Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is set in the 1980s, and the Zombies mode has taken advantage of this. Dark Aether anomalies are opening up across the world, from Poland to Vietnam, but where will Weaver send his rag-tag team of operators next? I’d throw Chernobyl in as a perfect place to go.
If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what the Chernobyl Disaster was, in 1986, a nuclear reactor in Northern Ukraine exploded, and to this day, the area is radioactive. It will be for hundreds of more years. 1986 is right around the time of Black Ops Cold War, so what if we ventured into this reactor, perhaps because the cause was actually a Dark Aether portal?
Zombies have toyed with real-life events before, with the last game, Black Ops 4, sporting a map called Voyage of Despair that was set on the Titanic, so it wouldn’t be completely out there to suggest venturing into the reactor of Chernobyl. It could even present some interesting, unique gameplay elements.
Moon, for example, way back in the original Black Ops, required players to use a spacesuit in order to survive, given the lack of oxygen. Turning on the power made some areas lose this requirement, but still, going outside meant you needed a spacesuit. Chernobyl could do something very similar. albeit with hazmat suits and Geiger counters. The closer to the actual reactor you get, the more it beeps. And without a suit? Well, damage incurs.
Not to mention that with Ph.D. Flopper’s history of negating explosive damage, perhaps radiation could fall under a similar umbrella, and it could be the map to debut the perk. However, there needs to be a lore reason for venturing into the Ukrainian nuclear power plant – Poland, with Die Maschine, was to investigate a secret Nazi bunker filled with revelations towards the Dark Aether, while Vietnam with Firebase Z was to rescue Samantha Maxis. So ,why would Requiem go to Ukraine? Well, perhaps they don’t.
Perhaps, much like with the old Zombies, we jump into a new perspective, much like how we bounced between future Richtofen and past, as well as with the Victis crew. Maybe, with a map such as Chernobyl, we look through the lens of Omega. This wouldn’t be too far-fetched, given that both sides have their own set of operators for multiplayer and Zombies already, and it could give some further depth to that side of the story. The Soviet Union reports that the Chernobyl reactor has exploded with testimonies from the workers of a dark, purple portal ripping apart the inside, so who do they send? The experts: Omega.
That’s what Chernobyl is perfect for. Not only are there ripe opportunities for brand new gameplay elements that would feel right at home in Black Ops alongside Moon, a fan-favorite, instant classic with an easter egg that still stands tall, but it would also offer an opportunity to elaborate on other factions within the story of Zombies. We have some insight into how America is handling the cropping up of zombies, Dark Aether portals, and other new, scary tech, but what about Mother Russia and the ol’ Soviet Union with Omega?
Firebase Z already elaborated on this, bringing us insights from Omega scientists and military personnel with their memories that you extract in the easter egg, as well as with Peck, a living NPC who you can talk to and watch dance like a lunatic when gassed with truth serum, but what a Chernobyl-based map could do is far more in-depth. On top of this, there are major hints towards a double agent working in Requiem as per the intel in-game. Maybe, just maybe, Chernobyl is the map to reveal that person to the player, but not the map to reveal it to Requiem and Weaver.
After all, why wouldn’t Omega call back a scientist expert who has been gathering information on the other side of the pond? Who this is isn’t clear yet – Carver, Strauss, and Grey are all in the running, so maybe one could crop up on comms to help you through shutting down the portal ripping apart the Chernobyl nuclear plant, and that alone would reveal who is working alongside Omega. Or, maybe Requiem somehow gets access to a Soviet Union plant and you still play from that side, but that seems… unlikely.
As for how Chernobyl would play as a map, the actual layout of the facility could see us exploring the plant itself as well as the surrounding area, which could have a very Ascension-feel, albeit bigger in scale, and radioactive Dark Aether monsters could make for some incredibly intriguing boss designs. It could even see the return of Kino Der Toten’s Nova Crawlers, as they would fit right in with that setting. After all, Gorod Krovi’s Russian Manglers made a return along with the classic Hellhounds, so why not pull from other maps of old?
Then there’s the opportunity for a wonder weapon. I have to admit, the idea of Chernobyl being a secret base doesn’t sit right with me, and I think it would work a lot better if it was simply a random portal that opened up in a very unfortunate place – after all, in Die Maschine, we learn that they have been cropping up all over the world at random – so a wonder weapon being integrated with that scenario would certainly be difficult, but there’s still opportunity.
Rather than making it a base, keeping Chernobyl as it is could see the Omega team that comes in bringing their own gear and their own wonder weapon. So, why wouldn’t you start with it? There’s an urban legend, a sort of myth that has never 100% been confirmed, and that’s of a helicopter going down over the reactor. Perhaps, in a twist of real-world retcon glory, that helicopter was Omega, and when they crashed, the wonder weapon was destroyed and its parts were scattered. Simple enough then – to craft it, you’d have to find all the pieces and put it back together.
Doing that would mean that the wonder weapon could be literally anything. It’s not bound to the map it’s from, and it wouldn’t necessarily have to tie into Chernobyl whatsoever. Maybe we could see a return of something like the Wunderwaffe in that case. After all, it’s a staple as much as the Ray Gun and has yet to see its day in Cold War’s Zombies. Or, it could be something entirely new they’ve brought to combat whatever’s going on at Chernobyl, whatever horrific radio-active zombie monster boss fights await them.
Whatever the case, it would feel somewhat like a squandered opportunity to have a 1980s-based Zombies mode from Call of Duty that doesn’t explore Chernobyl and play on real events. If Black Ops 4 somehow managed to worm in the Titanic, why not venture into something a little darker, more morbid, and ripe with opportunity for storytelling?
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Cheerio, or whatever it is that people expect the Brits to say, James is a Newcastle University student from, funnily enough, Newcastle, England. He’s been gaming for as long as he can remember, starting out with Half-Life and Thomas the Tank Engine.
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