Call of Duty’s Season One arrived earlier this week, bringing an ambitious number of new maps and modes to Black Ops Cold War and Warzone, as well as integrating the new level progression system into last year’s Modern Warfare. New maps were sorely needed and are appreciated, but the large rollout came with some problems.
On the morning of Season One’s launch, many players found the games unplayable after the update. On the PC side, new maps and modes were reported to be unplayable with a “Zed 398 Swift Clover” error. Some players on Xbox One were blocked from playing with a “Blackout Trial has ended” error. On the PS5 side, I experienced a stuttering issue in all multiplayer maps that made online impossible to enjoy. Thankfully, Treyarch acknowledged the issues quickly, and patches rolled out across all platforms within about 12 hours. Everything seems to be in working order now.
Once the developers ironed out those initial problems, Black Ops Cold War’s Season One content became mostly enjoyable. Season One has a new 100-tier battle pass of cosmetics to unlock as you play. The update also unifies all the games, so you can level up your rank and make progress in the battle pass across Cold War, Warzone, and Modern Warfare.
On the multiplayer side, two standard 6v6 maps are added into the mix. “The Pines” is a neon-lit shopping centre from the ‘80s, and “Raid” is a remastered version of the Black Ops 2 fan-favourite map. And there’s a holiday version of Nuketown ’84 with a nighttime setting and plenty of Christmas lights.
Season One also adds the Gunfight mode to Black Ops Cold War. Originally introduced in 2019’s Modern Warfare, Gunfight is a round-based, 2v2 multiplayer mode with the objective to simply eliminate the opposing duo. First duo to win six rounds wins the match. The matches are always fast and competitive, so Gunfight quickly became one of my favourite modes in Modern Warfare, and I’m really glad to see it get the Cold War treatment. Gunfight arrives with four diverse maps tailored to fit the 2v2 playstyle, which includes a funky map on the set of an ‘80s game show.
Black Ops Cold War’s multiplayer launched with a pretty low map count, so it’s nice to have some fresh scenery with the new DLC maps.
Cold War’s also the happy recipient of the fan-favourite Prop Hunt mode. Prop Hunt originally arrived in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered as a wacky April Fools’ Day weekend event, but it’s resurfaced a few times since to serve as a limited-time mode. Prop Hunt has one team disguise themselves as random props on the map. Players can disguise themselves as tires, cardboard boxes, plastic lawn chairs, that sort of thing. The prop players must blend in with the map’s décor to avoid being killed by the opposing team of hunters. It’s a ridiculous game of hide-n-seek that you wouldn’t expect to find in a game like Call of Duty, but can make for a whole lot of laughter when playing with friends.
In other big news, Warzone just got a second map, and it’s quite the change of pace for Call of Duty’s battle royale. However, the insane frenzy of “Rebirth Island” might actually be too much for such a small landmass, leaving me thankful that Warzone’s original Verdansk map is still available to play.
For those expecting the battle royale to shift to the Cold War era, Rebirth Island is a somewhat “new” map with ‘80s décor. This additional Warzone map will look familiar to some players, as the island is a reskin of Blackout’s Alcatraz map from Black Ops 4. The old prison map has been rebranded to fit the 1984 aesthetic of a villainous bioweapons manufacturing plant, which also doubles as a prison and testing facility.
The island is a much smaller battleground than Verdansk; only a maximum of 40 players drop each match, which is much more fitting for the new terrain than Verdansk’s 150-player count. And “Resurgence Trios” is the only game mode currently available, which translates to teams of three fighting to be the last trio standing. This mode also has respawning, so as long as at least one teammate is alive, a player can parachute back into the fight. It’s game over when the whole team is wiped out.
Rebirth Island also boasts the same cash, looting, and armour systems as Verdansk. There are plenty of loot caches to scavenge, vehicles for some wild getaways and hijinks, and even the option to call in lethal airstrike killstreaks. Warzone’s contracts and special events also return, but so far, I’ve only experienced the “fire sale” event that reduces the cost of purchases at the Buy Stations. When a fire sale event happens, expect a barrage of killstreaks to follow.
Originally I was really excited for this new map to arrive. I’m a huge fan of Blackout’s Alcatraz map, and I love the faster, high-kill matches from the close-quarters map in Black Ops 4’s battle royale. Unfortunately, I don’t think this version of the island works as well once you add in all the bells and whistles from Warzone’s Verdansk map. I think the island is a little small for the insanity of dodging enemy vehicles and lethal killstreaks, and that Rebirth Island would be a better time if scaled back to just the basics of looting and shooting. To be fair, it doesn’t always feel like too much. Some matches are pretty chill and make me feel like I’m back on Alcatraz island, but other matches are overwhelming and raining cluster strikes.
The part of Warzone that will take the most adjustment is the updated weapon pool. Cold War’s arsenal has been integrated into both Warzone maps to coexist with all the weapons from Modern Warfare’s, and the guns could do with a little more tuning. Most of the Cold War guns don’t seem to carry the same stats in battle royale as they do in multiplayer. You might pick up a gun that you love to use in Cold War’s multiplayer and find it feels like a completely different gun in Warzone. Dumping all the weapons from two completely different Call of Duty games in one battle royale is pretty ambitious, and this is probably going to take some time and weapon tuning updates before it gets better. For now, I’m just picking up a bunch of different guns and testing them out.
Zombies fans didn’t get a new map, but Season One added a festive “Jingle Hells” mode to the Die Maschine map, which is basically still the same zombies-killing mode, but now you can throw snowballs to freeze the undead. There are also holiday decorations, and the zombies are wearing cute little santa hats.
Overall, Season One kicked off with a pretty huge content drop. Once the kinks were worked out, the matches felt smooth and fun to play. The addition of the Gunfight maps makes the content feel like an acceptable balance of new stuff and remastered nostalgia. It will probably just take a little more time for me to warm up to Rebirth Island, as I keep trying to figure out what Warzone guns work best for me.
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