Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War – Review

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is the latest iteration in the annual and immensely popular first person franchise. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is also the direct sequel to the original Black Ops title, so if it has been a while since you last played the first Black Ops, I would recommend you play that again as a refresher if you can. On Xbox that is really easy to do with the awesome backward compatibility on the Xbox One and Xbox Series X and S. The campaign for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War features some familiar figures as you try to prevent a catastrophic event from taking place. Not only that but this Black Ops title is tied in to another Call of Duty sub-franchise in an interesting twist that I won’t spoil here.

The campaign for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is a tremendous amount of fun with quite a bit to do. There is of course the standard Call of Duty action with big blockbuster set pieces where you get to wreak havoc. In addition to that, you get to participate in some espionage, solve a few puzzles, have numerous ways to approach some of the situations, and there are multiple endings as well. There is one mission in Russia where you get to pick how you go about things and the route you want to pick to accomplish your goal. I’m not going to spoil anything but I enjoyed the many different options and approaches I had to choose from. I ended up choosing a more stealthy approach utilizing some equipment I had around me but someone else could choose to go the more direct route if they want. It adds some nice replayability to the mission and I’ll definitely be going through it again and trying different things. While the overall outcome will remain the same, the path to getting there has different options I am excited to explore.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War also features two optional side missions that you can complete (with achievements attached to them). You won’t be able to successfully do these missions until later in the game though. As you go through the main missions you will want to explore the environment for clues that are laying around. It could be something like a floppy disc sitting on a table or a voice recorder that has a coded message. Once you find all of the appropriate evidence you can then begin to crack the code for successfully completing this missions. During one of these missions you have to crack the code, which the evidence will help you do. It should be stated that the solution to these puzzles are randomized, meaning you can’t look them up in a guide online. Which of course means you will need to figure out the solution for yourself without any help. For me personally it was a good amount of fun and a nice feeling when I cracked the code and then successfully completed the mission. The other mission has a bunch of suspects tied to an important figure in the campaign. You need to figure out which suspects go with the mission you are about to play and you can do that by cross referencing code names with dates and transactions and utilizing the evidence you have found in earlier missions. If it hasn’t become abundantly clear by now, these puzzles are going to be damn near impossible to complete without the aforementioned evidence so keep your eye out during the game. Again, these two missions are completely optional, but I had a lot of fun going through this process and for achievement hunters, you get two achievements for successfully completing these two optional missions.

Of course, the campaign is only one piece of the overall Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War package. If you are someone who likes to immediately jump into the multiplayer suite you can do that as well. When you first get into the lobby you are presented with a number of different options. There is the quick play option of course which you will get you into a game with minimal wait. There is also a featured playlist to choose from. Additionally, there is a Fireteam mission you can play and then if you want to hone your skills, you can also play versus bots. There is of course also custom games and the theater, both staples of the Call of Duty multiplayer experience. This is also where you can work on putting together your loadout, check out the operators, see how you are progressing in a number of different challenges, and much more.

The different multiplayer modes will be immediately familiar to Call of Duty veterans. You have Team Deathmatch, Hardpoint, Domination, Kill Confirmed, VIP Escort, Control, Free For All, and Search and Destroy. Selecting Quick Play will choose what mode you play at random, however, you can turn each of these modes “on” or “off”. For example, if you have no desire to play Hardpoint, just make sure that mode isn’t “on” and then you will never get placed in a Hardpoint match. Of course, if you are someone that only wants to play in Team Deathmatch, for example, make sure everything else is turned “off” so you will only be placed in that one mode. There are also Hardcore variants that you can play as well that will offer up a little more challenge than the core choices.

For me personally I have always really liked Team Deathmatch and Kill Confirmed. I enjoy the others ones as well but those two seem to be my favorite and the modes I do the best on, for the most part. During my time with the multiplayer suite everything seemed to run like it should. The gameplay was super smooth, I didn’t have any problems finding games to play in, the weapons seemed to work well, and it was overall a pleasant experience. Playing on the Xbox Series X, the improved loading times are also much appreciated, even though Black Ops Cold War doesn’t participate in the Quick Resume program.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War also features Warzone, the free-to-play battle royale mode that was introduced with 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. If you have played Warzone in Modern Warfare it is essentially the same here. Both Modern Warfare and Black Ops Cold War are going to share this mode, so to speak, with Black Ops Cold War content slowly being added over time. Season One begins on December 10th so I obviously can’t say anything about it in this review but during my time with it I found the gameplay to be very smooth as well as very hectic, as both battle royale and Call of Duty in general tend to be. The fact that it is free-to-play is a huge bonus as well for those who don’t want to buy a new game right now for whatever reason.

Finally, there is the Zombies mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. This is a four-person co-op mode that seeks to build on the iconic Zombies modes seen in previous titles. One of the really nice things here is that the Zombies mode features cross-play and cross-gen compatibility. I had a good amount of fun playing on the Xbox Series X while one of my other friends was playing on PC as we attempted to unravel the paranormal mysteries. One new feature that I discovered was the opportunity to evacuate when needed. If you feel like you are getting overrun and you might not make it, you can choose to exfil via helicopter. That comes with a caveat though as the zombie spawns intensify when you do that and you’ll have to be able to hold off until the helicopter arrives and you can get out of there.

The story for the Zombies mode this time starts out in “Die Maschine” and takes place in the early 80’s. There are two different groups that are after the same thing, trying to find out what is going on and potentially trying to use these events to their advantage somehow. There are a number of different characters that I came across, not all of them particularly trustworthy. I don’t really want to go into it anymore than that as I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything. Just know that if you have enjoyed Zombies in the past, you should enjoy this as well.

Going through these different modes I really liked most of what I was seeing. I don’t have a whole lot of complaints here, but there is a rather big one. For some reason, Activision decided not to participate in the Smart Delivery program on Xbox and they have different versions of the same game that might confuse some people. I personally know people that were having trouble playing Black Ops Cold War on their Series X. After talking with them I discovered they were playing the Xbox One version, not the Series X version. After they installed and downloaded the Series X version then everything was fine. This is unnecessary confusion that Activision really didn’t need to introduce into the marketplace and hopefully the 2021 Call of Duty title doesn’t have this problem. Quick Resume also doesn’t seem to work with this title. It seems like Activision just kind of ignored some of the new features of the new consoles but hopefully this won’t happen in the future.

Overall I greatly enjoyed my time returning to the Black Ops era and I really liked how Black Ops Cold War is a direct sequel to the original Black Ops. In fact, I went back and played the original Black Ops a few weeks ago to get ready for this title. There is both a good and bad ending to the game which will be dependent on a choice you make. That choice you make will determine what your final mission is and what happens. I am interested to see if they return to the Black Ops franchise and continue on from where we left off here or whether they tell a new story. The multiplayer for me was as smooth as ever. I tend to run hot and cold with online multiplayer, sometimes doing great in a round and getting really high scores, and other times barely being able to do anything. Warzone is still a lot of fun for me and if you enjoy battle royale games you should have fun here and then of course, the beginning of a new Zombies is interesting and I am really curious where they take that story next. Basically, if you are a big Call of Duty fan you should have a lot of fun with this package. If you aren’t much of a Call of Duty fan I still think there is a lot to like here, just make sure you are installing the correct version of the game.

Score: 9/10

Originally posted on Gaming Target

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