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Exploring today's technology for tomorrow's possibilities

Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War Overview

Tomas Zegarra

Warning: The video game listed below may not suitable for younger viewers. Please use caution and check each game’s ESRB rating before allowing children to play it, especially those rated M for Mature. M-rated video games may contain content that is inappropriate for children and/or unlabeled content that exposes younger players to explicit messages and themes.

The latest Call of Duty (COD) addition to the franchise is Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (release date of Friday, November 13th, 2020). The first thing to point out is that this game is not Call of Duty: Black Ops 5. Think of it as a direct sequel to the original Black Ops I, which released almost exactly 10 years ago.
As the next Call of Duty game, Cold War is the first in the COD franchise to be featured on the next generation Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 consoles. It will support PC, PS4, and Xbox One consoles as well.
Is Cold War a game worth investing your time and resources in? We’ll look into Cold War’s various game modes, customization options, gameplay, and how this game compares to more recent Call of Duty games.

Storage and graphics requirements

The release of Cold War coincides with the announcement of the latest NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards, along with the release of new PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles. There is a range of options you can employ to customize your experience with Cold War on PC.
These options include your display, processor, graphics card, RAM, and more. Tweaking your graphics capabilities will probably yield better overall performance for such a comprehensive game.
Installing Cold War in its entirety on PC will take 125GB of space. Here are the individual game components broken down by size:
  • Multiplayer: 35GB
  • Campaign and zombies: 47GB
  • All game modes: 82GB
  • High-resolution texture packs with 4K resolution and ray tracing: 43GB
  • PlayStation 4: 95GB
  • PlayStation 5: 133GB
  • Xbox One: 93GB
  • Xbox Series X/S: 136GB
As you can see, Cold War is an expansive game no matter which platform you choose. Given the uproar over the update and DLC sizes of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Activision has wisely given players the ability to install and uninstall the different parts of the game.
This is a good way to ensure that you keep your game library diverse. Growing tired of multiplayer, campaign, or zombies? Pick and choose which ones you’re currently interested in and click to install or uninstall them.

Why a new Black Ops Game?

The COD franchise does not follow a definitive schedule between its sub franchises of WWII, Modern Warfare, and Black Ops releases. While the plan is a closely guarded secret among the developers, Call of Duty has yet to solely focus on one series for an extended period of time. Cold War comes on the heels of the widely popular Modern Warfare (2019) and its warzone game mode.
The previous two titles in the Black Ops series – III and IV – were also well received. Among longtime Call of Duty fans, however, they did not match the simplicity and balance that came with Black Ops I and II. Cold War is likely a meeting between the two sets of titles that seeks to bridge the gap in popularity between them.

Cold War’s role in the COD franchise

Activision Blizzard, the publisher of Call of Duty games, continues to find a niche to develop new Call of Duty games. Black Ops I (2010) was a well-liked introduction to a new storyline within the greater franchise. In collaboration with Cold War’s developers, Activision looks to capitalize on the nostalgic appeal of the first iteration of the Black Ops franchise.
Nearly 10 years after the release of Black Ops I, Cold War will be able to reach larger audiences and attract gamers who might not have the ability to access physical copies of that game with the emergence of digital stores and installation options. Cold War is a convergence between the various technologies now available to gaming developers as well as a popular point in Black Ops history.

COD: Cold War game modes


The Black Ops campaign feature makes its return after being largely absent from Black Ops IV. The development of a Black Ops campaign comes after the disappointment of Call of Duty fans from the lack of a campaign in Black Ops IV. The sudden popularity of battle royale game modes in Fortnite and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds most likely caused the shift in focus for the most recent Call of Duty games.
The early Black Ops storyline was always compelling, especially for a first-person shooter (FPS). With Black Ops III and IV set in the far future, the campaign now returns to the 20th century to the tumultuous time known as the Cold War. While the timelines of Black Ops III and IV are popular, players can relate to events, weapons, and tactics that they know existed in the new installment.

