Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Review

Image source: Wikipedia

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Treyarch, Raven Software

Genre: First Person Shooter

Originally Released: November 13th 2020

Series: Call of Duty

Certificate: 18

Consoles: PlayStation 5/4, Xbox Aeries X/S/One & PC

Always a series that splits the gaming community down the middle, Call of Duty is often criticised by many and beloved by more. Historically, it has rarely steered clear of the realm of controversy, from portraying dark subject matter to questionable micro-transaction tactics. In this Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Review, I will be focussing on the base game modes, single-player, multiplayer and zombies, addressing them individually.

Black Ops: Cold War is the fifth instalment in the Treyarch sub-series and follows the annual release-cycle formula that the franchise has exercised for many years. Although consistency cannot be denied, some certainly feel Call of Duty is becoming oversaturated as a result of this model. Let us see if Black Ops: Cold War attempts to break the mould. Otherwise, check out some gameplay footage here. 

Single-Player Campaign

Following on from the debut Black Ops (2010) title, this latest instalment is a continuation of the Cold War theme into the early 1980s, with all of the hairstyles, fashion and neon lights associated with the time period. To avoid spoilers I will keep this section quick and ‘to the point’.

Tensions are running high as Russell Adler, a former Green Beret turned CIA operative is instructed by Ronald Reagan to track down Soviet Union agent Perseus and to prevent an attack on the free world. You play as ‘Bell’, recruited by Adler alongside the familiar faces of Alex Mason, Frank Woods and Jason Hudson in a star-studded taskforce to stop Perseus’ plans.

The campaign clocks in at a brief but eventful six hours or so but it still manages to cram in all of the high-octane gunfights and action sequences we can expect from an 80’s action ‘flick. These moments are contrasted by longer periods with your weapons holstered as you infiltrate KGB headquarters, explore your team’s base and make in-game decisions that directly affect the outcome of the campaign.

While it maintains many of the things we love and expect from a Call of Duty campaign, I like how it attempts to go against the grain and try some new things where it can. Your decision=making and actions directly impacting the narrative is a welcome change to a series that largely sticks strictly to the script.


The online multiplayer has long been the beating heart of Call of Duty and is likely the reason for its disappointingly brief single-player mode. While it ticks many of the boxes we have come to expect over the last decade or so, the multiplayer mode does dab its hand at some new elements to keep things fresh.

As anticipated, the signature sharp and snappy gunplay is wonderfully present in Black Ops: Cold War, coupled with smooth, fast-paced movement that gives the game that slick pace that players cannot go without. Fan-favourite game modes like team death match, domination and search and destroy return in all of their glory. However, there are some new ones thrown into the mix.

‘VIP Escort’ tasks your team with escorting a selected member to one of two rotating extraction points while fending off the opposing team. Furthermore, there is ‘Fireteam: Dirty Bomb’ where up to ten teams of four have to gather uranium to detonate dirty bombs throughout the map, collecting points in the process until a victor is decided.


Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War launches with eight multiplayer maps, quite scarce compared to previous titles but we can expect this to increase over time as more DLC will be released. So far, Armada, Crossroads and Satellite seem to be the best choices as they cater for most play-styles. They combine longer visual alleys for sniping and close-quarters areas for running and gunning.

For the most part, no single class-type dominates over the rest but snipers and submachine guns are definitely the go-to choices for the launch maps. It will be interesting to see if this changes over time as new content is added to the game.

Zombies Mode

In typical Treyarch fashion, Black Ops: Cold War sees the return of its signature zombies survival game. Starting out as an experimental side-mode back in 2008 with World at War has evolved into a staple for the franchise, spanning numerous titles and DLC packs. As always, you and up to three additional players are tasked with surviving endless hordes of zombies by strategically moving through the map and upgrading your load out with better weapons and perks.  

Treyarch has done little to expand on the formula for the zombies mode over the years, you traverse an ever-increasing in size map by opening doors, unlocking new areas and uncovering an underlying scientific conspiracy while gunning down the undead. While some may argue that Treyarch could have done more with the mode and try new things, it is undeniably still a winning formula as many still flock its lobbies, release after release.

Supplied with just one base map on release, “Die Maschine” is a rework of the original “Nacht der Untoten” with added areas and features. What is different this time around is the ability to start the mode with a chosen class setup taken from the multiplayer mode. This means you begin the game in a stronger position and can hopefully progress further as a result.

Dead Ops Arcade and Onslaught

To compensate for the lack of base game content for zombies, Treyarch has added two additional game modes, Dead Ops Arcade and Onslaught. Reminiscent of old-school arcade games, Dead Ops Arcade reinstates the familiar, bird’s-eye-view alternative to the traditional zombies mode.

Onslaught drops you and a partner into a multiplayer map where you have to fend off zombies while moving within a ‘safe zone’. You move around the map as endless zombie hordes and mini-bosses hunt you down. A PlayStation exclusive at the time of writing, this serves as an interesting diversion from the tried and tested formula.


Overall, Treyarch manage to squeeze a lot of content into the one package, even if individually the game modes feel a little stripped back on its release. Out of the box, you get the quick and smooth gunplay, addictive, progression-based multiplayer and fantastic graphical standards. The new zombies mode(s) perfect on the established norms and offer some new features to keep things fresh.

That being said, the base game feels only 75% complete. Map varieties and single-player content are quite limited. That being said, in an industry that focuses more on DLC and future updates, it is no surprise that Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War follows suit with this philosophy. You must ask yourself, is Black Ops: Cold War incomplete or does is it merely reflecting of industry trends? Only time will tell as more content is added. So that much is for you to decide.

Thanks for reading this Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Review, stay tuned for more! If CoD online multiplayer is your thing, you might like our article on the best weapons through the years

Overall – 7.5/10 – Very Good