Skill-Based Matchmaking Isn’t a Replacement for a Black Ops Cold War Ranked Mode

by in Call of Duty | Nov, 16th 2020

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War is out now on old and new consoles, including PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and PC. The latest entry in the long-running, annualized franchise is exciting, filled with interesting content but lacking one important piece: a Black Ops Cold War ranked mode.

There are tons of playlists to be found in the latest entry to the series, but there is no ranked playlist that you can enjoy at this time. Sure, you can go in and enjoy your normal quick play of the basic game modes plus the new Combined Arms larger modes, but there is no ranked mode.

Black Ops Cold War Ranked Mode Nowhere to Be Found

At the time of writing, only a few days after the launch of the game, there are many playlists for players to check out, including the quick play system where you can select which game modes you would like to queue up for, including all of the main ones.

There is also the Fireteam Dirty Bomb game mode that is new to the title, Combined Arms, and so much more. A lot of content is available in multiplayer, even if there isn’t a lot in Zombies (that’s a topic for another time).

However, it is pretty wild not to see a ranked mode be available at the game’s launch. We have so many game modes here at the start of the title, but the lack of a ranked playlist is one missing element that shouldn’t have happened, especially given its importance.

Treyarch knows that the community loves the league play that allows them to rise through the ranks and show off their skills in the best way possible, so it is pretty startling not to see it available at launch. Is there reason to be concerned about this situation, or is there more to this than meets the eye?

That is something that I would like to figure out with this post, going over everything that you need to know about what is happening with the Black Ops Cold War ranked mode. Is it going actually to happen? If so, when will that be? Let’s figure it all out.

Is Ranked Even Going to Happen?

We wouldn’t blame someone if they thought right now that there wouldn’t be a Black Ops Cold War ranked mode. The game launched with a full suite of multiplayer options, including some that could have come later, but not with the ranked playlist.

That is arguably more important than some of the new game modes in the game. This could make it seem like there isn’t going to be a ranked playlist in the future. After all, there is even more evidence to be found when we look at the history of the series.

The most recent game before Cold War was Modern Warfare last year, and, though it was developed by Infinity Ward, who hasn’t been as big on the competitive scene in the past, that game didn’t have a ranked mode. Many held out hope for one, but we never saw it come to fruition.

This was problematic and one of the reasons I wasn’t a huge fan of the game. It certainly felt like it lacked the longevity of past Call of Duty games because of this, but it could have set a precedent that might have changed how things have turned out for the Cold War.

There is the chance that the lack of a ranked playlist and Modern Warfare still having success without it leading to Black Ops Cold War following suit. This is a possible scenario, but I hope and believe it will not happen in the end.

Though Treyarch itself has not confirmed the existence of a Black Ops Cold War ranked mode, there is a lot of evidence and hearsay that seems to point towards this being the case. We have heard teases and hints from actual employees who work on the game, basically confirming that it would happen.

Even before the game came out, it led us to believe that there was no doubt that a Black Ops Cold War ranked mode would happen. But here we are after the launch of the title. No ranked playlist is here, nor has the developer even confirmed when we would see it.

That in itself is pretty problematic as it would make sense to announce that it is coming soon, and then there is no issue. But for the game to launch and have no launch window for the league playlist is a very concerning place to be in.

Fortunately, the game itself confirms that the ranked playlist is coming someday with a challenge that references the league playlist we don’t currently have. It is clear to me that it will happen someday, but when will that be?

Treyarch Needs to Release It Sooner Rather Than Later

Without a doubt, Treyarch needs to release the Black Ops Cold War ranked mode sooner rather than later. This should have been at launch but isn’t, so it is only a matter of time until the community is heated online because of its lack.

The game’s launch indeed means that you have a shiny new game to play on a potentially shiny new console with a campaign, Zombies, and so many new game modes and maps to check out. That is a lot to take in, so it is easy to forget that the game lacks one of the most important modes.

But that newness will go away eventually. Once the honeymoon phase is over and done with, the community will probably not be too happy that there isn’t a ranked playlist available to show off your skills and prove how good you are at the game.

Once this happens, it will be too little too late for Treyarch to release the ranked playlist. The community will likely forever remember that the title was “incomplete” or lacking everything that it could have had at launch, even if those comments are stretching a bit.

It is in Treyarch and Activision’s best interests to beat the community’s comments and anger by releasing it or, at the very least, announcing the ranked playlist and when we will see it release before things get out of hand. And trust me, I don’t think it will take longer for that to happen.

There are likely many players who have already beat the story mode, checked out what there is to see in Zombies, and have reached the max level in the game. It has only been out a few days, but there’s no doubt in my mind that some have already done that. It is only a matter of time before the outcry for more content is here.

When We Will Probably See It

Since the Black Ops Cold War ranked mode isn’t here right now. There has been no announcement about when we will see it. It is time to speculate on when that might be and why. There are a few different times in which Treyarch might release the ranked play. It all comes down to the reason it isn’t here currently.

First, I will go over the soonest that I think we will see the ranked playlist drop later this month. It would seem weird to release the ranked mode only a few weeks after the game comes out since it could have been there at launch, but this wouldn’t be too surprising.

After all, there are 55 base levels that every player has to progress through at launch plus three different prestiges that you can do before the first season of content drops. Couple that with the first complete Black Ops title since Black Ops 3, and there is a lot to tie fans over.

As such, it would make sense, in theory, to let the players get used to the game, level up some, and then offer the ranked playlist for those who have reached a certain level in the title already only a few weeks after launch. This would align with an upcoming content drop.

Before Season 1 arrives in the game, a new map will release for multiplayer, the next iteration of the fan-favorite Nuketown. This version of the map drops this month. That would be a great time to release the ranked playlist as well.

But it seems strange that we know about the Nuketown map but not the ranked mode. If this were to be the case, it would make sense that we would already know that it is coming out. As such, I think this is the less likely scenario.

The more likely scenario is the second one in which Treyarch releases the ranked playlist when Season 1 drops in early December. I think this is a little too late, but it makes the most sense since we already know that new playlists will be there.

This is likely for the ranked playlist to drop, but it would be unfortunate to wait this long. As I mentioned before, the community will probably be very unhappy by that point. Though this is the most likely scenario, there is one more that is even later than that.

I don’t think this one is likely, but there is the chance that Treyarch might wait to time the release of the Black Ops Cold War ranked mode with the start of the new Call of Duty League season. Both are competitive-focused. There is a chance that we could see that happen, but that would be too late.

The next Call of Duty League season will probably start in late January next year, and that is far too long to go without this important playlist.

Skill-Based Matchmaking Is Not a Replacement

I don’t think that Treyarch thinks this way (at least I hope not), but I want to be clear that skill-based matchmaking is not a replacement for a traditional ranked mode, and it should never be treated as such. Though both are based around skill, one is welcome while the other is not.

I have long desired for a level-based matchmaking system in a normal multiplayer where it tries to match you with players in the same level range as you rather than the skill you have. This means that if you are, say level 25. The game would match you with people within five or so levels of you or something like that.

This way, it wouldn’t be a situation where you have level threes matching up with level 30s who have more stuff unlocked, therefore, making it unfair. Skill-based matchmaking is problematic and controversial and is not something to replace ranked mode where players want matchmaking.

I hope that Black Ops Cold War isn’t following suit after Modern Warfare and letting that feature be the stand-in for a traditional ranked playlist, where players who want that hardcore level of competition can enjoy it. Those who want to play casually can queue up elsewhere.


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