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Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Review

The next Call of Duty Black Ops title has arrived, Cold War. Bring out the synth wave, hard rock and international spy rings.

The Story

For the story you are tasked with finding the main villain of the game as an operative codenamed “Bell” and stop them from world ending actions. Even though you are given a pre-determined code name of Bell you are given a small character creation screen where you can set a custom name (which is never brought up in the game as far as I could tell). You can also select your agency background like CIA, KGB or MI6 as well as 2 perks that follow you through the entire campaign.  

The campaign is the stereotypical Call of Duty campaign of run, shoot, watch cinematics and repeat. There are 2 missions however, where you get to choose the approach on how you complete your objective. This new freedom is interesting and pleasing having these new missions where you play as a mole in one mission or wanted spy in another. It’s shortly lived unfortunately with these sections of the missions taking very little time to do before you are back to the run, gun and shoot aspect of the game.  On top of this Treyarch has adopted a new mechanic to the campaign with cryptography which is the skill of decrypting or solving puzzles.

These puzzles or codewords can be solved by collecting “evidence” throughout the main missions and secondary mission which can be selected with the mission board. This aspect of solving puzzles and cracking codes is very interesting and fun before you realize that its just a tease and only takes up a fraction of the actual time you spend on the campaign itself. The campaign is of average length, but the real issue is the appearance of choice. You don’t actually make many differences with the options given to you. The main story missions are barely affected by your actions later down the road. You can take multiple routes in a single mission from stealth to loud and proud but by the ending it never really mattered.

After my first playthrough and going through my second it became more apparent that the “choices available” was just a tease and never really gave you change. The choices you make through the story very slimly affect future missions in story only not actual gameplay. The actual missions themselves never really change if you chose option 1 rather than 2. The story can be hard to follow at times and makes you feel like “did I miss something, who or what is that?” They don’t really build any connections between you the player and the main character and by the end expect you to care about “Bell” which is difficult. This lack of connection is apparent by the middle of the game and later decisions during other main missions you just don’t really care.

There is 1 bug I ran into the campaign and that is the cinematics would lag behind the audio. The video would start by running at 3-4 fps but the audio would continue as if everything was normal. By the time the audio was finished the cinematic would suddenly jump to fast forward to catch up to the end quickly making following the cinematics super hard and frustrating to follow.

Zombies?…Time to grab the engergy drinks and shotguns as we try to beat last weekend’s wave record.

We return to Nacht Der Untoten but the map has been restyled and expanded. The new map Die Maschine not only gives you the original building but you now can go outside that building and now underground to a whole new area. The zombies mode has a loadout system in the game as well as unlockable perk upgrades and weapon type upgrades. These perk and weapon type upgrades are unlocked by reaching a certain level but thankfully your level experience is shared between multiplayer and zombies so you don’t have to level each separately. These new unlockable upgrades help give even more longevity to a game mode that can receive hours of attention before you realize it’s 5am the next morning and you should go get some sleep.

They have added an Armor mechanic into the game similar to Warzone and you can upgrade your weapon’s damage tier from 1-4 as well as randomizing your attachments on the weapon. Zombies isn’t let down by any game play mechanic or map design, but by the 1 and only first person map available. There is a top down shooter map called Dead ops Arcade 3: Rise of the Mamaback but I just cannot seem to get into that map. It’s difficult not to get bored after awhile and just levitating back to Die Maschine.

There does seem to be stability issues as not only myself but others I know have experienced their consoles just shutting off for no reason. This may be to the game running the Xbox too hard or just the game crashes the Xbox in general, we are unsure at this time. Treyarch did release a patch on November 24th 220 to help address stability issues with zombies and only time will tell if this does solve the issue. Zombies is a great game mode and I’m more than happy to see it back in action, however, with only the 1 first person map the lack of content is noticeable.

Multiplayer

The one thing you ask someone what Call of Duty is famous for and almost 99% of the time you will hear someone say the multiplayer. Cold War makes no deviations from the fast-paced action with the current set of 6v6 maps being particularly small with the exception of the map Miami? There are 9 maps available for the 6v6 game modes, 3 for 12v12 and 2 for the Fireteam game mode which is 20v20. The 12v12 gamemode is interesting but very quickly gets stale with only 3 maps. Fireteam is desirable as Call of Duty dips it’s toes into larger open scale battles and for the most part feels like a Battlefield game with Call of Duty Mechanics.

