Fans are thrilled to see the return of the popular Black Ops franchise for this year’s Call of Duty release – but what exactly happened to Black Ops 5?

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest Call of Duty titles, you may have noticed that we seem to be missing an entry somewhere.

After all, Black Ops 4 was released back in October 2018, almost six years ago, and now, all of a sudden, we’re on Black Ops 6?

Don’t worry, there’s a simple explanation for the strange numbering system.

Call of Duty Black Ops 6 Direct Art

Was There a Black Ops 5?

No, there was no official Call of Duty: Black Ops 5, but series developer Treyarch was supposedly developing the title in 2019.

However, that same year, Activision took Call of Duty’s 2020 entry away from Sledgehammer Games, after reports of development issues surfaced online.

The publisher instead assigned Treyarch, with the support of Warzone developer Raven Software, the task of getting get Call of Duty 2020 ready for launch.

This appears to have caused Treyarch to change from its initial plans, transforming Black Ops 5 into a new title: Black Ops Cold War.

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Soldier

Evidence of this could be seen in Cold War itself, where assets referencing Black Ops 5 were present in the game files.

Even the unreleased game’s logo was visible in-game before Treyarch removed the references.

As such, Black Ops 5 did technically exist, though it didn’t continue on from Black Ops 4’s futuristic setting. The last numbered entry in the series took place in the 2040s, whereas Cold War took players all the way back to the 1980s.

It’s unclear whether this was always the plan or whether Treyarch had to merge its new game with Sledgehammer Games’ work in progress.

Black Ops 6 Certainly Doesn’t Fit the Pattern

What’s interesting is that Black Ops 6 appears to have abandoned the tally number system that previous titles displayed.

Black Ops 5’s leaked logo may have used the Roman number V for five, but Black Ops 4 was actually written as Black Ops IIII, despite the Roman numeral for four being IV.

Call of Duty Black Ops 4 Cover Art Soldiers

We suppose Black Ops IIIII would look more than a little silly. But it’s certainly odd to see Treyarch shift its naming system so frequently.

It also seems as though Black Ops 6, despite having a six in its title, might follow on directly from Cold War, rather than heading back to the future timeline.

Early reports indicated that Treyarch’s next title would be set in the Gulf War, which should place the release in 1990-1991.

However, Activision’s first cryptic trailer for the game might be teasing a more modern setting.

Whatever the case, fans can rest assured that this is indeed Black Ops 6, and no, you haven’t missed an entry somewhere.

As always, the upcoming Call of Duty title will be playable as a standalone entry, though we can expect references to the older titles to appear.

Managing Editor
Max has a wealth of experience in the industry and is a lover of all things video games, situated in Manchester, United Kingdom.