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The wait is over. It's finally time to see what multiplayer goodness Treyarch and Raven have in store for us in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War when it launches on November 13th.
Albeit slightly later in the year than usual, it's finally time to talk about multiplayer, and it's sure been worth the wait! Thanks to Activision, I recently went hands-on with Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and have plenty to share with you from my time spent with the game.
Set in the 1980s, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War takes you on a globetrotting adventure filled with deniable operations, and the highly anticipated multiplayer mode continues in that same vein.
The multiplayer experience takes place in the years after the single-player story, and takes in the sights of Moscow, Miami, Central Africa and more. At the start of each map, your team will be introduced with a snazzy intro to get you pumped for the match ahead. These intros are similar to those found in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (as in, the 2019 version) - but they each benefit from an injection of action, especially when compared to those dynamic intros seen in the previous Call of Duty instalment.
There's a lot to take in when you first drop into a match. Treyarch's no stranger to using a colourful palette in its maps, and that's certainly evident throughout the selection I played. Immediately after dropping into the first match I checked the mini-map, and I was relieved to see that the game has gone back to the traditional mini-map approach which shows any unsuppressed gunfire.
A minimal HUD complements the gameplay, in which everything can be found in its usual place - e.g. kill feed on the bottom left, mini-map top left. The gameplay feels faster than previous CoD multiplayer offerings, which I was quite surprised with, especially as players start with 150 health, the same as Treyarch's last title Black Ops 4. However, I feel there's a couple of factors which have contributed to the fast-paced nature of the game.
Firstly, there's unlimited sprint, allowing you to traverse the battlefield without running out of breath or having to rely on perks to improve your endurance. Secondly, there's an emphasis on fluid movement, so transitioning between sliding and crouching is seamless, and there's also an initial boost when players start to sprint.
Treyarch's Cold War title also welcomes back auto health-regen, and the return is long overdue in my opinion, its absence keenly felt in BO4. Some of these features are rather hidden beneath the surface, but they contribute a considerable amount to the overall pacing of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
Similarly to Black Ops 4, health bars have made a return and can be seen on teammates and enemies when engaged. For such a fast game, it makes you wonder whether the health bar is even worth it, especially considering the franchise managed without them for so long. But I suppose it'll be handy to know when an enemy really is a one-shot target. Another thing to note, especially for players who will be transitioning from Infinity Ward's 2019 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, is that doors are no longer present, so you'll no longer have to worry about breaching a room. Everything is accessible!
Typically, in Call of Duty, it's either Killstreaks or Scorestreaks. But in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, scorestreaks have prevailed - but not as you know them...
The new dynamic scorestreak system lets you continue your streak even after you die. The game rewards multipliers for chaining together multiple kills in the same life, which is great for those players among us who are able to achieve a good K/D. But as the name suggests, you can earn scorestreaks by playing the objective, which will be good news to those rare players who actually capture flags!
As players are able to progressively earn scorestreaks throughout, you'd imagine the airspace to be constantly blocked. But once used, each scorestreak goes on a cooldown which makes it fair to other players and enables them to reap the benefits of playing the objective. Not once did I struggle to use a streak during my time with the game.
Players can enjoy the usual selection of scorestreaks with a Cold War twist, including spy planes, artillery and even a chopper gunner. It all adds up to the impression that there's something for every player in the multiplayer options of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
Call of Duty wouldn't be Call of Duty if it didn't have create-a-class - and Treyarch and Raven definitely have you covered. Create-a-class incorporates some of the best features from previous titles such as Gunsmith and Pick 10, which makes perfecting your loadout an enjoyable experience.
It's clear to see from the offset that the entire system has been simplified, with Treyarch focusing their attention on fan-favourite features which give players choice without overcomplicating the experience. Gunsmith further expands the create-a-class offering, with up to 54 attachments per weapon across eight different parts on primary weapons. You can also choose from a selection of wildcards to spice up your class; one in particular lets you equip up to eight attachments at once, and sounds deliciously lethal.
Players can pick from a range of Cold War-era weaponry, which includes a few options that fans of the original Call of Duty: Black Ops title will recognise, such as MP5, AK-74u, Stoner 63 and Commando, just to name a few. There was something weirdly nostalgic about being able to run around with an AK-74u again just like I did 10 years ago in the first Black Ops.
Operators continue to be a part of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War with players being able to pick different ones throughout the multiplayer experience, each with a classified past filled with deniable operations. Each operator can then fight as part of global organisations such as the CIA, MI6, KGB, and more.
Once you've created a class which suits your playstyle, you're ready to jump into the action! Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War brings with it a couple of new modes which players will be able to enjoy upon launch. Alongside some of the traditional Call of Duty game modes, Treyarch and Raven have added a few more into the mix, which are as follows:
Combined Arms: 12v12 action on large scale maps with more objectives and vehicles (Snowmobiles, Dirt Bikes, Tanks and Gunboats).
VIP Escort: One team must deliver a player VIP to an extraction point before the time expires. The opposing team must neutralise them before they reach the marker. This mode is almost comparable to Search & Destroy, but instead of bomb sites you have a couple of extraction points.
Fireteam: 40-player objective warfare, in which 10 teams in squads of four face off against one other in large-scale maps featuring land, sea and air vehicles and various objectives. All we know so far is that the first Fireteam game type is called Dirty Bomb.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War welcomes players into the next generation of global combat. The game truly has been a decade in the making, with Treyarch and Raven implementing their learnings from over the years in this upcoming title. From their traditional three-lane maps to land, sea and air combat, the Cold War offering has some serious thought behind it.
As you travel the world, you'll play in a range of battlefields. In what I played I didn't see any map remakes, but I really hope at least one or two make it into the game at a later date, be that at or post launch. I'd love to see WMD or Nuketown in this Cold War era. There's a couple of maps already which give you vibes of previous Call of Duty maps - for example, the Miami map really reminded me of Plaza from Black Ops 2, and the desert-based map called Satellite gave me Turbine (BO2) throwbacks. Which players who love the Black Ops series will surely appreciate.
The fast-paced and fluid gameplay is something players have come to expect from the franchise, and that isn't going away anytime soon. While I understand why some players might see some of the 'simplifications' as a step in the wrong direction, when you look at the journey Black Ops has been on since 2010, it's clear to see that Treyarch and Raven are going back to their roots and taking with them some valuable lessons from over the years.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War expands on a much-loved series, one which has gripped fans since the original Black Ops launched. I for one can't wait to jump back into the campaign with Woods, Hudson and Mason. Having already had a little taste of the multiplayer action that awaits in Cold War, I can tell you that Call of Duty fans are in for a treat.
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