Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was revealed to the world this morning alongside its November 13th release date, but we got an in-depth look at the game earlier this week as well as the chance to talk to Treyarch Co-Studio Head, Dan Bunting as well Senior Creative Director at Raven, Dan Vondrak.
There’s a lot to be excited for when it comes to the campaign. Set in the 1980s, the campaign is a direct sequel to that of Call Of Duty: Black Ops (the original), with returning characters such as Woods, Hudson and Mason.
For the most part, the gameplay is the linear, focused campaign experience that we’ve come to know and love, but there’s definitely a few changes this time around. The first major one is that you get to create your character.
Skin tone, name and sex can all be picked by the player as well as a psychological profile which will give you a certain skill-set. There’s 15 to choose from but the few that we got to experience in the demo were:
Paranoid – Increase Aiming Speed 50%
Violent Tendencies – Increased Bullet Damage 25%
Lone Wolf – Increased Sprint Time – 100%
Professional – Full Speed Movement when Aiming Down Sights
Whilst you will still play as recogniseable characters throughout the campaign, Treyarch and Raven wanted you to feel like you were playing as yourself, when taking on these “inspired events”.
Some of the locations that I got to see included Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America. The mission that takes place in Moscow caught my eye for one reason, it’s one of the most open missions in Call Of Duty history. The level has a map, with a bunch of objectives that you can choose to take on throughout the mission. There’s also a number of ways that you can handle the mission. You can steal your way through it, poison people or bribe or blackmail them.
One of the other open areas takes place in Laos, Vietnam, which is a dense jungle area. The mission structure in this level lets choose your own path through the level. As you play through the level, it’ll reset itself and offer new parts of the level based on the player’s memory. There was an extremely supernatural portion of this level, with red doors (red door, anyone?) falling all over the place, with the player ultimately choosing to go through one.
The team wanted to play with these ideas, but not incorporate them too heavily to the point that it didn’t feel like a Call Of Duty campaign. “The first thing we wanted to do is thrill ride of Black Ops and keep it, but add in player choice and freedom. So right away, we made sure as we were planning out the mission to say this is going to be our big bombastic part, and this is going to be a big moment, but then we wanted to infuse a bit of a player choice inside the missions themselves. So for instance, the map mechanic is in one mission. We love the idea of that experience being totally different. One of the things that Call of Duty does well is mission variety. Another example is the player choice in the Vietnam level, but then there’s other levels that really drive home the rollercoaster ride that is Call of Duty.” said Vondrak.
The campaign has side missions, which relate to the main missions, but are separate. These are unlocked by finding evidence throughout the campaign. You can then choose to go on the mission right away, or keep hunting for more evidence in order to flesh those side missions out even further.
“The designers added the choice in a way that wasn’t putting off the hardcore Call of Duty fans. We always wanted to layer the choice in, so that if someone was not a big fan of that kind of stuff, they could still find the quickest way through and get to the gunplay. It was also challenging to design the systems for optional objectives, and have the menus to have players show all these different options, but we didn’t want to go crazy, so it wasn’t as challenging as it might seem”. said Vondrak in regards to challenges that these changes introduced.
The campaign also has multiple endings. Not a huge amount, but enough to make you feel like you’ve sculpted the ending with decisions made through the main campaign missions and side missions. When it comes to length, we were told that the campaign would be a similar length to that of previous Call of Duty games.
In terms of the gunplay, it looks as solid as ever, with every bullet shot being felt both through what’s happening on screen and the sound design. From what I saw, there was a good amount of corridor gameplay, set pieces and the new more open-areas that allow for more exploration and a slower pace throughout missions.
Visually, the game is stunning. The game looks like it’s set in the 80s, but the team opted to go with a crisp art style, rather than putting an 80s filter over it. The locations are filled with neon signs, diners are sprawled throughout locations, and there’s a bunch of other visual cues that make you feel like you’ve been transported back in time.
All-in-all, I’m really excited to see how the Black Ops Cold War campaign plays out later this year. I think that the Call of Duty franchise is in a better place than ever.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War releases on PS4, Xbox One and PC on November 13th. The PS5 and Xbox Series X versions will launch alongside the consoles this Holiday.