Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is a 2020 first-person shooter video game developed by Treyarch and Raven Software and published by Activision. It is the sixth installment in the Black Ops series, and the seventeenth installment in the overall Call of Duty series. Serving as the direct sequel to Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) and the direct prequel to Call of Duty: Black Ops II (2012), the game was released on November 13, 2020.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
Black Ops Cold War.jpeg
Cover art for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
Director(s)Dan Vondrak
Composer(s)Jack Wall
SeriesCall of Duty
ReleaseNovember 13, 2020
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Black Ops Cold War is set during the early 1980s of the Cold War. Its campaign follows CIA officer Russell Adler as he pursues Perseus, an alleged Soviet spy, whose stated goal is to subvert the United States and tilt the balance of power toward the Soviet Union. Multiplayer has new game modes, more extensive customization, and new map dynamics and elements.[3]



Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is set during the Cold War in the early 1980s. The story is inspired by actual events and the campaign features locations such as East Berlin, Vietnam, Turkey, and the Soviet KGB headquarters.[4] Players can create a custom character for the campaign, codenamed Bell, with options for different skin tones, ethnic backgrounds and genders, as well as different personality traits that provide in-game perks.[5] The campaign will have multiple endings, dependent on player choice throughout the campaign.[6]


Multiplayer features new and returning game modes, as well as maps that accommodate both the traditional 6v6 format, as well as larger 12v12 combat. The game also introduced a new game mode named "Fireteam", which can support up to 40 players.[7]The Create-a-Class system from Modern Warfare returns, with two major differences: field upgrades are implemented as part of class loadouts, and each class has a wildcard choice out of four possible ones: Gunfighter (allows up to 8 primary weapon attachments), Perk Greed (allows 2 perks from each perk type for a total of 6 usable perks), Danger Close (double grenade equipment), or Lawbreaker (allows mixing and matching any weapon/perk type in any slot).[3] It will also support cross-platform play and cross-platform progression.[3] In addition, the progression system for multiplayer will be integrated with Call of Duty: Warzone, meaning that gears and weapons unlocked in Cold War can be used in Warzone and Modern Warfare (2019) and vice versa.[8]


Black Ops Cold War Zombies features a new storyline titled "Dark Aether" which expands on the original Aether story, concluded in Black Ops 4, while also tying to the main narrative of the campaign. Instead of playing as predefined characters, players can take on the role of Operator characters from Multiplayer, as part of a CIA response team codenamed "Requiem". Progression and loadouts from Multiplayer are shared with Zombies, as players are able to use any weapon to start a Zombies match, alongside Gunsmith, scorestreaks and field upgrades, in addition to returning mechanics such as wallbuys, the Mystery Box, Pack-a-Punch and past Fan Favorite Perks. For the first time in Zombies, players can opt to "exfil" the map, which will put them in a difficult wave with increased enemy spawn that they must survive before they can escape. Collectible intels are also scattered around the playable maps, allowing players to keep track of and unfold the main story as they progress.[9] A new game mode, Zombies Onslaught, is introduced exclusively to PlayStation players until November 1, 2021. In this mode, which are played within Multiplayer maps, up to 2 players defend areas grounded off by the Dark Aether orb, which must be powered by zombie kills. Sufficient kills will move the orb to new positions, forcing the players to move or die outside of the orb's protection zone.[10]



In January 1981, CIA operatives Russell Adler (Bruce Thomas), Alex Mason (Chris Payne Gilbert), and Frank Woods (Damon Victor Allen) are sent to target Qasim Javadi (Farshad Farahat) and Arash Kadivar (JB Blanc) for their roles in the Iran hostage crisis. With intelligence gained from interrogating Qasim, the team tracks Arash to Turkey. Arash boasts that Perseus (Navid Negahban) was the one responsible for organizing the hostage crisis before being executed. US President Ronald Reagan (Jeff Bergman) learns of Perseus and the threat he poses to the United States and authorizes a black operation to find him. Jason Hudson (Piotr Michael) and Adler recruit Mason, Woods, Lawrence Sims (Reggie Watkins), Mossad operative Eleazar "Lazar" Azoulay (Damon Dayoub), MI6 agent Helen Park (Lily Cowles), and an agent known only by the name of "Bell". Adler starts by working with Bell on recalling their memory at Vietnam during operation fracture jaw in 1968, where they believed to have first encountered Perseus. Afterwards, the team proceeds to East Berlin to apprehend/kill (player determined) Anton Volkov (Rafael Petardi), a Russian Mafia boss with ties to Perseus.

