The COVID-19 pandemic has made this a tricky time for developers. Not only have they had to alter their approach to development, but also how they showcase their work to the world. Making it even more daunting is trying to do all this during a next-gen console launch. The PS5 and Xbox Series X/S are launching this holiday season and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War aims to take advantage of the hardware’s capabilities.
While we were able to go hands-on with Black Ops Cold War’s multiplayer, our session was relegated to PS4 Pro hardware. Activision and Treyarch did, however, provide details on what players can expect from next-gen consoles. Do note that this information was provided before the reveal of Xbox Series S and it remains unknown how that console utilizes some of these features.
As expected, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War aims to deliver what users expect from this upcoming generation. Black Ops Cold War utilizes photogrammetry-captured environments and characters, photometric lighting and HDR in conjunction with a 4K resolution to deliver a next-gen experience. Those who want more performance also won’t be disappointed, as players get 120Hz support on both consoles. Then, of course, there’s hardware-based raytracing. Both Sony and Microsoft can’t stop talking about how their consoles will support it, and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War utilizes it to provide more realistic lighting and shadow effects.
All those features are expected, but Black Ops Cold War goes the extra mile. Sony has been talking up 3D audio for a while now and this game intends to use that technology. 3D audio on both consoles allows for more accurate situational analysis. Weapon sounds are different based on their origin, players can distinguish where footsteps are coming from, and real-world occlusion provides details about the direction and distance between you and events taking place in the world. While we didn’t get a chance to try 3D audio on the PS4 Pro, the footsteps sound noticeably better than in Modern Warfare, which has always been way too loud.
Audio has similarly been tweaked to provide aid in combat. A new threat priority system assigns priorities to certain sounds, ensuring players hear what they need to be successful. Acoustics now interact with the geometry, meaning sounds can be delayed, blocked and reflected based on where the sound originated.
Sony has been talking a lot about DualSense and its haptic capabilities. The only problem is that it’s a feature you can’t test unless you get the controller in your hand. At launch, Black Ops Cold War will be a strong supporter of the DualSense, offering haptic feedback while playing. Treyarch, unfortunately, didn’t provide additional details on how it works within the game.
The next-generation of consoles is right around the corner. While the pandemic has stopped us from seeing these improvements in action, it’s clear Treyarch intends on delivering a next-gen experience. Hopefully, we’ll get to see all these features in action real soon.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War launches November 13 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It arrives on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S this holiday season.