Call of Duty’s Haunting event is now live in Black Ops Cold War and Warzone, bringing horror-themed operators, new event challenges, and plenty of Halloween-themed modes. This holiday update really shines Cold War’s multiplayer and Zombies, but Warzone suffers from a spooky mode that tries to do too much.
Starting with the good, Black Ops Cold War multiplayer gives Nuketown a temporary Halloween-themed reskin for the Haunting event. This limited-time version of Nuketown is a nighttime setting that brings out the pumpkins and spiderwebs. There are even three new limited-time modes, including a hide-and-seek mode that incorporates Ghostface from Scream.
Scream Deathmatch randomly selects two players to be Ghostface and go on a stabbing spree, while the remaining survivors are unarmed and must hide. I definitely recommend giving Scream Deathmatch a try, even players who don’t normally play party games or hide-n-seek modes. I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed this mode. Ghostface gets a lot of fun voice lines, and this mode feels fun whether playing the role of the killer or the hunted survivors. Ghostface doesn’t have crazy speed or anything, so fleeing feels hopeful but terrifying when being pursued.
The Haunting is also an excellent event for Zombies fans. The mode gets a lot of great changes that make this limited-time version a blast to play. Some of the changes are just subtle touches like thematic music and the fact that all the enemies are wearing pumpkin heads. Even the special enemy types like the radioactive Megaton enemies and the Plaguehounds have pumpkins on their heads.
However, the real excitement comes from the special Halloween loot drops that are currently found in Zombies. There are Jack-o-Lantern reward drops and orange supply crates called Scare Packages. Both items randomly appear in matches with high-tier rewards such as, aether tools to upgrade the rarity of an equipped weapon, Chalice items that can Pack-a-Punch an equipped weapon, high-level armor, and even ammo mods. These special items are appearing for all round-based maps and in Outbreak mode, and while Jack-o-Lanterns and Scare Packages are random, they drop pretty frequently.
This event makes for a great time to jump into Zombies to level up guns or complete challenges, because players can get set up with the best loot in much earlier rounds during the Haunting event. For example, I had three Jack-o-Lantern reward drops before I even reached round five of a standard match on Die Maschine. I got an aether tool to upgrade the rarity of my starter weapon, and I was even able to Pack-a-Punch it with the use of a Chalice item drop. Having such powerful items handed to you in early rounds makes the mode quite a bit easier, but it’s just a limited-time change, so it’s fun to just go crazy with kills and complete challenges.
Outbreak also has a limited-time All Hallows’ Eve Outbreak mode, in which players must survive for 10 minutes and exfiltrate from a single Outbreak region. Normally, Outbreak is a slower-paced and more casual Zombies experience, but All Hallows’ Eve ramps up the pace by increasing the difficulty of the region every two minutes. This means more zombies and greater difficulty to kill them, leaving little time or room to breathe.
When the 10-minute time limit is reached, the exfil point spawns at the farthest possible position from the players, and the goal is to survive and successfully exfil on Round 6. The holiday Jack-o-Lantern drops do appear in All Hallows’ Eve mode, and while the rewards can definitely help players, these drops feel less frequent here and it doesn’t make the mode feel easy. This should provide a satisfying challenge for those looking to experience more intensity in Outbreak.
Unfortunately, where Black Ops Cold War shines with holiday fun, Warzone seems to suffer from a battle royale mode that goes so hard with the jump scares and distractions that it loses some of the enjoyment.
Warzone’s limited-time Ghosts of Verdansk mode just tries to do too much, and it definitely distracts from the match. This new mode works similar to last year’s Zombies Royale mode from the Haunting of Verdansk event. Instead of zombies this year, players will turn into ghosts after their first death. The ghost players even use similar melee attacks and super jumps as the zombies from Zombies Royale. And if ghost players can successfully kill and collect three human souls, they can respawn back into the match as their human operator.
However, instead of this just being a nighttime battle of ghosts and humans, Ghosts of Verdansk adds the new element of a Fear meter. Each player has a Fear meter on their HUD. This meter ranges from 0 to 100 points, and every operator starts as a fearless operator with zero points of fear.
Fear level increases naturally over time and when certain events happen such as, being shot at, killstreaks being called in nearby, and seeing dead bodies or ghosts. Players will hear the sound of a beating heart pulsing in their ears as the fear level increases. If a player’s meter reaches 50%, that player will eventually start to experience hallucinations. This is where the mode takes the horror elements too far. The hallucinations aren’t too scary, unless a player has a phobia, but they are very frequent and distracting. Some animations can completely cover a player’s screen.
Personally, I’ve experienced spiders crawling across my screen, the floating red numbers from the Numbers event, and various spirits that flew at me and covered most of my field of view. Some players have reported a blue screen “jump scare” that makes it look like the game crashed. It completely covered their screen for several seconds, leaving them vulnerable to enemies on the map.
Players can decrease their fear level by eliminating players or ghosts, reviving squadmates, completing contracts, or visiting ghost free areas called the Sacred Ground. These methods are temporary though, and before long, the fear meter is rising and the player’s heartbeat will pulse in their ears.
Ghosts of Verdansk is a mode that is all about managing your fear while trying to be the last team standing, but there are just too many things constantly happening during the match. Along with all the hallucinations and spooky visuals, there’s also ringing phones and spooky voices constantly speaking in each player’s head. The loot chest jump scares are also back from last year’s event, but these scares feel less frequent than last year, or maybe I’ve just been getting lucky with my looting. Regardless, I find the Ghosts of Verdansk to be a jumble of elements that are more distracting than spooky fun. This can be something to try for a few holiday-inspired matches, but it definitely feels like a step back from the Zombie Royale mode. Luckily, standard battle royale matches are still available with the daytime version of Verdansk, but I wish there was a night mode without all the distractions.
Additionally, players can complete event challenges during the Haunting to earn XP, cosmetic items, and a new submachine gun. Here is our guide to all the ways you can unlock the LAPA submachine gun.
This new Call of Duty content continues as Activision Blizzard faces a lawsuit from the state of California over alleged harassment and discrimination against women.
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