For operator choices we are given a few faces from the campaign and some new ones as well. The two factions we are given for this game are NATO and Warsaw Pact. NATO has 7 operators and Warsaw Pact starts with 6. We will be getting more operators as the game progresses, most likely with the start of a new season of battlepass. All the current operators can be unlocked by completing their related challenges. The battle pass has been rumored to cost between 900-1000 COD points, but we will find out for sure some time in December 2020.

Most perks and weapons are locked until you reach a certain level but thankfully any experience you earn in zombies and multiplayer is shared across both game modes so thankfully you don’t need to level up those 2 separately. It does ease the leveling process, like if you want a certain weapon attachment but don’t want to get frustrated with multiplayer you can just use that weapon specifically in zombies to unlock it further to get the attachment.

Leveling up at first can feel like chore all the way to a pain at times with some of the best perks and attachments being at higher levels. Once you level up enough and unlock enough attachments for the weapons you like the game becomes easier at times and you start to enjoy it a bit more. The prestiege system has changed as well and is now one of the main way you will earn comsetics through the game. “Prestiege’ing” in this game is not like previous games and wont reset your current progress but just rewards you with comestics and keys to unlock emblems.

The map design isn’t that great with a lot of 90-degree corners around every other 90-degree corner leading to a long sniping lane. The maps themselves don’t feel that memorable and get stale quickly. Which is very noticeable in the 3 maps for 12v12 and only 2 for 20v20. Since there are only 9 maps available at this time for 6v6 and now that we have been given a map voting system you will play a lot of the same maps repeatedly.

Kill Streaks are gone now and they have been replaced by Score Streaks. No matter how many times you die during the match every point you earn goes towards that score streak like an artillery strike, gunship or spy plane. The idea is interesting but the issue with this is for every kill you get with a score streak you get points towards that same kill streak rewards you just used. This can create a cascading effect of causing absolute mayhem and chaos make the game unplayable if you are on the receiving end.

The overall delay between 2 players can range from 25%-50% longer when compared to the Modern Warfare released in 2019. This can cause dying further behind corners or your shots not registering when you shoot someone as they shoot and kill you. On top of this the hit boxes in this game can feel ridiculously large and each weapon interacts with the hit boxes differently, to the point if you shoot and clearly miss it still has the chance to kill the opposing player. Light Machine Guns and Snipers really abuse with this system with having more wiggle room to miss but still kill the opposing player. You can clearly see this as shown by the image above and gif bellow.

Audio can be an issue as well when earning medals for revenge or savior kills, the issue it can cause is make it difficult to hear other important sounds like grenades. You can remove the sounds of hitmarkers but you can’t lower the sound getting a kill which is obnoxiously loud. The default music track is ok but you can activate the music player in the barracks menu and there is much better music there. There is an easy “music off” in the menus for those who stream and don’t want to risk any DMCAs due to music copyright.

Finally let’s talk graphics, if you are playing on next gen you will have up to 4k gaming with 120 fps on the Xbox Series X and if you are on the Xbox Series S it will be up to 1440p 120 fps. The “up to” is important because there seems to be bugs and/or optimization issues with the mid to long range viewing distances, the game rendering slowly and loss in fps. Even after adjusting as many settings as possible in the menu for some reason objects or people in mid to longrange distances seem to have this film grain filter or this weird fuzzy noise around everything.

Rendering speed seems to be hit or miss across maps and game modes with objects being crude looking until you look at them and they fully render. Hopefully the developers deal with this with future updates to smooth this process out and make the game appear as best as possible. Other graphical errors include pixelated icons to straight up graphics not loading in correctly at all. 

Cold War can be grabbed for $59.99 for Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. Due take note that you can buy the Xbox one version and play it later on the Series X if you get one but, you won’t get the improved graphics that the Xbox Series X/S is cable of. If you wan to have the improved resolution and fps for when you do get a Xbox Series X/S and still play on the Xbox One today, you will need to buy the $69.99 “Cross-Gen Bundle.” Also note that if you do buy the Xbox One version there is no upgrade fee or purchase you can make to upgrade to the Xbox Series X/S version at this time. You have to buy the game again at the $59.99 cost. The shear lack of content from the campaign, few multiplayer maps, poor optimization for mechanics and graphics all for $69.99 or even $59.99 is just not worth the price.

The game has a lot of potential to be the next big Call of Duty title but the question is whether Treyarch and Activision want it to be that way or will they let it become the next Call of Duty WW2.

Call of Duty: Cold War

Story - 4
Sound - 5
Value - 4.5
Gameplay - 6
Graphics - 8

5.5

Call of Duty Cold War has great potential, however, it's not worth the full price of $69.99 or even $59.99.The game lacks content and polish to reward full AAA prices.

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