Following an infiltration into a secret Spetsnaz training facility by Bell and Woods, the team discovers that Perseus had infiltrated Operation Greenlight, a top secret American program that secretly planted neutron bombs in every major European city to deny their use to the Soviets in the event of an invasion. Mason and Woods are deployed to Mount Yamantau in the Ural Mountains, where they infiltrate Nikita Dragovich's destroyed base in hopes of retrieving his list of sleeper agents.[b] However, the team finds out that Perseus has wiped the data from the Yamantau base's mainframe, leaving their only option to infiltrate KGB Headquarters to retrieve the list. Enlisting the help of one of their KGB double agent allies, Dimitri Belikov (Mark Ivanir), they manage to get Adler and Bell inside the Lubyanka Building, while crossing paths with Lev Kravchenko (Andrew Divoff) and Imran Zakhaev (Ondrej Habinak).[c] The team learns that an Operation Greenlight scientist is one of the sleeper agents and has fled to Cuba. Hoping to catch Perseus there, the team launches a raid. They learn that Perseus has managed to steal the detonation codes for every Operation Greenlight bomb, meaning he can devastate Europe and lay the blame on the United States. The team comes under heavy fire and Lazar and Park are injured in the process, leaving Bell only enough time to save one of them (canonically, Park is the surviving agent).

After being rescued, Adler continues pressing Bell by provoking their memories of Vietnam once more. At this point, Bell is revealed to actually be an agent of Perseus, having been shot by Arash in Turkey out of jealousy. Bell was found by Adler and was brainwashed by him using Project MKUltra into believing they were his comrade. With Bell's memory returned, Adler interrogates them on the location of Perseus' headquarters. Bell can then either choose to remain loyal to Perseus and lie to Adler, or choose to betray Perseus and reveal his location.


In the non-canonical endings where Bell chooses to stay loyal to Perseus they will trick the team into a trap and kill them with the help of Perseus and the Soviet Army before they activate the nukes. If Bell refuses to kill the team, Bell is executed by Adler but the nukes will still go off. Europe is devastated by the explosions and public opinion of the United States plummets. The CIA is forced to erase the existence of Adler and his team in an effort to cover up the United States' involvement in Operation Greenlight. Perseus boasts that his agents in Europe will take advantage of the chaos to infiltrate every European government and turn them towards the Soviet Union, while his agents in the United States will continue to undermine the country.

In the canonical ending where Bell decides to betray Perseus and help the CIA, they along with the team assault Perseus' headquarters in Solovetsky and destroy the transmitters needed to send the detonation signal. With the failure of Operation Greenlight, Perseus goes into hiding, though Adler swears to continue pursuing him and dismantle his spy network. Later, Adler takes Bell out for a private conversation and thanks Bell for helping them, assuring them that their choice to turn against Perseus was of their own free will and that they are a hero. Adler then admits that Bell must be eliminated as a loose end and both draw their guns, with the scene fading to black as gunshots are heard.


2 years after Perseus' threat was contained, he emerges from hiding once more to wage war with the Western countries, prompting operators representing NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries to engage in combat throughout various global black operations.


Following the events of "Tag der Toten", the sacrifice of the two groups Primis and Ultimis have resulted in the end of the Aether multiverse, while a new singular world is created in its place. However, elements from the Dark Aether dimension begin to leak into the new world.

In 1983, CIA Officer Grigori Weaver (Gene Farber) is contacted by Samantha Maxis (Julie Nathanson), a German BND operative who provides him with secret KGB intelligence. He learns from Sam that the Omega Group, a Russian research team, is investigating a Polish facility codenamed Projekt Endstation where the Nazis once instigated a zombie outbreak. Weaver assembles a response team, codenamed Requiem, comprising of various global elite operators, and sends them to the facility to follow up on Sam's intelligence. At Endstation, Requiem discovers a dimensional rift to the Dark Aether, that has been causing breaches in various areas of the world. Eventually, the Requiem strike team encounters Orlov, a former Omega Group member, who agrees to help them seal the dimensional rift. With Orlov's help, the strike team succeeds in their mission, and manages to exfiltrate as Endstation is destroyed.


On May 18, 2019, Kotaku reported that the game was in upheaval as developers Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software had increasing tensions between the studios. Two sources described the game as a "mess".[11] In response, Activision assigned Treyarch to lead development alongside Raven. This led to a shorter development period compared to previous entries as well as the two studios having different responsibilities, with Raven Software leading the development of the single-player campaign.[12]

On August 4, 2020, Activision in their Q2 earnings call confirmed that a new Call of Duty title was planned to be released in 2020 and that Treyarch and Raven were developing the game.[13] It is the first Call of Duty game since Modern Warfare 3 to be co-developed by two studios, as well as the first time Raven Software is a main developer, as in previous games they assisted on the multiplayer and extra features.[13] Activision president Rob Kostich confirmed during the Q2 earnings call that Black Ops Cold War will be "tightly connected" to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) and Call of Duty: Warzone.[14]

Raven Software's Dan Vondrak said on the idea of multiple endings, "when we started creating the story, we had multiple endings in mind right away. And that really helped ... But we knew right away that we wanted to do that. I absolutely loved the idea that we could [have a] little bit of homage to Black Ops 2 by having these [multiple endings]."[15]


