Call of Duty is returning to the cold war era of psychological warfare and espionage with Black Ops: Cold War, but the new campaign will offer more options than ever before. Unlike previous Call of Duty campaigns, Black Ops: Cold War is geared towards putting players in the driver’s seat of a much more personal experience, with character customization and multiple endings.
As previously announced through an ongoing Warzone Easter egg hunt and a teaser trailer, developers Treyarch and Raven Software are co-developing this fall’s Black Ops release. Black Ops: Cold War is a direct sequel to 2010’s Call of Duty: Black Ops, following the return of fan-favorite characters Frank Woods, Alex Mason and Jason Hudson. The single-player campaign will send players through the geopolitical battle of the Cold War during the early 1980s. Raven Software says Black Ops: Cold War is inspired by history and recently declassified intel, but it’s a fictional storyline that’s set in iconic Cold War locations such as East Berlin, Vietnam, and the Soviet KGB headquarters.
Kotaku saw an early video preview of campaign details. The game environments and character models I saw captured the neon light aesthetics and 80s denim and bomber jackets you’d expect to find in that era. There were scenes shown that featured arcade and bar settings, with soft blue and pink lighting. The character models for Woods, Mason and Hudson all stay true to their original portrayal, though they have different voice actors this time around.
The developers showed off many of the game’s customization features. Players will create their own character to join Woods, Mason and Hudson as they pursue a mysterious figure named Perseus, who’s on a mission to destabilize the global balance of power. Players can choose between a male or female character, and, as explained by Raven Software’s Senior Creative Director Dan Vondrak, customization will allow for the option to be gender neutral by selecting ”they” pronouns alongside “he” and “she.” There’s even the option to have those character profile details listed as classified information.
As an added touch to the campaign’s character creation, players will also fill out a psychological profile. The chosen psychological description will offer small bonuses in-game, though I wasn’t offered many examples of what those will be. The profile will not impact the storyline of Cold War.
While your character’s psychological profile won’t affect the storyline, the choices players make throughout the campaign will. Instead of telling a completely linear story, the developers say Cold War is designed to make the player feel the impact of their choices. Several key campaign moments will allow players to choose a specific path. Part of a mission shown during the preview gave the option to bribe a guard, use poison, or opt for a stealthy route to complete an objective. Each choice made will slowly shape the outcome of Cold War’s ending.
When asked how many different endings Black Ops: Cold War contained, Vondrak slyly said he’d keep the number of campaign endings unknown. However, he did say that players could create multiple save slots to go back and replay missions for a different outcome.
Many fans were disappointed that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 didn’t have a campaign at all, so maybe there’ll be some redemption with Black Ops: Cold War’s storyline, especially if the multiple paths mean this won’t be a one and done playthrough. Personally, I’m excited to discover all the ending possibilities.
Oh yeah, and Treyarch’s iconic Zombies mode is confirmed for Black Ops: Cold War, but no details have been revealed about the undead yet.
While developed for next-gen consoles, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is scheduled to release globally on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on November 13. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions are set for a Holiday 2020 launch, ultimately depending on when those specific consoles release. The best news here is that Black Ops: Cold War is confirmed to have cross-generation crossplay, so players on PC or the next-gen consoles will still be able to party up with friends stuck playing on the previous generation.