Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Review: Zombies and Nuketown make a comeback

Every year, Call of Duty gets a new iteration, and we’re coming off one of the best releases we’ve seen in many years. While Infinity Ward handled Modern Warfare quite well, this year, it’s Treyarch’s turn to take the helm, and with that comes Black Ops: Cold War. A familiar story to many, Black Ops: Cold War takes place in the ‘80s during the height of the Cold War, where you’ll play as various characters in the infamous time period. Sit with the president, fill him in on details, and make decisions along the way…be careful here, as they can change the outcome of the game. Without further ado, let’s take a deep dive into our hands-on review of Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War.

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Review – Game Overview

Graphics take back seat to great gameplay this time around

Black Ops: Cold War takes a different approach than Modern Warfare did when it comes to graphics. Sure, the visuals are stunning in Black Ops: Cold War, but they’re not entirely realistic. Black Ops: Cold War gets just about everything right with reflections, fidelity, and other graphical elements, but things look…almost cartoony. Not really cartoony, but that’s the best way I can describe it. You’ll find that smoke is more wispy like in old movies, and the outfits just aren’t extremely realistic, and honestly, that a good thing. Black Ops: Cold War takes place in the ‘80s at the height of the Cold War, obviously. With that comes very different memories for most — things weren’t as sharp and crisp as they are today. Where it really matters, Black Ops: Cold War has killer graphics, but in other areas, it really pays homage to the ‘80s, and that’s honestly a great thing.


Gameplay, however, is where Black Ops: Cold War excels. Sure, it has its share of bugs, but what game doesn’t during its first month of being out? The realistic nature of weapons is next-level in this version of Call of Duty, where Create a Class is more lifelike in many ways (we’ll dive deeper into that in a bit). There are several new mechanics to figure out in Black Ops: Cold War, like throwing grenades vs. stuns. This is really the biggest differentiating factor I can describe. When you go to throw a standard grenade, it takes quite a bit longer than previous Call of Duty games. Your character is pulling the pin, getting ready to throw, winding up, and then actually throwing it. The entire process can take a moment, and that requires a bit of gameplay adjustment. When tossing a stun, it’s an entirely different experience. Your player basically just pushes it out and it’s there, but be careful, as you can stun yourself in the process.

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Review – Online Multiplayer

Most people buy Call of Duty games for the online multiplayer experience, and Black Ops: Cold War is no exception. The online experience is very similar to previous games, though, there are a few changes.

The most notable change is the inclusion of a VIP Escort mode, which is similar to Cyber Attack or Search & Destroy, except with one twist: you’re escorting a VIP. I know, I know, the name kinda implies that, but what all does that mean? Essentially, at the start of each round, one person on one team is chosen to be the “VIP.” This player is given a silenced pistol, a combat knife, two smoke grenades, two normal grenades, a spy plane, and a field mic from the get-go. Every VIP will have this exact same load out, regardless of what load out the player chose to use at the start of the game. All other players are given their normal load outs that they choose and the round commences.

During the round, you’ll try to either eliminate the enemy team or eliminate the VIP/escort the VIP successfully to the extraction point. Instead of dying right away after being shot and losing all your health, you’ll go “down” where teammates can revive you. However, the enemy can continue to shoot you or throw grenades, and you can be completely killed and removed from that round, respawning during the next one.

Other than VIP, you’ll also find another mode called Fireteam: Dirty Bomb, which is essentially Ground War from Modern Warfare with a few twists. You’re still in smaller teams, but instead of trying to hold a domination point, you’re gathering uranium to plant dirty bombs around the map.

Outside of those changes, Black Ops: Cold War’s online multiplayer is what you’ve come to expect from Call of Duty games: a bunch of players trying to beat the other. Some will play as hard as possible, going for maxed weapons and all skins as soon as possible, and others are there to just enjoy the game. The maps are fairly similar with normal layouts, the only real difference being the terrain or design. And, of course, there’s the campers. It wouldn’t be a Call of Duty without campers, would it? Well, thankfully, the game tries to push people to play the objective more than previous titles, as you now have a scorestreak instead of a killstreak. This means that your score persists through death, pushing you closer to that chopper gunner without having to camp in a corner and get a ton of kills. Even things like stuns will go toward your scorestreak goal, which is pretty awesome.

Black Ops: Cold War also continues the tradition set by Modern Warfare, offering true cross-platform gaming. Your profile, including unlocks and progression, follows you from platform to platform. Plus, friends can play together, regardless of their system of choice. Of course, you’ll also find that Nuketown has made a comeback this year, and it’s, yet again, a fan favorite (and a personal favorite). Just about all game modes are available on this compact and hectic map…will you come out on top?

Create a Class

Create a Class also got a bit of a refinement this year, with the overall UI being a bit cleaner and easier to use, in my opinion. You’ll find that Black Ops: Cold War uses a pick-5 system that allows you to have up to five attachments on your weapon at any given time. You’ll also be able to pick a tactical, lethal, and field upgrade, as well as three perks and a wildcard.

Something fairly unique with this Create a Class is that you’ll now find weapon blueprints in your load outs. You can buy these and use them even if you don’t have a specific gun unlocked. This can be super useful, especially if you pick up the Ultimate Edition of the game, which comes with a few blueprints from the get-go.

Another great feature is that Create a Class is available in-game, so you can equip newly-unlocked attachments, change weapons, or swap grenades if you don’t have enough time to do that in the lobby phase.


Zombies is back, and it’s better than ever. You’ll find that this new take on an age-old classic is quite fun, offering a few different game modes at the start. This is the first chapter of the Dark Aether story in “Die Maschine.” You’ll find six different Zombies Perks to choose from, including Jugger-Nog, Quick Revive, Speed Cola, Stamin-Up, Deadshot Daiquiri, and an all-new Elemental Pop. These give you a leg-up against the never-ending horde of undead that only have one goal: to kill you.

Something that’s interesting is you can choose what weapon you start out with in the game, no more beginner pistol this time around. There are, of course, other weapons spread across the map, and the mystery box is still in play, so you can roll the dice on which gun it’ll spit out. When you pick up a weapon off the wall, it’ll be different each time. Sure, it might be the MP5 throughout multiple games, but it’ll have random attachments, giving you a unique load out each time.

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Review – Campaign

The campaign is normally my favorite part of any Call of Duty, and I played the Modern Warfare story a few times. Black Ops: Cold War takes things to a new level when it comes to immersion, where your choices change the outcome of each mission. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t got the game yet, but the first mission really showcases this and brings you deep into the world of military black ops and the choices you have. You’re not forced to follow a specific storyline this time around, as you dictate the outcomes.

The story, this time around, is a direct sequel set 13 years after the original Black Ops story, which means that both veterans of the game and newcomers alike will enjoy the experience. Your goal is to catch “Perseus,” but can you do it in time?

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Review – Wrapping up

Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War is one for the books, in my opinion. Though Treyarch brought back many classic staples of the series, they did it all quite well, I’d say. Sure, there are people complaining about some of the bugs in the game, but what new title doesn’t have those during the first few months. Treyarch has shown that they’re committed to patching issues as they come up and seem to be doing a pretty good job at it.

Though I haven’t finished the campaign yet, I plan to spend some time on it over the holidays and really dive deep into the clandestine missions and take in the unique scenery and story written here. And, of course, I’ll be playing on Nuketown as much as possible, because, why not.

Will you be diving into Black Ops: Cold War anytime soon? Hit me up on Twitter with your thoughts, as I’d love to chat about it!

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