Video Game Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

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Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War available now

A return to the basics. A revitalization of what made the original Black Ops games so iconic. Stripped down mechanics. All of these should have made Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War a masterpiece just as its early predecessors were, but it failed to do that. 

The Campaign was phenomenal with a Black Ops 2-esque dialogue choice system that allowed you to create your own story and choose between good or evil. The zombies game mode is also an enjoyable experience where hordes of zombies come at you while you attempt to survive their onslaught. These modes make it seem like this should be an amazing game, but these are about the extent of its strengths. A normal developer would strive for progression each year with higher quality content and something to differentiate a game from the title previous to it, but Cold War has fallen short in this area. The game feels like a regression in the progression that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare had strived towards and largely succeeded in.

For the past 17 years, Activision and the studios under it have not failed to release a Call of Duty game. Although some have been iconic masterpieces that the gaming community will remember forever, others have been the polar opposite: catastrophic failures that disappointed the developers and fans alike. Call of Duty: Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War falls somewhere in between.

In many ways, Cold War has helped to progress the series in terms of technology and has many enjoyable parts to it. With the release of the new generation of consoles (PS5 and Xbox Series X), the price of the game has risen by $10 to a total of $70. This increase does not come without benefits, on the Xbox and Playstation consoles, a field of view slider has been added which allows players to increase their peripheral visions by up to double what it used to be. 

Some of the quality of life changes may even be more important than the technological advancements made such as how many guns were immediately balanced much to the delight of fans which allowed players much more freedom when picking which guns to use. This was an improvement from Modern Warfare where the MP5 and M4 have only ever received minor decreases to their staggeringly good statistics and continue to prevail as the “meta” guns. These were all improvements over previous titles which allowed the multiplayer aspect to have a solid rhythm as you played through it.

As stated earlier, the campaign was an amazing experience with graphics that would definitely look amazing on a high-end PC and a story with enough twists and turns to keep you immersed the entire time. One of the downfalls of the story were the cutscenes in-between missions. During these scenes, the audio would start ahead of the video, then jarringly in the middle of the video would catch up. This hurt the immersion for me and for many of those who I have talked to as cutscenes in nearly every video game are one of the main ways that the story progresses. This turned what could have been a perfect campaign into one where I lose immersion every time I finish a mission. Overall, the campaign was enjoyable and I would love to play it through again when the cutscenes are fixed.

Much like the campaign, I found that the Zombies game mode was similarly good although lacking in content. This game mode gave me nostalgia for Call of Duty: Black Ops III zombies. I felt like I was once again sitting at my friend’s house on a cold winter day while we struggled to get to round 20 of the game, but this was short-lived. Although all of the gameplay mechanics feel up to the mark with what is expected of Call of Duty games and the new addition of “Field Upgrades” are welcome there is simply not enough content to keep players entertained. After only a week of playing this mode, I was already tired of it and I had very little resolve to continue playing. I believe that there is hope for zombies to improve with time and more content but at the moment there is not enough content to keep players coming back.

Above is the Field Upgrade system for the zombies game mode.

Although the modes previously mentioned were either good or had the potential to be good I do not see the same happening for the “Multiplayer” mode at least for a while. In multiplier, you can choose from a choice of 11 game modes and play against other people across the globe. Although 11 modes sounds like quite a few, in truth it is lacking. With only 5 original modes and 8 maps at launch, it faces one of the same problems that the zombies game mode does, a lack of content.

The lack of content did not stand alone as the only problem with this game, it is plagued with other issues one of these being the lack of advancement in the design of the game. Some old Call of Duty games went overboard with this such as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare where jetpacks were required to traverse the maps, but Cold War has gone in the complete opposite direction. The game’s maps have returned to a 3 lane style where the player is forced to choose one of the 3 lanes and use that to approach the enemy. Along with this, the graphics feel massively dated when compared to 2019’s Modern Warfare’s astonishing graphics. These factors and many more hurt the feel of the multiplayer mode to the extent that I will continue playing the previous game’s multiplayer.

Even with the lack of content, there are a few tips and tricks that I can give you after my initial playthrough of the game. Firstly, embrace your playstyle. This means if you want to sit at the back of the map with a sniper and kill people from long range or you want to run at the enemy with a shotgun it works. In this game, all playstyles can work on nearly any map or any mode. Next, learn what “perks” suit you. Perks are special abilities that allow you to do anything from know when an enemy is looking at you to moving more quietly across the battlefield. These can save you if you choose them correctly. Lastly, make sure to take advantage of double XP times. XP or experience points are what allow you to level up in this game and get better guns. These double XP times allow you to level up much more quickly in a game that is rather challenging to progress in. These tips will help get you started on your journey in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.

Some of the new and returning perks in Cold War

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War attempted to border between nostalgic and outdated but seemed to lean to the latter. This leads to an ungraceful meshing of modern technology with outdated concepts and graphics. Overall, the game has time and room to improve, but many fundamental problems cannot be fixed thus until there is more content available I will continue playing Modern Warfare.