The solo campaigns of Call of Duty have long been considered too extensive or simply boring, with the majority of the excitement coming when teaming up with mates online to take out a bunch of snotty 10-year-old kids who keep hurling abuse at you.
That was the shining light of Treyarch’s last effort, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Putting an emphasis on multiplayer combat and introducing a range of new ideas and game modes, it fast became a staple for many. Two years on and Treyarch have teamed up with Raven Software for the latest instalment in their Black Ops series, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. As the title suggests, this new game is set during the Cold War and brings back the solo campaign while developing the multiplayer system and invigorating the much-loved zombie mode.
Single-player campaign returns
After going AWOL in Black Ops 4, the single-player campaign returns for Cold War, and we do have to admit it’s for the best. The storyline is compelling and the ’80s setting adds a point of difference. The gameplay is also spot on, with everything you could ever want from a game in this series: massive gun battles, stealth combat and some great missions that don’t just involve shooting waves of enemies to progress. Cold War does a good job of convincing players that the campaign is a required part of the journey.
Serving as a direct sequel to the original Black Ops, the game is inspired by real-life events, with the single-player story merging history with fiction for an enjoyable plot with well fleshed out characters. Even American President Ronald Reagan makes a surprise appearance during the initial stages of the game to hammer home the ’80s setting.
The main story concerns an undercover Soviet operative known only as Perseus, who has infiltrated high levels of American government and military and is planning something disastrous. A Black Ops team is formed to find the Russian spy, with you taking control of the mysterious character known only as Bell. From here on Cold War is a non-stop thrill ride as you race across the globe completing various missions and trying to put an end to Perseus’ diabolical plan.
Unlike previous Call of Duty campaigns where it often feels like you’re playing the same missions over and over again, there is a good amount of variety with Cold War. Missions comprise of everything from taking out enemies while flying a chopper during the Vietnam War, stealth missions in Berlin and an all-out assault on an enemy base in Cuba. The campaign never lets up and plays out like an ’80s action film, with the presence of Reagan and the use of historical events adding a touch of authenticity.
The ability to customise Bell’s name, background and gender is a nice touch, but the lack of voice is a let-down. It would have been much more fun to have a famous actor playing Bell, but it’s a small gripe. Another thing many might complain about is the length of the campaign, with Cold War easily completed in about six hours. The good news is the choose your own adventure style gameplay. There are multiple ways the game can end depending on the choices you make, giving those wanting more solo play the opportunity to replay certain missions and get a different outcome at the game’s end.
If the multiplayer mode doesn’t fly, then you’ll hear about it from fans of this franchise. Luckily, even if you don’t have the skills of an all-night player, you can still enjoy your time spent here. All the standard game modes return (Domination, Hardpoint, Search and Destroy etc…) along with a host of new options, including the frantic Fireteam: Dirty Bomb. This new mode pits 40 players against each other in a mini-Warzone type level. There are 10 teams of four players, with the goal being not to wipe each other out, but to find enough uranium so you can detonate bombs scattered around the map. There are heaps of crates stashed about the map and the energy level is high as you take down your foes while trying to detonate all the bombs and blow everyone to kingdom come. In short, it’s fucking hectic!
There isn’t a great deal of difference in gameplay when compared to Modern Warfare, although Cold War does feel a little clunky when you first start playing. No doubt this will be fixed with patches over the coming weeks, but it may put some off to begin with.
The choice of maps isn’t exactly great. There are only eight maps to begin with (Miami is horrid) so variety is lacking. The good news is when Season 1 kicks off on December 10 there should be a shit load of upgrades, including more maps. While the reviews have been mixed online, we rate this multiplayer experience.
Zombies are back!
To say we were excited about what this zombie mode would bring would be an understatement. Expanding on the Aether story from Black Ops 4, it’s another bloody battle against waves and waves of the undead. While there’s only one level currently, it’s well designed and large enough for you to go roaming as you command all types of weapons to send zombies back to the dark depths of hell. Playing solo is fun but the game mode really takes on a whole new meaning when playing online with others. It’s also much easier to survive when you have teammates willing to revive you after being killed for the eighth time. There are enough upgrades, mystery boxes and wall buys to keep things interesting and a stack of collectible items and Easter eggs scattered around the maps, only adding to the overall enjoyment of playing this mode.
If there’s a gripe, it’s that there’s only one map, but hopefully, like the standard multiplayer mode, once Season 1 starts there’ll be a few more maps to choose from. There’s also a PlayStation exclusive two-player multiplayer mode where you must defend certain areas of the map along with the return of Dead Ops Arcade. This top-down game differs from the standard zombie mode as you have unlimited ammo and power-ups but just three lives. It’s also hella fun and a great reminder of classic arcade games.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is another solid entry into the franchise that will keep most gamers happy. While the multiplayer mode could do with a few tweaks, there’s no denying the campaign (while short) is worth your time and the zombie mode has never been better. A must have for fans and a warm welcome for a newbie.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is out now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.