The Black Ops Story

Cold War follows Black Ops I characters Alex Mason, Frank Woods, and Jason Hudson in their fight to uncover the identity of Perseus, a possible Soviet spy. Black Ops campaigns have routinely dealt with complex themes of psychology, brain-washing, and hallucinations that are further amplified by the secretive nature associated with “black operations.”
The various developers of the Black Ops series previously introduced multiple endings depending on in-game player choices, and the same occurs with Cold War. You can also expect to see a greater emphasis to produce a worthwhile and memorable continuation of the story considering there was no campaign in Black Ops IV.


The multiplayer component of Cold War capitalizes on the themes that make Black Ops such a distinct franchise. The returning game modes are pretty familiar:
  • Deathmatch
  • Kill confirmed
  • Control
  • Search and destroy
Look for these newer game modes:
  • VIP Escort – A 6v6 mode where teams switch off escorting one lightly armed teammate to an extraction point
  • Combined Arms Domination – A 12v12 mode that combines vehicular warfare with dynamic maps. Players must control zones to win
  • Fireteam: Dirty Bomb – A 40-man (20v20) mode where teams fight to ignite bombs across the map to earn points
  • Hardpoint – A 12v12 mode where players must control a zone that randomly changes position across the map
The newer modes offer a richer Black Ops experience compared to the straightforward team deathmatch mode. The older game modes are the ones that are easier to grasp when you first start playing and they are commonly used in tournaments and esports leagues.
So where should you start your multiplayer experience? We encourage you to first start with any of the newer modes above. Get your money’s worth by spending time with the modes that make Cold War unique. Not only that, playing these modes first with their unusual maps may give you an edge over opponents that stay solely in the classic modes.


Previous versions of zombies in almost all Call of Duty games were pretty straightforward: survive endless waves of zombies by unlocking new parts of a map and upgrading weapons. Cold War changes the flow of this mode by making your zombie experience more mission-like.
This means that you are dropped into the map and you must locate an objective, secure it, and then extract it from the mission area to succeed. If you think you’re a zombies pro, test your ability to combat increasingly difficult waves of the undead all while trying to accomplish an objective.
You won’t have to go in completely unprepared. Before loading into zombies, you can choose a loadout to accompany you, whereas previously everyone started out with a pistol and knife. As the zombies get stronger, you’ll have to think about upgrading or exchanging your loadout weapons to dish out more damage.
There’s no telling what awaits you in the higher difficulty waves, so ensure that by the time you get to the more difficult waves you’re more than prepared.

Cold War vs. other COD games

Call of Duty has come a long way since the first game in the franchise was released in 2003. The new Call of Duty 2020 takes full advantage of advancements in gaming development technology. But how does Cold War compare to the rest of the Call of Duty franchise?
COD’s 2020 Cold War puts you back in the Cold War-era hot seat that made Black Ops I so memorable in its time. Up until 2010, Call of Duty was primarily about front-line soldier gameplay in campaign and multiplayer.
With the release of Black Ops I and Cold War you start to think differently about your own style of play as gadgets, vehicles, and highly detailed maps become more common elements. Sure, Black Ops I and Cold War do differ in terms of visuals and gunplay; but put in enough hours and you’ll start to see characteristics of the original Black Ops I show in your gameplay.

Compared to other Black Ops Games

Cold War is not Black Ops V, it’s actually a direct sequel to the original Black Ops I released in 2010. The two most recent iterations of the Black Ops Franchise (III and IV) were vastly different from Black Ops I and Cold War. They shared more similarities with Black Ops II, since that game was primarily campaign and multiplayer modes, leaning towards futuristic abilities and weapons.
Despite the drastic difference in gameplay and the increase in the sheer number of Call of Duty players between 2010 and 2015, when Black Ops III was released, it just didn’t have the same appeal as Black Ops I.
Perhaps the differences in in-game timelines were too much for some players to accept. Developers of Black Ops games are no strangers to futuristic games, and with so many modern-futuristic FPS games under Activision’s belt, the time seems just about right to return to a more grounded Call of Duty game.

