As the seventeenth installment in the Call of Duty Franchise, Black Ops Cold War has a lot to live up to after the launch of the massive success that was Call of Duty: ModernWarfare (2019). Modern Warfare was by far one of the best COD titles to launch in the series, especially after the launch of its Battle Royale add-on, MW: Warzone. Although it had some very big shoes to fill, Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War launched promising to be one of the best COD titles in recent years. I have spent a lot of time with the game and I can say, I think it might just be my favorite Call of Duty yet…Let dive in and find out why!
A BEAUTIFUL MIND-BENDING EXPERIENCE
I think we can all admit that we might have lost track of what story we were following in the Call of Duty series. Each year, we get another game with another branching story, and sometimes it’s just too much for me to follow. In Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War, we travel to the year 1981 and get to see some of the greatest in the COD franchise return to action.
The team of Frank Woods, Jason Hudson, Alex Mason, and Russell Adler (new to the series) brief President Ronald Reagan on a possible threat to national and global security. The world terrorist and all-around evildoer, Perseus, is planning an attack that would destroy the modern way of life as we know it.
You play the character Bell, a new recruit to the team and it’s your task to eliminate the threat before it’s too late. The cool thing about playing as the character Bell is that you can make up his background at the beginning of the game and this eventually will affect the chain of events in the story as well.
Though the story can be a bit corny at times, this is probably one of the most drama-filled, twists and turns stories we have seen in the series for some time. Depending on the choices you make in the game, you can get different/alternative endings for the game and that makes the replay value for the campaign much larger than previous COD titles.
The campaign is much more dramatic than what I thought it would be, from chasing a plane with an RCXD (Remote Controlled-Explosive Device) to massive and cinematic battle scenes to even mind-bending puzzle you must do to move on through levels, this campaign doesn’t hold any punches when it comes to theatrics and I loved it for that.
As I made my way through the campaign, in normal Black Ops style, you are met with many strange “glitch like” moments. There were times I thought glitches were happening on purpose that actually turned out to be real glitches in the game. There were at least a dozen times that during campaign missions my character’s hands would disappear or I would randomly float backward by about 6 to 7 feet. I don’t know if this happened to anyone else or if this was just a random in-game bug, but it did take me out of the experience quite a bit.
Though I will not spoil the story for our readers, I will stay even with the glitches that did happen during the game’s campaign mode. I very much enjoyed my experience with this story. If you are a Black Ops fan, you will very much enjoy this story and what it has to offer…but I have one burning question for Activision. Before the game’s launch, I found out that voice actor James C. Burns would not reprise his roles as Frank Woods. This came as a shock to me since Burns was in the same seat voice actor David Hayter found himself some years ago.
The decision to change voice actors in Metal Gear Solid V now makes more sense to me, after finding out that you weren’t actually playing the real “Big Boss”, but this decision doesn’t really make sense. Frank Woods in this game was exactly the same character and even voice actor Damon Victor Allen sounds almost identical to Burns…so why the change? This decision just didn’t sit right with me, especially after Burns had this to say:
“I got 11 years with this guy, and I have all this backstory and all this front-loaded stuff. So that’s my frustration. Not that this guy’s not gonna do a good job, I’m sure he’s a professional actor, I’m sure he’ll do fine. But I would’ve f***in’ crushed this thing! That’s my frustration, I wish I had a shot at it.”
I’m sure most of you are thinking “who cares?”, but to me, James C. Burns is a god in the voice acting realm and will go down as one of the best, just hated he didn’t get a chance at voicing the character he helped create into one of the best video game characters of all time.
Lastly, I want to highly recommend you really listen to the music of this game. The soundtrack was composed by the amazingly talented Jack Wall. If that name sounds familiar to you, that’s because he also composed the music for Black Ops II, Black Ops III, and probably one of my favorite video game soundtracks of all time…Mass Effect 2!
This man is a literal genius when it comes to composing thrilling music to keep you on the edge of your seat. I have to give this soundtrack a round of applause because the damn thing is so good, I even listen to it while I’m at work!
ZOMBIES ARE BACK, WHILE MULTIPLAYER KINDA LACKS?
Now, moving on to the Zombies Mode of the games, this is one of the other shining points of Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War. We are back at the classic map of “Nacht der Untoten”, but this time the map is called “Die Maschine” and of course is set in the 1980s.
Time has not been kind to the site, but neither has humanity. As you and four other players drop-in, you find out that a Soviet-funded force called the Omega Group is trying to harness the secrets of the site and uncover the cause behind zombies manifesting around the globe.
