The Call of Duty Black Ops series has been the subject of both critical acclaim and fan outrage in the past, leaving a track record that is inconsistent to say […]
The Call of Duty Black Ops series has been the subject of both critical acclaim and fan outrage in the past, leaving a track record that is inconsistent to say the least. It is generally agreed upon that the first Black Ops and its sequel, Black Ops 2, were the pinnacle releases of the series and that the following entries, numbers three and four, were, well, extremely lackluster. Some, like myself, would go as far as to say that they were just genuinely bad games; bearing very little resemblance to the Black Ops of yore and struggling to captivate audiences with changes no one asked for while stumbling every step of the way (ex. far future setting, BO3’s story using ‘it was all a dream’ cop out, BO4 not even having a campaign, Overwatch hero-like operators and abilities, etc.). Suffice to say, what Black Ops was praised for from 2010-2012 had seemingly disappeared indefinitely from the series. However, that may have all changed on August 26th of this year, when Treyarch revealed their next iteration of the Black Ops franchise: Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War. With what appears to be a return to form for the series, this direct sequel to Black Ops 1 is looking to bring back the players from that golden age. A grand comeback is not certain, though, as there are many concerns being circulated about this title and Treyarch’s uneven track record. There are a lot of mechanics and elements that should be reintroduced with this entry, and just as many that should be left behind and forgotten; if not more so.
Want: A Compelling Story that holds no punches
Many were taken aback with the “gritty realism” that the recently rebooted Modern Warfare displayed, including many “critics”, but to be honest it was pretty tame with all things considered. Anything that was incredibly graphic was censored, and what was supposed to be shocking was relatively weak compared to the brutality of Black Ops 1’s torture, napalm, and communist slaughter filled escapade throughout Cuba, Vietnam, and the U.S.S.R. With Black Ops Cold War, I’d like to see a strong continuation of that, if not an increased amount of staggering moments. With choices altering the story and multiple endings confirmed, it seems that there may be some thin lines you can choose to cross in BOCW; a hopeful sign for veteran Black Ops players everywhere. Treyarch, this isn’t rated E for Everyone, so don’t hold back. The Cold War was brutal, so make it brutal. Know your history, show us what you got.
Don’t Want: A Flat Protagonist
In Black Ops Cold War’s campaign, the player will be creating their own main protagonist to fight alongside series icons such as Sgt. Frank Woods, Cpt. Alex Mason, and their C.I.A handler Jason Hudson. This might appeal to some who’d wish to further immerse themselves in the shoes of their player character, but it could very well lead to narrative problems as well. Without a solid lead character, such as Alex Mason in BO1 and his son David and BO2, I fear we may not receive the same caliber of storytelling. Playing as and getting to know these characters created a strong bond between the COD community and the Masons, and continuing the story as someone new might be off-putting. Especially considering that the main protagonist may not even have a name (like in BO3 when you were just called ‘player’, real creative Treyarch), I don’t see how I’ll be able to relate to them. Additionally, if said created protagonist wasn’t to be voiced, that would be another massive step backwards as well, as both Alex and David provided extensive, informative narrative commentary while fighting/playing as them. This is a massive gamble, Treyarch, and I hope it pays off. Please don’t botch it, make it memorable in a positive way (unlike the entirety of BO3’s disjointed mess of a campaign).
Want: Dolphin Dive over Slide
This is a minor detail in the grand scheme but I feel it’s worth mentioning. Please bring the Dolphin Dive back to Black Ops, every other FPS nowadays already has sliding ;its generic and overused beyond belief (also, newsflash, you shouldn’t be able to slide all over the place like a salamander with full kit! This isn’t Titanfall). Plus, dolphin diving is just more fun in my opinion and isn’t as easy to abuse in MP as sliding. Bring us back to the good old days.
Don’t Want: Overly complicated Zombies
Now I may be in the minority on this, but I feel that BO2 had struck the perfect balance between easter-egg lore hunting and classic wave-based survival fun. With, BO3 and subsequently BO4, however, the former firmly overtook the latter. With a massive amount of new mechanics introduced with each new release and map within them, the simplicity of zombies was muddied and lost. Yes, of course I want easter-eggs and of course I don’t want them to be easy to achieve. However, the entirety of the mode should not focus on that one singular aspect. What made zombies successful in the first place in WAW was incredibly fun, wave-based survival with your friends. There were no easter-eggs, and they weren’t needed. It was just good fun. As I said previously, though, BO2 took that fun and didn’t lose a bit of it, while also having an intriguing storyline and vaguely complicated easter-eggs to boot. Regain that balance, Treyarch, and zombies will return as the titan it once was.
Want: The Definitive Story of Viktor Reznov
What happened to Tricky Vik? Did he die in Vorkuta, like Hudson claims to Mason in ‘Revelations’ of BO1? Sure, all the signs would seemingly point in that direction. But Treyarch has a habit of being cheeky, and that was made very apparent by the ending of the BO2 mission ‘Old Wounds’. If you recall, the US and Chinese forces were betrayed and left to die by the Mujaheddin after the interrogation and subsequent execution of Kravchenko. Mason and his allies were buried up to their heads in the dunes of Afghanistan, with no rescue expected. But who comes and pulls Mason free, riding gallantly on horseback? Captain Viktor Reznov. If it were truly him, it would make sense for him to be there, considering Kravchenko was his only betrayer left breathing and he would want his revenge completed. Whatever the truth may be, I need to know it. It’s been eight years Treyarch and the question must be answered: what really happened to Viktor Reznov?
Don’t Want: Revisionist History
Treyarch, you claim for us to know our history, but do you even know the facts for yourself? My confidence in you was bolstered by playing clips of the extremely wise Yuri Bezmenov in your trailer, a Soviet defector who shined a light on many of their unsavory deeds and tactics, mainly subversion. This made me start to believe a historically accurate campaign was all but assured, one that would show just how evil the U.S.S.R was along with the devastation and millions of deaths Communism brings every time it’s put into place. However, my faith has been shaken a great deal because you cowardly censored the trailer to appease China and the CCP. You cut out footage of Tienanmen Square, and for what? To sell more copies? Mao’s China killed a minimum of eighty million people during his reign, with who knows how many after. Their government today is actively stripping the liberties of Hong Kong and committing a genocide against the Uighur Muslims, yet you continue to appease them and their ludicrous demands. Tienanmen Square happened, deal with it. To tell us to know our history yet already censor crucial historical footage before the trailer is even out for a week is pathetic. Maybe it’s Activision, maybe it’s Treyarch, maybe it’s both. Regardless, whoever is responsible should prioritize morals over profit for once and grow a backbone. If this is the kind of antics they’re pulling before the game is even out, how do we know that the campaign won’t be riddled with revisionist history? I don’t necessarily mind if you take a light liberty with historical fact here or there for the sake of a dramatic narrative, but don’t try to deceive your player-base by pretending major historical events didn’t happen or lie about anything else of that magnitude. You managed to achieve that in BO1 and BO2, and I’m sincerely hoping that will continue to be the case with Cold War. In fact, I imagine it will, but censoring just the trailer to appease communist Chinese censors is deeply concerning.