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.
Players take control of "Bell," a codebreaker recruited by the CIA to stop "Perseus," a Russian spy said to have infiltrated American intelligence.
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.
The game is available on most major platforms, including the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.
As detailed in our 7/10 review, here are three things we love about Black Ops Cold War — and one thing we don't.
For the first time in Call of Duty history, players are allowed to be "themselves."
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.
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."
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.
Black Ops Cold War taps into the era's paranoia to weave a Hollywood-worthy thriller.
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...
...and if you know where to look, zombies.
Black Ops Cold War has an arresting sense of tension, tone, and atmosphere unlike any Call of Duty game in recent memory.
Also for the first time, Black Ops Cold War has a branching narrative where player choices influence the ending.
One standout chapter has players control a CIA mole in the KGB. There are multiple options on how to sabotage from within.
There's an element of replayability if players want to experience different versions of the campaign.
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.
While the single-player campaign takes risks, the multiplayer plays safe. It feels standard-issue and uninspired for the series.
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.
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.