As you and your crew take on the thousands of zombies, you’ll find classic perks that you know and love have returned to this amazing mode. Perks like Jugger-Nog, Quick Revive, Speed Cola, Stamina-Up, and Deadshot Daiquiri have returned along with some new Perk-A-soda’s as well. Even things like the box, monkey bombs, and more have crept their way back into this mode and really makes you feel like Zombies are finally back and better than ever!
Hell, let’s not forget that the RayGun and the Pack-a-Punch machine are back as well to make your time in zombies even more classic and fun as ever! Though there are a lot of the classic touches back in this mode, there are a few new additions to Zombies that I want to talk about that just make the game mode feel perfect in every way.
First of all, Cross-Play and Cross-Gen have been added to the mode (as well as multiplayer) which is a great feature when you want to play with friends that have different systems than you. This is such a great addition to the game, it makes it so much easier for gamers around the world, no matter your platform to play together whenever they want! Also on December 10th, Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War Season One begins with new content coming to all modes and versions of the Call of Duty.
Secondly, Progression and Loadouts stretch across the whole landscape of the Call of Duty Online world. So not only does your progress in Zombies mode carry out of the game, but your load outs from multiplayer can be used right off the bat in Zombie mode. This is a feature that I have wanted for some time in this mode and really helps new players ease into this high-octane gameplay much easier.
Third, are the new Field Upgrades, these upgrades are basically your second line of defense in the game. As you play, these upgrades charge, and by pressing L1+R1 you can use these to either heal your teammates, freeze enemies, set off other-worldly bombs, or even revive your team!
Lastly, the addition of Exfil is probably the greatest addition to Zombies in some time. Let’s say you and your team are deep into the Zombies mode…like level 40 or 50. Zombies are coming out of the woodwork and you’re close to getting completely overrun. By using Exfil, you and three others can vote to exfiltrate the map in a fucking CHOPPER GUNNER! There is a little catch to this, though. Until the chopper gets to your team, all zombie spawns speed up to level 11. There is a pay off in rewards, but the fact that you can mow down zombies with your Chopper Gunner is a reward in itself!
The new hounds and Zombies boss is something pretty special as well. The hounds don’t just try to jump and bite you like they once did, even after shooting these disgusting and infected hounds they let off a gas that will damage you if you stand too close. The “Boss” Zombies are called “Megatons”, these zombies bosses are extremely powerful and quite the challenge when they spawn. Not only do they throw hazardous material at you, once you think you down them he then splits into two different enemies! These bosses are called Megaton Bomber and the Megaton Blaster and man are they just as challenging!
Lastly, we can’t forget about how The Dark Aether comes into play in this version of Black Ops. The Dark Aether is pretty much Hell and connected itself to the new universe that was created at the end of the events of Tag der Toten during Black Ops 4. You can now enter the Aether in Cold War Zombies and use it to your advantage against the zombie horde!
Now, time to talk about the multiplayer aspect of this game. This section won’t be as long-winded as what I had to say about Zombies, but I do have a few likes and dislikes I have to mention. First, we’re gonna start with one of the newest modes, Fireteam. This pits ten squads of four against each other with the goal of placing Uranium inside of a Dirty Bomb.
After the Dirty Bomb is full, the team that detonates the bomb first gets a point! Now, this mode is somewhat set up like a Battle Royale. In that, you drop into the map at each spawn, but you can’t respawn after dying. Though this mode takes a different spin on Battle Royale, there is something that is off about it to me.
The Maps are vast, giving you and your team time to collect as much Uranium as you can but these maps are not as large as say the Battle Royale map in Warzone. It’s about half or a quarter of that size making it much harder to not be seen. For me, I really like the Warzone map and the game mode Plunder.
In Plunder, the team with the highest amount of cash by the end of the game wins. Though this is a bit different, there are similarities and the smaller map made it hard for me to play without running into other teams constantly. This mode is fresh and maybe I still need to give it a bit more of a chance before shelving it in my mind, but at this time it’s not my favorite and I hope we see large maps come to the mode in the long run.
Now, in the main multiplayer section of the game, you get to play a ton of different games! These go from Combined Arms: Domination (12 vs 12 with vehicles), VIP Escort (escort one player to an area of the map), Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Free-for-All, Domination, Hardpoint, Control, Search & Destroy, and Hardcore! There are a lot of different modes, with even more modes coming soon…so why does the multiplayer mode feel like it’s lacking?
