Slowing down the mission start text shows us the TRUE campaign story.
Spoilers for the whole campaign, don't say I didn't warn you.
So...I've noticed a distinct lack of discussion about the campaign here, which is understandable. Most CoD fans consider the campaign to be nothing more than a fun little distraction. For those who played it, most are terribly confused, especially by the ending. Personally, while it isn't standard CoD fare, I enjoyed it very much. Enough conspiracy and mystery to keep me entertained.
I started a new playthrough on Realistic. While I was loading up the first mission, I remembered something: that scrolling text at the beginning of each mission that moves too fast to read, I wanted to see if I could read it this time around! So I opened up Youtube and went to a lets play, slowed the speed, and read it. The first mission's text reveals something huge. Since I found no one else who had the text available (or even discussing this) I have transcribed it here:
OCT 27th, '65. At approx. 14:00 hours we recieved word that HVI Egyptian Minister Said had been located at an NRC airfield in the Ethiopian Simien Mountain Range. Following the NRC's recent defeats in Cairo, SOCWA had reason to believe the Minister was to be made "an example of", in retaliation. Mission Priority was to extract the Minister via an EXFIL drone located outside of the principal AO. Airspace window was limited, mission success relied on the hacking of the site's DEAD system. We moved at 21:00 hrs. The operation was coordinated between two teams. Primary was my team- WA Black Cyber Ops Division comprised of Specialists Sebastian Diaz, Sarah Hall, and Peter Maretti. Secondary was WASF, led by CO Hendricks and a bunch of new faces. Plan was that my team would keep the NRC occupied while WASF moved to secure the HVI for extraction.
Here's the first part, nothing too complicated mostly just detailing the plans for the mission and the roles each group would play. One thing of note however, is that the report is written in the past tense, rather than future, implying that the mission report is a framing device to tell the story of this first mission. Moving on...
Personal Disclosure: This operation was my first time working with Hendricks since #61-63-68-75. He notcied the scarf on my arm and asked about Rachel, I guess he hadn't heard about our separation.
Now this is notable: Rachel Kane, your CIA handler later in the game, was involved with Taylor at some point. This will come into play later.
As you no doubt already know, the operation did not go as planned. WASF discovered additional hostages on site, among them Lt. Khalil- captured by NRC at Lotus Towers and previously assumed KIA.
Wait a minute...Wasn't Lotus Towers the location of the second to last mission of the game? You, as the "Player" fought alongside Lt. Khalil and Rachel Kane there in order to capture the CORVUS-infected Taylor. Near the end of the mission, Kane states that Lt. Khalil's position is being overrun, and that's the last you hear of him. If he's not killed in that fighting, then he would likely be taken prisoner. Now isn't that odd? This reveals that Lt. Khalil participated in another campaign at Lotus Towers and faced capture there as well, five years (?) before fighting there alongside the Player.
Initially I stuck to protocol and denied Hendricks' request to extract- with our limited window for extraction, I did not believe we had time to secure both the Minister and additional hostages. However- after some deliberation, I changed my mind. I made the call to return for the other captives- while Hendricks' team moved to EXFIL. Though the drone was able to secure the Minister and Khalil- the others were not so lucky. Hendrick's VTOL was forced out of the airspace with his team still on the ground. Though they tried to fight back, they were quickly surrounded and overrun by NRC bipedal robots. Most did not survive.
Most of this info is already known, and it does not reveal much. However...
I'd like to state for the record- the responsibility for the outcome rests solely with myself. No blame should be apportioned to Hendricks- even though he directly challenged my orders. I was the one who decided to break protocol and return for the other hostages. Even in light of the tragic consequences of my decision, I do believe that trying to save the lives of our allies was indeed the right thing to do.
