EXCLUSIVE: Call of Duty 2024 is indeed Black Ops, set during the Gulf War in the early 90s

Call of Duty Black Ops
(Image credit: Activision)

What you need to know

  • As expected, the next Call of Duty is indeed another entry in the long-running Black Ops series. 
  • Focused on the CIA, the next Black Ops is set in the Gulf War and will examine the United States' role in the conflict. 
  • Previous leaks point to a return of round-based zombie modes, and remastered maps from previous Call of Duty Black Ops entries. 

Long in development, Treyarch is gearing up to show off its latest entry in the Black Ops series, as most have been expecting for some time now. Via multiple sources familiar with Activision's plans, we can now confirm that Call of Duty 2024 is indeed Black Ops, but we now have some more details on the theme. 

Black Ops "6" is currently being heavily referred to internally by codenames, and its formal name may not be fully decided yet. However, given that Treyarch dropped the numerated name for its last entry "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War" — if we follow that convention, it could be that the next game is titled Call of Duty: Black Ops Gulf War, confirming some previous reports. 

Black Ops '6' is set during the Gulf War, with a focus on the CIA 

Call Of Duty Black Ops Cold War Screenshot

Treyarch's previous entry, Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, received some mixed reviews, but remained one of the year's most popular games.  (Image credit: Source: Activision)

According to multiple sources familiar with Activision's plans, Call of Duty 2024 will sport the Black Ops moniker and once again follow some of the West's more shadowy military dealings in global conflict scenarios. Black Ops "6" will take place during the Gulf War, which was the first major conflict between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and a coalition of U.S.-led militaries. U.S. President George Bush senior and UK Prime Minister Margret Thatcher deployed troops alongside Egypt and Saudi Arabia into Iraq after the Hussein regime invaded Kuwait, in what formed the largest coalition of militaries since World War 2. It also charted a new era of heavily-televised conflicts, with Operation Desert Storm becoming notorious for its live media coverage, the war also featured some of America's largest-ever tank battles, in an era before drone warfare. 

Indeed, Black Ops "6" will lean back into more traditional military combat technology and familiar Black Ops gadgetry as opposed to the current and near-future tech we've seen from Modern Warfare and some other recent Call of Duty titles. 

From what we've been told, Black Ops "6" will attempt to explore a nuanced narrative of the Gulf War, with a critical focus on different participants within the conflict. It will dovetail into the end of the Cold War era, and explore some of the consequences therein. 

(Image credit: Activision)

While I can't fully corroborate this (yet), it was previously shared on Twitter (X, via Insider Gaming) that Call of Duty 2024 will feature returning maps from the Black Ops franchise, including Grind and WMD. Game file leaks also point to round-based zombie modes returning. Insider Gaming has been reporting on this for a while, sharing the Cerberus codename which I can now corroborate. We're still locking down details on the format zombies will take for Call of Duty: Black Ops "6," to see if we can corroborate some of those previous reports. 

We've also heard that Activision is discussing a large pre-order early access bonus for Call of Duty Black Ops "6," with several days for the base game, and maybe even weeks for access to other modes. Activision-Blizzard has leaned heavily into the "preorder for early access" trend recently, with World of Warcraft catching some backlash for the advantages it could impart via its preorder early access for The War Within. Call of Duty: Warzone will also naturally get some love to tie it into the new Black Ops entry, as you might expect. 

As usual, Call of Duty Black Ops "6" is targeting a late fall, early winter 2024 launch. 

Against a backdrop of criticism

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 zombies

Call of Duty 2024 will naturally have a fresh zombie mode.  (Image credit: Activision Publishing)

Call of Duty: Black Ops "6" or whatever they eventually decide to call it will launch in the shadow of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which has become notorious for the quality (or lack thereof) of its campaign mode. Reports from Bloomberg have previously suggested that this year's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was developed in the space of a few months, as Treyarch sought delays for its own Call of Duty title. 

Treyarch contributes to all Call of Duty projects, but Call of Duty 2024 will represent the longest development time Treyarch has ever put into a Call of Duty title it's leading. As such, some of the expectations will be probably higher than usual. 

Microsoft purchased Activision-Blizzard (and thus Call of Duty) in October 2023, finalizing a lengthy court battle to the tune of $71 billion. The enduring power of the Call of Duty franchise drove much of the value of that acquisition, and I suspect Microsoft and the leaders at Xbox will not want to see Call of Duty lose its luster, with repeated instances of criticism as seen with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Although, perhaps it doesn't matter — Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 still broke engagement records for Activision, despite the negative feedback. 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!