Black Ops: Cold War’s Maps Are A Big Improvement Over Modern Warfare

Fast, kinetic movement is a large part of Call of Duty‘s appeal. Your life is cheap and easy to end, and every tiny action serves to help you last a little longer. It’s on those merits that the franchise’s signature multiplayer succeeds – that quick, frenetic give-and-take of sprinting, sliding, killing, dying, and doing it all over again.

Treyarch understands this better than most. Their Black Ops games are considered, by many fans, to house some of the best movement tech in the franchise. The studio’s focus on free-flowing parkour versus Infinity Ward’s boots-on-the-ground combat help their titles achieve a sense of versatility and freedom unlike many games on the market.

And while you won’t find Black Ops 3‘s wall-running or Black Ops 4‘s colorful specialists, that map design trend continues on to Black Ops Cold War. While the map selection is smaller than I’d like, the maps available at launch are more interesting than the ones included in last year’s Modern Warfare.

Much of that boils down to the compelling verticality of each locale. Maps in Black Ops Cold War are full of boxes to climb, walls to scale, cars to sprint across – they’re like elaborate obstacle courses, with ample opportunity for both cover and surprise attacks. I never feel like I’m running around in a flat arena, shooting dudes around the same corners.

During an average firefight, I feel like I’m doing more to stay alive than walking down a corridor, ducking behind a box, or trying to pick campers off their perches from afar. I’m sprinting, ducking, sliding, and climbing all at once, hurdling over boxes to shotgun guys in the face and scaling walls to bop snipers in their camouflaged noses. There’s a level of situational control granted by these maps, and even in precarious maps like Satellite, I feel like there are always several ways to navigate an encounter.

By contrast, I didn’t feel like that at all last year. Modern Warfare was a solid game in many respects, but its map design felt rote and dated compared to previous entries. Sledgehammer and Treyarch made huge strides in nuanced map design, even in 2017’s more grounded WWII, but Infinity Ward seemed to think the series needed a soft reset. I couldn’t disagree more – MW’s maps, especially at launch, were too few and too uninteresting to make me care about sticking around.

Well, okay – Picadilly was pretty sick. I digress.

Treyarch, on the other hand, has done great work in delivering a more grounded vision for the series while not sacrificing all the advances made in previous titles. These maps definitely aren’t near or far-future, and are firmly rooted in the game’s 1983 setting. But that doesn’t stop them from feeling revolutionary to the series all the same, as they prove developers can do a “realistic” (heh) Call of Duty without throwing out good design choices.

And with the upcoming Nuketown ’84 map, I’m excited to see Treyarch’s return to their most iconic map.

Now, uh… y’all mind fixing the ray tracing?

Next: WoW: Shadowlands – Where To Find Professions (And Which Ones To Choose)

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Bella Blondeau is a lovable miscreant with a heart of gold… or so she says.

She likes long walks in dingy arcades, loves horror good and bad, and has a passion for anime girls of any and all varieties. Her favorite game is Nier: Automata, because she loves both robots and being sad.

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