This I think is a good insight into Taylor's character, deliberate and responsible, one who does not hold grudges, and someone who values human life, both of his teammates and any allies and civilians caught in the crossfire. A striking contrast to his later portrayal, which is obviously due to the mind virus of CORVUS. However, it calls into question one common interpretation of the ending: Taylor's consciousness overtaking the players. Anyone who has finished the game knows how it ends, the Player is asked their name and they respond with "Taylor." This is incredibly open-ended and subject to many different interpretations, though one of the more common ones I've seen is that Taylor's consciousness took over your body. What reason would he have to do this? He's fully willing to give his life for others and is not selfish at all. In the Lotus Towers mission, he kills himself to stop the spread of CORVUS' infection. It is very clear that he is a good man who was compelled to do terrible deeds by a malevolent force. This look into his character definitely clashes with that theory, though its by no means a definitive debunking. But anyways, here's how the report ends, which reveals so much in so little words.
The sole survivor of Hendricks' team was taken to the Zurich facility to undergo emergency lifesaving procedures.After being stabilized, they were quickly identified as a potential candidate for the expansion of the Cyber Ops program, and were fitted with a DNI. Prior to limb replacement surgery and full body augmentation, I personally interfaced to assist with their integration, acclimation, and training. They had potential. Unfortunately, complications arose during the procedure- They were pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
Yep. You died. The Player, the man or woman you played through the whole campaign as, died after the beginning of the first mission. Everything after that (other than possibly parts of mission 2, as it is a simulation in your comatose mind) was an elaborate dying dream that was greatly enhanced by your new Direct Neural Interface. Just as important however, is this point:
Prior to limb replacement surgery and full body augmentation, I personally interfaced to assist with their integration, acclimation, and training.
Taylor interfaced with your DNI, stepped into your mind. That's what you see in Mission 2, Taylor helping you train with his team, and helping you get used to your new systems. Sometime after, however, your life started slipping away. You ended up in this extremely realistic dream, generated by your wandering, withering mind interfacing with your DNI, creating an expansive simulation that you lived out the last moments of your life in. In all likelihood, it only lasted a few hours in real time, with you dying shortly after complications first arose. Whose to say that your mind wouldn't interpret your simulated dream as happening across a much larger span of time though?
Which brings me to the final point: all of the content of the dream that you play through for the rest of the game is based on Taylor's experience. Some of this experience is drawn from the Black Ops 3 prequel comic. In that comic, an allied squad, led by Dylan Stone, goes rogue, and Taylor's team comes to blows with them. Now, the Player lives this out in the dream, thanks to Taylor interfacing with the player's mind and sharing his thoughts and experiences. Instead of Dylan Stone going rogue, Taylor takes that role in this instance, with Hendricks and the Player(s) taking on Taylor's squads role. The only difference is a rogue AI is thrown in the mix, because dreams are imaginative and irrational by nature, and also seemingly because of the player character's distrust of robots and mechanical beings, due to their maiming. Additionally, Taylor's knowledge of the Lotus Towers engagements and Lt. Khalil's capture is what causes the player's similar experience in the second-to-last mission.
Taylor interfacing with you also explains the Player becoming romantically involved with Rachel Kane, and also explains why it occurs when playing as a female character (which many other fans wrote off as just lazy writing, lesbianism notwithstanding), due to Taylor's prior relationship to her. Additionally, the out-of-place scene where Kane is sitting by the Player's bedside is explained by this; a dream where the Player subconsciously acknowledges that they are hospitalized and dying, being visited by a simulation of their "love interest." In that scene, Kane says she can't be with you anymore, but then shows up without any qualms in the next mission, seemingly having changed her mind. This explains that odd sequence of events. Finally, this explains the moments where your character seemingly zones out and loses track of time, and why they seemingly start going crazy in the final mission; your character is drawing their last breaths in real life.
This, in my opinion, is also the best explanation for why the player answers "Taylor" when asked for their name at the end of the game. Since you've lived out Taylor's experiences and parts of his life in this elaborate dream, it would make sense that you'd subconsciously identify as him.
So there you have it folks: it was all a dream. *END QUOTE*