Call of Duty is usually a fairly straight forward rush to victory. This year, though, the Black Ops Cold War ending is up to you as the Black Ops Cold War single player campaign will support multiple endings, as well as non-linear missions. Raven, the studio behind the 2020 single player campaign, has included a range of decisions for you to make throughout the game that will ultimately decide the Black Ops Cold War ending.
This could be something as simple as a dialogue tree that lets you reassure or threaten a prisoner. Or something as complex as an undercover mission in KGB headquarters where your mission to remove a key officer can be completed in a number of ways - anything from poisoning them, framing them, convincing someone else to kill them and so on. Another mission, set in a reality warping Vietnam flashback, sees the level changing and resetting according to the decisions and paths you choose. There’s even some optional side missions that have you searching for evidence to unlock and progress non-essential narrative parts of the story.
Anyone that remembers Black Ops 2 will know that this isn’t the first time the series has let you play with fate, but Black Ops Cold War is taking a far more in depth approach, from dialogue options to open ended missions with multiple paths to completion. “We’ve created a variety of player choice moments and, while that’s not appropriate for every mission, we loved finding ways to include optional objectives, multiple paths, and a variety of player choice moments ,” explains Dan Vondrak, Raven’s senior creative director.
Don’t worry if you like your COD linear, these changes aren’t overwhelming according to Raven. “We didn’t want to add this to every mission,” reassures Vondrak. “The KGB mission and the Vietnam mission are two of the first missions we pitched and it was purposefully like ‘let’s blow up the standard structure and do a bunch of crazy nonlinear stuff with a bunch of choice’. Crucially, though, Vondrak knows that “this isn’t what everybody wants all the time in their Call of Duty, so we get back to that thrill ride. Not every mission is the right fit so we’ve added a mix of those different things, and you’ll play some missions that are the more traditional thrill ride.”
However, if you are calling the shots in a world of 1980s espionage you do want it all to mean something and the choices you make will influence how it ends. “With all the choices in this game we knew the final piece of the puzzle was to make sure the player could feel the impact of their choices and decisions to the world and the characters around them,” confirms Vondrak. “So we do allow the player to shape the ending of the game based on their earlier choices. Now we didn’t want to go crazy and add too much and dilute it, but we added enough that the player can really feel the impact of the decisions they made.”
We’ll have to wait to hear more on what sort of choices we’ll be making but it sounds like there could be some tough things to decide on. “Decisions are not black and white,” says Vondrak, “regardless of the decision, we wanted to say ‘hey, here was the impact of this. It's not right, it’s not wrong, it's the decision you made and this is the outcome of it.” Ultimately though this is still a COD game and Vondark makes it clear that “still wanted to tell a clearly linear story”. However, he adds that “we wanted you to make choices along the way and those choices have effects that sometimes you’ll see immediately, sometimes it’s a little further out. Then finally, at the end, you really see the effects of those decisions.”
Find out more about in game choices with how the Black Ops Cold War character creation will let play as gender neutral agent.