To the delight of Call of Duty fans (at least those who owned a PS4), Treyarch launched the Black Ops Cold War alpha as a surprise treat for gamers this weekend as part of Sony’s PS5 showcase event. After spending a few hours with it during the weekend, we’re here to share our Black Ops Cold War alpha impressions!
Note that there is a beta happening this October, wherein certain changes based from the alpha have already been confirmed.
Sliding Into Action
Right off the bat, the first thing players will notice is how faster the game feels in terms of movement. One might daresay that it’s a little too fast given how sliding was super integral in mid to close range gunfights. Treyarch has confirmed that this has been tweaked, which we’ll see how in the beta.
Aiming down sight (ADS) is noticeably faster in Cold War than in Modern Warfare by a wide margin. And this alone makes gameplay way faster and gunfights more “snappier,” which is a good thing if you’re an SMG (submachine gun) user like myself. Another part that makes the game feel faster is the return of the old mini map! Old school COD fans will be delighted to hear that the mini map is back to normal, meaning we’ll see red dots on it when unsuppressed shots are fired, which helps in the game’s overall faster feel.
However, there is a negative to all this (well, it depends on which side you’re on), and that’s quickscoping and snipers. In the alpha, sniping is way too easy, and quickscoping is rampant enough that it can be a problem. That said, Treyarch has confirmed that it is getting nerfed in the beta, given it was buffed in the alpha so the studio can collect feedback.
Back to Basics…Sorta
Some of the big changes Treyarch is bringing to the table in Cold War is how loadouts work. It now feels like a mix of Modern Warfare 2019, and then infused with Treyarch’s own system of mixing and matching perks and other stuff.
The Pick 10 system is gone, though the loadout system is considerably more customizable than the one in Modern Warfare. Gunsmith from Modern Warfare is back, though with considerable changes. Players can now equip five attachments to their guns, and thankfully, almost none of the gun attachments slow down movement speed or ADS speed contrary to Modern Warfare.
As for perks, there are three tiers, and act like they do in your standard Call of Duty game. Wildcards are back as well, though this time, these are mandatory, and give off a wide list of extras. One Wildcard lets you equip six perks instead of six, while another one lets you have two weapons and max starting ammo. Obviously, since this is just an alpha, the amount of perks, guns, weapon attachments, Wildcards and so on are limited, but it does give a good preview of what’s going to be available in the final game.
As a whole though, the loadouts system feels more personalized than in Modern Warfare, and even past Treyarch titles.
Regarding the map design, it’s a mixed bag so far for me. While there’s Moscow that feels like your traditional Treyarch-developed map, the other ones in the beta (particularly Miami) gives off Modern Warfare vibes in spades. In the Miami map, players can hang back and pick people off to their heart’s content, and there are loads of hide-y holes to sneak into for when someone is rushing at you. It makes for some uneven gunfights, as I’ve found that most players just used sniper rifles or assault rifles and hung back to pick people off. It’s one thing to give players the freedom on how they want to play, but it’s an entirely different take if you’re going to penalize movement since you can be seen sprinting a mile away. Some of the maps give off long sightlines without any real cover that it’s suicide to run through them.
Hopefully, the final game will have more map variety, or players will find themselves in a similar situation to Modern Wafare minus the doors.
Sights and Sounds
While the loadout system is way better in Cold War than in Modern Warfare, the same can’t be said about the graphics. Sure, this is an alpha and all, but textures seem washed out, animations and the overall fidelity is definitely a step down from Infinity Ward’s latest title.
That said, I don’t want to harp on Treyarch too much about this given this is an alpha after all. Hopefully, the final game (or even the beta) shows us a much better looking game.
As for the audio work, it’s also a bit of a step down compared to Modern Warfare as well. Guns sound more tinny and less booming, though it’s at par to past Treyarch-developed COD games, so I guess there’s that. Speaking of audio, while footstep sounds make less sound in Cold War than in Modern Warfare, it’s still a notch above your standard COD game. Even when using Ninja, which seems to be the game’s version of the Dead Silence perk, expect enemies to hear you coming unless you’re crouch walking, as I find that even walking drums up a lot of noise that will give away your location. This is one of my main issues in the game that I hope gets fixed, as I find that it limits run ‘n’ gun action a lot given you can’t really run without being heard two rooms away.
We’re Going Streaking!
Possibly the biggest change in Black Ops Cold War that’s noticeable in the alpha are scorestreaks. In this year’s COD, scorestreaks do not reset upon death. Rather, there are now multipliers in play that will let good players earn team-wiping streaks, though at the same time will give average/mediocre players a chance to call their own within the game. While the idea behind it is commendable, this is a system that can easily be abused, with hints of it already being felt during the alpha.
Prepare for UAV spam, Napalm Strikes and more to plague matches, as everyone will somehow earn these during the course of the match and will unleash them one by one. Thankfully, Treyarch has already said they are tweaking this based on data, which hopefully means that we’ll get proper adjustments. On a related note: why on earth doesn’t taking objectives give multipliers? I mean, isn’t the whole purpose of scorestreaks is to incentivize objective play?
Army of One
There’s a lot to like in the Black Ops Cold War alpha, and at the same time, there’s a lot left to be desired as well. Stuff like Combined Arms, which is Treyarch’s replacement for Ground War, feels and plays like a discount Battlefield needs more time in the kitchen given the oddly designed maps, and poor engagement layouts. But at the same time, the gunplay feels tight like it always does in Treyarch-developed titles.
And again, it’s important to note that this is an alpha, and Treyarch themselves have said that they have made changes from this build to the beta. Once the beta rolls around this October, we’ll do another pass-by of the same stuff. As it stands now, Black Ops Cold War’s multiplayer (based on the alpha), feels tight, but also left a lot of questions hanging on whether it’ll bring back the traditional Call of Duty experience of old, or more of Modern Warfare 2019.