After the presentation of the story mode, it was time to test the multiplayer of the seventeenth entry in the famous Call of Duty series: Black Ops Cold War. This time, we go back a few decades back.
Treyarch's last game, Black Ops 4, was again a sci-fi. That's not what we remember it for, though. The game was notorious for its lack of single-player, superseded by the, otherwise successful, battle royale mode. Despite the relatively warm reception, players were probably fed up with the futuristic settings, since subsequent entries either moved back in time (CoD: World War II) or to contemporary times (with the remake of Modern Warfare).
The fifth installment of the Black Ops series doesn't take us further into the future, but it goes back to a time when cold war was anything but cold. And there's undeniably a slew of Call of Duty fans who are really happy about it, apparently valuing guns such as M-16 and AK-47 above some conceptually dubious laser weapons going "pow-pow." Overall despite being rather happy with what I saw in Cold War I wasn't fully satisfied, mostly because the last Modern Warfare set the bar really high.
What were my expectations? Well, for me, the last Modern Warfare, with its large maps full of vehicles, turned out a better Battlefield than the latest games from DICE. So, when I saw the "Huey" choppers flying over the jungle in the Cold War trailer, I couldn't help it but think: "Is this finally the spiritual heir to Bad Company 2 Vietnam? Will we get a chance to participate in Operation Hastings, fueled by soundtrack from Creedence Clearwater Revival in the new CoD?
During the closed tests of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, I didn't get to fly a CH-46 with an M-79 grenade launcher in hands, but that doesn't mean complete disappointment. The developers made sure the maps are varied, and thus we'll get a chance to explore different environments including barren, snow-covered lands, or sandy deserts. My favorite locations were the cold, brutalist Moscow, and the saturated Miami. The maps are designed in such a way that there's virtually no way to get a camping spot without risking someone sneaking up on us.
New old modes
Of course, there are new modes, but it is hard not to get the impression that, regardless of the gameplay variant, most Call of Duty players simply try to get as many frags as possible, paying no heed to mission objectives. This was evident in both the VIP escort and the Combined Arms (a take on classic conquest with a fancy name). Don't get me wrong, I am glad that the devs are experimenting with form, but I do not bode well for these innovations, since even during the skirmishes between journalists (who, in theory, should be exploring new solutions) only a handful tried to play "by the book."
There are also concerns about the equipment we will use in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. Modern Warfare was a goddamn dream-come-true for any fan of military gear, bringing a ton of guns and equipment designed between the 1950s and the present day. When assembling the loadout in Cold War, it's hard not to have a sense of déja vu, since the list of guns is mostly the same.
We weren't allowed to check out the zombie mode during closed tests, but the fact that it's back is probably good news for all fans of the co-op. And what about battle-royale, which was so successful in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4? Well, this is pretty interesting, since in the main menu of the alpha version of Cold War we saw the logo of... Warzone.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War faces a very difficult task. With legions of players having perfectly good time in Warzone, and with as many people satisfied with the rich content brought by Modern Warfare, I can't see anyone rushing to play the story mode or the zombie survival. It thus seems that Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War will give us more of the same thing, but in a slightly less compelling way than in the previous, extremely successful entry.
Michal Ostiak | Gamepressure.com