Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Campaign Review

Developers Treyarch and Raven Software have come together to bring us the next installment of the Call of Duty: Black Ops franchise and this time we head to the 80’s and the Cold War. Is the game worthy of your time or should it be left to the annals of history?

Read on to find out.


Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is the sixth installment in the Black Ops series and the seventeenth installment in the Call of Duty franchise and serves as the direct sequel to Call of Duty: Black Ops and the direct prequel to Call of Duty: Black Ops II This is the first venture into the Cold War for the series, which opens up a whole new avenue of spycraft and puzzle solving in addition to the well known gunfights and zombie killing gameplay.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War – The Story of the 80’s

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War opens up in the early 80’s right after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as President and after the end of the Iran hostage crisis. Your teams current task is to run down a couple of guys that were involved in the hostage crisis, and gather whatever intel you can, however you deem necessary. After capturing one of the guys on a rooftop, your interrogation reveals the head bad guy for is a Russian spy codenamed Perseus. Perseus’ goal is make the USA out to be enemy number one for the entire world by detonating nukes that the USA has hidden all over Europe in what is known as Operation Greenlight. Operation Greenlight was designed to destroy Europe as a failsafe plan in the case of Russia somehow taking control of the region. It was basically a “if we can’t have it, then you can’t have it” mindset.

Gameplay consists of the tried and true mission format, but with a few twists and turns a long the way. Once you finish the opening mission, you’ll have the opportunity to create a unique character, with a psychological profile that determines which perks your character will have. You are then codenamed Bell, and are then in charge of the evidence board. The evidence board is your central location for determining the next mission to launch, and also to deciphering secret codes. As you play through different missions, intel needs to be located and gathered that will aid you in unraveling Perseus’ hidden spy network within the US and abroad. This, in turn, will unlock one of two optional side missions in which the intel you gathered becomes paramount to making the correct decisions.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Campaign – True Spycraft

All of the intel can be viewed from your mission board, and this is also where some true spycraft plays out. You’ll find a series of coded messages within the gathered intel, and using these messages you should be able to solve two different puzzles. One of the puzzles focuses on a password protected floppy disk and requires you to decipher coded messages in order to come up withe the two part code. You’ll have to find intel in multiple missions in order to have all of the pertinent information, and this isn’t something you can just look up on the internet. The codes seem to be unique for each player, so you are on your own for both of the puzzles in the game.

The second puzzle focuses on a group of eight suspects, of which three are spies, and you’ll have to figure that out using intel you previously found. It’s not very often that a video game will have us breaking out a real life notebook and pen to figure out an in-game puzzle, but this one did. Once you have all of the intel, you’ll have to read through several different entries, and through a process of cross referencing and elimination, narrow the list down to the final three suspects. Once again, the internet can’t help you because it may be different for each player. This really adds to the experience of the game, and you can be wrong and still finish the game.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War – Multiple Endings are Possible

The Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War campaign isn’t your typical linear, point and shoot, rinse and repeat type of mission based game. There are dialogue choices you’ll make in different parts of the game that will determine where you go and what you’ll be doing. These choices will also determine the fate of the free World, who lives and who dies, and how the game ends. Do the scattered nukes explode? Does your team save the day? It can go either way depending on your choices, so, no pressure, just millions of lives at stake.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War – Next Gen Graphics

With the launch of the PlayStation 5, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is blessed with some of the best looking graphics ever witnessed in the series. The game can be played on the PS4, so if you haven’t snagged that next gen console you aren’t left out of the cold, you just won’t get the best experience. We did load the game up on our PS4 as our review code was for the cross gen bundle, and even if you have the PS4 standard digital or disc version there’s a low cost US$10 upgrade for the PS5 version.

While the PS4 version is a great looking PS4 game, the jump to next gen is where you’ll find the best place to play. Load times are almost non-existent, the graphics are definitely a step up, and the game runs smoother on the shiny new machine. The game also uses the haptic feed back and the adaptive triggers of the new Dualsense controller, although there are people around here that aren’t big fans of the weighted trigger pull that the Dualsense brings with it. Personally I like it, but others felt that it will lead to finger and hand fatigue during longer multiplayer sessions.


Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is a welcome addition to the Call of Duty franchise, and for those of us that grew up during that time frame, a cool throwback to our younger years. The spycraft gameplay is, by far, the best innovation to be added to the franchise since the M1911. Couple that with a well written story and decent voice acting, and you have a damn good campaign to play through.

Well done team. Well done.


Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War review code provided by publisher and reviewed on a PS5 and a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read What our review scores really mean.