How Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Connects To Modern Warfare

Infinity Ward and Treyarch's Call of Duty franchises have been mostly separate--until now.


With Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, developer Treyarch picks up the story it started 10 years ago with the original Black Ops. And while there have been other Call of Duty franchises, including Ghosts, Advanced Warfare, Infinite Warfare, and the acclaimed Modern Warfare games, so far the franchises have stayed pretty separate from one another.

That changes with Black Ops Cold War, which fills in a gap in the Black Ops story between 1968 and 2025, taking place in 1981. But that still leaves a huge amount of time between the events of Cold War and Black Ops II, which takes place in way off in 2025. In Cold War, we get a hint at what might else might fill that gap, because Cold War makes a bridge between the Black Ops games and Infinity Ward's rebooted Modern Warfare storyline.

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Now Playing: Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Story So Far

That connection is a character: Imran Zakhaev. If you're a Modern Warfare fan, that name will sound familiar. Zakhaev is a Russian ultranationalist in both Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and the 2019 reboot game. He's the mastermind behind the events of the first game, and although he's killed in both Modern Warfare and the reboot by Captain Price, it's Zakhaev's machinations that fuel the rest of the original Modern Warfare trilogy. His son Victor becomes a major antagonist following Imran's death.

Now we know that Modern Warfare, or at least the reboot, takes place in the same timeline as Black Ops 1, 2, and Cold War. In the latter, you take part in a mission that takes them to the headquarters of the KGB. There, they briefly encounter Imran Zakhaev in his role as a Soviet military officer. It's a particularly interesting mission, actually--one that makes a few changes from the regular CoD formula that we don't want to spoil.

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Though he's not a huge part of the story, Zakhaev's presence in 1981 serves as a pretty solid tether between the two franchises. And it suggests that, if Infinity Ward continues to reboot the complete Modern Warfare trilogy, we might see more connections to Black Ops. The first Modern Warfare mission to feature Zakhaev only take place about a decade after Black Ops Cold War, which could set up another encounter. It's this mission that causes him to lose his arm in the original trilogy.

In Black Ops Cold War, he first is seen at a table speaking with the player-character and Gorbachev. He's later also on an elevator occupied by two other allied characters and briefly speaks to them before giving a cold goodbye and leaving.

The rebooted Modern Warfare adjusts the series' original timeline pretty significantly--the original was set in 2011, but the reboot moves its setting up to 2019--so if this line of thinking continues, a rebooted Modern Warfare 2 and 3 will probably overlap Black Ops II's story in 2025. If Infinity Ward and Treyarch really are bridging the two franchises, it seems likely we could see a rebooted Black Ops II to retcon the timeline discrepancy.

Then again, this could just be a fun Easter egg, implying a connection between Modern Warfare and Black Ops that doesn't really make a ton of sense--after all, the rest of Modern Warfare trilogy included a Russian invasion of the US. But if Treyarch and Infinity Ward mean for us to take the Zakhaev cameo at face value, it might imply that we'll see the two franchises tying together in more ways in the future.

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