This is impressive stuff. Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War manages the cross-gen transition gracefully, delivering excellent performance whether you’re gaming on PS5 or Xbox Series consoles. The premium machines also benefit from two key features: 120Hz and ray traced shadows, both of which are transformative to the experience. Microsoft’s pint-sized new console – the Series S – is also impressive enough, but appears to lack the signature next-gen features its more expensive counterparts deliver.
Let’s kick off by digging into the features that separate Series X and PS5 from all of the other versions. That stars with ray traced shadows, which – as the video below demonstrates – replace the baked shadow maps enjoyed in the other versions of the game. In terms of overall effectiveness, RT shadows are often overlooked, but the effect in Cold War is exceptional, almost as if the game’s art designs are built around the technology. Scenes that look perfectly fine with traditional shadow maps look so much better with ray traced shadows enabled: soft and diffuse at distance, ultra-sharp close up, just as they should be. Series S does allow you to download an 11GB RT pack, but there is no option in-game to enable it – though we’ve asked Activision for clarification.
RT is also only available as an option with the game running at the standard 60fps, but Cold War’s other key next-gen feature is 120Hz support, which sees PS5 and Series X both doing a pretty excellent job of targeting and indeed maintaining 120 frames per second. In fact, in the multiplayer mode, 120fps is a lock on both systems (game-changing in its own right, especially when combined with keyboard and mouse support) but the fact that the entire campaign can play out at 120fps (or very close to it) is an impressive feat. It’s not perfect for solo play, it’s certainly not locked, but it is running flat-out for much of the experience.