In the world of Call of Duty, a handful of characters have risen above the copypasta action figures from a Michael Bay script to become memorable heroes in their own right. And one of them might finally become a playable character in the multiplayer modes, including Warzone, in the game's Season 4 schedule of releases.
What happened? — On Thursday, Activision released a teaser video in which three familiar chracters — including Kate Laswell and Nikolai from Modern Warfare — listen to a live call between two past Call of Duty villains: Khalid Al-Asad and Viktor Zakhaev.
These criminal terrorists have appeared in previous Modern Warfare games, but the teaser marks their first speaking appearance in the rebooted canon that started in 2019. They were previously hinted at in the closing moments of the Modern Warfare story mode.
YouTuber Inkslasher also found evidence that the character Imran Zakhaev, nicknamed "Mr. Z" and a major arms dealer for the terrorist group Al-Qatala, is hosting the call.
In the call, Khalid and Viktor reveal that "the enemies" are moving more weapons into Verdansk, which fans know is the giant map that hosts the battle royale game Warzone. This exchange alone confirms that new characters and new weapons are coming to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
"Good, let them," Zakhaev says, which implies the bad guys have plans that could change the landscapes of both Modern Warfare multiplayer and Warzone. Inkslasher on YouTube theorizes that they have plans to bomb Verdansk, which could wipe out Verdansk and create a new battle royale map. This is supported by the existence of "Bunker 11" an underground location recently opened to players that contains a disabled nuclear shell.
"A senior operator" — Halfway through the call, Khalid tells Viktor that "they're enlisting the help of a senior operator." Though Khalid only has one poorly-framed picture, it's clearly Captain John Price.
"Who is he?" Viktor asks. Khalid ominously responds, "An old friend." When Viktor again asks if "this is a problem," Khalid tells him that it's "a big one."
Captain Price, British SAS officer and mutton chop extraordinaire, plays a major role in the Modern Warfare story. Like Viktor and Khalid, Price also appeared in the previous Modern Warfare trilogy and was a fan favorite, ranking eighth in Game Informer's 2010 list of 30 video game characters who defined a decade. Price graced the cover of the 2019 reboot. He is voiced and played in motion capture by Barry Sloane, known for TV shows like Hollyoaks, Revenge, and the History Channel series Six.
What it means — However cryptic the video plays out, it's quite clear what's going on, or at least what's being hinted: Captain John Price is being added as a playable "Operator," one of many avatars for the game's multiplayer modes.
Reminiscent of hero shooter games like Overwatch and Valorant, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare enables players to select operators to play as. But unlike Overwatch, Operators are purely cosmetic and agnostic towards weapons types. So players are free to choose any Operator and use any loadout they like.
Each of the Operators also have their own lore, but only a few come from the single-player story. In Season 3, which started in April, the single-player protagonist Alex (portrayed by Chad Michael Collins) became a playable Operator. Should Season 4 add Captain Price, that will make the second character from the 2019 single-player campaign to join the multiplayer.
The Inverse analysis — It might be hard to fathom for an ultra-realistic military shooter, but Call of Duty has a whole lot of lore behind it. Some characters have achieved mythic status within the community, a combination of nostalgia for the original games (now released a decade ago) and the new Modern Warfare story making them so cool.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is available now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Season 4 will begin on June 2, 2020.