I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Beta for weeks now. And I finally got the chance to put in some hours this weekend. Having only lightly played previous entries in the Black Ops series, I wasn’t sure what to expect. How would the game feel compared to Modern Warfare? Would the new game modes be fun? Treyarch definitely put some effort into crafting a great experience for players, but Black Ops Cold War has some opportunities yet.
Beta Try Everything!
The Beta opened up for Xbox owners with early access on Thursday at 1pm. The Beta includes five core modes (Team Deathmatch, Hardpoint, Domination, Kill Confirmed, and Control), and three new game modes (Fireteam: Dirty Bomb, Combined Arms, and VIP Escort). Also available was create-a-class and Scorestreaks. First, let’s discuss the core game modes.
Core Game Modes
Everything you expect in these core modes is present: frenzied deathmatch shooting and objective-based fun that doesn’t stray too far from the familiar. Certainly there are changes to the weapons, but the real fun came in learning the new maps. Satellite, Miami, Moscow, and Cartel were all playable on core game modes.
Miami is my favorite map by far, with Moscow a close second. Visually, Miami is just so vibrant and enjoyable to play in. It made me feel like I was in an episode of Miami Vice. Moscow was a fun map to play through as well, mainly for the map design. There is a great combination of small corridors and open areas, which allows for strategic approaches. In particular, one central room with a giant statue has four key entry points and becomes quite the fighting zone. Satellite and Cartel are okay, but the frequently changing elevations requires a lot of adjusting to them.
The gunplay was fast and enjoyable. In the Beta, all upgrade options were available for every unlocked gun, which was very nice. I spent several hours tinkering with create-a-class making my loadouts, as well as adjusting my perks and wildcards.
Overall, the core game modes for testing in the Cold War multiplayer beta did not disappoint. However, the new modes still require some polishing.
New Game Modes
Combined Arms was the first new game mode. It allows for 16-24 players and available maps were Armada, Crossroads, and Cartel. These maps are some of the bigger ones, and while the design is nice (especially of Armada), some logistics are tedious. Using Armada as an example, traversing from one side of the map to the other could be considered somewhat tedious. You can take a boat and hope to avoid missiles, or traverse the zipline system between ships. Just prepare yourself for a hike if doing the latter.
Big maps are great, as long as there is a counter-balance between open areas and cover. I ziplined too many times between ships, only to get sniped the second I jumped off. Also, it was very easy for someone to just sit in a gunner boat and fire at crossing platforms and windows with fairly good protection.
The other land-based maps were a lot of fun though, utilizing all the light and heavy vehicles you can think of. I definitely enjoyed firing a tank cannon 200 yards away into capture zones and obliterating a few people. I can see this game mode having a large player base upon launch.
The next Cold War Beta mode I tried was VIP Escort. I am fairly unimpressed with this mode as it stands today. I originally understood this to be a tactical, lengthy game mode. In actuality, it’s very quick and leaves a lot to desire. One random player becomes the VIP and is armed with a pistol, while team members protect them from the opposing team to reach an extraction point. It’s best of five rounds, and each round is only a minute or two at the most. I think VIP Escort needs some enhancements upon release for me to spend more time with it. Playable maps were Cartel, Miami, Moscow, and Crossroads.
Finally, the highly-touted Fireteam: Dirty Bomb is the final new game mode in the Black Ops Cold War Beta. With two playable maps, Alpine and Ruka, I start out in a plane and drop to a sprawling map below (see: Warzone). There are multiple teams vying to deposit the most uranium into dirty bombs at a handful of different points across the map. Deposit enough uranium and set of the dirty bombs to win the game.
While it was interesting in concept, I didn’t really ever get a feel for the flow of the game. Granted, I played mostly with strangers and teamwork was lacking. But I never got a sense of achievement or felt my efforts benefitted the team. Some of the dirty bomb containers were in a wide-open area, making sniper fire a bear. But similar to Warzone, getting knocked down and being killed are two different things. If you have a teammate nearby they can respawn you.
Overall, the new game modes were interesting, but outside of Combined Arms I found myself playing a lot of the core game modes. I would like to see more length and strategy in VIP Escort, and additional game structure to Fireteam: Dirty Bomb.
I enjoyed the many hours I sunk into the Black Ops Cold War Beta over the weekend. The core game modes feel very well put together, and the new ones add interesting wrinkles. I’d like to see some continued enhancements to both VIP Escort and Fireteam: Dirty Bomb, but feel this entry will be a big win for the Call of Duty franchise.
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