So, in a very cosy nutshell -- it’s “CoD
”. That’s not a bad thing. Between series rival Battlefield
and itself, the respective series have carved out, and perfected, their own niche. Battlefield is the big, well, battlefield
experience and Call of Duty
is the run-and-gun fast-paced shooter. Tactics abound in each, and mastering both makes you something of a shooter god, but they do offer nuance season to season, and in Cold War’s case it’s the VIP treatment of Controlling a familiar experience with enough to elevate it another level.
In our hands-on, which lasted just under two hours on PS4
, we played a Moshpit
stew of modes -- Kill Confirmed
, Hard Point
, Team Deathmatch
and two new modes: VIP Escort
. It’s not a stretch to assume knowledge of most of these, so we’ll focus more readily on what’s actually different this time around, and right now there’s plenty of exposure from the hands-on experience, but as veterans we’d be remiss not to share a more expert
lean on each.
From a map design perspective, which ranges from the 80s neon-lit streets of nighttime Miami to Moscow, Treyarch and Raven have kept the standard high and quietly innovative. Interiors play a massive role in Cold War, breaking up the no man’s land spaces and gullies to objective which gives much needed cover, stealth and cheeky shortcut, but also promotes camping opportunities. None of which is bad because, as mentioned in the opening paragraph: “it’s CoD”. However, these maps all presented as larger and more dynamic than those in the more recent game, Modern Warfare, which will challenge some respawn points and how you tactically push to the target(s). In Miami in particular, I found the multiple path design more forgiving and rewarding once I knew its layout better. Thankfully in the hands-on we had a go at each map multiple times and over various modes, too. The balance here is fantastic and speaks to design experience for both studios.
"It’s important to talk about Kill (or Score) streaks, in that this time around they don’t reset, but rather build throughout the match..."
The whole Loadout and Custom Loadout system is entirely known, if you’ve ever played Call of Duty. You can customise your weapons, and the Wildcard option returns that lets you double down on things like more Perks or extra weapons in your Loadout, but naturally at a cost. We played an Alpha build of the game and for the majority of the session I hosted in a peer-to-peer system and didn’t have too many issues. I’m on a decent NBN wicket though, as I’m close to the node, so how matchmaking works from here will be anyone’s guess. We also only played in 6v6 matches across all modes while the rest of SEA had a chance to trial 12v12 -- likely due to our still pretty shitty Internet setup at this early stage of non-studio testing.
Before I get to the new modes, it’s important to talk about Kill (or Score) streaks, in that this time around they don’t reset, but rather build throughout the match. If you’re a nub, this means the Prestige Skull Club (just made that up, but no-scopers and campers ought make it a thing with secret rings, hazing in initiation and a mansion with a lawyer, or something. You’re welcome) won’t always own the match and you’ll feel more engaged and can action your streak rewards which sees the return of favourites like the RC bomb or the ever-OP Attack Chopper (still to OP for mine, but those interiors now become even more important), among others. It’s par for the course but with things like the Napalm Strike, they’re all on-point, brand and in context.
"The Satellite map -- a desert with caves and caverns featuring, you guessed it, a crashed satellite (because, Cold War) -- was a particularly cool narrative nod to what we’re in for when Reagan is in charge..."
Speaking of, what I got from the whole experience was this entry’s story is going to truly double down on era and settings. And that’s a good thing. The Satellite
map -- a desert with caves and caverns featuring, you guessed it, a crashed satellite (because, Cold War) -- was a particularly cool narrative nod to what we’re in for when Reagan is in charge, and while it’s all largely aesthetic, these things help sell the skirmish. I mean who doesn’t love Nuke Town? Seriously, who doesn’t?
So, those new modes. Well, my favourite was VIP. It has a Last Man Standing element and snowmobiles. I’m genuinely looking forward to the videos, gifs and memes that will come from this mode because you can have everyone on the map downed and crawling around on all fours waiting to be revived by the alive players, but you can crawl really fast. And it has snowmobiles. I mean -- recipe = awesome (comedy). But, the way it works is each team has a VIP target they either need to protect or kill. So you have a defensive end where the opposing six will set themselves up in hideyholes (likely a couple will rogue and Frank Castle the session, because “it’s CoD”), and an offensive end who won’t be rushing the target (in theory), which makes this pretty much on par with other game modes like Headquarters but there are some variables -- yes, you can be revived, or killed outright and that’s the end. The VIP also fights back, so there’s also that.
"Like VIP there’s a permadeath component. This was like a moving Rainbow Six Siege mode on large maps..."
The other mode was Control which is a spin on KotH, CTF and Domination in that each map has an area that you need to Control (natch), but like VIP there’s a permadeath component. This was like a moving Rainbow Six Siege mode on large maps with less structural intent. Ultimately, stay alive; keep your team alive.
There’s more to come from Cold War multiplayer and we’ll hopefully bring you in-depth coverage as it’s offered to us, but for what it’s worth “it’s CoD” was a good factor here. The new modes were pick-up-and-play in nature, but tactical approaches slowly emerged among our exclusive group, which will give this a potentially mature edge to the series. Moreover, console players with a keyboard and mouse in the house (heh) can plug them right in and all of a sudden crossplay has the opportunity for parity in the series like never before, so how the competitive side of Cold War manifests after release is going to be an interesting watch. And we’re expecting sales in mice and keyboards to go up somewhat rapidly, as well as floating, mobile desks (for the lounge jockeys).
In all there was a lot of fun, we had no crashes, some lag but the offering was Alpha and it looked gorgeous and played very smoothly. Keen on more than the 6v6 we were limited to, but as President Reagan would say “There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder”.
Yeah, that fits.