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Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War gets its big Season 3 update tonight with four more multiplayer maps, six new weapons, and a new chapter of Zombies in Outbreak.

At noon Thursday, the Season 3 update will arrive for Call of Duty: Warzone, the free-to-play battle royale version of Call of Duty. And earlier today, Activision Blizzard said that the Call of Duty franchise has now surpassed 400 million copies sold since its 2003 debut.

Normally, this is the time of year when Activision unveils the first details of its new game slated for the fall. But with the success of Warzone and the year-round nature of Call of Duty now, the seasonal update has become a much bigger deal than it was before. Cold War’s developers are Raven Software and Treyarch, with Treyarch focusing more on multiplayer now and Raven taking on Warzone.

Players are in the midst of following a Warzone narrative where Zombies took over the battle royale map, the city of Verdansk, and saw it go up in a mushroom cloud as authorities exploded a nuclear missile on the city in order to stop the Zombies. The event will conclude at noon Pacific time on Thursday.

I like the intertwining of the storylines between Cold War, Zombies, and Warzone — at least for now. I liked the battle that took place on Mount Yamantau in the Cold War game, and I’m glad to see a new multiplayer map based on that location. Otherwise, I’m looking forward to seeing more of it as the new season gets under way.

New file sizes

Above: New operator in Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War.

Image Credit: Activision

Cold War’s four new multiplayer maps include three 6-versus-5 maps: Yamantau, Diesel, and Standoff. Duga is a multi-team map. Sticks and Stones returns as a kind of melee mode, and the update also brings a new multi-team elimination mode. And Cold War’s file size will range from 8.1GB to 13.1GB, down from previous sizes.

“We’re continually updating that we recently had the feature to actively select which sections of the game get loaded,” said Amos Hodge, the creative director at Raven Software, in a press briefing. “It’s the amount of content. It’s a single player, it’s zombies, it’s MP, it’s Warzone. It’s like four games. We’re continually working on file size. We know it’s an issue. You’ll see it get better.”

The Warzone/Cold War multiplayer narrative will tie together the plots of Zombies, Warzone, and Cold War into a single narrative. In Season 3, the teams have to rescue of CIA agent Russel Adler, who has been kidnapped by Naga. That will give the bad guy, Stitch, time to execute his grand plan. Cold War will have limited-time events, operators, and in-game challenges. The three new operators are: Wraith, Knight, and Antonov. Captain Price will also arrive in Cold War multiplayer as a Legendary Operator.

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The teams are still collaborating remotely, Hodge said. He said remote testing has made it easier to see how players experience the game.

“Working from home has helped us in a couple of ways. It has made communicating with other studios easier. Playtesting is a big pit, and it’s almost like a LAN environment. Everyone’s yelling. Sometimes gameplay can seem more fun when it’s not. What’s fun there is the camaraderie, the LAN party vibe.”

Those who purchase any version of Black Ops: Cold War at the start of Season Three will receive the Captain Price Operator for use in Black Ops: Cold War and Warzone. Plus, anyone who already owns Black Ops: Cold War will automatically receive the Captain Price Operator at the start of Season Three.

The weapons include the PPSh-41 SMG, the Swiss K31 Sniper Rifle, Ballistic Knife melee weapon, the CARV.2 Tactical Rifle, the AMP63: Pistol, and the baseball bat melee weapon. Let’s hope that there is nothing overpowered here, as we need good weapons but nothing that is going to disrupt the gameplay again.

New maps

Above: A friendly guy in Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War multiplayer.

Image Credit: Activision

Yamantau (6-vs.-6, launch week)

Teams will fight through the crumbled remains of the Soviet observatory on Mount Yamantau. They will battle through a massive downed satellite dish, snowy interiors, and broken catwalks. You’ll be able to fast-rope up and over your enemies to get the jump on the competition.

Diesel (6-vs.-6/2-vs.-2/3-vs.-3, launch week)

In the desert, players will gear up fights in Gunfight mode on this fast-paced map. You can battle around a gas station and its surrounding buildings in the middle of the badlands.

Standoff (6-vs.-6, in-season)

This Black Ops II classic is coming back to Cold War multiplayer. Compete on this medium-sized map, which features three lanes of approach and has plentiful opportunities for outsmarting your opponents. Watch those buildings and mind the van over near the hay bales.

Duga (multi-team, in-season)

You can deploy your squad to the Ural Mountains in this expansive new Multi-Team environment. Duga offers playstyles, whether you prefer to move through the central admin offices for close-range battles, or work your way around the perimeter through the bus depot to the chemical processing plant for sniping. You can also climb atop the array tower for a view before parachuting off to your destination of choice.

More changes

With the Ballistic Knife’s return, multiplayer will feature the return of the Sticks and Stones party mode. Prestige levels will also be expanded to 15 levels. The update also has a new Scorestreak, or reward for doing well in a match, dubbed Strafe Run, where you can have a pair of jet fighters strafe part of the map. It also has a new cargo truck.

Dead Ops Arcade 3, a funny coin-op version of Zombies, receives new improvements this week, including an adjustment to XP gains and updates to the Mamaback boss fight.

Season Three also brings a new round of weapon tuning to Black Ops Cold War. This tuning pass brings adjustments across the board to the Light Machine Gun class, tightening up some of the areas where LMGs were particularly versatile compared to other classes. The Shotgun class also gets some changes, including tweaks to the Streetsweeper to remove its 1-hit kill potential and rein in its damage values.

The developers also made some tuning changes in the Assault Rifle, Submachine Gun, and Tactical Rifle departments, including attachment updates for the FFAR 1, sprint speed updates for SMGs, and more.


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