Welcome to the Gulag, a last-chance fight for survival where winning your gunfight will grant you the right to go back to the battlefield… while losing results in instant elimination.
Upon your first death in Battle Royale matches, your Operator will be thrown into the Gulag. This area isn’t the same as the one you previously visited in Verdansk, however; as of Season One of Black Ops Cold War, it’s an altogether new experience compared to the Gulag Showers of old. There’s also a new version of the Gulag coming to Rebirth Island, which is located below the Prison Block in an area that is not accessible under normal circumstances.
Before studying up on the latest changes to a Gulag, here’s a quick reminder on what happens after a misadventure in a standard Battle Royale, as well as general tips for surviving your 1v1 fight:
The Gulag: The Basics
After being sent to the Gulag, your Operator will wake up either restrained in an interrogation room (Verdansk) or outside a dingy cell (Rebirth Island). Outside your personal holding area are individual chambers holding other prisoners who’ve met a similarly grim fate and, in the center, the arena where players face-off in a 1v1 gunfight to get back to the Battle Royale mode.
At the top of your screen, you will see how many matches are left until you get your shot, along with the names of the players currently fighting.
When it’s your turn to enter the fray, your screen will fade to black, then come back to life with you at one end of the arena. You’ll see the loadout you’ve been given for this 1v1 fight on the right side of your screen, and the match will begin after a quick countdown.
The rules for the Gulag are essentially the same as a Gunfight in Multiplayer, now live in Black Ops Cold War as of Season One:
· Your loadout will be completely random.
· Each round lasts 40 seconds, with the main objective being to eliminate your enemy. If neither player dies at the end of 40 seconds, “Overtime” begins and a flag spawns.
· Either player has a few seconds to capture this flag. Capture time is three seconds.
· During Overtime, you can achieve victory by capturing the flag or by eliminating your opponent.
· If no one defeats the other player or captures the flag, the player with the higher health wins. If both sides have the same amount of health and time expires, both players will be killed.
While You Wait…
Just because you’re waiting for a match does not mean you are confined to your chair or your cell contemplating your fate.
Should you break out of the holding chair, you’ll be able to access a balcony above and around the map. While walking around this perimeter, you can watch the current duel and throw rocks into the pit at both competitors, just like the old Gulag. Rocks do one point of non-lethal damage, meaning that they can take 1 HP (Hit Point) off either competitor, but will not kill them if they have only 1 HP left.
This allows you to potentially help another player – including a squadmate – who is fighting in the Gulag to win their 1v1.
Other than meddling in the current duel, you can say hello to your fellow prisoners by gesturing, using sprays, running around, or giving them a friendly, non-damaging punch.
This allows you to potentially help another player – including a fellow squadmate – who is fighting in the Gulag to win their 1v1.
General Tips for the 1v1
First and foremost, the Gunfight game mode, which was added to Season One of Black Ops Cold War, can be an excellent way to train up for the Gulag. By playing Gunfight in Multiplayer, you can get some quality practice for when you have to fight for survival in Warzone.
Upon spawning in for a Gunfight, you will have to adapt quickly to your random loadout. Each season has a different weapon pool, such as a close-quarters weapon selection of pistols, shotguns, and SMGs. After a few Gulag trips, you should have an idea of which weapons are in the rotation, which you can then practice with in Multiplayer or in respawn-enabled Warzone games modes.
In general, having a familiarity with every weapon in the game is a great advantage to have for the Gulag. Because both you and your enemy’s loadouts will be the same, the Operator who has the most knowledge about their loadout’s strengths and weaknesses may ultimately win the match.
Equipment is also not guaranteed; sometimes you’ll have C4 and Flash Grenades, other times, you’ll have nothing but your weapons to work with. When you do have lethal or tactical equipment, a special mention should be made to two equipment pieces: the Throwing Knife and Stim.
Unlike any other equipment piece, the Throwing Knife can be used immediately after spawning in. Keep this in mind, and you might be able to get an unexpectedly swift kill on an enemy.
