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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War: Everything to know about this year’s launch

With summer in full swing, reports are swirling about all of Activision’s plans for the next Call of Duty game, which will pick up where the original Black Ops left off. That game, called Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, will send players back to the struggle for world dominance between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Only this time, Treyarch, another Activision Blizzard development house, will develop the game.

Read on for our roundup of everything we think we know about Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. And be sure to check back often for updates as new details emerge.

When is the release date for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War?

The game will release on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One consoles, Xbox Series X and S, and PC on November 13, 2020. Those looking to purchase the game on current generation hardware and then upgrade to next-gen consoles will need to spring for a $70 bundle that works within console families.

PlayStation players are getting the beta early

An open beta will be accessible first on October 8 to those that pre-ordered the game through the PlayStation Store. It will then open up to all PlayStation players two days later on October 10 for the weekend. The final days of the beta will be open to players across Xbox and PC on October 15 through 19.

Campaign teaser trailer

During September’s PlayStation Showcase, Black Ops Cold War made a splash by showing off a bit of its single-player mode. The trailer starts off slow, with the main characters slinking around in the dark — before ending with a madcap car chase down an airstrip that ends in multiple explosions.

New maps

Treyarch’s initial unveiling of the game’s multiplayer informed us of five new maps, which are a part of the game’s more narrative-focused Deniable Operations.

Armada, based on a real military encounter known as Operation Azorian, will take place in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean between U.S. and Soviet warships, with players able to zipline between the two or take control of smaller gunboats.

Crossroads, set in the frozen wilderness of Uzbekistan, will feature U.S. forces attempting to intercept a Soviet convoy carrying vital intel that could turn the tide of the conflict. This map will have a focus on vehicular combat, with tanks and snowmobiles at the players’ disposal.

Miami takes place under the cover of darkness in the city’s famous South Beach, with CIA special forces attempting to prevent the game’s antagonist Perseus from freeing one of his allies on a prison transport.

Moscow takes place in the heart of Russia’s capital, as a compromised CIA safe house defends itself from teams of Spetsnaz.

Satellite is set in the Angolan deserts in Central Africa, where Soviet and NATO forces fight over a downed satellite that carries sensitive intel.

These maps are all based around real-world locations that the development team photo-scanned, attempting to make the settings as true to life as possible.

New modes

In addition to the series staples such as Team Deathmatch and Domination, new modes will come to Cold War.

VIP Escort features 6v6 combat, where one player is chosen as the VIP, armed with only a pistol, a smoke grenade, and a UAV. It is then up to the player’s teammates to safely escort them to an extraction point, and the opposing squad to eliminate them. The mode doesn’t feature respawns, although players can be revived from a downed state.

Combined Arms are larger-scale variations of other modes such as Domination, that feature infantry and vehicular combat more tailored to the maps they take place in.

Fireteam is a 40-player category of modes featuring four teams of 10. Not much has been revealed regarding this, although the modes will change depending on the environment, and the first Fireteam game type is called Dirty Bomb.

Changes to the multiplayer

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The multiplayer will feature Field Upgrades that either help a player’s squad or hurt the opposition, and they are rewarded based on in-game time. Scorestreaks are back, and they do not reset upon death, meaning that lower-skilled players that focus on the objective rather than kills will have a better chance of being rewarded with a perk. The better a player is, however, the faster they receive their Scorestreak. To balance this out, Scorestreaks now exist on a cooldown, and new Scorestreaks have been added as countermeasures to others.

Gameplay has also been tweaked to enhance the realism the game is striving for. When sprinting, an operative will gradually increase and decrease their velocity instead of breaking out into a sprint in an instant. They will also enter and exit a slide from a crouched position, and jumping will be more natural in height, the operator slowing as they land. Footsteps have been expanded, with a more gradual incline in volume the faster a player moves.

Black Ops gets a Cold War focus

Although Activision has shared precious little about its storyline, this year’s game will focus on Cold War themes and the espionage that became such an important part of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

That was initially made clear in a video that leaked to Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube in June that seemed to showcase an early build of the game. The brief clip, which showed Cold War-era elements, was ultimately taken down after Activision filed copyright claims.

The Activision trailer with Bezmenov lent even more credibility to the Cold War-themed concept. However, Treyarch has yet to say whether the game will be based on actual Cold War events or if it will be set in an alternate reality.

Indeed, other reports have said that the game will be set in a variety of Cold War hotspots, including the Soviet Union, Vietnam, and Korea. It’s been reported in several outlets that the story will kick off in the 1950s.

A tie-in with Modern Warfare and other franchises

In an interview with GamerGen in May, Infinity Ward narrative director Taylor Kurosaki said that Call of Duty Warzone will live on after 2020 and will be the “one constant” across all Call of Duty releases.

Warzone will be the throughline that connects all of the various sub-franchises of Call of Duty,” Kurosaki said.

That comment all but confirmed rumors that players in this year’s game will be able to take on players from other Call of Duty titles inside Warzone. In other words, players who don’t buy Black Ops Cold War but have Modern Warfare will still be able to meet on the battlefield through Warzone.

Clues in Call of Duty Warzone

Interestingly, some of the best evidence for what to expect in this year’s game came from Activision itself.

In a May update to Call of Duty Warzone, the company added a variety of Cold War-era features, including bunkers with hidden (but seemingly inert) nuclear weapons, a countdown clock, and a mid-century war room. Some players have even reported that when they answer calls at the bunkers, they hear people speaking in Russian.

Data miners, who look through the code to find anything else Activision and Infinity Ward may have hidden, have also discovered references to spy planes used during the Cold War.

Call of Duty: Black Ops name

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The upcoming entrant into the Call of Duty franchise will officially be known as Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.

Leading up to Activision’s reveal, a serial number discovered in the Sony PlayStation Store pointed to an ID tag called “COD2020INTALPHA1.” The same tag suggested the game was internally codenamed “Red Door.”

That news followed claims from highly respected Call of Duty leaker Okami, who said on Twitter that the game would be officially known as Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.

Activision revealed the game and name in a YouTube video with clips from KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov, who discussed sleeper agents operating in the U.S. The video, which didn’t share many details, included a caption that read, “Know your history or be doomed to repeat it.”

One other tidbit: Activision initially planned to have development team Sledgehammer craft this year’s game, but replaced it with Treyarch at some point in the development cycle after Sledgehammer faced production problems, according to Gamesradar.

Updated on September 16 to include campaign trailer.

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Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology, video game, and entertainment journalist. He has been writing about the world of…
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