In a first for the Call of Duty series, players will be able to sculpt their main protagonist in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War's campaign. Unlike past entries where players usually bounce around from character to character, Black Ops Cold War is more firmly planting you in the boots of one operative. Players will be able to customize their skin tone, gender, birth place, military background, and most notably, even leave aspects of their identity "classified." As for pronouns, she, he, they—it's all an option in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
For Raven Software Senior Creative Director Dan Vondrak, he was inspired by his "formative years" playing games in the '80s, an era when video games didn't have robust character creation systems and it was just the player and the game. In Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Raven Software wanted players to have freedom in making their character. It's a stark change, considering how Call of Duty campaigns typically bounce between multiple prescribed characters over the course of its story. With it being a Black Ops game, the option to leave some things "classified"—from background details to gender—was an obvious decision for the team to ensure no player feels excluded.
"So when it came to gender, that same thing was thrown out: Why can't we leave that classified? There's no reason we can't do that," Vondrak tells a group of journalists including USgamer during a roundtable Q&A. "We were already gonna make it change to he and she so it was easy enough for us to use those different pronouns there as well."
As a partial result, which Vondrak credits to a "philosophical choice," there will be no voice for the main player character. "I remember all the way back to Baldur's Gate 1 and they must have had, whatever, it was like two dozen voices you pick," Vondrak says. "And at the end of the day, I think I picked the voice [...] I hated the least, basically. Sometimes it just doesn't feel like your character. So you could have a dialogue tree [in] the game and the way you read that response in your head, and then suddenly the voice says it and it's like well, that's not what I was thinking it was. So I really didn't want that disconnection for the player."
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is set to be a full sequel to the original Black Ops, set primarily in 1981. The campaign is being headed up by Raven Software, who is working closely with lead developer Treyarch. While information on its multiplayer is coming on Sept. 9, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has a release date of Nov. 13 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. It will also be coming to next-gen platforms upon their respective launches. For more on everything new with Call of Duty this year, check out our extensive explainer of all the first details about Black Ops' big return campaign.