Booting up the newest Call of Duty, I was greeted by terrible-looking menus, an overwhelming amount of options, too much information, and some ugly-looking ads. It’s not a great first impression and feels like a cobbled-together mess. In other words: It bad.
There was a time when I played every new Call of Duty game. I would play the campaign over a weekend and then spend many hours over a few months playing online. But around Black Ops III I started skipping games. Partly because I had other things to play, partly because my friends stopped playing, and also because I just got bored of it all. The ever-growing install sizes of each game didn’t make me excited to jump back in either.
My CoD vacation ended when Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War went on sale recently on PS5. I scrounged up some space by deleting older games I’d finished and installed Activision’s latest giant game with a dumb name.
First impressions are important, and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Oh My God I Hate Typing This Name makes a super-bad first impression. The moment you boot it up you’re confronted with three games to choose from, like some hideous monster that’s been built out of older bits stapled together to create one creature. And as much space as Cold War consumes, Warzone, Call of Duty’s super-popular free-to-play battle royale, remains an additional install your hard drive must accommodate.
Once I got into the actual game I bought and downloaded, I decided to play some multiplayer. It was then that the truly awful menus appeared.
Cold War, like other recent Call of Duty games, is filled to the brim with options, modes, features, gear, etc. It does make you feel like you got your money’s worth, which is nice. But all of this stuff has to be organized, listed, and presented to players and Cold War does a terrible job at that. It’s extremely overwhelming. At one point my girlfriend looked at it and proclaimed “This is awful. This is giving me a headache.” Readers, she wasn’t wrong. For example, look at the store page in Cold War:
It looks like I’ve stumbled into some early-2000s online ads. Oh and this screenshot doesn’t show that a lot of these items are moving and glowing, like a herd of annoying gifs.
I started flipping around and found the rest of the menus and UI to be terrible too. There’s a tab dedicated to a mode called “Outbreak.” But I can’t actually understand what I’m looking at when I open it, and it honestly makes me never want to engage with that mode because if that’s my point of entry, I’m not interested.
There’s also the main screen you land on when starting online multiplayer, which displays an ad, various meters, progression levels, and game modes, while in the background your soldier walks around nervously. This man is trapped in the awful UI. Someone help him!
There are also strange little quirks. One that I found very funny is that all the single-player challenges in the game are located in the multiplayer menus. I don’t know why they are here, but it’s possible some other part of this wacky menu buffet holds the answer.
I did eventually play Call of Duty: Cold War Black Ops Something IDK Whatever, and I had a good time! The combat feels great, especially running at 120 frames per second. I played a bunch of Nuketown, got a few solid killstreaks, and had some fun. But getting there took too much work and menu shuffling. Sadly, I’m not sure there’s an easy way to solve this problem, as modern CoD games have gotten so big and overstuffed with features that maybe there’s not much streamlining that could be done without removing content.
I miss the older Call of Duty games, which had simpler, easier-to-navigate menus, which made getting into the action much less of a nuisance. Those games also had less content stuffed inside them, which made for nicer menus that were less of a pain to navigate. So my solution is simple: Smaller Call of Duty games. What do you think?