Another year and another Call of Duty is released to the masses. Following the massive success of the Black Ops series, developers Treyarch and Raven Software along with publisher Activision have put out Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, or Cold War for short. Cold War is set in the 1980s, the world of hairspray, heavy synth, neon lights, and the eminent threat of nuclear bombardment from the Soviet Union.
The campaign is a great return to form for the Black Ops series, but unfortunately, a rather short one. Cold War feels more like spy-vs-spy than stepping into a battlefield where players would kick ass and take names. Honestly, some of the best missions encourage players to holster their gun and think out their next few moves.
But don’t worry, there are plenty of missions where kicking ass and taking names is done. One mission tasks players with moving through the Soviet Union headquarters to obtain information vital to the CIA. Another mission features a Vietnam-style flashback (music included), or my personal favorite, an endless looping, drug infused trip.
A breath of fresh air for the franchise is the inclusion of a create a character feature. Although minimal, Cold War allows players to name their character and pick where they are from. They choose whether they are from the CIA, MI6, or undisclosed. And the game asks players to pick two perks for the character. Although, no matter what name the player chooses, they’ll always go by the code name Bell, the player’s nickname given by the team members.
Some of the perks increase bullet damage by 25%, or allow the player to carry an extra clip around with them. Players don’t have to include these perks, but it’s nice to see some variety.
While there are a few stand out missions, each one feels important to the story and offers a nice bit of variety to the standard “shoot everything” gameplay style Call of Duty has been known for in the past. It’s possible to roll through the campaign in about five hours, but if players do the extremely interesting optional missions, they’re able to get about six hours out of the campaign.
Call of Duty has always been about multiple pillars of gameplay rather than a single focus, and it feels as if the campaign in Cold War is the strongest and most important.
How could we talk about Call of Duty without talking about Zombies. I’m going to be honest. I’ve never been one for the Zombies mode in Call of Duty. But Cold War tosses a few wrenches into the traditional Zombie formula which made me take a second look. First, players can take custom loadout Zombies. The traditional buying of weapons off the wall and everything that players fell in love with Zombies is still present. But players have the chance to go in with their tried and true set-up. Players also have the ability to call a chopper to quick leave for big points at certain times through the experience.
PlayStation players have early access to onslaught mode, a 1-2 player experience in which all guns and buffs are randomized each run. It’s a great, albeit average, time killer with a buddy. Lastly, there is the Dead Ops Arcade 3 which is a goofy twin-stick shooter. It offers great writing and bizarre settings, but acts as a nice break to the standard Call of Duty formula.
The true bread and butter for Call of Duty is the online multiplayer. And I am so happy to report that Cold War feels like what Call of Duty did 10 years ago in the best way possible. The perks, kill streaks, and guns feel great to mess around with. As with any PvP driven online game, a meta will appear, but currently all of the guns felt great to play with. The MP5 being an absolute monster again was such a great sight.
A drawback is that there are currently only eight maps available for multiplayer. But those eight maps are great with multiple levels of play. And great set pieces that make the matches memorable and avoid only certain maps being favored over others. There is the promise of more maps on the horizon. But as great as it is to play seeing the same eight maps over and over does get tiring.
All in all, it felt like Treyarch spent a lot of time polishing the experience and making sure everything felt great. And then worried about actual content later. As frustrating as that can be, I respect it. I would rather play the same eight maps if what I am playing is dependable and fun. I don’t care how many maps or guns you have. If the experience isn’t fun, you’ve lost me.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War feels like a summer blockbuster. Loud, over-the-top story, with hints of intrigue strewn through to keep people entertained. And honestly, I’m into it. This is the first Call of Duty title since Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops that have caught my attention and kept it. The campaign is what drew me and it was an absolute blast. Zombies are great for returning players and newcomers alike.
The multiplayer content may be slim but playing is fun, and honestly, that’s what really counts. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is a great pick-up to put your new consoles through the paces, and a great game to play with friends. It offers something for just about everyone. I was pleasantly surprised with the experience.
This game is based on the PlayStation 5 review copy provided by the publisher for review purposes. Images captured in game.