The fact that the Call of Duty franchise is still going strong after so many years is impressive by itself. Over the last decade, the series has changed a lot. It has had games set in the future, titles taking place in World War II, and more experimental experiences.
With Call of Duty: Black Cold War, Activision has returned to its roots. Although it is not a reboot, it is a direct continuation of the story from the first Black Ops game. It also aims to be a worthy follow-up to what is considered one of the best entries in the series. For the most part, it succeeds in doing just that, despite some noticeable issues.
Some recent Call of Duty games have been criticized for their stories. In fact, some titles have not even had a proper singleplayer campaign. That is not the case with Black Ops Cold War. Developer Treyarch is known for its more narrative Call of Duty titles. The game includes a proper spy story that is actually quite compelling to follow. As a sequel, a lot of what is going on will seem familiar. There are returning characters and a plot that follows a similar formula to the original.
What the game does well is truly embrace the 1980s setting. There are historical figures and lots of intrigue. By the end of the story, players will see several twists and turns. Some even completely flip the entire plot upside down in crazy ways that you won’t expect. There’s even the ability to make a number of choices that can affect the ending. This provides more drama and really helps to immerse you more fully in the story. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a great narrative, but it is one of the best in the Call of Duty series.
Interestingly, Black Ops Cold War has added some very light RPG elements to the story. Players can actually customize the protagonist somewhat. Choosing certain elements of our backstory affects traits for the player. That could mean that you get some extra health or can swap weapons faster than you normally would. These choices also come into play in the plot, having some meaningful consequences. It is a unique idea for the series and works reasonably well by adding some more interactive elements.
Just like every other game that Treyarch has made, Black Ops Cold War is a fast-paced affair. The gunplay is just as tight and fun as it ever was, with some expanded mechanics. Players can still tweak all their weapons with the Gunsmith, while there is a lot of customization. One minor drawback is that the guns seem to have lost some of their weight. They just don’t seem to pack the same punch that they used to, which makes them feel less powerful.
The multiplayer has a great selection of game modes. These include the traditional game types that fans have come to expect from Call of Duty. However, there are also a few new additions that, more often than not, are actually worthwhile. VIP Escort and Dirty Bomb are two of the better fresh game modes, giving players new objectives to compete over. It’s certainly more varied than many other multiplayer titles.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the map selection. There don’t seem to be any instant classics like Nuketown or Firing Range in Black Ops Cold War. Hopefully, that’s something that Treyarch can fix with its free post-launch DLC.
This latest installment also brings back zombies to much fanfare. Treyarch has attempted to add even more plot and suspense into the zombie mode than ever before. There are a few new features, such as being able to build loadouts or call in helicopters. These add to the grander feeling of the mode. However, that doesn’t mean that the tried-and-tested mechanics are gone completely. Zombies still come in rounds and you can still buy guns from walls like before. Fans of the game mode will certainly be impressed with how zombies now works.
Black Ops Cold War is not a groundbreaking game in terms of presentation. It is impressive to look at but it is certainly not a big advancement from Modern Warfare. There are some minor improvements but nothing that really makes your draw drop. Yet, the visuals are consistently good throughout most of the campaign and multiplayer.
There are some issues, though, that can be quite jarring. This includes some animations looking fairly poor and hair looking far from realistic in many scenes. There are also some problems with the sound. Although the voice acting and sound effects are largely excellent, audio delays are common, especially in cutscenes.
In the end, Black Ops Cold War feels like a proper sequel to the original game. It really gets back to what made Black Ops great in the first place and expands upon that. That includes modernizing some of the key features and mechanics with elements from the latest titles.
Anyone who enjoyed the fast and frantic energy of Treyarch’s previous Call of Duty games will love this. That makes it enjoyable in practically every mode, whether it is multiplayer or zombies. Meanwhile, the singleplayer campaign has a good enough story to keep the action moving along. All of that combines to create one of the best Call of Duty titles in many years.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is available now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.