The Black Ops Cold War alpha was a surprise announcement during this week's PS5 September showcase, showing off a new trailer as well as news of hands-on access to multiplayer this week.
This isn't new for Call of Duty or PlayStation - with an alpha for Modern Warfare's Gunpoint taking place last year.
This page explains Black Ops Cold War alpha times and alpha access for the weekend ahead.
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Black Ops Cold War alpha release times and dates: When does the Black Ops Cold War alpha start?
The Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War alpha is available for one weekend, exclusively for PS4 players.
The Black Ops Cold War alpha dates are Friday, September 18th to Sunday, September 20th, with the following start and end times:
- UK: 6pm (BST)
- Europe: 7pm (CEST)
- East Coast US: 1pm (EDT)
- West Coast US: 10am (PDT)
The good news is there's a pre-load available ahead of time, allowing you to get playing right away...
Black Ops Cold War alpha pre-load times
As well as the above start times, you can also start downloading the alpha early so you're ready to play as soon as it launches.
The Black Ops Cold War alpha pre-load begins on Thursday, September 17th at the following start times:
- UK: 4pm (BST)
- Europe: 5pm (CEST)
- East Coast US: 11am (EDT)
- West Coast US: 8am (PDT)
The download is 25GB, according to publisher Activision - so you know exactly how much room to clear ahead of time.
Black Ops Cold War alpha access explained
Unlike the upcoming Black Ops Cold War beta, there's no need to pre-order to gain access - the Black Ops Cold War alpha will be freely accessible for all PS4 users. All you need to do is download.
The Black Ops Cold War alpha is available through Modern Warfare or Warzone's menus, with the "Alpha menu blade" allowing you to download and then access the game.
Also, as with last year's Gunpoint alpha, you don't need a PlayStation Plus subscription to play, either (unless you live in Germany).
There is no Xbox One or PC alpha test coming - that'll have to wait until the Black Ops Cold War beta to get your first hands-on experience.
What's featured in the Black Ops Cold War alpha?
The Black Ops Cold War alpha is focused on multiplayer, with confirmation of the following ahead of the pre-load arriving:
- 6v6 modes Team Deathmatch, Domination, Kill Confirmed
- 12v12 mode Combined Arms - Dominion, a "vehicle-inclusive twist on traditional Domination, set in larger maps compared to the game's traditional 6v6 play spaces"
- 6v6 maps Miami, Satellite
- 12v12 maps Armada, Crossroads
- Ability to try out Create-a-Class and Scorestreaks
Additionally, participating in the alpha will reward players with a Calling Card which will be accessible in Modern Warfare, Warzone and (on release) Black Ops Cold War.
Once the weekend is over and done with, the next stop is the Black Ops Cold War beta in October.