Hey kids, remember Ronald Reagan?
Well, according to 2020’s Call of Duty installment – Black Ops Cold War – you’re about to “know your history” a lot better. If you know me and my work, you’re well aware that I’m a bit of a simp when it comes to Call of Duty. I play every campaign every year, dabble in its multiplayer – or get lost for quite a while – and still find some way to sing its praises year in and year out, regardless of the public outcry. In terms of Activision, I’m not a huge fan, but the COD developers themselves seem to have a never-ending vision for the franchise, allowing it to stay fresh with each new installment.
This year, it’s up to Treyarch with Black Ops Cold War to bring some freshness to this tried-and-true series. While more recent Black Ops installments have strayed from the series’ roots, this direct sequel to the first game promises to deliver something special to those fans who have fallen off the bandwagon. Set in the early 1980’s under the Reagan administration, fan favorite characters Frank Woods, Alex Mason, and Jason Hudson are tasked with tracking down a Soviet agent – codename Perseus – and putting an end to his anarchist schemes.
In terms of story, I am all here for it. Cold War aims to bring players on a mind-bending trip, similar to the original Black Ops, with environments spanning the entire globe, and even flashbacks to Vietnam. I personally love how we’re going back to see exactly what happened after Black Ops. It almost felt like that original game left us on a cliffhanger, and then the time jump in Black Ops 2 ruined any chances of ever tying up loose ends. Fortunately, Cold War allows us to return to that setting, and as a brand new character, no less. Reports say that the protagonist’s gender and name can be altered, as well as their military background and “psychological profile,” which seems to essentially add perks to your character like enhanced agility or better accuracy. It’s a unique change to the Call of Duty formula, and coupled with optional missions, dialogue choices, and multiple endings, this barely feels like a COD game on the surface.
When all is said and done, however, this is a Call of Duty game, and that means some things can never change. Expect Cold War to include a battle pass system, as well as a new zombies mode, and “shared post-launch content” with Warzone. While they didn’t go into much detail on what the latter means, it seems there will be some Black Ops references in Warzone, including Woods as a playable operative. In fact, preordering the game unlocks Woods for you right now, and it also grants you early access to the open beta later this year. I should also mention that Warzone content from Modern Warfare will also carry over to this updated iteration, which is good for those people who really enjoy Warzone – I am not one of those people, however.
While a Black Ops sequel-not-prequel with updated character models, next-gen lighting effects, and multiplayer the likes of which we’ve never seen before (there’s a desert map!) sounds like a dream, I can’t just leave without mentioning the current pricing controversy. Black Ops Cold War will be $59.99 for current generation consoles, whether physical or digital. If you want to play the game on either the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X later this “holiday,” you’ll have to pay the $10 upcharge for a $69.99 cross-gen version. The Ultimate Edition is also available for $89.99, which includes the cross-gen game and some bonus DLC. Naturally, the internet has exploded in disappointment over this next generation fee, however I’ve been saying for a while now – especially on the Week in News podcast – that I don’t mind paying extra to carry my content over to an upgraded version of a game. It helps developers, it’s a reasonable price, and it just seems like an okay practice to me. I do feel paying $70 for every game is ridiculous, though, and should not be adopted.
Regardless of this pricing nonsense, I cannot wait to see Black Ops Cold War up close. This feels like the kind of game I’ve been waiting for since I got my Xbox 360 on Black Ops’s launch night. I think I’ll be getting the cross-gen version on Xbox One first, seeing as I still haven’t locked in which new console I’ll be purchasing at launch. Thankfully, progression carries over amongst all copies, and cross play will be available alongside “cross-gen play,” which lets console owners old and new play alongside each other. Black Ops Cold War is really aiming to bring the community together, and I can’t wait for it. We won’t have to wait much longer, either. The multiplayer reveal is coming on September 9, and Black Ops Cold War will release on November 13, 2020.
Here’s hoping Reagan is Viktor Reznov in disguise.