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January 2021

Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Release Date: Nov. 13, 2020


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PS4/XOne/PC Multiplayer Preview - 'Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Oct. 15, 2020 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

A direct sequel to the original, fan-favorite Black Ops, and set in the early 1980s, Black Ops Cold War, drops players into the depth of the Cold War’s volatile geopolitical universe in a gripping experience where nothing is as it seems.

While said Cold War had plenty of hot conflicts, it was a time with deniable assassinations and behind-enemy-lines spies, which is what Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War seems to embrace. The recent closed beta let us spend some time with the multiplayer mode, which is the main selling point of the Call of Duty franchise for most people.

The main game mode feels very familiar, since it's a variation of the standard king of the hill mode. If you've played a Call of Duty game before, you have a pretty good idea what is at stake. Both teams hop into large open areas and battle over holding multiple points. The longer you hold a point, the higher your team's score, and the winner is whoever reaches a certain score first. There are tanks and skis to make it easier to get around, but it's also perfectly effective to sneak along and ambush enemies on foot.

The combat is pleasantly arcadey, but it's still immensely lethal. The game focuses on smaller-scale encounters rather than large battles, and spy planes are just as valuable as bombers. You'll probably die in under a second if you're caught unaware, and likewise, enemies are going to pop quickly under fire. This can be a little frustrating with sniper fire, but what is new for FPSes? There doesn't seem to be a huge focus on realism, since the guns don't feel very weighty, which lends to the arcade-style feel of the game.

The new mode that was featured in the beta is VIP Escort. Of the two modes, VIP Escort felt quicker and more enjoyable. Rather than holding positions, you have two teams of six. One team defends multiple extraction points, while the other guides a player-controlled VIP to one of those locations. Every player has a single life, so foolish plays are far more dangerous than they would normally be. Most matches were over in a matter of minutes, which also meant dying didn't have huge implications since you'd be back in the next round anyway.

This also means that you'll occasionally be tasked with playing the VIP, who's probably the weakest unit on the field with only a pistol to their name. They have a variety of spy gadgets that give them more information than anyone else on the field. If you communicate well, then you can give your team a huge advantage. If you communicate poorly, then you'll die quickly. It's a pretty interesting twist on the normal CoD run-and-gun gameplay in that you're playing someone whose biggest advantage is information, not sick 360 no-scope headshots.

There were a handful of issues that I noticed during the closed beta. It was shockingly difficult to tell apart friend and foe on the battlefield, since there aren't distinctions about player appearances aside from the color of their names. This was sometimes enough, but it would also delay firing on someone for a few moments because you couldn't tell who was who. It would be nice if information were clearly displayed visually instead of having to depend on the HUD, which is intentionally limited.

All in all, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War looks to be what fans of the franchise should expect. The Cold War aesthetic is an excuse for new gadgets and new play styles, but the lethal "shoot them before they shoot you" gameplay style is alive and well. The beta is ongoing as we speak, and it's probably the best way to get a feel for whether the latest Call of Duty is for you. Newcomers can get a taste for what makes CoD one of the biggest shooter franchises out there.

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