UKRAINE - 2020/10/27: In this photo illustration a Call of Duty: Black Ops - Zombies Video game logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Sometimes, getting back to the basics just feels… basic. Black Ops Cold War’s multiplayer aims to recapture what made the original Black Ops great by stripping back a lot of the mechanics that’ve been layered on in the past several games. It is fun, largely due to the gunplay feeling solid and familiar and the heavy burst of nostalgia with each pull of the trigger, but it doesn’t do too much to excite at launch, largely down to most of the new modes not quite hitting the mark and a general lack of content. I wonder if there is too much looking back going on in Cold War and not enough emphasis being placed on meaningful iteration, if not revolution. With longer time-to-kill, a visual step down when compared to last year’s gorgeous Modern Warfare, and a return to simpler map designs, this year’s Call of Duty multiplayer is somewhat of a backwards step for the series.Having put well over 200 hours into Warzone and Modern Warfare’s multiplayer over the last year, jumping into Cold War felt instantly different. The great-feeling gunplay is there, as you’d expect from Call of Duty, and it’s smooth and responsive as well. Each weapon sounds great when fired, too. Animations have been tweaked and improved upon since the Beta stage and each weapon has its own custom inspect animation. It’s these sorts of details that set Call of Duty apart from other shooters and is much appreciated. The addition of a field of view slider to the console versions is also a very welcome inclusion.

Sub-machine guns are currently king in multiplayer. While the Milano is not the powerhouse it was pre-release, it is still more than effective due to its absurdly high rate of fire. Likewise, the MP5 appears very popular and has become my go-to weapon when playing on all of the smaller 6v6 maps. It’s currently an all-round monster that does significant damage at short-to-medium distances while allowing for maximum mobility. The MP5 is so good, in fact, that at times it feels fruitless to choose any other loadout. Imbalance can always be expected at the start of a multiplayer meta cycle, but it’s never a good sign when nine out of 10 guns you run over on the floor are exactly the same.

The sheer number of different weapon builds available has me optimistic that many different metas will develop during Cold War’s lifespan though, and that it won’t remain as stagnant as Modern Warfare has at times. The amount of unlockable perks, scorestreaks, field upgrades, and gun attachments is impressive and should hopefully lead to more variety in playstyles in future. It’s just a shame that the slow level progression will mean having to wait so long to put these into effect.

How do you feel about Black Ops?