As the holiday season looms ever closer, that can only mean one thing, the return of the Call of Duty franchise as it aims to capitalise on its most popular periods ever. Infinity Ward knocked it out of the park last year when they released Modern Warfare, a soft reboot to the series that would act as a love letter to fans who fell in love with Call of Duty in the mid 2000’s. However, as has been custom since World at War’s release, when Infinity Ward has their turn, the next instalment falls to Treyarch, the developer responsible for the Black Ops series.

Treyarch seems to have approached this title in the same way Infinity Ward did just one year ago. This game will also act as a soft reboot of sorts to the Black Ops series and will also reboot the much-adored zombies mode too. Then along with this, the game will also aim to provide an excellent campaign, stellar graphics, tight mechanics, a gripping conventional multiplayer mode. Plus, the game will aim to retain the huge player base that the series has gathered thanks to COD Warzone. In short, the game has a lot of pressure on its shoulders. So we are here to answer if COD BOCW lives up to its promises. Here is our review for Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.

Black Ops Cold War Campaign – Shaking Things Up

Throughout your experience with COD titles, we would wager that one thing you would bet on never changing format would be the campaign. This mode has always been a straightforward, mission-based mode with a mixed bags of storylines depending on the particular game in the series you’re referring to. However, in this iteration, things seem a little different.

For one, the player will play more of a role in the storyline aside from being a trusty marksman. The game allows the player to participate in dialogue and choose responses, which in practice makes the player feel more involved and engaged with the story. It can feel a little alien at first but it soon becomes natural.

Then in addition to this, the campaign will offer a handful of optional side missions within each segment. These side missions don’t affect the story in any meaningful way whether you choose to complete them or not, but we appreciated their presence all the same. They added playtime to levels, made things feel more fleshed out in each mission, added snippets of exposition and even made the areas feel akin to a sandbox at times, offering the player multiple paths and options to engage with the tasks within the level.

Then with regards to the actual narrative itself. It’s that quintessential military-grade serious storyline with hints of wackiness, humour and tonnes of spectacles and set pieces. We admit that this story doesn’t compare to the wonderfully impactful stories told in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. However, we will say that it is at least on par with the commendable campaign from last year’s outing. It hits all the new notes, its got Cold War references, espionage, explosions in abundance. The only criticism we have is that the ending perhaps lacks that finishing blow, but as a whole, its a great attempt.

Multiplayer – If It Ain’t Broke

Now we move onto the multiplayer aspects of this game. While the game clearly tries to play up to the Vietnam setting, add modes to keep things fresh and even cash in on the success of Warzone, we can’t help but say that you won’t find much that you haven’t seen before. Don’t get us wrong though, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, this FPS format has been popular for over a decade and there is a reason for that, so if you liked what was on offer last year, you’ll probably be more than happy with what’s on offer this time around.

In terms of the new content that you will encounter, its all handled rather well with one key exception. You’ll be able to play 6v6 team deathmatches as they return to the multiplayer setup, you’ll have access to a vehicle-based mode called combined arms which is really dynamic and fun mode, Cartel mode, which is pretty much the same as Combined Arms but far less enjoyable and then you have Fireteam: Dirty Bomb, a mode that was playable within the beta.

This mode offers an expansive map that can accommodate teams of forty players at a time. This is essentially a battle royale mode without permadeath and objectives for your team of four to complete to win. In theory, it sounds like something that might take off but in practice its a slow game without the intensity of a battle royale mode, so for that reason we would say steer clear of this one and stick to Warzone for your large scale multiplayer battles.

Zombies – Remember Where You Came From

Then lastly, we will touch on the zombie’s mode for COD BOCW. In the past, we have been spoiled at launch with a variety of story-related characters and multiple maps to choose from. However, on this occasion, the zombies mode is taking us back to where it all began and having us explore ‘Die Maschine’, a map inspired by ‘Nacht Der Untoten’ the first-ever zombies map. This map is vast, with a multitude of secrets to discover, storytelling aspects to find and, of course, all the classic perks, powerups and weapons to unlock.

You would think that after a few games that you might have seen all this one has to offer. However, thanks to a layered and expansive map, you’ll be constantly finding new hidden areas to make use of. Plus, thanks to multiple game modes such as ‘endless mode’ ’20 round mode’ or the standard mode, you’ll be able to play with a different dynamic and focus depending on what you choose.

Then in addition to this, a massive draw for this mode is its new links to the conventional multiplayer. Not only will you be able to bring a loadout within your multiplayer settings into the zombies modes, you’ll also gain XP through playing this game mode as well. It’s a subtle change but one that may draw more conventional FPS purists to the mode.

The Verdict

Score: 8/10

Overall, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War takes the torch from Modern Warfare and continues running at a steady pace. It offers a campaign that is well worth at least one playthrough thanks to its new features and compelling story. The multiplayer while not perfect, offers a series of new modes, offers great maps and tightens up the core mechanics, all while keeping the format familiar to long time fans of the series.

Then in regards to the new and improved Zombie reboot, we couldn’t be happier with the team’s approach to this mode. They have kept the core concept familiar, added a gripping plot to proceedings, added great new features, offered a stunning, nostalgic map, made this mode tie into the multiplayer mode to give it more validity within the series. Then to top it all off, the developer plans to offer new maps and added content as free content instead of DLC. Due to all of this, we see zombies as the real highlight of this title. Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War had a lot to prove but we think its weathered that storm with aplomb and came out smelling like roses.

By: Callum Marsha