Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Review – Guns Blazing

Developer(s) – Treyarch, Raven Software, Beenox

Publisher – Activision

Platform(s) – Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed), PC

MSRP – $59.99 (Standard Edition), $69.99 (Cross-Gen Bundle), $89.99 (Ultimate Edition)

Release Date – November 13, 2020

Thanks to Activision for Providing A Review Copy

With a year that’s been as packed as this one, you almost forgot about the yearly Call of Duty game from Activision. Black Ops Cold War had a bit of a delayed roll out with info this year considering we usually hear this news in May or June. This time around we got the official announcement, trailers, & beta in August and September.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was a game that I was anticipating more than any other Call of Duty in a while, mostly because of the campaign. The “guns blazing” narrative style of Call of Duty games is a style that I’ve always liked.

As with all Call of Duty games, Black Ops Cold War has multiple modes. I’m going to split this review into parts to go over each element of this title by itself.

Campaign

The campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is a sequel to the original Black Ops released in 2010. It’s told through the eyes of ‘Bell’ as you follow Russell Adler whose working towards one goal, finding Perseus, a Soviet spy working to bring leverage to the Soviet Union.

This narrative choice Treyarch & Raven went in worked for so many reasons, It’s welcome to vets and newcomers alike. Many people love the stories of the old Call of Duty games and it seems as though they used that nostalgia to bring in those old players. I can’t tell you the number of people I know that went back and played the original Black Ops leading up to this games’ release.

I don’t want to give too much away regarding the campaign for those reading this review that haven’t played it. To put it simply, if you’re a fan of the tight action-packed storytelling of COD games then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed here. Every single mission in this narrative always hits all the marks for me in terms of entertainment value and noteworthy moments. There’s even a couple of side missions that give you some extra lore and context if you choose.

The dialogue from Adler, Sims, and so many others have me intrigued to listen to every little detail they give me. You can even unlock extra dialogue options with other characters if you learn certain things before speaking to them. Choices feel like they matter and have an effect on the overall narrative. I was worried going into this game they would give you the illusion of choice instead of making your choices shape your experience, thankfully that wasn’t the case.

The only section of this campaign I didn’t enjoy was a helicopter chase where you explode anything in your way. The visuals were amazing but that didn’t translate to the controls, which I felt were particularly clunky in this part. My big complaint maybe a little nitpicky, but I wish the campaign was but longer. Considering that Treyarch & Raven Software only had a limited amount of time to develop this game, I appreciate what they were able to do with this campaign and the game as a whole. Still, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a feeling of ” I wanted a bit more” after I finished the story, but overall, the narrative is by far my favorite component of Black Ops Cold War.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer will be a staple of Call of Duty games for years to come and this one is no different. There’s been a lot of talk about this entry in particular for its SBMM (Skill-Based Matchmaking) approach. It’s something that’s a divisive topic for the most part and it’s also been in many COD games in the past. What I’m trying to say is SBMM isn’t an issue when implemented well, which this game doesn’t. It feels like your skill isn’t consistent with where you’re ranked by the system, and could use a lot more polish in this area.

Everything regarding the multiplayer maps in Cold War is a mixed bag. Maps like Miami just annoy me because there are too many positions available for camping with so much open space. Then there’s the map here and there that I like such as Satellite, which I initially hated. It’s a Call of Duty game, there’s always going to be maps that you like and dislike. Still, there seems to be a noticeable lack of multiplayer maps than usual. The map count doesn’t go into the double digits and the maps start to feel humdrum.

It may seem like I’m ragging hard on the multiplayer aspect but I’d like to note that there are bright spots. I love the number of modes and how dynamic each one feels. One of my favorites is Kill Confirmed, at least when people actually do the main objective and pick up the dog tags. I’ve never felt like gun choice and progression were cumbersome in the slightest, if anything it was fast-paced. It’s a mixed bag in regards to the multiplayer, the aspects it does well mixed with what it doesn’t do well is too apparent to ignore.

Visuals, Gameplay, Etc.

The game is absolutely gorgeous and along with games such as Spider-Man Miles Morales & Demon’s Souls, it’s set the standard for graphics going forward. The attention to detail in some areas is astoundingly impressive and the fact that this is what they’ve done with only a small amount of time on this hardware is interesting for the future.

I played Black Ops Cold War on a PlayStation 5, so not only did I see upgraded visuals, I experienced what they’re able to accomplish with gameplay using the DualSense. The resistance of the triggers when shooting AK’s, SMG’s, and Pistols is incredibly satisfying, and besides Astro’s Playroom, it’s the best I’ve seen any developer utilize the DualSense so far.

I’ve heard that many experienced a multitude of crashes while playing, I can’t say I experienced that myself. Although, there’s an annoyance that happens after every update and I don’t know whether or not it’s a glitch. After every software update for Cold War, I have to put in all of my settings again and again. The game has probably had around 4 updates on PS5 and each time the settings always reset. I hope this gets fixed soon because it becomes a minor nuisance.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is a really good installment in the franchise. Treyarch & Raven Software had to release this game earlier than they had expected and all things considered, they should be proud of their achievement. I have my grievances in terms of the Multiplayer for the most part, but overall I think Cold War is a fun and captivating experience, until next year for another Call of Duty title.

Rating - 8/10

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