Box art - Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Black Ops 4 Story Explained – Story Synopsis and What Happened

Contrary to what you might think, there is a Black Ops 4 story. However, it’s not crammed into a traditional campaign. The bits and chunks of narrative are in the Specialists area in the menu where you get to play as each of the heroes in the game and learn about their abilities. And in addition to learning their ins and outs, you get to see their backstories and a little of how it contributes to the overall narrative. It is a little confusing and in so many disparate parts. To help solve some of the mysteries, we’ve compiled a synopsis of the Black Ops 4 story. It’s maybe more widespread and, frankly, convoluted than you might think. There are spoilers ahead, obviously.

Black Ops 4 Story Explained – Savannah and the Specialists

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The blonde woman dressed in white in the first cutscene you see in the Specialists menu is Savannah Mason. She’s a key figure to this story and the trillionaire gathering up all the Specialists you play as in the multiplayer to “make the world a better place,” essentially by creating her own private military corporation. Jessica Mason is her sister. She’s the dark-haired woman with the gnarly gash in her face who gets killed in the flashback sequence that you see early in the Specialists mode. They are both granddaughters of Alex Mason, one of the main protagonists from the first two Black Ops games and someone important to this game’s narrative.

Jessica dies in the mission with Battery (the pink-haired woman) and Ruin (the guy with the mohawk and ground pound) that goes awry. Battery and Ruin were able to get away but something was fishy. The two of them were sitting ducks but the people who had attacked them did not kill the pair of Specialists. Ruin realizes something was fishy two years after the incident when he gets a voicemail from a scrambled voice telling him to “listen carefully” and “watch [his] back” because “everything [he] knows is wrong.”

Ruin then takes this information to the other Specialists that Savannah has been recruiting and also lying to. Knowing that she has been compromised, Savannah sends a hit squad to kill ruin because he has been compromised. He uses his ground pound well and gets away mostly unscathed as the same person who sends him the voicemail warns him of the attack just before it happens.

The voice asks that he meet them at a safe house. Ruin complies and confronts the mysterious person. It ends up being Jessica, who really didn’t die in the flashback mission and now has robotic parts in her head because of the wounds she suffered that night she was set up by her sister or Menendez (which is in the next section). Knowing they’ve all been played, the other Specialists come out of the shadows around Ruin and Jessica with a new target: Savannah.

Black Ops 4 Story Explained – Mason, Woods, Savannah, Blackout, and More

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But this is only one part of the Black Ops 4 story. Seeing how it is Black Ops, it goes way deeper and gets way more convoluted. This part ties into Blackout, Alex Mason, Frank Woods, Savannah Mason, Black Ops as a whole, and more.

Mason and Woods are main characters from the first two Black Ops games and have been resurrected by Savannah along with Raul Menendez, the bad guy from Black Ops 2. Yes, Savannah literally raised them from the dead and this is the point of contention between Savannah and her sister, Jessica.

But it is heavily implied that they resurrected Jessica as well. Menendez states in the “Raul’s Way” audio log that Jessica “was [Savannah’s] sister].” This is probably a reference to the “Kiss of Death” audio log where Savannah shot Jessica. By resurrecting her and seeing her new form go against Jessica, Menendez argues that technically this form is not the “real” Jessica. Although this is a little more confusing given that Jessica says, “I’m not… you’re not Jessica” in the “Dead Again” audio log, further obfuscating when this event took place. However, it appears that Savannah shot Jessica and then was resurrected before going on that mission with Ruin and Battery to “die” to the then rebelling against Savannah from the shadows after that.

Jessica can be heard in the audio logs threatening to blow the whistle on the morally dubious practice of reviving dead people, which is called “Project Blackout.” This, as you might be able to guess, ties into the Blackout mode as the Specialist, Battery, who claims that people are dying “in the zone” and she has been seeing numbers. These delusions are similar to those found in other Black Ops games and “dying in the zone” refers to the nature of battle royale in general.

It was implied that she died and was brought back to life, given that we watch her get mutilated in a cutscene, see her on an operating table, and hear Savannah talk about “if she dies, we’ll bring her back.” Also one audio log (“The Running Woman”) shows Battery with a mirror against her face, showing a skeleton.

Further evidence that Blackout is canon lies within all of the playable characters in that mode. They are all important people in that lore that have been resurrected: Mason, Menendez, Woods, and Viktor Reznov. Those are the “archetypes” and they’ve all been been brought back from the dead. Also when presumably referring to Blackout, she says: “Out here they get another shot. A fair chance.” This could be that the battle royale nature of Blackout is a simulation of sorts to train soldiers. She is also telling this to Woods, who is involved in the project and is also her lover (which is odd if you think about how it is Mason’s granddaughter).

Menendez is also using Savannah as a way to help him get his archetypes so he can stop the “cancer” from spreading. It’s likely a way to use good soldiers to stop this “cancer” since he states it was as a matter of national security. While we don’t know what the “cancer” is, it’s likely Menedez’s enemy and why they need trained Blackout soldiers to stop it. He reveals this in the “Raul’s Way” audio intel logs.

Audio logs (“Mason’s Ladder”) also show that Woods is speaking gibberish and numbers to Mason as a form of brainwashing, which he was also subjected to in the first Black Ops. Mason repeatedly mutters about the “box” and “Angola.” This refers to the scene in Black Ops 2 where the player squad finds Woods in a container full of rotting corpses in Angola. When Mason says “You were in the box” to Woods and Woods replies “No, it’s you in the box. It’s always been you,” he’s trying to confuse Mason into thinking that he himself was trapped in that container.

Woods and Savannah are trying to get Mason to believe that he was in the container in Angola, not Woods. If Mason believes that Woods saved him, then he would be more susceptible to killing Jessica on behalf of Menendez since he “owns” the project like he says in the “Lost Highway” audio log. However, it is not exactly clear why Mason is being used to kill his granddaughter Jessica, but it could prove to be the ultimate form of control. If they can get him to murder his family, then they can get him to do anything.

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You also might notice that Mason and Woods are in the asylum in the Blackout map in the cutscene. There are even audio logs of people describing zombies (“Mason’s Ladder”). This makes sense, given that is where they appear on the Blackout map. Mason mentions that they are everywhere and “not human.” Zombies are indeed near the asylum in Blackout, which is shown in above picture. This even suggests that zombies are canon since Blackout seems to also be a continuation of the story. Treyarch said before the game’s release that it wanted to have narrative in each mode and, given the evidence, it looks like the team did just that.

Since this is Black Ops, very little is explicitly said and healthy portion of it is only apparent once you’ve looked every bit of the lore and scoured the internet for Easter eggs. It’s exhaustive. But it does appear as though Treyarch is trying to stitch together zombies, Blackout, and its previous campaigns into one sprawling, Kingdom Hearts-esque tale. There are still a lot of mysteries and some of the more theoretical points are educated guesses based on the info we have. And knowing Treyarch, it’s going to be a journey to figure out exactly what the story is.

Short version of the Black Ops 4 story: Savannah Mason wants her sister Jessica Mason dead because of the dispute over “Project Blackout,” the process of resurrecting old soldiers. The Blackout mode is some sort of training simulator for this.Frank Woods is trying to brainwash Alex Mason (both from the first two Black Ops games) into killing Jessica for Savannah.