strategic approach in this title. You need to consider the composition, specialists, what the opponent team is doing, and a customized map for each game mode. These diverse and unique elements were made with the 10 years of experience of the Black Ops franchise.
One interesting thing we did while developing the title was making each specialist look “cooler”. For instance, when Ajax brings up a shield, he stands in the front and rest of the team stands behind him. The whole team then moves together. This is a new playstyle in Black Ops. What’s interesting is that the player who stands in the very front still obtains points and rewards without killing anyone even though he is just doing what he has to do. You only need to fulfill your role, and that’s what makes this Black Ops cool.
Q. The changed Black Ops seems like it is more focused on esports compared to previous titles. Do you have any plan of doing esports after the launch?
Of course. We always support esports and related communities. And, this is in fact very important, because we need to find players who are either casual, hardcore, or even semi-pro in the community. We then need to make a game that all these people can participate in and have fun with.
Casual players try the game first, and have fun if they succeed in the game. Hardcore players understand more about the game than casual players. That is, they can play a more intense game. And those who are semi-pro have different playstyles on another level. They use metas, weapons, strategies, and specialists in appropriate circumstances.
The game needs to encompass all of these players on a different level of skills to become esports. However, it also needs to be watchable. In fact, we wanted to make something cool [to watch] as a gamer. Something that makes you think, “Wow, I want to play that too.” It is important to make players think that they want to play it too after watching. An urge to play the game and do the moves that Black Ops pros did in the Black Ops, that’s how we would like Black Ops esports to become.
Our objective is for players to watch the match and get online and play the game. From that perspective, I believe that esports will be a fantastic experience for us. I’m sure fans will like it too.
Q. The game has a Battle Royale mode. There are already Fortnite and PUBG dominating the market; what do you think are unique features that Black Ops 4 has compared to those others?
We also tried those games. Although fans and reporters think that we don’t play other games, we tried them all. However, we think that the Black Ops Battle Royale mode is more unique. The first reason is the unique atmosphere that players feel when playing Black Ops; the responsibility you have when playing the game, the feel of the weapons, the ways you obtain equipment, and so on.
When we came up with the idea of a Battle Royale mode for Black Ops, we decided to combine all these unique features together, because we have 10 years of experience that no other game has. Each one of our previous titles has a unique strength, ranging from Black Ops 1 to World at War. The history of Treyarch is embedded in this big library. Our strength is [the ability] to pick only good things from this library.
The combination of these strengths is the Black Ops Battle Royale. When players feel this uniqueness, I’m sure they will think “This is the Black Ops Battle Royale, blackout.”
Q. The PC version is provided exclusively on Blizzard’s Battle.net. It will surely have a better approach to players than previous titles, and it can also be a good opportunity to be provided faster to Korean players. Is there a specific reason why you are cooperating with Blizzard?
We’ve been wanting new fans and players to come and enjoy our games, and wondered how we could do so. As many console players as there are, we have PC players too. So since we thought that it would be a good way to attract PC players once more, we cooperated with Blizzard. We also wondered how to approach Korean fans, and that’s how we ended up doing business with Blizzard.
Q. Is there any chance that console and PC players can enjoy multiplayer together?
I cannot confirm anything on that yet. It’s more of a technical issue which is something I’m not really familiar with.
Q. Is it possible that a single-player will be released as DLC in the future?
We haven’t actually thought about DLCs at this point in time. The priority and our duty are to provide solid content to players. Players also need some time to indulge, and we need time to look over it as well. We also need to confirm whether our intention has been delivered properly by checking various communities. When we see players playing the title, liking it, and experiencing it, then we will decide to provide something more afterward.
Q. Please share some last words with Korean fans.
We are really proud of all the fans out there in the world. In particular, I am aware that there are many supportive fans in South Korea. We are doing our best to reach them, and it is vital for us to have solid communication with them. What we want is to play and create Black Ops 4 with fans. We are really thankful for Korean fans. We’ll do our utmost to provide wonderful experiences on both PC and console, and I hope you stay with us during that journey.