Call of Duty 2020: Is Treyarch going back to Black Ops’ roots?

Andy Williams

With Treyarch hard at work developing the next Call of Duty game, there are numerous leaks pointing towards a remake of their trademark ‘Black Ops’ series.

Black Ops is arguably the most popular series in the Call of Duty franchise. Its blockbuster campaign holds an ever-evolving storyline, with the narrative largely focusing on political espionage. 

Combine that with a gripping multiplayer infrastructure and a fan-favored ‘Zombies’ game mode (which runs canon to parts of the single-player campaign), and fans everywhere are eagerly anticipating Treyarch’s next release.

Treyarch's Black Ops.
Treyarch’s Black Ops 1 and 2 are arguably the best Call of Duty’s of all-time.

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Sledgehammer out, Treyarch in… kind of

After Activision cut Sledgehammer Games from the Call of Duty 2020 development cycle, they drafted in Treyarch one year ahead of schedule

Kotaku’s report suggests that Treyarch are now taking lead on the next iteration, with Sledgehammer and Raven Software taking a backseat and serving as support studios for the project. 

A job listing from Treyarch to aid their bid to deliver a “next-generation AAA title in 2020” all but confirmed that they were now steering the ship. 

Treyarch's job listing.
Treyarch advertised for the role of ‘Senior Tools Engineer’ in June 2019.

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Jetpacks coming back? 

Call of Duty’s futuristic movement system is old news — at least, many fans hope. Developers have dipped their toes into that genre, only to be scolded by the game’s loyal community. 

Treyarch’s Game Design Director, David Vonderhaar, has interacted with a fan about the idea of jetpacks being brought back to ‘revive’ the game. In response, Vahn claimed he had “PTSD” from the last time Black Ops incorporated the advanced movement system into their beloved series. 

With that being said, jetpacks haven’t yet been officially taken off the table, and until that happens, there’s a chance that they could make a return to the series. However, given Vonderhaar’s aversion at the mere mention of them, it’s likely that players will be going ‘boots-on-the-ground’ — which also aligns with rumors of a prequel.

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Black Ops prequel in the Cold War?

The Cold War spanned well over four decades following WWII, with the Black Ops story being placed slap-bang in the middle (running between 1961-68). 

Since we already know that Sledgehammer were originally at the helm, what better way to conveniently move on from their previous title than to set your plot at the inception of the Cold War? Considering that Sledgehammer’s last entry was based around the events of ‘Operation Overlord’ from WWII — a mere three years before the Cold War-era.

Per a report from GamesRadar, the campaign is set to span across the entirety of the Cold War. Meaning that the events of the Korean War in the 1950s (which is yet to appear in a Call of Duty campaign) would be covered. 

Moreover, the narrative would smoothly transition into the events of Black Ops and thus act as a prequel for the series, while simultaneously bridging the gap between Treyarch’s debut title ‘World at War’ and their staple series. Definitely food for thought…

Alex Mason from Black Ops.
The Vietnam War was set in the Cold War-era, and has previously played a part in Black Ops’ campaign.

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While we have not received any official confirmation on whether a Cold War prequel is the definite play from Treyarch, it could be the most logical solution from a production standpoint. How else are they going to chop-off a third of a three-year development cycle? 

Building on Sledgehammer’s foundations would likely kill plenty of birds of with one stone, while also serving a purpose in the franchise’s progression. One thing’s for sure, with Treyarch and Sledgehammer both chipping in with their creative inputs, Call of Duty 2020 is shaping up to be another enthralling addition to the franchise.

About The Author

Andy is a former Dexerto games writer, with a passion for competitive shooter titles like CS:GO and Valorant.