COD

Call of Duty Cold War: 3 highlights — and 1 flaw

The 2020 Call of Duty game goes to interesting places, but one aspect feels neglected.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is the newest game in the popular shooter series. It takes place in 1981 amidst boiling tensions between the U.S. and Russia.

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Players take control of "Bell," a codebreaker recruited by the CIA to stop "Perseus," a Russian spy said to have infiltrated American intelligence.

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Black Ops Cold War dramatizes the real-life conspiracy theory of Perseus as an epic first-person shooter where players go deep in Vietnamese jungles and Russian bunkers.

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The game is available on most major platforms, including the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.

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As detailed in our 7/10 review, here are three things we love about Black Ops Cold War — and one thing we don't.

FIRST THING WE LOVE: Player customization

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For the first time in Call of Duty history, players are allowed to be "themselves."

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Though not the most in-depth creation tool, Black Ops Cold War affords players the ability to choose a full name, skin color, and gender identity.

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The gender options are inclusive: You can choose from male, female, non-binary, and "classified."

Players also choose "psychological perks." They pick two out of total 14 attributes like "Fearless," "Professional," or "Impatient."

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These attributes give bonuses to things like bullet damage and health, and it's a neat element that inspires players to assess how they behave in a firefight.

SECOND THING WE LOVE: Psychological horror

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Black Ops Cold War taps into the era's paranoia to weave a Hollywood-worthy thriller.

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Reminiscent of the cult P.T. and films like The Manchurian Candidate, endgame chapters act like a psychological horror full of looping hallways, whispers, dark lighting...

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...and if you know where to look, zombies.

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Black Ops Cold War has an arresting sense of tension, tone, and atmosphere unlike any Call of Duty game in recent memory.

THIRD THING WE LOVE: Alternate Story Paths

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Also for the first time, Black Ops Cold War has a branching narrative where player choices influence the ending.

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One standout chapter has players control a CIA mole in the KGB. There are multiple options on how to sabotage from within.

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There's an element of replayability if players want to experience different versions of the campaign.

What we didn't love: Multiplayer

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One underwhelming thing about Black Ops Cold War is the multiplayer. It's not bad per se, but it pales in comparison to last year's Modern Warfare.

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While the single-player campaign takes risks, the multiplayer plays safe. It feels standard-issue and uninspired for the series.

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While it's suitable for players who only have Black Ops Cold War, it's not a compelling enough package to inspire migration from Modern Warfare.

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Zombies Mode is also lacking. There's one map (for now), and it's a remake from 2008's World at War. Gameplay is fun, but nothing experimental.

It's Call of Duty for better or worse.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is available on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation consoles.

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