Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is set during the in the early . The story follows turned operative Russell Adler and his mission to stop a extremist group in 1981. The story is inspired by and the campaign features locations such as , , , and the Soviet KGB headquarters. Adler is supported by characters Mason, Woods and Hudson. With new characters being Adler’s friend Sims, Lazar, and officer Park. Players assume a custom character for the campaign, codenamed “Bell”, with the ability to choose their , skin tone, nationality, and gender; as well as different personality traits that provide in-game perks. The campaign features multiple endings, dependent on player choice throughout the campaign.
Multiplayer features new and returning game modes, as well as maps that accommodate both the traditional 6v6 format, as well as larger 12v12 combat. The game also introduced a new game mode named “Fireteam”, which can support up to 40 players. The Create-a-Class system from Modern Warfare returns, with two major differences: field upgrades are implemented as part of class loadouts, and each class has a wildcard choice out of four possible ones: Gunfighter (allows up to 8 primary weapon attachments), Perk Greed (allows 2 perks from each perk type for a total of 6 usable perks), Danger Close (double grenade equipment), or Lawbreaker (allows mixing and matching any weapon/perk type in any slot). Like Modern Warfare, Cold War also support and cross-platform progression. Following an update, the progression system for multiplayer is integrated with , allowing for a unified level system across Cold War, Warzone and Modern Warfare. In addition, Operator characters and weapons from Cold War are also added to Warzone to be used alongside Modern Warfare Operators and weapons, though the multiplayer modes remain separated and do not share Operators and weapons.