Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is definitely a mouthful and fitting for this year’s offering which is packed to the brim with content. Besides Multiplayer and Zombies modes, we also have the return of the Black Ops campaign and the inclusion of Modern Warfare’s Warzone. It’s for this reason that I decided to break up my review into four parts to cover each mode individually.
In Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War you play as agent “Bell”. You are given the ability to fully customize your name, skin tone, ethnicity, and gender (male, female or non-binary) along with the back story for which agency you work for and apply 2 out of 15 Psychological character traits. Each trait has its own set of bonuses such as “Paranoid” which increases your aiming speed by 100% or “Violent Tendencies” which increases bullet damage by 25%. If you have no interest in these bonuses, you can just select “Classified” and no bonuses will apply. Keep in mind that once you have chosen your traits they cannot be changed. I found this to be a helpful feature, especially when playing on some of the more challenging difficulties.
The story takes place in the 1980s during the Cold War and is loosely based on recently declassified documents discussing various events that may or may not have taken place during this time. If you are a returning Black Ops player, then you will be familiar with some of your teammates such as Woods Mason and Hudson. There are also a few new faces that fill out your team along with the team lead CIA agent Adler. The team’s goal is to hunt down “pursues” who have obtained nukes and plans to unleash them on all of Europe.
The campaign does a great job at mixing up the gameplay style for each location. Some may be traditional shoot anything that moves, while others add a more stealthy approach. In fact, some missions will feel like a completely different game. One, in particular, has you playing as a double agent which requires you to trigger events and complete a variety of objectives. Another twist is that not all objectives need to be completed in order to progress because unlike any previous COD title, Black Ops Cold War has multiple endings. So the outcome will alter depending on who you save, items found, successful hacks, and your dialogue choices.
Oh, and you read that last part correctly. Similar to an RPG, Bell will at times be prompt with dialogue choices and the response due in fact alters your story. All of these features are welcomed additions alongside the amazing new PS5 DualSense haptic feedback controller. Each weapon has a distinct feel. A submachine gun may be quick to aim & fire but a heavy AK may produce more resistance when aiming while producing some strong rumble vibrations when firing. Since the campaign is roughly 7-9 hours and thanks to the multiple endings, you will find yourself replaying missions in order to experience all 3 endings.
There is no denying, when it comes to multiplayer modes that the COD franchise has always delivered. Black Ops Cold War is no different. All our favorite match times return such as Team Death Match, Kill Confirmed, and Domination to name a few. We however also have two new modes titled VIP Escort and Fireteam: Dirty Bomb.
In VIP Escort, your objective is to protect your VIP as you transport to 1 of 2 extraction points. The opposing team’s job is to stop this from happening at all costs. Now there are a few variations to completing either end such as eliminating the entire team or the VIP escapes. It is also worth noting that the VIP is only armed with a pistol and randomly selected from your team. The key to success is communication.
If you’re the VIP, take cover and assist your team by using the only ability at your disposal which is calling in spy planes to locate enemies on the map. VIP Escort is a nice addition to the stacked MP modes but from my experience, the rounds would end quickly either by a quick kill of the VIP or not strategizing properly and the entire team heading to one extraction point leaving the other open for an easy win.
Fireteam: Dirty Bomb is a 40 player, 10 teams objective-based mode. Your goal is to fight off 9 other teams in collecting Uranium caches and dirty bombs that are scattered all over the map. The gameplay is frantic & fast-paced. If you have a group of friends that play TD or Domination, Fireteam: Dirty Bomb will be one of your new favorite modes. Again, communication is key, especially if your team is splitting up to cover more ground.
The Zombies mode in Black Ops Cold War tells the story of unusual activity taking place in an underground bunker. It’s now up to you and two other players to go in and investigate. SURPRISE! There are waves of fast-moving zombies inside. If this map looks familiar that’s because it’s a redesign of a map from World at War. This is a rather large map so there is plenty of space to run while hordes of zombies give chase. The story progresses as you complete waves, turn on the power, and unlock doors.
Unified progression with MP along with the ability to use your MP Loadouts really makes zombies feel more integrated to the overall title. You can still find weapons, upgrades along with some new skills but I honestly just imported my existing MP Loadout and focused on giving these zombies the true death. After wave 10, you can call for a chopper extract as a save point or you can keep going and the option for a chopper extract will appear after the completion of every 5th wave. I personally have never been a diehard fan of Zombies mode but I do see the appeal. I would also like to mention out of all the modes, Zombies mode was prone to frequent crashes. This would occur intermittently but for me always in Zombies mode.
Modern Warfare – Warzone
If you were unaware, the Warzone (Battle Royale) mode from Modern Warfare is also included within Black Ops Cold War (MW full review). It’s the same exact experience with the inclusion of weapons, vehicles, and some locations from the Cold War campaign. As long as you are using the same Activision account, your MW Warzone progress will carry over including weapons, items, and load-outs.
Developers Treyarch has stated that Warzone will evolve over time into the Black Ops Cold War universe. I know for some this may be seen as a disappointment. However, take into consideration that the existing mode is extremely popular and at this point, runs like a well-oiled machine so I completely understand why a new version wasn’t created especially for Black Ops Cold War. On the other hand, it is a bit jarring to spend a couple of hours playing MP with 1980s weapons and jump into MW Warzone. Personal note: As I mentioned earlier, I’m a huge fan of the new DualSense haptic feedback controller but when it comes to playing any of the MP modes, I had to turn this awesome feature off. As you know, every second counts when running & gunning so as much as the new feedback adds to the immersion, it also hindered my aiming/shooting response time.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is the absolute definition of a complete COD experience. Every mode you could possibly want is present. The gameplay is fluid and like a pair of worn boots easy to jump right into. The Campaign offers new features that will entice players to dive back in to unlock all the hidden clues along with multiple endings.
Haptic Feedback and 3D audio are game-changers for this franchise. I could do a full report on these enhancements and it wouldn’t do it justice. One needs the first-hand experience to become a believer. OH, and if you are concerned about the overall file size of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War then you should be. But also, know that you can uninstall the modes that you no longer wish to play and free up some valuable SSD space.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War for the PlayStation 5 provided by Treyarch and Activision.