Another day, another Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 teaser drop. And going off the dates on the remaining teasers on callofduty.com, it looks like that’s quite literally going to be the case from now until the game’s ‘official’ reveal on May the 1st. Well fear not. You don’t have to put up with Activision’s drawn out escapade of drip-fed hype. You don’t need to log back onto the series’ official site every day to see what abstract morsels the CoD marketing department has dropped in order to get you to do its job for it by way of a virally disseminated tizzy.
No. You see we’ve looked closely at today’s clue from all angles, and thusly we have worked out exactly what Black Ops 2 is all about. Allow us to elaborate.
Today, a bit of poking around callofduty.com reveals a big screen with the word ‘Tacitus’ on it.
You probably remember this word. You’re probably annoyed that you can’t remember where from. Allow us to soothe your tempestuous mind. The word was emblazoned upon the t-shirt of the chap from FPS Russia during yesterday's (opens in new tab) viral tease, which implied a futuristic time-scale for Treyarch’s next CoD. If you take the hint and throw ‘Tacitus’ into your Google box, you’ll find tacitus.com (opens in new tab). It’s a site for a clearly fake initiative between the world’s clearly fake greatest minds to achieve… something. The collective’s logo is suspiciously reminiscent of a 3D version of Treyarch’s, so it’s pretty much 110% safe to say that all of these things are linked.
So those are the current details within the reality of this little ARG Activision is running, but what does Tacitus mean in this world? Well Tacitus refers to several things:
Marcus Claudius Tacitus - Emperor of Rome, 275–276
Publius Cornelius Tacitus - Senator and a historian of the Roman Empire
3097 Tacitus - Asteroid named after the Roman historian
Tacitus - A lunar impact crater
Tacitus bellus - One of several varieties of succulent plants
Tacitus - A fictional data matrix from the Command & Conquer series of computer games
Conclusions? There are too many references to the moon going on here for the big grey ocean-tickler not to be involved. We’ve already discovered several potential links (opens in new tab) between Black Ops 2 and eclipses (the game is even reported to have a release date set on the day of a real one), so between that matter and the various references here to the moon and asteroids, this one is going to get spacey to some degree.
Above: In Black Ops 2
Given that we already very probably know that Black Ops 2 is going to be set at least some distance into the future, we can cleanly extrapolate that, fearing for the stagnation of its until this point tooth-rattlingly fresh and innovative series, Activision has taken the plunge and decided to shake things up before Call of Duty starts repeating itself. And so it’s going to take the groundbreaking step of putting marines in space. Creating ‘Space Marines’, if you will.
Black Ops 2 will be set entirely on the moon, and its traditional pethora of helicopters crashing into things will be replaced with asteroids crashing into things. There will probably be a bit where you have to man a gun turret on an asteroid as it flies through space fighting nearby enemy asteroids, which will culminate in a swirling accidental descent which you’ll only just survive. In true Black Ops style, a screamingly trite bit at the end of the credits will rewrite history by revealing that you yourself created the Tacitus crater with this very crash. Or the net result of the eight or nine you’ll suffer throughout the course of the game.
And the Romans? Easy. Activision won’t want to bring aliens into this, for the reason of maintaining the same staunch, sober realism Call of Duty has always been known for. And putting Communists on the moon just wouldn’t be original enough. Not for Call of Duty, the idea of porting the same ideas to different locations and assuming that is enough. So instead you’ll be fighting ancient Romans.
Above: TANGO SUCKAH!
The precedent for this one? Simple. Treyarch have always been the quirkier, jokier Call of Duty developer. They do the zombies thing. They put the retro-themed Arcade Ops in their last game. They’re probably the kind of lolsome, internet-loving coolsters who read Reddit. And you might remember that a while back Reddit spawned an epic literaray discussion (opens in new tab) on whether or not a battalion of Marines could take down the entire Roman Empire. And that discussion is now being turned into a movie. And so, in the spirit of the always-groundbreaking, always-original Call of Duty franchise, Treyarch are doing the same thing Eidos Montreal did in Deus Ex: Human Revolution and putting a bunch of big Reddit references in their game.
And the Command & Conquer bit comes into it because Kane turns up in a big twist halfway through to help the Romans. Because Black Ops 2 will be the first co-production by Activision and EA, the rival publishers having decided that getting involved in a court case over Infinity Ward is “a bit silly” and settled upon sharing all their games instead of fighting. Because it’s nicer. Oh, and there’s probably a botanical moon dome with succulent plants. So that's everything covered.
(Okay, so I might be taking the piss out of the whole slow reveal, corporate prick-tease, cynical fanboy-baiting approach to marketing here, but there is a fairly decent theory that the moon stuff might indeed relate to the return of the setting for the inevitable Zombies mode. Check it out here (opens in new tab))