Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is, somewhat fittingly considering its Cold War roots, an enigma.
The campaign is far from profound but it does introduce several new gameplay elements that are among the best Call of Duty has seen in years. The Cold War isn’t set dressing — it feels lived-in and tense. Gathering evidence and cracking ciphers are more compelling than any firefight or vehicular destruction could ever hope to be. Meanwhile, the multiplayer and Zombies modes fall short of where I’d hoped.
Black Ops Cold War features a campaign led by Raven Software, while Treyarch took point on the multiplayer, and, unfortunately, the separation is obvious. It’s a mixture of different ideas that conflict and fight each other harder than the ruthless spies in its setting. Therefore, it’s a difficult game to figure out. However, it takes definite risks, which for the series, is notable.
Bottom line: The campaign brings enjoyable new mechanics to the formula but multiplayer and Zombies both fall short of expectations and needed performance, with weaker gunplay and an unstable framerate respectively.
- Thrilling campaign
- Meaninful gameplay changes
- “Immersive sim lite” levels provide thoughtful experience
- Multiplayer feels weak compared to Modern Warfare
- Gunplay and audio take a step down in quality
- Technical performance in Zombies is extremely poor
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Activision. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War delivers an ambitious, thrilling campaign
Source: Windows Central
|Title||Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War|
|Developer||Raven Software, Treyarch|
|Xbox Version||Xbox Series X|
|Game Size||137 GB|
|Play Time||7 hours (for campaign)|
|Players||Singleplayer campaign, 2-40 player multiplayer|
A lot of the campaign is character and choice-driven. You’ll have dialogue options as you can talk with your team and can even make choices out in the field, taking certain targets alive or killing them. Without diving into spoilers, we see characters conflicted as ugly secrets are revealed all around them and there’s war crimes for everything to share the blame in. While much has been made of the marketing, which showed President Ronald Reagan as a character himself defending the American way and authorizing the team to stop Perseus, he’s not really present in the game otherwise. It makes that scene feel patriotically jarring.
Source: Windows Central
These choices all add up, making for one of the most mechanically interesting Call of Duty games in several years.
It’s here that the graphical quality and performance in Black Ops Cold War doesn’t just pleasantly hum — it sings. Making your way through rainy, neon-lit East Berlin behind the Iron Curtain feels great and looks even better. Going undercover in a Russian base as you decide how to dispose of guards and which optional objectives to track fit the setting and tone of the game, providing options in a way that feels downright revelatory for the series. These choices all add up, making for one of the most mechanically interesting Call of Duty games in several years. It’s worth mentioning that ray tracing and 120 FPS modes are also supported on Xbox Series X, though you can only pick one.
Unfortunately, the final mission is something of a letdown. Your choices throughout the game do make a difference, but everything hangs on one big decision, not the culmination of all your work and espionage throughout the past few missions. This doesn’t undo how great the experience is up to that point but it’s always disappointing in a choice-driven game.
Overall, it’s a solid campaign that takes some real risks in how it handles level design and narrative. When the inevitable sequel arrives, I hope it leans even harder into the undercover and spy elements than the standard shootout. The campaign in Black Ops Cold War is at its best when it’s trying to emulate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, not Michael Bay explosions.
Call of Duty: Black Ops War has multiplayer and Zombies, but both fall short
In general, it feels like a lackluster experience, especially compared to the prior entry in the series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The overall visual quality and gun audio takes a step back, though textures do seem improved from the beta, at least on Xbox Series X. The gunplay feels much floatier and less grounded compared to Modern Warfare, which wanted to focus on heavier, “realistic” gameplay. Meanwhle, the map structure has reverted to basic three lanes, eliminating much of the tension from having multiple looping pathways.
It’s worth noting that many of my peers have had other severe technical issues with the game not recognizing which version its supposed to be but I didn’t encounter these myself.
Source: Windows Central
The solid changes made to the formula are completely undone by how bad performance is.
These decisions add up and while I haven’t found every secret or easter egg the community is certain to uncover over time, it’s an enjoyable gameplay loop. Unfortunately, serious performance issues drag Zombies down. In addition to having markedly worse texture quality than the other modes, the framerate is unstable at best, jumping up and down in a way that can impact your performance. That’s on top of some serious lighting bugs, which would flash inaccurately when walking around on the outside portion of the map.
I haven’t been able to test other versions yet but considering I’m playing on Xbox Series X, any kind of performance problems are jarring and forebode an even worse experience on weaker hardware. The solid changes made to the formula are completely undone by how bad performance is. Hopefully, these problems are patched soon because while it’s not quite unplayable, it’s a markedly worse experience than it should be.
Should you buy Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War?
Source: Windows Central
On the other hand, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend multiplayer, especially since Call of Duty: Warzone remains free and available for everyone to jump into at no cost. The lack of maps and quality of maps available are a step back from Modern Warfare, so there’s no real reason to jump in at the moment. Modern Warfare’s multiplayer features more grounded gunplay and more complicated map design, which is more engaging overall.
If you’re in it for some co-op through Zombies with your friends, I’d recommend holding out for a bit and waiting to see if some patches come through to improve performance. It’s a fun mode right now that I’m sure the community will enjoy but it isn’t where it needs to be on the technical side of things.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is currently available for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PC, PS5, and PS4.
Bottom line: If you’re here for the campaign and don’t mind the price tag, you’ll have a lot of fun. Multiplayer and zombies leave a lot to be desired though, with lackluster gameplay in the former and performance in the latter.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.
Limited-edition HyperX Ducky One 2 Mini keyboard goes on sale November 18th
Famed mechanical keyboard maker Ducky and HyperX are teaming up (again) for another limited run of their One 2 Mini mechanical keyboard. Ditching Cherry MX switches for HyperX Reds, this 60 percent keyboard is one hot looking creation. But only 6,500 are being made. Here is where to get one and when, plus some impressions and photos of what to expect.
Congrats to the winners of our 2020 Windows Central Game Awards!
It’s awards season and this year we’re coming in hot. Welcome to the Windows Central Game Awards of 2020, voted for by our illustrious cadence of gamers within Windows Central.
The Window Central 2020 Awards are in — these are all our winners
We review hundreds of phones, tablets, PCs, accessories, and more each year, and for the past few weeks, our team has been debating which products and services stood out in 2019. These are all of our Best of 2019 Award winners!
These are the best keyboards to use with Xbox Series X and S
Xbox Series X and S continue Xbox’s support of mouse and keyboard control, so we rounded up the best keyboards to use with your next-gen console.