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The holiday season is fast approaching in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, and with it comes the predictable launch of the newest game in the Call of Duty franchise, which, in this case, is Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.

Cold War is a direct sequel to the original Black Ops game released in 2010 for the last generation of consoles, the PS3 and Xbox 360, seemingly replacing Black Ops 2, which strikes me as odd. It could be a desperate attempt to remove the franchise, and developer Treyarch, from the recent Black Ops 4, which was widely regarded as a terrible game by fans but received a fairly positive review by critics.

We don’t know much about the game itself beyond what’s been revealed in the alpha gameplay that’s been circulating YouTube and the Internet as a whole. Even fan reception seems split, with some decrying the game’s step back in terms of graphical quality and gameplay elements. Others are celebrating its faster pace, slower time-to-kill, and more streamlined map design.

Critical reception of the game so far seems carefully balanced, unafraid to point out shortcomings with graphical and gameplay elements, while still looking to the things the game is doing well, or at least differently. The general mood though seems to be one of confusion; the Treyarch and Infinity Ward Call of Duty games have always been separate entities, almost never sharing any elements, and that’s an accepted fact in the gaming world.

Cold War seems to be taking steps back in the wrong places though, and no one is sure why. Graphics aren’t the most important thing for some gamers, but the absence of gameplay elements like mounting and tactical sprint has some fans swearing off the game completely. A longer time-to-kill is a welcome change from the lightning-fast, twitch reflex dependent time-to-kill we have in the current offering, and a more robust class creation system sounds interesting, but it’s too early to tell if this will be a Call of Duty that’s really worth the price.

In terms of the game itself, Treyarch seems to have learned from some of its past mistakes. Players will have access to a campaign, multiplayer, and a zombies mode. There is a rumored connection to Modern Warfare’s Warzone game mode, but nobody knows what that connection will look like, and only time will tell with regards to that. Pre-orders of Cold War grant access to a Woods character model and an assault rifle weapon blueprint, but I get the feeling that there’s going to be more of a connection to the new game. I hope so, anyway.

All that said, remember that the game people are playing currently is an alpha build of the game we’ll see in November. The beta that will launch in a few weeks (October 8th for PlayStation preorders) will feature a number of changes in terms of gameplay, but what that means beyond gun balancing in the sandbox and altering the way some things (like the slide mechanic) function remains to be seen.

If you’re tired of getting burned on each new Call of Duty, I seriously encourage you to give this a pass until a few weeks, or even months, after the game’s release and we can see just what this game looks like after the honeymoon phase passes.

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