[Update: Activision released the official trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Watch it here]
Moments ago, developer Sledgehammer Games informed the video game world that some Sunday, May 4, 2014, they will be unveiling their first fully-in-house developed project, the next Call of Duty. We'll be finding out the real title of this year's installment, alongside story and gameplay details - but we can already begin piecing together what the campaign's plot might be about.
On top of Sledgehammer's teaser of what's coming this weekend - and the first screenshot - much of which will be detailed in the next issue of Game Informer, publisher Activision has some background info for Call of Duty fans to soak up and think on, before we learn more about the game' story. Forget about hostilities between United States and Russia (Modern Warfare) or who owns the most oil (Call of Duty: Ghosts), the next Call of Duty campaign will be about who has the money to buy themselves an elite army, to buy themselves a spot as a world superpower.
In the last 20 years, global combat has seen a steady shift towards the use of private military corporations, or PMCs. What happens when the highest bidder becomes the world's next superpower?
A new era arrives for Call of Duty. See the world reveal on 5.4.14.
And here are some interesting (read: scary) facts about the role (and power) of PMCs in the real-world:
Did you know the third largest private employer in the world was a private military corporation? The Call of Duty franchise has never shied away from real-world politics and controversial themes and politics, even sometimes being a source of it, and this year's installment might be taking that to the next level - touch on topics games like Army of Two and Metal Gear Solid have long embraced.
Call of Duty: Ghosts took place in an alternate near-future where South American oil-producing nations became the world's superpower after the fall of the Middle-East, and before that, Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare series delved into the a US-Russian conflict. This year's installment will be about anyone who can afford to buy their army, to buy their war.
Plot points aside, we're more curious about the gameplay elements that Sledgehammer is designing into its campaign. Will we see the return of some missing features (campaign co-op from World at War) and the addition of some innovative mechanics? Or will we be burdened with weak gimmicks (Strike Force mission from Black Ops 2). Will the multiplayer expand with truly new modes, bigger maps and player counts, or will we get what everyone fears - another slightly tweaked iteration of a game series that's beginning to dwindle in sales.
With the feature sets, ambitious connected worlds, and next-gen graphics the competition is delivering, for Call of Duty to remain atop the pack of first-person shooters, it needs more than an interesting story. What would get you excited for this year's Call of Duty?
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.