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Report: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 coming this year (update)

Switch as well as PC, PS4, Xbox One

Call of Duty Black Ops 3 - cover art with sitting soldier holding two pistols
The cover art for 2015’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.
Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

This year, Call of Duty will return to what is perhaps the franchise’s most popular subseries, Black Ops, for a fourth entry, according to a report from Eurogamer.

Citing multiple sources, Eurogamer reports that Activision subsidiary Treyarch is working on Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 for a launch “late in the year.” It would be no surprise for Treyarch to develop this year’s title — it is Treyarch’s turn in the three-year rotation that the Call of Duty franchise runs on, and the studio made the previous Black Ops games. Sledgehammer Games developed last year’s title, Call of Duty: WWII, and Infinity Ward made 2016’s entry in the series, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.

Eurogamer reports that Treyarch will “dial back” the futuristic sci-fi elements of the Black Ops series for the fourth game in an effort to “better fit the series’ recent desire for a more grounded feeling.” (Call of Duty fans savaged the debut trailer for Infinite Warfare, lambasting its dogfights in space and zero-gravity combat; Activision went in the complete opposite direction a year later with a World War II shooter.)

The initial speculation about this year’s Call of Duty game kicked off last week, fueled by tweets from the Nintendo-focused writer Marcus Sellars. Over the weekend, Sellars, who refers to himself as an “industry insider,” tweeted that Black Ops 4 was in development on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One — the three platforms on which the two most recent entries in the franchise were released — as well as Nintendo Switch.

Eurogamer said it has not yet confirmed a Switch version of Black Ops 4. The last Call of Duty title to appear on a Nintendo platform was 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts — both it and its predecessor, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, were released on Wii U. The only game that Activision has released on the Switch so far is Skylanders Imaginators; other third-party publishers have found success on the platform with mature-rated games, such as Bethesda Softworks’ recent port of 2016’s Doom.

Activision traditionally launches Call of Duty titles in early November. We’ve reached out to the company for comment on this year’s game, and we’ll update this article with any information we receive.

Update (Feb. 8): Activision confirmed during an earnings call today that Treyarch is developing this year’s Call of Duty title, but did not provide any information on the nature of the game.

“This fall, we plan to continue to exceed fans’ expectations with a new release from Treyarch — the creators of Black Ops, the most successful subfranchise in Call of Duty history — and we cannot wait to share more about that with you on future calls,” said Coddy Johnson, president and chief operating officer of Activision.

Mentioning that Treyarch created the Black Ops series could be a hint that the studio is indeed working on Black Ops 4. Treyarch itself tweeted that it is “looking forward to the year ahead.” The official Call of Duty account retweeted the Treyarch tweet in question, which you can see below.

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