‘Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War’ brings familiar, refreshing gameplay to franchise

Noah Levine

Black Ops is back. 

“Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War” is the newest installment in Activision’s long-running first person shooter series. This time around, “Call of Duty” sends players to the ‘80s, directly following the storyline from 2010’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” Set during the tension-filled Cold War, players can embark on unique thematic experiences throughout a campaign story, competitive multiplayer mode and a wave-based zombie survival experience. 

“Call of Duty” has become known for its three games in one style approach. Like most of its predecessors, the varied modes of “Cold War” provide exciting and distinct gameplay experiences from each other. For the first time ever, the classic level-up progression system commonly found in multiplayer is now universally shared between the Zombies mode and Warzone battle royale experience. This enables players to constantly work towards the same goal while trying out different modes. 

In this year’s campaign, players take part in a covert Black Ops team investigating a mysterious Soviet enemy, code-named Perseus. Working side by side with fan favorite characters from the original “Black Ops,” players navigate their way through mind-bending action sequences, stealth operations and wild near death experiences the franchise is famous for. This varied approach lends itself to a wide-range of color palettes, set-pieces and exciting musical scores. 


The Cold War 1980s theme continues throughout the multiplayer mode with levels set in Moscow, the funky ‘Blackwood’ hotel in and even the middle of the Angolan desert. Each match pits CIA and KGB forces against each other, further immersing the campaign narrative into competitive game modes. The gameplay feels satisfying and familiar from other successful “Call of Duty” installments. Endless weapon unlocks and challenges will encourage players to continually play matches. 

The iconic Zombies game mode returns in a refreshed and endlessly entertaining way for “Cold War.” Kickstarting a new iteration of the zombies lore, players are greeted by a new level entitled “Die Maschine.” Set around and underneath the classic Nacht der Untoten locale from “Call of Duty: World at War,” this installment offers plenty of nostalgia and undead mania. The mode has been tweaked this time around, adding health bars, damage numbers and other arcade-style aspects to the interface. While these features were certainly not needed, they add a new level of visual satisfaction when mowing down hordes of shambling corpses. The chilling soundtrack heightens the experience with unnerving yet sorrowful melodies all throughout gameplay. 

In terms of faults, sometimes the game’s various submenus lag or freeze, resulting in frustrating error messages. As for Zombies, the newly introduced “salvage” system feels a bit unnecessary and counterproductive. The campaign flows well, although there are several instances where graphics take a bit too long to load. The variety in multiplayer is wonderful, but for players who struggled to succeed in other installments, the playing field hasn’t evened out. 

While “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War” has only been out for a few days, it’s safe to say that with its multitude of progression abilities and varied experiences, the game should have a very long life span.

4.5 Zombies that split into two halves out of 5