Just like last year’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was a modern day reimagining of what made the original Modern Warfare so great, the upcoming Black Ops Cold War is an unapologetic callback to the original Black Ops. The Modern Warfare campaign’s more methodical and realistic style has been traded in for car chases, neon-drenched shootouts, and action-packed flashbacks. In a recent sitdown with our site, Treyarch and Raven Software walked me through some of what we can expect from this year’s Call of Duty campaign, and I walked away excited.
The game is a direct sequel to the original 2010 Black Ops, and while fan-favorite characters like Woods and Mason return, you play as a custom character that you create at the beginning of the campaign. You work with a team of elite operatives to track down a shadowy figure named Perseus, the Russian spy who was featured in the Black Ops Cold War teaser trailer released earlier this month. In typical Black Ops fashion, there’s a global conspiracy just waiting to be unraveled as you travel the globe and come face-to-face with historical figures.
The bits of the campaign I saw were intriguing and varied. The first mission I saw involved sneaking into a Soviet compound with Woods and stumbling upon a recreation of a small mock American town. A shootout erupts in a fake arcade filled with mannequins, complete with neon lights and 80s music playing in the background. The shooting appears similar to Modern Warfare, although the game seems to have adopted a faster pace in lieu of Modern Warfare’s slower, heavier movement. The mission ends with you manning a machine gun atop a vehicle as you drive through the fake streets of the mock American town. The game as a whole seems much more bombastic and focused on action, which is a deliberate choice given the game’s 1980s setting and its adherence to the original Black Ops’ style.
Then, we’re taken to Moscow for what is one of Black Ops Cold War’s most unique missions yet. There is a focus on nonlinearity and player choice, which is on show during this mission. You’re undercover in the KGB headquarters. You’re free to explore the building to discover the best way to complete your objective. You can pull up a map to see the layout of the building, and there are actions you can take to accomplish your goal ranging from poison to bribery to blackmail. It’s highly reminiscent as the Liberation mission from Call of Duty: WWII in which you play as an undercover French resistance leader, although the Black Ops Cold War mission seems to have much more going on under the hood. It later devolves into high-octane shootouts complete with slow-motion setpieces and a car chase, but this mission is a shining example of the ways Black Ops Cold War attempts to shake up the Call of Duty formula.
The final and most interesting mission shown to us was a flashback sequence to Vietnam. The team revisits their memories of the war, and the mission looks as if it would fit right in with the first game. The mission’s structure is what sets it apart from its counterparts. There are multiple paths to take through the jungles of Vietnam, and the level resets itself as you make choices and dive deeper into the characters’ memories, populating itself with new encounters and experiences. Several different scenarios and approaches were put on display. There were more traditional shooter tropes like sneaking through a cave with a shotgun or sniping at enemies from afar, but other encounters seemed much more interesting. One showed the player riding ziplines with a grenade launcher, while another saw them sneaking around at night with a bow. The developers claim this is one of the most unique levels they’ve ever created, and what they’ve shown has piqued my interest.
Black Ops Cold War looks like it will be the perfect companion piece to Modern Warfare. After playing through last year’s campaign, over the top high-octane action is a breath of fresh air. Infinity Ward did an incredible job of recapturing the magic of the original 2007 Modern Warfare, and Treyarch and Raven are on the right track to capturing the look and feel of the original Black Ops with a fresh coat of paint. It isn’t a reboot like Modern Warfare though, so whether the team does a good enough job at delivering a worthy sequel to one of the best Call of Duty campaigns remains to be seen. Still, having seen Black Ops Cold War in action, I’m incredibly optimistic about the future of Call of Duty.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War releases on November 13 for current-gen consoles and PC with next-gen versions following soon after.
- This article was updated on:August 26th, 2020