It’s that time of the year once again where a new Call of Duty is out for everyone to play and enjoy. This year though it’s a tad more special since we have the new generation of consoles like the Xbox Series X and PS5 and of course, Cold War plays better on these new machines. Still there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had if you play the game on the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro as the later is where I played and reviewed the game.
As an overall package Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War is pretty good. It features a good single-player campaign, the much beloved Zombies mode with Dead Ops Arcade making a return and the multiplayer which this time around includes some new and exciting modes.
Let’s start with the campaign, shall we? It’s good, not great, just good. If you played the original Black Ops, Cold War is basically a continuation of that narrative which is kinda strange since we got Black Ops 2, the sequel to that game. Anyway, in Cold War your ragtag group of special agents and operators are tasked with finding and stopping Perseus, an elusive Russian agent with a pretty dark agenda. This mission will take you across the world where you’ll also visit some of the locations from the original Black Ops game like Vietnam, Cuba and the Mount Yamantau nuclear research facility to name a few.
Cold War pays respect to that original Black Ops campaign, maybe a little too much. For example, the first mission starts in a bar where you are smoking a cigarette and contact an operative then all hell breaks loose as you try to catch an Iranian terrorist running across and sliding on rooftops. I have played these sequences back in Black Ops, the first mission in Cuba where all hell broke loose, and who can forget the bombastic Kowloon City mission. And unfortunately in Cold War, these missions are not as exciting, bombastic and epic as what we played 10 years ago.
Yes, it’s still a globetrotting adventure and it has some exciting gameplay sequences like the infiltration in the KGB Lubyanka headquarter building mission where the first half plays unlike anything we’ve ever seen in a Call of Duty game before and the penultimate mission where it goes full-on Black Ops “The numbers, Mason” cranked up to 11 mindfuckery and I absolutely loved, definitely the highlight of the whole campaign in my books. The licensed ’80s music in some of the mission is also a highlight which really helps in grounding the game in that time period.
Another new thing that Black Ops Cold War does is adding downtime between missions. After you complete a few missions, you go back to the safehouse, and there you can talk with the rest of the crew. It’s a nice break of pace and you’ll get more insights about who these new cast of characters are and some banter with the returning Mason and Woods. Later in the game, you’ll have to choose what to say or not say and that will affect the ending of the game.
In the safehouse is also where you select which mission to do next, review the evidence you find in the missions and use it to solve a few puzzles which will also affect the ending of the game although in a very minor way. There’s also an arcade machine where you can play some old Atari Activision games just for shits and giggles I guess.
As I said the campaign is good, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original one. Where in the original each mission was bombastic, epic and had amazing character moments, who can forget the whole Vorkuta mission and Reznov’s speech or the Russian roulette with Woods or the exchange between Ed Harris’ Hudson and Sam Worthington’s Mason, Cold War feels just like “Huh, I’ve already done this before and it was better”. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a good time and the new voice actors for the returning characters do a really great job, but we had it better. Cold War doesn’t use the new Call of Duty engine that Modern Warfare used and as such the game looks a little bit old, still good, but Modern Warfare looked and run way better than what we get here.
Next, Zombies. If you like what Treyarch has done with Zombies in all their past Call of Duty games well, you will love this new experience. Everything that makes for a cool zombies experience is here, missions, easter eggs, secret weapons, Pack-a-punch, mystery box, perks and a lot of zombies to mow down… yeah, it is all there. However this time around there are some slight changes like Loadouts where you don’t start with a pistol anymore, but with your custom loadout. And since there’s one unified progression for Zombies and Multiplayer, the weapons and attachments you unlock on one mode can be used on the other. Weapons in Zombies also have a rarity system now where each tier increases the damage done by those weapons, and will also determine how many randomized attachments will come along for the fight.
Some scorestreaks like War Machine or Chopper Gunner can also be dropped and used in Zombies which will definitely make your life easier for that round in particular. You can also craft new equipment mid-match and upgrade your armor which will increase your overall defense against the hordes of zombies. Another new addition is the ability to exfil and if successful, you’ll earn more XP and crystals you can use to upgrade your Perks and Field Upgrades so next time you can survive longer. PlayStation gets an exclusive 2 player horde mode called Onslaught where each time you play, you get different weapons and perks. Dead Ops Arcade also returns and it’s a fun cooperative experience.
I have never been a big fan of the Zombies mode in Call of Duty games and I still am not even after playing this iteration, but these new additions and the cross-progression make for a better overall Zombies experience which hardcore fans will absolutely love.
Now onto the multiplayer, I guess. I have mixed feelings about Cold War’s multiplayer. In some matches, where I am against normal human beings like myself, the game is fun. But on most of the matches where due to the skill-based matchmaking I feel like I am against god-tier pro players who play the game 24/7, it is the worst thing I’ve ever put myself through. It’s a sweat fest and I don’t know if it’s lag or I’m just that bad, but I loose way more gunfights where I shoot first. Feels unfair and some of the weapons are overpowered.
However, it is way to soon to have a final say if Cold War’s multiplayer is better or worse than that Modern Warfare’s. The community also seems split, some are loving it, some are hating it. I personally think that Modern Warfare had a more realistic feel, the animations looked better and the TTK was considerably shorter. Cold War feels more arcade-y, like the old Call of Duty games and many people seem to like that.
In terms of modes, all of the Call of Duty staple modes are here. Team Deathmatch, Hardpoint, Sabotage, Search & Destroy, Free For All etc. all are here and some play better than other across the different maps. The new additions like Vip Escort, a 6 vs. 6 objective mode where one player is chosen at random to become the VIP and must get to an extraction point to win the match, and Combined Arms, a 12 vs. 12 classic game of tug-of-war where teams must capture objectives on the map leading towards their enemy’s base, are really nice new and engaging modes.
Fireteam: Dirty Bomb, also a new mode, is a 40-player objective-based mode where squads must work together to take out enemies, collect Uranium caches, and locate dirty bombs scattered throughout the map. Collected uranium can be deposited into these bombs until they are primed for detonation. Detonating a dirty bomb, killing other players, and collecting uranium will earn your team score, the first to hit the cap wins the match. Fireteam feels interesting, like a smaller more fast-paced battle royale-ish mode and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see something similar hit Warzone later this year.
With everything summed up, Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War is a pretty good. The Multiplayer and Zombies are fun and engaging which will keep you busy for months to come. The Campaign is good enough, with one or two excellent sequences, but we have seen and played better stuff in the previous Call of Duty games, still good though! For hardcore Call of Duty fans, Black Ops Cold War is an easy recommend. Thanks for reading.
The game was reviewed on a PS4 Pro using a review code provided by the publisher.