A New Call of Duty Battle Royale Mode May Hint at the Future of the Franchise
Call of Duty: Online, exclusive to China, is testing a new Call of Duty Battle Royale mode which may suggest a slight shift in the franchise’s model.
After years of keeping the franchise more or less the same, the long-running Call of Duty franchise may be starting to emulate some of its popular competitors with a new type of game mode. Or at least, it is in China.
If you are a fan of the Call of Duty franchise and suddenly find yourself in the People’s Republic with a yearning to play, the version available to you would be familiar, but also radically different in some key ways. Rather than offering an annual release with several DLC packs, all attached to a disposable campaign that usually lasts 6-7 hours, the Chinese version of the game, known as Call of Duty: Online, is a free-to-play game on the PC. It is competitive only (no campaign or co-op modes), and it rotates in new maps from multiple COD games. But other than that, the game is essentially the same as the Western version in gameplay, just presented very differently.
Assuming that remains true, the introduction of a Battle Royale mode for Call of Duty: Online might be a sign of what’s to come with the next Call of Duty release.
Although it hasn’t been announced yet, there’s no reason to think we won’t get a new COD later this year, almost certainly around November. And assuming the current cycle of development holds – again, no reason to think it won’t – the game will come from Treyarch. There are plenty of rumors flying around that it will be Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, which means another jump into the future and probably a new zombies mode as well, but none of that is confirmed.
Whether or not Treyarch does drop CoDBlops 4 on us, the game may contain a Battle Royale mode similar to the one currently in beta for Call of Duty: Online. The game mode has been made hugely popular thanks to games like the immensely popular Player Underground Battlegrounds and Fortnite, where you start with essentially nothing and have to hunt for resources while staying alive. The big difference between the COD version and its competitors is that the others offer up to 100 competitors, while COD: Online caps the game at 18. Otherwise, the idea remains mostly the same.
Contestants choose their starting point and then begin without a weapon. They then scramble to find one while an announcer and a fake crowd offer commentary and reactions. When a player dies they are out until the next round, and as the game progresses, the map shrinks. It all has a bit of a Hunger Games vibe.
If Treyarch’s next game does include a Battle Royale mode, it might be a major component or a secondary game mode that may not make it to the next offering. The current COD, COD: WWII, offers a unique mode known as “War” that many fans love, but the odds that it continues are slim (although not impossible). Still, the Battle Royale style is gaining in popularity among FPS fans and COD is in need of something that refreshes it. Maybe this mode is the start of a bigger shift.
The COD: Online version is currently in beta, and the video below was recorded in November so it has been in development for a while. The commentary is also in English, but it probably won’t stay that way in the official Chinese release.
Activision tends to announce the next COD around spring, so we should know more in the coming months.