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Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War beta will have three modes, new maps and a ping system

(Image credit: Activision)

Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War's open multiplayer beta starts today on PlayStation 4 and October 17 everywhere else, and Treyarch has poked its head out of the bunker to break down what you can expect when you smear on the camo and head back to the '80s. 

Cold War's beta will feature new maps, like the jungle of compound of Cartel, spread across a variety of modes, including new ones like VIP Escort, Combined Arms: Assault and Fireteam: Dirty Bomb.

You'll be able to play on Cartel in different 6v6 and 12v12 modes, which has points of interest that include a handy sniper tower in the middle, surrounded by an open area, a warehouse for close quarters scraps and several opportunities for stealth. 

In VIP Escort, one team will have to get a VIP to an extraction zone while the other team tries to stop them. Respawns have been disabled, so you'll have to revive your fallen comrades. Combined Arms: Assault joins Combined Arms: Dominations, which was playable during the alpha, in the list of 12v12 modes. It's a race to capture five objectives, one after the other, taking teams further and further behind enemy lines. 

Finally, there's Fireteam: Dirty Bomb, a surprisingly elaborate race with an extraordinarily grim premise. 40 players, split into ten teams, compete to detonate dirty bombs by fighting over uranium caches. The radiation caused by the bomb's explosion will linger, making part of the map a radioactive hazard and earning the team responsible some points. Players finding themselves in a radioactive area will develop radiation sickness, affecting their perk benefits, slowing them down, reducing health regeneration and finally killing them. Sounds like a fun romp. 

On top of the new maps and modes, the beta will also be an opportunity to check out other new additions, like the ping system. Cold War's not the first Call of Duty to follow the welcome trend started by Apex Legends—that would be Warzone—but it's the first time the series has used it outside of a battle royale setting. The system lets you warn your team about threats, show them loot and communicate without needing to actually chat.

Less relevant to PC players is the expansion of the FOV slider to all platforms, but it's good news if you're planning to play Cold War on consoles. Along with changing the FOV, you'll be able to customise the UI by toggling different elements, like crosshairs, health bars and the compass. 

While you'll have to wait a bit longer to play on PC, expect to see plenty of footage appearing from the PS4 beta in the meantime. You'll also be able to play a little earlier, on October 15, with a preorder. 

Fraser Brown
Fraser is the sole inhabitant of PC Gamer's mythical Scottish office, conveniently located in his flat. He spends most of his time wrangling the news, but sometimes he sneaks off to write lots of words about strategy games.