Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has been a difficult recommendation since its launch back in November of 2020. Unlike Warzone, BOCW's launch was a bit of a dull-disaster, and came as a disappointment to many fans. The big question, however, is whether we can recommend the game now that we're two seasons in.
When BOCW launched back in November 2020, it was a mixed bag of an experience. The campaign was a fun and quirky experience, all-the-more successful for its decision to take a step away from realism. Zombies was also pretty solid, but the game stumbled when it came to multiplayer.
A fumbled-together mess of game modes and design, Black Ops Cold War was an honest embarrassment when compared to its contemporary, and supposed-best-friend, Warzone. Even if we were to ignore Warzone (which would make very little sense), when compared to 2019's Modern Warfare, BOCW fell flat on its face.
Then came December. Then came Season 1. Whilst we got the delicious Nuketown ‘84 at the turn of the month, when Season 1 finally dropped (after a significant delay), it did very little to relieve our complaints about the game. Worse yet, Activision made the not-so-smart decision to throw a bunch of BOCW s**t into Warzone, making the game almost unplayable. Yet again: faceplant.
Warzone is relatively fixed now, and Season 2 has just added a bunch of stuff... things are looking up. The thing is, though, that Warzone does not require much of an investment — it is free to play. Black Ops Cold War, however, is still a jumbled mess of ideas... and costs money. The good news? Well, at least it is now a fun jumbled mess of ideas.
Black Ops Cold War in 2021 — The Multiplayer
Multiplayer has always been the core of the CoD experience, so we will start here. When the game launched, it was a total mess. Of course, there were the standard modes, which were fine, but the maps were boring, generic, and few. They had good variety aesthetically, but that was about it.
Combined Arms and Fireteam: Dirty Bomb were interesting, but were both not very good, if we are honest with you. Armada was awesome in Combined Arms, but the other maps were, yet again, a jumbled mess. Fireteam...was just a poor man's Warzone. What about now, though?
Not a huge amount has changed, if we are honest. Keep in mind that the bones are still here: it is a Call of Duty game after all! The guns feel fantastic, everything works well, and it is graphically impressive. The problem is, we have a few new maps, a few new weapons, some new modes... and that's about it.
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The flip to what we just said, however, is that Seasons 1 and 2 have added some great new maps. Express was a fantastic addition, but to be real, that's not really a BOCW map (it’s a BO2 map...), and some of the others have been solid — but we're not overly impressed. Weapons have been refined, better balanced, and the new operators are pretty sweet, though.
Black Ops Cold War in 2021 — The Zombies
Zombies has been the highlight of Black Ops Cold War since launch. It suffered some technical issues, and had a painfully difficulty-balance at launch, but has been ironed out and fine-tuned to make it the absolute highlight of BOCW. Die Machine was excellent, but everything else is even better...
Season One: Reloaded brought us Firebase Z, and it was an absolute blast... but then came Season 2, and with it, Outbreak. This is one of the most ambitious, fun, and well-designed modes yet to grace Call of Duty's Zombies mode. We are addicted, and it is getting unhealthy. Seriously. This is almost its own game.
What's clear is that Zombies is where the passion is in Black Ops Cold War, and the quality. It is dense, it is fun, and it is well designed and balanced. We love it, and all of the additions, guns, maps, and everything, has been implemented excellently. This is the highlight of BOCW.
Black Ops Cold War in 2021 — Is It Worth It?
The answer to this question is a bit complicated. Black Ops Cold War is better now, yes. It has improved, yes. Is it even close to being up there with the best of Call of Duty? Absolutely not. As we said earlier, the Campaign is excellent — but the Multiplayer is still a snooze fest that we simply cannot ignore. It is boring, unimaginative, and in many ways, flawed to its core.
Zombies is the saving grace, and a fantastic mode that inspires our love, enthusiasm, and real Call of Duty spirit. This is what we come for in Treyarch's latest effort. It will be what you come for. So, if you like Zombies: this is the best Zombies yet for Call of Duty. If you like Multiplayer: just stick to Warzone and Modern Warfare.
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