5 Things You Should Know About Call of Duty: Black Ops II Multiplayer
Written Tuesday, August 28, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Another year and another obligatory Call of Duty sequel is readying up to hits the shelves this November. But where past instalments have largely been content to adopt the 'if ain't broke, don't fix it' mantra, Treyarch's latest stab at the franchise – and the studio's first direct sequel – is having a go at shaking things up a bit.
There might not be particularly sweeping or game-changing innovations in Black Ops II, but there's enough new stuff coming to make us genuinely sit up and take notice for once. So popular and established is Call of Duty's multiplayer that making any kind of change presents something of a risk, but Treyarch is having a go anyway.
We covered a lot of ground in our Gamescom preview, but we thought we'd go into some additional detail to make sure you're down with the kids. Or something like that. So without further ado, here are five things you should know about Call of Duty: Black Ops II multiplayer.
1. It's Got a Funky New 'Pick 10' Create A Class System – On paper, it might not sound like a particularly significant change, but presenting you with a grid comprised of ten spaces for your own bespoke loadouts is actually a clear and concise way of creating your own classes. If you're lazy, there's still the preset sniper, heavy, assault and recon classes et al, but building your own loadout is a snap. Everything is laid out in a pleasing illustrated style and constructed in such a way that you're always propelled forward through the menus, rather than having to fiddle with greyed-out options or forced to backtrack.
There are dozens of primary weapons, secondary weapons, tactical gadgets, lethal gadgets, perks and attachments to choose from, with Wildcards thrown in to mix things up a bit and three slots for you to assign them to. Choose a 'Greed' Wildcard and you can select an extra perk, while other Wildcards give you an extra weapon attachment or an extra lethal or tactical gadget. 'Pick 10' suggests that there are limits imposed on Create A Class, but the reality is a wealth of options and possible combinations to experiment with as you strive to assemble that elusive perfect loadout. It's a relatively minor new feature, but just one example of Black Ops II pushing the boat out just a little bit.
You can still only take two guns of course, but you can take only a primary weapon if you'd prefer. There's loads of scope for honing your ideal combo of weapons and items. There's 100 items to unlock too, with a new one to choose from with each of the 55 levels you achieve, meaning you'll be wanting to Prestige over and over to get everything. You'll find ten levels of Prestige to boot. Phew.
2. Kill Streaks Are Dead. Long Live Score Streaks! – Traditionally in Call of Duty to reap the benefits of helpful support items like care packages, helicopter gunships, the AC-40 or whatever, you'd have to be some sort of online first-person shooter demigod (or a big fat cheater), but in Black Ops II Kill Streaks are out and Score Streaks are in. What does that mean? It means that it's more 'come one, come all' rather than, 'here comes the fella with the biggest gun and the best perks shooting everyone in the face'. You're rewarded for a variety of actions rather than merely killing the opposition, so having the best K/D ratio isn't necessarily a surefire route to accessing all of the best shit.
Score Streaks mean that you get points for capturing a flag, taking over a hardpoint (in the king of the hill-esque HardPoint mode), fulfilling support roles, setting up a sabotage with a Shock Charge or completing any objective for that matter. It's a nice way of embracing players of all skill levels, and with a new matchmaking system that pits you against players of a similar skill, based on placing in matches, wins, rank and other factors, this is a CoD game for almost everyone. Even we managed to get our hands on a Hellstorm missile and an RC explosive car, which is really saying something. “Rewarding desirable gameplay,” is what it's all about, according to Game Design Director, David Vonderhaar. You can also earn a bunch of repeatable medals too “for doing cool stuff”, which is always nice, right?
3. It's Got Tons of New Gadgets - With its futuristic year 2025 setting, the floodgates are open for all manner of near future tech, and Black Ops II's arsenal is full to bursting with more gadgets than James Bond's underpants. Shock Charges can be carried alongside your frag grenades or semtex charges to stun enemies and temporarily impair their vision, while accessing Score Streak rewards enable you to deploy an Escort Drone to help shoot down some rivals, drop a controllable AGR bristling with miniguns and missiles onto the battlefield, fly around a controllable quad-rotor Dragonfire drone (both can be let under AI control if you prefer) or call in a Hellstorm missile airstrike.
Other Score Streaks (you can pick three separate from your 'Pick 10' out of more than 20) include the unmanned Guardian turret that can cook your foes with its wall of intense heat, a care package with a random item inside (like a military Kinder egg), an explosive RC car and more besides. You can also take a big old riot shield that you can plant into the ground (a la Gears of War 2&3) out with you (at the expense of one of your Pick 10 slots) and if you're smart with your chosen weapon attachments, there's a range of different gadgets you can take advantage of. Take the Millimeter Scanner for example that picks out stationary enemy heat signatures behind walls and through smoke grenades, or the laser sight, or the underslung grenade launcher and so on... There's loads of gadgets! Loads! And tomahawks.
4. It's Got That New e-Sports League Play Thing – These days, e-Sports is all the rage, apparently. To capitalise on this, Call of Duty: Black Ops II will ship with its very own facility that allows you to broadcast (correction: CODCast) all of your multiplayer exploits with an array of features to support it all. The aim is to make competition fun at any level, with several tiers available for players of all types. With CODCasting, all you'll need is some robust upstream bandwidth, an optional webcam, and that's it.
As far as features straight out of the box go, League Play and the ability to CODCast is pretty damn substantial, unlocking masses of potential with always-on broadcasting, live streaming for matches, overhead mini-maps for tracking the action, nameplates (likened to sports jerseys by Vonderhaar), the ability to listen in to player chat (keep it clean!), a score panel keeping track of the action and commentary. We're a little fuzzy on the intricate details, but it all sounds awfully exciting for CoD fans and anyone curious about entering the e-Sports scene. And it's all included with Black Ops II, fully formed and ready to go.
5. There's New Modes and Zombies is Back – While some modes, like Wager Matches and thus the in-game 'COD points' currency have been excised from Black Ops II, there's a handful of new game-types making their debut in Treyarch's latest crack at CoD. While there's the new Strike Force mode tying in with the single-player narrative portion of the game, multiplayer sees multi-team deathmatches for up to six teams playing as either the SEALS, SDC, FBI, Mercs, ISA or Militia, and the aforementioned king of the hill-style HardPoint mode. Granted they're modes that have been in countless first-person shooters before, but here their execution promises to be unparalleled. Based on what we've played so far anyway.
Black Ops II's Zombies mode has yet to be properly revealed - although it has been confirmed - at time of writing with only the artwork above offering any sort of clue as to what to expect. Not a whole lot is known about Zombies in Black Ops II and anything beyond the fact that it'll feature zombies is being kept under wraps for the time being, other than Treyarch's Director of Communications, John Rafacz telling us that it'll be “the biggest zombie experience [you've] ever seen”. We happen to know that the first details on Zombies for Black Ops II are set to drop very soon though, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled. As Rafacz also revealed to us, Zombies will use Black Ops II's multiplayer engine, which will help to provide a “dynamic experience”. And that sounds good to us.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II will be launching on November 13th, 2012. Bring. It. On.