All Call of Duty: Cold War endings, explained

cod cold war ending explained
(Image credit: Activision)

Did you see every Call of Duty: Black Ops - Cold War ending? I thought I had in my first go-around, but there are technically three. Every ending revolves around one pivotal moment near the end of the campaign, so look away if you haven't finished the campaign yet: There will be serious campaign spoilers throughout this piece.

All the CoD: Cold War endings, concern the moment in which the circumstances of Bell's involvement with the CIA are finally revealed. From there, things can go smoothly or end in complete disaster. The choice is up to you.

I played all the endings and captured each one below for you to watch separately, just in case you're looking for one in particular. Read on to see what happens and exactly how to get each ending. Two of the three are extremely similar, but you'll need to make one key decision to get it right. More on that below.

CoD: Cold War good ending

Ah, the good ending. No looming sense of guilt required. As you'd probably expect, this is what happens when the 'Identity Crisis' scene ends with Bell agreeing to help Adler and actually mean it. After Adler comes clean about Bell being one of Perseus' trusted allies, you're presented with the choice to lie or tell the truth about where Perseus plans to activate the nukes. If you tell the truth, you'll lead the team to the Solovetsky Islands in the USSR. 

The assault on Solovetsky tasks Bell and friends with destroying the anti-air emplacements so that Hudson can safely order a bombing on the facility. The missions is pretty brief, but the aftermath of the bombardment is more interesting.

Interestingly, there's no final confrontation with Perseus or his generals. The nuclear detonation is stopped and the day is saved. It seems like all is well, until Adler has a final chat with Bell on a cliff in Solovetsky. There, he thanks Bell for his help (before and after Bell remembered who he was) and then tries to tie up the last loose end of the operation. Bell and Adler pull guns on each other and both seem to fire at the same time. Then the game cuts to black.

CoD: Cold War bad ending

If you lie during the 'Identity Crisis' scene and lead the team to the Duga radio installation, you've triggered either the bad or evil ending. The evil ending requires an extra step to activate, so pay attention: when Adler frees you from the interrogation table and calls Hudson, you'll have 30 seconds to walk across the room to a telephone and setup an ambush at Duga. Don't worry, you have plenty of time to pull it off if you don't wander around. There's a big objective marker leading you to the phone, so it's actually hard to miss.

With the ambush in motion, the final mission 'Ashes to Ashes' begins with Adler and the team at Duga. After clearing the facility, they begin questioning Bell. This is where Bell comes clean about helping Perseus. You get several opportunities in the conversation to trigger the ambush, but you can exhaust every other dialogue option before doing so. Once Bell gives the signal, Perseus and his men appear.

The fight is extremely brief, but Bell is forced to gun down each member of the team (minus Sims, he doesn't do fieldwork) one-by-one: Park, Woods, and Mason. The final showdown with Adler leaves him with a knife in his chest. With Perseus victorious, we cut to after the nukes have detonated and hear Reagan's story wrap-ups.

CoD: Cold War bad ending (alternate)

The final ending is far less dramatic than the other two and serves more like an alternative to the evil ending. To trigger this ending, treat the 'Identity Crisis' scene the same as you would for the evil version, but after lying to Adler, you shouldn't bother setting up the ambush with Perseus.

With no backup from Perseus waiting in the wings, the confrontation at Duga ends a lot differently. Adler questions Bell about the wild goose chase at Duga, Bell reveals his true allegiance, and then Adler puts him down. That's it! Basically, Perseus still wins and detonates the nukes, but team Adler lives to fight another day. You still get basically the same wrap-up, but with Perseus' voice breaking down the player's actions throughout the campaign.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.