Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War beta start times and everything you need to know about content, pre-load and more

By Sherif Saed, Wednesday, 14 October 2020 15:22 GMT

It’s that time of year again; the time to play the beta for this year’s new Call of Duty game.

The multiplayer beta for Call of Duty 2020, Black Ops Cold War, is taking place later than usual. The coronavirus pandemic, coupled with reported development troubles meant that the game will be out later than the last two (November vs. October).

That, of course, means the beta, too, will itself drop later than players usually expect. PS4 players recently had a go with the free alpha, but the beta has even more content. Beyond maps and modes, you should expect some performance improvements and balance tweaks. Sniper rifles won’t be so dominant, for instance.

To help you make sense of the schedule and everything you can expect from the Black Ops Cold War beta, we put together this helpful guide. Read on below.

Black Ops Cold War beta schedule

As is custom with Call of Duty (and some other games), the Black Ops Cold War beta takes place over two weekends, with multiple sessions within each weekend depending on whether or not you pre-ordered the full game, and your platform of choice.

The general rule here is that PS4 goes first, so just keep that in mind as you go along.

Black Ops Cold War pre-order early access beta

Although the Black Ops Cold War beta will eventually go open, early access is limited to players who pre-ordered the game digitally. If your pre-order was made on the official PlayStation/Xbox Store or Battle.net, you won’t have to do anything else. If you pre-ordered at retail, however, you won’t have access to the early access portion of the beta.

As it stands, pre-ordering a digital copy is the only guaranteed way of getting into the early access days, but Xfinity in the US and Sky in the UK are offering limited keys to subscribers and it’s worth checking those before committing to a pre-order.

The first weekend of the beta is now behind us. This Thursday, October 15 the pre-order beta is kicking off on PC and Xbox One. The early access beta is only Thursday and Friday, before it opens up to everyone.

The times are all the same for every platform/weekend. Here’s when servers go live:

  • 10am PT.
  • 1pm ET.
  • 6pm UK.
  • 7pm CEST.

Black Ops Cold War open beta

PS4 players already had a couple of days of open beta last weekend. This weekend, all of the beta’s days are open on PS4. Meaning Thursday, October 15 all the way until Monday, October 19.

As for PC and Xbox One, their open beta first goes live on Saturday, October 17 and remains available alongside the rest until Monday, October 19. Pre-ordering essentially buys you two extra days.

Once again, times are all the same. See the schedule below:

  • 10am PT.
  • 1pm ET.
  • 6pm UK.
  • 7pm CEST.

Black Ops Cold War open beta pre-load

The Black Ops Cold War beta pre-load is available now on the PlayStation Store for everyone. You can type “Black Ops Cold War beta” into you the store’s search bar on PS4, or hit up these links for the US PS Store and the UK PS Store to queue it up remotely.

The same is also true on PC, where PC players – regardless of pre-order status – can now download the beta through Battle.net. If you restart your client, you’ll see it on the left panel.

On Xbox One, the pre-load is live on the Microsoft Store for players who pre-ordered the game, but everyone else will have to wait until Saturday.

Black Ops Cold War open beta download size

The Black Ops Cold War open beta download comes in at 31GB on PS4, 21GB on Xbox One, and a whopping 40GB on PC.

Black Ops Cold War open beta content

Base content across the various Black Ops Cold War weekends and platforms is identical, but Treyarch and Raven said you should expect some surprise updates during the beta that unlock new content such as extra weapons/maps etc. For now, here’s what we know for sure will be there.

Modes: Team Deathmatch, Domination, Hardpoint, Kill Confirmed, as well as the new VIP Escort, and Combined Arms (12v12). Combined Arms has two variants, Domination and Assault. The former should be familiar to alpha players, and the latter is one where both teams fight over a single objective. The 40-player mode Fireteam: Dirty Bomb is also coming, available on the second weekend. Black Ops 4’s Control is also coming online on Saturday.

Maps: The roster is nearly identical to the that of the recent alpha. Expect Satellite, Miami, Moscow, Armada, Crossroads and the new maps Cartel, Ruka, and Alpine.

Other content: This is a Call of Duty game, after all, so you’ll have an assortment of weapons, field upgrades, perks, lethals and tacticals to unlock and pick from. You’ll also get to play as one of several operators, just like Modern Warfare. Console players will be happy to know that the beta includes an FOV slider, too.

Black Ops Cold War open beta cross-play

The Black Ops Cold War beta does indeed support cross-play (PC-PS4-Xbox One), but that’s only going to be available when the beta is live on more than a single platform, for obvious reasons. In other words, you won’t be able to invite friends on other platforms until their own betas go live (see above for details).

Three-way cross-play between PC, PS4 and Xbox One will be possible this weekend: October 15-19, though you will still need to respect the aforementioned early access/open beta restrictions.

Cross-progression is also supported, so you can start out on PS4 for the first weekend, and pick up where you left off on PC or Xbox One the weekend after that. Just make sure you use the same Activision account, or create one.

Black Ops Cold War beta bonus

If you manage to reach level 10 or higher during the Black Ops Cold War beta, you’ll receive the Mutual Animosity SMG blueprint when you buy the full game. Like in Modern Warfare and Warzone, a blueprint is a pre-customised weapon with select attachments and a unique look.

You’ll also unlock Russell Adler as a playable character in Call of Duty: Mobile.

Black Ops Cold War alpha to beta update

The Black Ops Cold War beta is a completely separate client from the alpha. Your alpha install won’t update and turn into the beta, so feel free to uninstall it. Check above for the beta’s download size.

The good news is that you can use the same beta client across all the different weekends, so a weekend one download will work during the second weekend.

Black Ops Cold War open beta PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold requirement

All of the various Black Ops Cold War beta weekends do not require PlayStation Plus on PS4, but they do require Xbox Live Gold on Xbox One. On PC, you just need a Battle.net account.

Black Ops Cold War open beta PC specs

Players looking to jump in on PC won’t have to worry too much. The Black Ops Cold War open beta requires very modest PC specs, and we’ve included both sets below. You should also grab Nvidia’s latest drivers, which add low latency support for the beta.

Black Ops Cold War beta minimum PC specs

  • OS: Windows 7 64-Bit (SP1) or Windows 10 64-Bit (1803 or later).
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 2500k or AMD equivalent.
  • GPU: Nvidia Geforce GTX 670 2GB / GTX 1650 4GB or AMD Radeon HD 7950.
  • RAM: 8GB.
  • HDD: 45GB of free space.
  • Sound card: DirectX Compatible. Requires DirectX 12 compatible system.

Black Ops Cold War beta recommended PC specs

  • OS: Windows 10 64-Bit (latest Service Pack).
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 4770k or AMD equivalent.
  • GPU: Nvidia Geforce GTX 970 4GB / GTX 1660 Super 6GB or AMD Radeon R9 390 / AMD RX 580.
  • RAM: 16GB.
  • HDD: 45GB of free space.
  • Sound card: DirectX Compatible. Requires DirectX 12 compatible system.

Black Ops Cold War beta tips

Looking for a few tips to help you understand the convoluted new Scorestreak system and hit the ground running on Thursday? We’ve got a few solid Black Ops Cold War beta tips (and some quickies) for you to read.

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