Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (PlayStation 5) Review

By Neil Flynn 02.07.2021

Review for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War on PlayStation 5

The Call of Duty franchise is one massive behemoth at this point, a pure staple in video gaming history and one of the bestselling games series known to mankind. It is well known by now that the publisher and owner, Activision, enlist the help of multiple studios on rotation to create this iconic franchise. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is Treyarch's turn, who are keyholders to the 'Black Ops' line of games. Annualised franchises can often be hard to review, particularly if a few have not made it into the personal collection. On the one hand, coming back to a tried and tested franchise can feel nostalgic, and that feeling of how tiny refinements now make the experience somewhat better, but on the other hand there are those tiny reminders as to why previous iterations were skipped altogether. Which side of the coin does Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War land on? Read on to find out.

Opinions are somewhat divided on which studio makes the best Call of Duty but ultimately each game in the franchise gets universal praise and criticism no matter which studio makes it, and in this case Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War falls under both of these categories. The first and largest issue (no pun intended) is the file size, which is a humongous 219.8 GB on PS5. That is just shy of just 1/3 of the total storage space of PlayStation 5's internal SSD, which it has to be installed on to play. Now, arguments may ensue about who takes responsibility, whether that be Sony for not having TBs of storage available on their system or Activision and Treyarch for not being a bit more forgiving on compression. A bit of respite has been given, as individual parts of the game can be deleted, such as deleting the campaign mode will free up 63 GB or deleting multiplayer will free up 60.33 GB. Nonetheless, this is still an unacceptable amount of space on a system that has to use the internal space on the SSD to play games.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War on PlayStation 5

With the elephant in the room aside, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War can be assessed in three parts: Campaign, Multiplayer and Zombies. The campaign fixates on the Cold War between the United States and the USSR, playing up to real world references throughout the campaign, whether that are cameo appearances of playable Activision arcades, old technology such a CRT TVs, projectors and rotary phones, or a very realistic recreated appearance from U.S President Ronald Regan. Admiration does go out for being able to use real-world events to immerse players into the story. As controversial as it sounds, there is an element of at least some real history mixed in with the dramatization of it all which helps lend to its authenticity. The campaign mode puts the self-created avatar into the heat of combat, allowing choice of name, ethnicity, and intelligence agency preference (CIA, MI6, EX-KGB). There is even an option to buff certain stats such as aiming speed, sprint speed and bullet damage by selecting particular psychological profiles at the start. The bulk of the campaign is to collect intel on Soviet mad-man, Perseus, by completing missions and gathering clues. There are a fair number of sneaky stealth missions in comparison to other Call of Duty games played before, with Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War having far more interrogation sequences or multiple-choice dialogues between NPCs. At first this all seems relatively pointless, but these decisions made throughout the campaign, or more so in the latter stages of it, do impact on the story and the way that missions play out, and to this extent the campaign can feel like a very unique experience. Meanwhile, others will have a certain disdain for the number of locks that need to be picked, or clues that need to be found and examined. It does make for a bit of tedious work if the preference is to run through missions shooting everything in sight, but for those who want a bit of variety from mission to mission will really enjoy what the campaign has to offer, including the varied endings.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War on PlayStation 5

Multiplayer is the largest draw to Call of Duty games, and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War delivers a frantic and fast paced experience that feels fluid, fun and also nostalgic with the season passes harking back to some older levels. Gun fights feel satisfying and fast, although at the same time there seems to be a kind of unfairness with snipers getting one-hit kills, somewhat ruining the flow for non-sniper players. There are a huge number of modes available to play through, but Domination, Kill Confirmed and Team Deathmatch are the go-to modes during the review process. That isn't to say that the new modes aren't fun, and Treyarch should be commended for introducing new and interesting ideas such as VIP Escort mode where the team have to chaperon one player to an extraction point. There are now a large number of maps to play, although it wasn't like this at launch, with some returning classics such as Nuketown and Express to get people excited. The inclusion of Zombies every year is still a baffling choice. What seemed like it would be a novelty in Call of Duty: World at War has proven to be incredibly popular among the fans. Zombies, played either solo or online multiplayer, fights off waves of Nazi zombie hoards. A.I. friendly bots are no more which is slightly frustrating for those who play alone, although thankfully a patched in local multiplayer mode is now functional for those wanting to play a bit of couch co-op.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War on PlayStation 5

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War had a number of performance issues at launch, at least at the initial point of review. Whether it be the original shoddy operating system of the PlayStation 5, or perhaps bugs that were needed to be ironed out by Treyarch, it just kept crashing. A few months down the line it now plays seamlessly, although it is a shame about its initial teething problems. PlayStation 5 owners with a 4K 120hz TV will be in heaven here, with the campaign mode being in 4K 60hz with ray-tracing options available, and the multiplayer in 1080p 120hz with ray-tracing disabled. It does make a difference to see it play out this smoothly and for those Call of Duty fans wondering if now is the time to upgrade their monitor, then the answer is an unequivocal yes. Furthermore, PS5 has a feather in its cap with the DualSense controller's haptic feedback and adaptive triggers that replicate tension when firing off shots with each of the different weapons. It is subtle and may not feel like a big deal at first, but comparing it to other controllers, even PS4's DualShock 4, the difference will be abundantly clear.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Thankfully, a few of the early bugs were ironed out of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and subsequent season passes have patched up modes and maps that were lacking. The campaign is genuinely intriguing but may not appeal to those who just want to run and gun. Zombies and Multiplayer modes are plentiful and there should be something for everyone to thoroughly enjoy. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War should be used as the poster child for PlayStation 5's DualSense controller which has been put to full use for an immersive experience. Casual players will be somewhat put off by the sheer storage space required to fully experience everything that is on offer, especially given that SSD capacity is this generation's gold dust, but Call of Duty die-hards will most likely overlook this.

Developer

Treyarch

Publisher

Activision

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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