The latest Call of Duty may have just come out, but it’s already time to speculate on the next one. The rumor mill is already kicking into high gear about what’s coming after Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and there’s a lot to be excited about if some recent speculation turns out to be true.
If that sounds premature, consider that Call of Duty is an annualized series. Work on the latest edition is likely in full swing, so it’s not hard to believe that plans are firming up over at Activision. While any talk this early always needs to be taken with a grain of salt, January is as good a time as any to take stock of the current rumors and see what sounds realistic and what doesn’t.
Here’s everything you need to know about the speculation surrounding this year’s Call of Duty game.
When is the Call of Duty 2021 release date?
Much of the speculation was kicked off by gaming industry insider Tom Henderson, when he tweeted a development timeline of the franchise that included 2021’s release. He later clarified that his post was based on educated guesses, not fact, so this isn’t a proper leak.
However, Henderson’s guess work is well-informed. In his estimation, he places the next Call of Duty game’s release date at November 13. While it’s a complete guess, it’s worth noting that Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War came out on November 12, so there’s a precedent for that launch week.
That said, the latest installment was released as a launch title for next-gen consoles, so its release date was largely influenced by Sony and Microsoft’s calendar. While November 13 seems like a no-brainer, previous Call of Duty games opted to release between mid-October and early November, so Black Ops Cold War’s date was more an outlier than anything.
Who is developing Call of Duty 2021?
Henderson predicts that 2021’s Call of Duty title will be developed by Sledgehammer Games. The studio was the franchise’s primary developer from 2012 to 2017, before stepping back to a support role. In his estimates, Henderson notes that Sledgehammer would have likely begun development of the game in 2019, judging by previous cycles.
While Henderson’s speculation is more or less an educated guess, fans have been looking far and wide for confirmation. Some have looked to a tweet from the developer on New Year’s Eve that said “Power off. Power on. Let’s try this again” as evidence of its return to the series. In reality, that tweet seems like little more than a joke about rebooting 2020, so it’s not likely that it’s related to Call of Duty in any way.
Still, with the Call of Duty teams split between the core series and Warzone, it’s not impossible that Sledgehammer could be stepping back up to tackle the next game.
What is the rumored setting of Call of Duty 2021?
Recent speculation claims 2021’s Call of Duty will be an Advanced Warfare sequel set in World War 3. The unsubstantiated rumor came from a Reddit post claiming to know a leak about the game. It's worth noting that Sledgehammer Games was the developer behind Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Coincidentally, that rumor was shut down by the same person who made all the speculation mentioned above. When asked about the rumor’s validity, Tom Henderson simply said “No.” While that’s not a nail in the coffin, Henderson is a credible insider, so his confident denial is telling.
That said, there’s still hope for anyone hoping that’s true. Considering that Henderson admits that most of hit thoughts on 2021’s game come from educated guesses, it’s unlikely that he knows the setting himself. The reality is that no one really knows anything about it at the moment, but that doesn’t make speculating any less fun.