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Black Ops 4 Canceled Campaign Footage Surfaces

Call of Duty fans have just gotten a chance to see a side of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 that never saw the light of day. Thanks to Reddit user ForeverDexus, footage of an incomplete level from Black Ops 4's scrapped story mode is available for all to see.


It's clear that this was part of an early build for the game, considering the fact that the character models don't seem to be completely finished. There are also a few awkward glitchy moments, including a section near the beginning where the few lines of dialogue are repeated multiple times. Still, it's a cool look at a mission that players never got to fully experience. 

The sequence follows the Black Ops team through a monastery that's under fire. According to the top of the screen, the team's mission is to "Find the Aquilus CEO," which hints that this may have been some sort of extraction or escort mission. Also of note is the fact that the game's HUD appears to be very similar to the one seen in multiplayer, which suggests that the early build for the campaign was using many of the same assets as the multiplayer portions of the game.


Last year, Kotaku ran an article in which Jason Schreier spoke with several people who had worked on the last few Call of Duty games. In this piece, Schrier gained a bit of insight on how the final products differed from the team's original plans.

For instance, the campaign mode for Black Ops 3 was originally supposed to feature an open world map. Unfortunately, this was canned at pretty much the last minute, which forced the team to buckle down and create a more linear campaign. This resulted in the kind of "crunch" hours that other developers like Naughty Dog and Rockstar Games have come under fire for in the past.

The footage that has been leaked is likely from a demo completed by the campaign team in late 2017. According to Kotaku, the team had finished a few rough versions of full missions, so everyone felt pretty good about where they were at in production.

Schreier writes of the original vision for Black Ops 4's campaign: "rather than play through the campaign yourself, you'd play alongside a partner, battling against a pair of human opponents. (If you wanted to play single-player, they'd all be AI-driven bots.) Each side would pick a faction, and you'd compete to gun down enemies and battle over different objectives in a post-apocalyptic world ... Each mission would give you chances to get into shootouts with the other team, hampering their progress if you did well. During different moments throughout the story, you'd also get the chance to defect and switch sides if you weren't happy with the choices your faction was making."


Unfortunately, the team working on this version of the campaign mode was eventually told that it just wasn't working in the eyes of the higher-ups. At the start of 2018, the campaign team began to hear rumbles that Treyarch wanted to cut the campaign. Among the issues cited by Treyarch leadership were "technical concerns, timing issues, and ... negative feedback from playtesters, who felt like the gameplay was too repetitive."

The campaign team attempted to them shift its focus to creating a more traditional action-packed single-player campaign. However, this too was nixed when Black Ops 4's release date was moved up so as not to compete with Red Dead Redemption 2. Eventually, in place of a story campaign and in an attempt to add more content to the game, it was decided that a battle royale mode would be included in Black Ops 4. This led to the creation of Call of Duty: Blackout

Still, it appears as though we may get more of a story campaign in the next installment of the series. If rumors and purported leaks are to be believed, the next game in the Black Ops franchise may be titled Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War.

Recent updates made to Call of Duty: Warzone have hinted extensively toward this next game's announcement. Not only that, but dataminers have also found clues pointing to some sort of Cold War theme for the next CoD game or even the next update to Warzone. Whatever the case, hopefully this means that more thought is being put into the next game having a decent campaign mode. While Black Ops 4 turned out just fine without one, it does seem that there's quite a bit of enthusiasm from the developers to add one.


It's unlikely that this version of the Black Ops 4 story mode will ever be revisited. Still, it's interesting to see the footage and wonder what might have been.