Impressions from the Black Ops Cold War beta front line
Whenever someone needs to be digitally blown up, stabbed, or shot, the overlords at Destructoid always seem to deem me the person for the job. I’m not sure why, given that I’m very clearly the Bernadetta of the editorial team. Regardless, it’s that time of year again, and with the impending release of a brand-new Call of Duty title, it falls on me to load up on guns, throw on my sexiest legwarmers, and return to the political upheaval of the 1980s.
The second Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War beta weekend begins today, offering first-person shooter fans the chance to check out Activision’s latest entry in its money-printing franchise. All PS4 players – alongside PC and Xbox One pre-order customers – can dive into the action today, the beta will then open its doors to all players on all three platforms from Saturday, October 17.
But your boy Moyse has already cut his own path of destruction through said beta, capping out at Level 25 one murderthon at a time. In the hours I’ve spent with Black Ops Cold War so far, I’ve gotten to grips with a selection of weapons, modes, and maps, I’ve been the king of the scoreboards, and been found face-down in a pool of my own tomatoes. It’s been the best of times, it’s been the worst of times. But what I’ll mostly remember is the laughter.
Here’s a selection of my humble thoughts regarding Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War:
- Overall, Cold War feels so much “looser” than both Modern Warfare and battle royale spin-off Warzone. Movement is far more dynamic and forgivable, with an emphasis on run ‘n’ gun, reckless mantling, and sliding. While I’d even go as far as to argue that the gameplay has actually receded a little from previous releases, I find the overall experience of playing Cold War slicker, faster, and more gratifying than its brethren, despite feeling oddly “sloppier.”
- The 1980s setting – mostly showcased in the “Miami” map – offers an anachronistic but refreshing feel to typical CoD warfare. After decades of deserts and bombed-out towns, letting rip in a locale that essentially looks like Vice City makes for an exciting experience. The ’80s aesthetic also applies to the weaponry, and the emphasis on powerful sub-machine guns, on the beach, under neon lighting pulls CoD away from its po-faced “real world” obsession, instead offering an atmosphere akin to one of Cannon’s action movies.
- Duct-taping a block of C4 to a remote control TYCO truck and having the actual gall to call it an “RC-XD” is inspired. Now I want a Big Trak recon drone that brings you a Coke Float.
- New mode VIP Escort is one of the most psychological matches in CoD’s storied history. One team of five must escort another poorly- armed player to one of several extraction points, while the other team must track down and take out out the VIP. This leads to the mind-games of planning and counter-planning – as the assassins either split up to cover all extraction zones, or bear down on one single spot and hope that the VIP is doing the same. Conversely, the VIP team can hunker down to protect their charge, or distract the assassins by raising hell elsewhere, where the VIP slips away unnoticed. It’s a sneaky, fast-paced mode, and it works well.
- As G’n’R would say, I’ve got the shotgun blues. With a few basic attachments, the Gallo SA12 automatic shotgun is utterly devastating at mid/close range. With a wide-spread, a rapid fire-rate, and staggering damage, aiming is for suckers. This death-dealer might need a serious re-evaluation.
- Also pretty powerful is the Field Mic upgrade. This nifty device creates an increased radius of sound detection on the mini-map, showing up all nearby enemies from just the slightest noise. Planted in a strategic spot, I found I essentially became a one-man fortress, racking up tens of kills with ease, even against the odds, due to my ability to predict every single incoming assault. This particular gadget is dangerous when properly utilised. Perhaps too dangerous.
- The “Moscow” map offers a really breathless throwdown, featuring a highly detailed but devastated train station and its surrounding streets. With a huge selection of entry and exit points to almost all areas of battle, I found it one of the most relentlessly action-packed stages in Black Ops lineage. In Combined Ops, “Armada” is chaotic in the best sense, offering frantic combat on foot, gunboat, zip-line, and even underwater. The constant rallying from ship-to-ship is ridiculous but thrilling, even if the mode itself can be a little exhausting at times.
- I haven’t had many issues with campers during my own time with the beta. But complaining about camping in a shooter is like complaining about fireball spammers in fighting games. It unfortunately comes with the territory, and however smart the geometry of any given map is, you’ll always find people hunkering down for their own personal K/D glory at the detriment of their entire team. It is what it is.
- People hide in Cartel’s bushes for ages, so be sure to chuck a grenade in there. Nine times outta ten you’ll hit some chump. Also, be sure to briefly lower your aim when approaching doorways and corners, because everyone’s hell-bent on sliding through them at waist height.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed my time with Black Ops Cold War thus far. I find its fast, easy-to-pick-up, “Hollywood-style” gameplay more addictive than the more deliberately paced combat to be found in Warzone, or even Modern Warfare. Cold War‘s stripped-down mechanics, engaging new modes, and refreshing ’80s aesthetic offers a shot of neon adrenaline to the series – like Drive meets The Expendables – and I’m hoping that the full game will successfully capitalize further on this bombastic retro vibe.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War launches November 13 on PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.