As for the Stim, it’s a way to instantly gain health while fighting in the Gulag. Remember to use it if you have it as tactical equipment, and it may just save your life.
Speaking of life: you only have one here. Veteran Call of Duty players know this next tip well: “play your life.” In a single-life game mode such as this, rushing forward with reckless abandon may not be the best strategy.
That’s not to say aggressive play will get punished; just keep a watchful eye over your health and don’t make rash decisions that can cost you the chance to get back into the Warzone match.
If you happen to get into an Overtime situation, the flag could be a powerful tool to gain the upper hand against an opponent. Sometimes, it may be better to use it as bait against a needy opponent, rather than an objective you sprint towards and capture. Pay attention to the top of your HUD to see if your opponent is capturing the flag and play the situation accordingly.
Finally, the tiebreaker rule is an interesting one. If neither player takes damage and time expires in overtime, both players are killed. This leads to a bit of potential strategy, as you may wish to make a move and triumph over the enemy before you both die. But remember, don't be reckless!
Map-Specific Intel – Verdansk
The new Gulag within Verdansk is a recreation of Nuketown, albeit stripped down as an “in-progress” version with no accessible homes nor backyards.
If you’ve played any of its iterations, including Nuketown ’84 in Black Ops Cold War, you should feel right at home in this Gulag.
If not, don’t worry. The map is simple to understand. It’s set up like a cul-de-sac with the center occupied by an 18-wheeler made with a wood cabin and metal container for a shipping trailer, as well as an old bus parked opposite. The metal container has an opening on each side and a ramp down the back to the head of the cul-de-sac, where there is a parked car in the middle, a large sign near one house, and a few boxes stacked up near the other.
Both houses are inaccessible, although it’s possible to access an awning by scrambling up the ladder-like latticework. Note that pistols can be fired while climbing up the latticework, just like any other ladder.
In climbing to this elevated position, you have views over to both ends of the map in between the two houses and a sightline to the other awning. While this is a dangerous position, it could yield long-range picks.
There are four other long sightlines on the map: down across the parked car area, at the end of the street looking out to either house, through the opening in the center truck, and in between the parked truck and bus, where the Overtime flag spawns. It’s wise to stick close to cover pieces to avoid being spotted down these long open spaces, especially when long-range weaponry is included in the loadouts.
Sticking close to the center vehicles is a solid way to force more close-range opportunities, given that you’d be effectively cutting down sightlines. The car, boxes, and sign at the end of the cul-de-sac are also great cover pieces. But as with previous Gulags, waiting behind cover may be a surefire way to guarantee a loss.
Map-Specific Intel – Rebirth Island
Available in certain modes during Season One and beyond, Rebirth Island’s Gulag is a roughly square arena set under the main Prison Block, with a long hallway running down to each player’s spawn. In the middle of both of these hallways is a metal detector; a loud ping can be heard by both prisoners in the arena whenever it gets tripped.
The other two hallways lead to the entrance of a central experiment chamber, where a previous test has gone horribly wrong. This room is split into two lanes, with yellow privacy dividers creating an open square at the center, and doesn’t have any ceiling outside of three steel beams and an overhead walkway.
All four hallways are dangerous for those looking to avoid long-range combat, since the only cover that can be taken is next to either metal detector or by ducking into the central room. The two lanes in the central room are also considered decent sightlines, but these can usually devolve into a close-quarters fight given the small size of the space.
Because the ceiling of this room is open, it’s possible to lob equipment pieces up and into the space from any of the hallways. This may be a great way to get some intel on an enemy’s presence in that room, or to prevent them from capturing the Overtime flag with style. Just be sure to avoid hitting those steel beams with a piece of lethal equipment along the way.
The other major piece of intel that can be gathered on an enemy’s position is through the metal detectors. However, it’s easy to “bait” someone by tripping these by either running in another direction or waiting to see if they check this hallway... so they may not be as reliable as they seem.
Use these tips, and you just might have a fighting chance at reuniting with the squad and continuing onward towards victory.