Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has finally been officially announced. The game returns to the political thriller angle of single-player campaigns that Black Ops is known for, but it also makes some notable changes and additions. That includes the ability to create your own character, who can be referred to using gender neutral pronouns.
Before starting Cold War’s campaign, you need to make a character and will have several customization options. And as we saw from the character creation screen during our preview, you can choose your name, skin tone, gender, place of birth, military background, and psychological profile. But you also have the choice to leave any of those things “classified.”
With gender options, you have male, female, and classified. The game will treat the classified option as gender neutral and refer to you using they/them pronouns, which includes voiced dialogue from other characters.
When asked about the classified gender option further during a roundtable discussion, creative director Dan Vondrak explained the decision-making process for the character creator. He cited his gaming experiences in the ’80s where character identities lived in his head, but that idea clashed with Call of Duty’s history of predefined characters. “We didn’t want to exclude anybody,” Vondrak said. He continued to preface the answer, saying, “The option to leave [information] classified was super important because there are only so many backgrounds or places of birth we can have listed in the game. If we don’t find something somebody wants, then let’s let them leave it classified so they can be that mysterious, shadowy Black Ops character they want to be.”
Vondrak then addressed the gender question directly, saying, “So when it came to gender, that same idea was thrown in: Why can’t we leave it classified? There’s no reason we can’t do that. We were already going to make [the game] change to he/she [for male/female options] so it was easy enough for us to use different pronouns [they/them].”
It was stated that these options won’t have major gameplay effects, but the goal was to offer more player choice. Regardless, when calling you by name, all spoken dialogue will refer to you as “Bell” as indicated in the character screen and in the audio from some of the gameplay we saw.
Your character is not voiced in Black Ops Cold War, however, even though you’ll have dialogue options at certain points in the game that can affect story outcomes. Vondrak stated that this helped keep the idea of building your own character background consistent while also citing the philosophy of the silent protagonist being an extension of yourself.
Another element of character customization is the psychological profile, which lets you choose a pair of traits out of 15 in total. Each offers its own perk, and we got a look at a few of them. Paranoia increases ADS speed by 50%, Violent Tendencies increases bullet damage by 25%, Lone Wolf doubles the amount of time you can sprint, and Professional grants full movement speed while in ADS. Another option we noticed was Fearless, but we didn’t get to see its effect.
For more on how this new Call of Duty is changing things up for the single-player campaign, be sure to read our story on Black Ops Cold War’s open-ended missions and multiple endings. We have plenty of coverage from the game’s official reveal; check out our stories below.
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