Announcements and marketing relating to a Call of Duty game have traditionally been around April or May prior to the game's fall release.[16][17] However, Activision began teasing the game with an alternate reality game (ARG) in August 2020. Various YouTubers prevalent to the Call of Duty community on YouTube were shipped crates. Once authorized to open on August 10, 2020, they were greeted by a slide projector, 10 different slides per crate, and a manifest.[18] Starting on August 14, 2020, the game was marketed, after initial ciphers solved, by enticing fans to solve ciphers and puzzles on[19] The website allowed fans to watch VHS tapes containing news segments and footage that pertained to the corresponding year(s) throughout the Cold War.[20] Throughout the VHS tapes, at random intervals, two-digit nixie tube combinations appeared, required to solve ciphers, in addition to one set of coordinates per VHS tape that led to a location in Warzone.[21]

On August 19, 2020, once all ciphers were solved, the teaser trailer was revealed.[22] The teaser trailer contains segments of a 1984 interview with former Soviet PGU KGB informant and defector Yuri Bezmenov discussing active measures, taken from a 1984 interview with conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin.[23] The worldwide reveal was on August 26, 2020.[24][25]

Starting on September 22, 2020, another alternate reality game (ARG) on, teasing the Zombies mode, began when various Call of Duty YouTubers such as NoahJ456 and MrDalekJD were sent crates with 1980s technology and ciphers to solve.[26][27] The official reveal for Zombies was on September 30.[28]

Pre-orders of all Black Ops Cold War editions grant early access to the open-access beta,[d] a weapons pack, and a Frank Woods operator pack in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Warzone. The Ultimate Edition grants access to three additional cosmetic skin packs, plus access to the Season 1 Battle Pass for Black Ops Cold War. The Cross-gen Bundle and Ultimate Edition grant console players two versions of the game for use on the current console generation (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) and the next generation (PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X) upon availability.[29]

Controversies reported that the teaser trailer had been banned in China due to a one-second depiction of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.[30][31] An edited teaser was released worldwide instead.[32][33] PC Gamer's Andy Chalk wrote: "There's also no mistaking the irony of active censorship in a promo trailer for a game whose tagline is, literally, "Know your history"."[34]

An editorial by Ian Walker in Kotaku accused Call of Duty of legitimating the views of Bezmenov when it included footage of his interview with Griffin in its August trailer.[35] Among the complaints he had was that Bezmenov's views acted as a magnet for far-right conspiracy theories and personalities, that Activision presented Bezmenov's interview without the proper context and that Bezmenov himself held views that Walker argued were on the far right.[36]

Post-launch content

All downloadable content (DLC) for the game, both for multiplayer and Zombies, will be completely free. As with Modern Warfare, the game will feature post-launch monetization via the battle pass system and cosmetic bundles available via the in-game store.[37]


Aggregate score
MetacriticPC: 77/100[38]
PS4: 77/100[39]
PS5: 77/100[40]
XSXS: 78/100[41]
Review scores
Game Informer8.75/10[42]
Hardcore Gamer4/5[44]

Game Informer gave the game a 8.75/10 rating, praising the campaign and saying: "If Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War excels at anything, it's options. This isn't uncommon for a Call of Duty title, but with a vast array of game modes for myriad player profiles and a fun campaign that retains a summer-blockbuster feel while getting weird and wild, the ride is a good one."[42]


The PlayStation 4 version sold 84,475 physical copies within its first week on sale in Japan, making it the bestselling retail game of the week in the country. The PlayStation 5 was the ninteenth bestselling retail game in Japan throughout the same week, with 6,045 copies being sold.[45]


  1. ^ Additional work by High Moon Studios, Beenox, Activision Shanghai, and Sledgehammer Games.[1]
  2. ^ The sleeper agents left in America during the first game.
  3. ^ Both the 2019 Modern Warfare and Black Ops are set in the same universe.
  4. ^ Beta access starts on October 8–12 for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 first and October 15–19 for Xbox, PC and PlayStation for the second week.


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  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War - Tons of New Details for Maps, Gameplay, Next-Gen, and More -". IGN. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  4. ^ "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Officially Revealed, Out in November - IGN". Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  5. ^ "Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Campaign Has Gender Neutral Pronouns And Character Creation". GameSpot. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  6. ^ "Why Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Will Have Multiple Endings". GameSpot. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  7. ^ Goslin, Austen (September 9, 2020). "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War will have a 40-player Fireteam mode". Polygon. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
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  25. ^ Call of Duty trailer recklessly promotes far right conspiracy theory Ian Walker, Kotaku
  26. ^ September 2020, Connor Sheridan 23. "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War could be teasing Zombies news, or it just likes computers". gamesradar. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  27. ^ Duwe, Scott (September 23, 2020). "Another Call of Duty ARG seems to be teasing Black Ops Cold War's Zombies mode". Dot Esports. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  28. ^ "How To Watch The CoD: Black Ops Cold War Zombies Reveal". GameSpot. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  29. ^ Dwlar, Rob (September 9, 2020). "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War pre-order guide - get the best prices and edition for you". GamesRadar. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  30. ^ "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Trailer Banned in China Due to Tiananmen Square Footage". CBR. August 23, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  31. ^ Park, Gene (August 26, 2020). "Analysis | 'Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War' campaign drips with intrigue as it dances around a political hornets nest". Washington Post. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
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External links