(Pocket-lint) - There are certain fixtures you can rely on in the gaming calendar, releases that come around like clockwork, and Call of Duty might just be one of the most reliable. It's a series that has put out roughly a game per year for absolute aeons now, and with Black Ops Cold War firmly out there now, it's time to start looking forward to what's next.
The first rumours and details are starting to circulate around what we can expect from 2021's Call of Duty, so we've gathered all the information you need right here. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
COD 2021 release date
As already discussed, Call of Duty games don't tend to work on particularly flexible release timings - you can generally expect one to come out in Autumn each year, and it looks like 2021 should be no different on that front.
The received wisdom at the moment has the game's main developer as Sledgehammer Games, which previously created Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and World War II, both relatively solidly-received entries in the series. In fact, it would seem that Sledgehammer was actually initially targetting 2020 for its game, but that it slipped to 2021, and Treyarch stepped in to finish off Black Ops Cold War instead.
Hence, it would make a lot of sense for Sledgehammer's game to be polished off for this year. The development situation for Call of Duty is a bit of a maze nowadays, with at least four major studios all attached to the franchise - Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software, all under Activision's ownership umbrella, so it could be that there's a fair amount of collaboration going on.
COD 2021 platforms
When it comes to platforms, Black Ops Cold War can again be a firm guide for what to expect from 2021's Call of Duty - it'll be on a heck of a lot of platforms, basically. Next-generation consoles will be approaching their first anniversary when the game releases, so you can expect them to fly the flag for more graphically intensive and smooth-running gameplay.
However, there will still be tens of millions of players who are on the PS4 or Xbox One, so the game will absolutely come out on those platforms as well, and we'd expect there to be cross-platform and cross-generational multiplayer, just like Cold War offers.
Whether an extra year in the oven can see the next COD push its graphics further than Cold War will remain to be seen, of course, but we're hoping for 4K action and ray tracing to make sure everything looks its very best.
COD 2021 gameplay
Here's where things might be a little harder to predict than you might think - while there are a few things we can be certain of when it comes to a COD game, there are still some real variables.
What we can rely on is that it'll be a first person shooter with quick time-to-kill and twitchy gameplay, and that it'll come with a relatively short but bombastic campaign, alongside a chunky multiplayer component. That multiplayer will have various team modes across different objective styles, and use both new maps and eventually a selection of remastered classics.
The above is true of pretty much every COD game, but when you look at Sledgehammer's previous games you can see some variety - in particular when it comes to player movement. Advanced Warfare featured possibly the most in-depth and radical movement in any COD game to date, with double jumps, boosting and more allowing for truly vertical tactics.
That has since been rolled back as players were divided by where it took the series, but it's entirely possible we'll see another such departure from the norm. Equally, the WWII route would see us get another down-the-line COD with limited movement that's more reliant on aim than traversal.
We'll be able to get more of a sense for what to expect gameplay-wise as more information trickles out ahead of the game's release.
Another open question is how the new game will integrate with Call of Duty: Warzone, which has smashed expectations to gain nearly 100 million players already. The integration with Cold War in December 2020 was more than a little clumsy and bug-ridden, so we'll have to hope that the next time it happens, for COD 2021, things go more smoothly.
COD 2021 story
On the story front, what we said about player movement is instructive - Sledgehammer has created two CODs so far, and they're drastically different: Advanced Warfare and World War II. The safe money would be on one of those franchises getting a sequel, whether it's another Second World War game, or something set far into the future.
What setting the game has is likely to be the biggest variable for both its gameplay and story, in terms of tone and plot, so it'll be interesting to see what ends up being chosen. When we get more of a sense for this, we'll be able to start drawing conclusions about what shape its story might take.