I think the reason is because of what was offered from Modern Warfare day one. First MW launched with 11 maps just in the multiplayer, while Cold War technical only launched with 8. As of today, there are 9 main multiplayer maps, with the addition of NukeTown 84. The other maps available for Cold War are exclusive to the Fireteam mode for now.
Secondly, the weapon customization in MW just seems to be a bit more sprawling than what we see in the Cold War, at this time. Now, I know the game just launched, but I really liked how MW was set up when you created your layouts and in Gunsmith. In Cold War, it seems a bit more flat and feels like older installments in the series.
Something else that has bugged me in the multiplayer mode is the cheating that happens during the cross-play match. Multiple times during my play session in cross-play, players on PC were using mods to make the shot extremely precise, and when I say precisely I mean across the map headshots on multiple players within seconds. This really left a mad taste in my mouth, so bad I had to turn off cross-play at launch just to enjoy my time with the game. I really hope over time this gets fixed, but until then I will not be playing cross-platform in multiplayer.
NEXT-GEN GAMING AT ITS FINEST…KINDA
Though the new consoles just launched, I have to say there is nothing better than playing a game at true 4k with frame rates up to 120fps. Especially when this is something that I am not used to at all. Most games I have played on PS4 and PS4 Pro were usually played at 1440p with a locked 30fps, but with next-gen comes next-gen features that are far beyond what console players are used to. The game just looks amazing. There was never a time that I did not find anything that was not shiny and cinematic.
The character design in Cold War is probably the best we have seen in a Call of Duty game! The facial animations are unreal and extremely realistic. Seeing characters like Woods, Mason, and even former President Ronald Reagan in such realistic form is wild and pretty breathtaking. Eventually, the side characters and enemies make you feel like you’re watching a CGI film unfold before your eyes.
The water on the ground, the clouds in the sky, and oh my god the ray tracing in the game just really make you think you are actually living in this wild story and world. As you make your way through the game I just couldn’t help be awestruck by the beauty of the environmental and overall level design.
The game just signifies everything we can expect from next-gen gaming. Though the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game still look good, the fact that we can actually play the game in the clarity of 4K, 120fps, and with the beauty that is Ray tracing is something really amazing!
Something else that makes this next-gen experience for me even that much better is the addition of the DualSense controller and its adaptive triggers. No matter the mode you are in, the adaptive triggers come into play and really change the way you play! At first, it was almost too different, feeling every shot in the triggers as you’re mowing down enemies was jarring. After playing it for about 10 minutes, though, it really started feeling like a next-gen experience.
Depending on the weapon you choose, each gun has a different feel in your hands. Suppressed weapons feel much lighter, assault weapons feel a bit heavier and don’t take as long to aim down the sights, while heavier weapons like light machine guns and rocket launchers feel truly heavy in your hand. I can’t wait to see this type of feature implemented in more games other the next few years.
I do have one bit of sour news about my time with Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War and it wasn’t even Activision’s fault. On the PS5, when first receiving my review code of the ultimate edition of the game it came with both PS4 and PS5 versions. When downloading the game, I realized the system was forcing me to download the PS4 version of the game instead of the PS5.
So, of course, I thought “I will just delete this version and download the PS5 version…” Well, to my surprise the PS5 version would say “Queued for Download” but nothing would actually be downloading. I was then told that I actually had to completely reformat my PS5 just to get the bug fixed. I was pretty irritated but just did it to get my review started.
Well, then during my playtime of the Cold War Campaign my save data got corrupted two times. So, I had to start the campaign from the very beginning twice just because of some bug on the PS5. This is 2020, the fact that Sony can’t make this as easy as it is on Xbox to move saved data or download games is truly beyond me. These types of bugs can easily be fixed and can taint developer/consumer relationships.
Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War does a great job at making the jump to next-gen. With amazing visuals, ridiculous frame rates, ray tracing, and enhanced visuals. This is a stellar experience for any gamer wanting to play an immersive first-person title. The addition of DualSense support even makes the Call of Duty experience feel much more realistic using the adaptive trigger features added to the game.
What holds Cold War back from being one of the best Call of Duty’s in years is the flat feeling multiplayer has compared to Zombies and the Campaign mode. I know there is more coming over the next few months but I can’t help but feel that right out of the gate Modern Warfare had a bit more of a fast-paced, well-rounded multiplayer mode than that of Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War.
I also hope that soon the cheating online will be non-existent so all can enjoy the mode. With that said, this doesn’t take away from what is great about Black Ops: Cold War, Zombies are back and better than ever and the campaign is pretty spectacular. This is a definite buy for any COD Fan and is a must-buy this holiday season.