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Call of Duty: Warzone has kicked off a meta-game which will conclude with the unveiling of the next Black Ops game, VGC understands.
Spin-off Warzone has been a huge success for Activision, amassing more than 60 million players, and according to VGC sources, the publisher sees the free-to-play shooter as an ideal platform to unveil the next premium series instalment.
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Warzone began teasing a Cold War theme this week when players were finally able to unlock bunker doors which had been present in the game map since launch.
Players later discovered how to use in-game phone messages to unlock a secret 11th bunker, which features scenery evocative of the Black Ops series including a war room, a number countdown, and a nuclear warhead.
Datamined game files have also uncovered models for a remote-controlled explosive car and a Spy Plane similar to the killstreaks featured in Black Ops.
It’s likely that the nuclear warhead discovered under Warzone’s map will be used to trigger a map revamp, VGC was told, similar to how Fortnite used an in-game event to transition to Chapter 2.
Studio sources told VGC this year that Activision has no intention of slowing down its premium Call of Duty releases, which will continue to be created under the leadership of Treyarch, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer.
Warzone is viewed as a third pillar alongside Call of Duty Mobile and future full-price releases, which will continue to offer a ‘premium’ package of campaign, multiplayer and Zombies/Spec Ops modes going forward.
Given the huge popularity of the free-to-play game, combined with the rich history of the Call of Duty franchise, it makes sense for Warzone to eventually evolve with content from outside of Modern Warfare, rather than creating a different battle royale for each sub-brand.
In a recent interview, Infinity Ward’s narrative director Taylor Kurosaki gave the clearest indication yet that Warzone would eventually acknowledge other Call of Duty brands, while stopping short of confirming it would integrate them like the series currently does with Call of Duty Mobile.
“We’re in kind of uncharted territories here,” he told French publication GamerGen. “Call of Duty has been on a very regular cadence for many, many years, and Warzone has made us rethink exactly how best to release new content and how to integrate it.
“Call of Duty is a genre in itself. There are different branches in the Call of Duty tree, but they’re all connected in some ways.
He added: “Warzone will be the through-line that connects all of the different various sub-franchises of Call of Duty. It’s going to be really cool to see how the different sub-franchises sort of come in and out of focus, but Warzone will be the one constant.”
Kurosaki added that because Activision plans to support Warzone for the long term, next-gen console versions of the game are an obvious next move.