Compared to Modern Warfare

Modern Warfare and Black Ops are the two Call of Duty sub-franchises that develop in parallel. They also have the highest number of sequels and spinoffs in the franchise. Modern Warfare’s 2019 introduction of the warzone game mode was widely popular, and is a reflection of the interest in battle royale free-for-alls.
These two sub-franchises run parallel to each other in terms of player base, development, and popularity. Once you play the Cold War campaign you’ll discover that the sub-franchises are linked at the story level.
Could this mean that Modern Warfare and Black Ops are about to become more intertwined than ever? Only time will tell, but this notion could have greater implications considering the Black Ops story actually starts with Call of Duty: World at War (released in 2008).
Modern Warfare and Black Ops continue to vie with each other in popularity. Their player base continues to expand, as these two sub-franchises have become the face of Call of Duty.



All content for Cold War that is updated after the November 13th release date was free for 2020 and appears to be for 2021, as well. You read that right, free. That content includes the following:
  • A new multiplayer mode (2v2 gunfight)
  • Nuketown '84, a remake of the classic Nuketown maps
  • Additional weapons and zombie modes
  • Updates to the Warzone game mode
Treyarch and Raven Software have more content planned, so stay tuned. You can expect Cold War to offer updates for nearly every game mode every time there is a major DLC drop. This strategy ensures that players’ favorite game modes aren’t left out during a DLC update.

Cosmetics and in-game store

Cold War gives you a variety of ways to customize your character and experience in-game. Some of these methods cost money while others require a lot of playing time to generate experience.
Buying different editions of Cold War will give you assorted cosmetics, bundles, and tiers within the current season’s battle pass. Level up the battle pass to get even more cosmetics, weapon skins, and character customization options.
Call of Duty’s in-game currency (COD points) is purchasable with actual money from your wallet, or you can obtain it through the battle pass. None of the things you purchase through the in-game store with COD points will give you an edge over your opponent but you may be able to flex a cool, rare skin over those opponents.
So what’s the benefit to all these skins? Aside from looking flashy, some of your purchases go to a charitable cause. The Challenger pack, one of the first bundles to be released in-game, benefits the Call of Duty Endowment (C.O.D.E.) which benefits U.S. veterans seeking employment. As much as we grumble about paying for content outside the base game, it’s good to see monetization benefiting a noble cause.

Spend your money wisely

It’s no secret that microtransactions make a lot of money for the parent organization. In-game purchases push the net value of a particular game far beyond its original sale price.
The first thing you should spend your money on is the content related to actual gameplay. This is where your game experience really comes from. Cosmetics are nice as a flare, but spending money on them every time a new one appears in the store is an easy way to get addicted. The updated game modes are what you should be looking for in order to get your money’s worth.
The Call of Duty franchise has loaded up on the cosmetic side of microtransactions as of late with battle passes and various bundles being full of them. The size of Call of Duty’s player base means that despite how cheap these cosmetics may seem to you individually, think of how many people across the world are thinking the exact same thing when they purchase them.

Is COD: Cold War a worthwhile investment?

For the last 15 years, there has been a new Call of Duty game every year. This may mean that another new game in the franchise is probably in development. Call of Duty is unlikely to be the only game you play. Paying for a full-scale triple-A (AAA) FPS game may not be a worthwhile addition to your library.
Does this mean you should avoid Cold War at all costs? Not necessarily. Instead, be on the lookout for sales, discounts, and free weekends so that you have time to seriously consider if Cold War is right for you. Cold War is still brand new and if any other Call of Duty game has taught us something, it's that there will always be new content on the horizon.

About the Author

Tomas Zegarra is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Tomas is an Idaho-based writer for the tech and outdoor industries. His writing has appeared in journals such as Memoir Mixtapes, Upland Optics, and The Prepper Journal. He also writes fiction and is always working on a new idea for a short story.

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