Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Review
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
The Call of Duty franchise is one of if not the biggest in the gaming industry. The series has been through highs and lows but has always had a dedicated fan base and active community. This time around, the game is changing things up and combining new ideas with tested gameplay mechanics. The result is the best Call of Duty game in a long time.
Black Ops Cold War felt like a complete game from day one and reminded me of PS3 or Xbox 360 classics with tons of content and little to no microtransactions or gimmicks. Each game mode feels like its own fully fleshed out experience. The package as a whole offers players hundreds of hours of exciting and rewarding gameplay.
At its core, Black Ops Cold War is just like any other COD. You shoot stuff, sometimes other people, sometimes your friends, and maybe even a zombie or two. The game stands apart from others in the series because of the severe differences between each game mode.
I could easily see communities forming for each and pushing them to their limits. I initially thought I would mostly play zombies with a little multiplayer and probably skim the campaign. Turns out, I played the story more than once, I still regularly play zombies every weekend, and I lost more than a few good night’s sleep to multiplayer matches.
An exhilarating story mode has always been a staple of the Call of Duty franchise. This time around, the campaign strays away from the standard formula. The result is an immersive and rewarding story worth experiencing. Black Ops Cold War may be the best campaign in any Call of Duty game. Right from the get-go, the game establishes its uniqueness by making the player create a character, complete with different background stories that grant different bonus effects in-game.
The gameplay in the story is similar to what you would expect for the game. Some stealth missions, some turret missions, and a hearty mix of epic set pieces make players feel like a super-soldier. What is so refreshing and unique about the campaign is that each mission feels like it can be completed in a multitude of ways. Side missions make the campaign feel full and add a needed layer of depth to the single-player experience. Depending on your character’s background, your team may suggest different ways to complete missions and even change each scenario’s dialogue.
To unlock side missions, players will need to find clues in other levels and then use them to crack codes. These puzzles are somewhat challenging and require players to be more invested in the story’s lore and depth. Learning the names and backgrounds of the operatives you are following helps you narrow down who are the genuine threats. The side missions set you after those threats whether you made the right decision or not. The story itself is outstanding and worth experiencing on your own, which is why I don’t want to go into any more detail about it.
In the past, multiplayer in Call of Duty games have seen many different variations. Everything from large maps to 2v2 tournaments has been in COD, and at times it felt like the series didn’t know what kind of game it wanted to be. With the battle royal craze hitting an all-time high in recent years, Call of Duty looked to focus on Warzone and make its own battle royal the main attraction. Now don’t get me wrong, Warzone is fun, and everybody loves a good battle royal, but that is not what made COD the king of multiplayer PVP that it is today.
That title came from team deathmatch, search and destroy, and the other team-based arcade-style game modes that made players say “just one more game” over and over until the wee hours of the morning. Cold War is a perfect return to that style of game. Multiplayer feels snappy and rewarding. Different guns excel in various areas and maps, and there is yet to be a clear meta that all players start using like in other games.
Cold War’s numerous game modes that include the new VIP Escort and other returning favourites such as Hardpoint and Domination offer tons of variance from the ritualistic drop, loot, shoot, die and drop again gameplay of Warzone. At the time of this review, multiplayer feels balanced. The game’s challenge system offers countless hours of cosmetic rewards, guns, and equipment to unlock and unleash upon your friends. The largest glaring problem with Black Ops Cold War multiplayer is the lack of Gun Game or any other extra style game mode like Stick and Stones or One in the Chamber. I know I’m biased because Gun Game is literally my favourite PVP mode in any game ever. Still, I hold out hope that it will be added in future updates.
Finally! Zombies are back in full force and as fun as ever. The new game mode features the original map from World at War, but with some impressive expansions and added mechanics. Up to four friends can fight the undead and battle to discover exactly what caused the zombie invasion in the first place.
Complete with its own story, bosses, and exclusive weapons (praise be the Raygun), the new take on the old game mode offers hours of cooperative gameplay that the series was missing in the past. Zombies are easily my favourite game mode to play, thanks to its sheer ridiculousness and fast-paced gameplay loop.
Included also is the new Dead Ops Arcade mode. Battle insane amounts of zombies as you teleport around vibrant maps and battle your friends for the highest score. This exciting new mode experiments with mechanics like the campaign does but cranks the dial to eleven. Dead Ops Arcade takes the gameplay of zombies and combines it with a bullet hell/dungeon crawler and gives players a ludicrous new way to enjoy the game. A top-down camera and endless ammo are just a few ways that Dead Ops is different from standard zombies. The change of pace is great if you ever find yourself frustrated or tired of the regular Call of Duty gameplay loop.
This game is gorgeous. I don’t know a better way to describe it. Every time a new console generation is on the horizon, I wait for a game that feels different from the rest, and Black Ops Cold War is one of those games. Immediately from the first cutscene, you can see that the triple-A standard for graphics has changed. Clothes and character models look more lifelike than ever before, and the environments combined with high-quality lighting and shadows make the game feel genuinely “Next-gen.” Surprisingly, the shift from cutscene to in-game graphics is barely noticeable, and even in the most intense action, the graphics look clear, and players can easily tell what is going on and where their character needs to be.
I will note that I did play the game on a PC, and at 144Hz, the result was a buttery smooth experience that an FPS fan would be happy to play.
While not the most impressive aspect of the game, the audio is on par with the overall quality of Black Ops Cold War. Each gun sounds unique, and the world sounds from ricocheting bullets to squeaky stairs help to add a level of quality to the game that’s missing from a lot of other titles in the genre.
The soundtrack for the game is full of hit songs from the period that further help immerses players and put them in the mindset of an American living through the cold war. In zombies and multiplayer, the audio is helpful but can be punishing. A zombie or other player would often sneak up on me without footsteps or other identifying noises ever being heard.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Review
- GAMEPLAY - 95%95%
- GRAPHICS - 95%95%
- AUDIO - 90%90%
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is a blast to play. All three game modes are incredibly unique and offer vastly different experiences for players. The story is the best the series has seen yet, and I highly recommend it to everyone. Multiplayer in the game has done an excellent job of getting back to its roots and focusing on what made COD a staple of the gaming industry. The return of zombies adds hours of entertainment for players looking to team up with their friends and experience an entirely new story that connects multiple titles in the franchise. Graphically speaking, the game is stunning and looks as good as any when running on a high-end PC or next-gen console. I recommend Black Ops Cold War to anyone who has ever enjoyed a Call of Duty game. I know there have been some not so perfect titles in the series past, but Cold War is a tremendous return to form that sees COD retake its place as one of the titans of modern gaming.
Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X and S.
For more on Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, check out our previous coverage.