As we head into the change of seasons, we also enter the video game industry’s most lucrative quarter. The holiday season, more specifically, the months between October and December is the time when publishers put out their best franchise titles. One of these annual releases is Activision’s “Call of Duty,” and this year the developers at Treyarch are taking the series to new heights with “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.” Many critics and consumers are beginning to experience franchise fatigue, that is to say, gamers are becoming bored with the same proven formula being used each year with little to no innovation across titles. This is one of the challenges Treyarch hopes to address with a new approach to the game’s multiplayer.
There is not an doubt, “Black Ops 2” feels very much like a “Call of Duty” game. Familiar game modes such as Capture the Flag, Domination, Search and Destroy, and Team Deathmatch are all once again staples of the game’s multiplayer experience. One twist Treyarch is adding to the carnage is multi-team support; up to six teams are able to compete against each other in one match in multiple configurations (two-versus-two, three-versus-three-versus-three, four-versus-four-versus-four-versus-four). There are still details about Challenges that remain undisclosed, but Treyarch describes them as an “evolution of [the] Wager Match” as seen in the original “Black Ops.”
Weapon perks such as Deep Impact and Steady Aim will not return this November 13th. In fact, no perks will effect weapon performance, but rather, the closest perks come to enhancing a weapon’s statistics are via the attachments placed on them. Some of the new attachments are Target Finder and the Millimeter Wave Scanner which reveal enemies lurking around corners by making them visible through walls and other objects when in close proximity. In an effort to thwart “campers” from using certain perks such as Ghost to remain undetected by anything that might be able to detect them (UAV, Infrared Sensors, etc.), Treyarch is making perks less guaranteed. For example, the Ghost perk in “Black Ops 2” functions the same as before, but only shields those with it equipped if they are moving.
Leveling up is similar to previous installments of the franchise, but use tokens awarded when a player reaches the next rank to unlock weapons and other associated gear. There are fifty-five levels and ten prestige levels in “Black Ops 2,” and by the time one reaches level fifty-five, they will have cashed in all of their tokens. In addition, content is made available in groups by reaching significant ranks. The Assault Shield is one of the new pieces of equipment players will be able to look forward to. Like a Riot Shield, but acting more a Mauler’s shield in “Gears of War,” the Assault Shield is able to be inserted into the ground and used as cover for yourself or your team. Protecting your teammates yields some self-satisfaction in the form points towards a player’s Score Streak, just one example of how Treyarch hopes to bring the focus of multiplayer back to the team as a unit.
“We want to reward players who are helping their team win the game mode, not just the game,” says Treyarch game designer David Vonderhaar.
Score Streaks are replacing the age-old Killstreaks; the difference is how players earn rewards. In “Black Ops 2,” kills are worth 100 points. Similarly, objectives are also worth points. Flag captures in Capture the Flag are also worth 100 points and kills by the flag holder are worth 200. These stack up until a player reaches a reward tier. For example, when a player accumulates 375 points, they are able to order in a UAV. When they reach 1275 points, they can call in the attack dogs. Some Score Streaks are interactive such as the Autonomous Ground Robot (AGR). The player that has this machine at their disposal is able to alternate at will with the AI control of the device. There are nearly twenty Score Streaks in “Black Ops 2” and the new system gives everyone a chance to aid their teammates as well as have some fun themselves.
Arguably the biggest change to the multiplayer experience in “Black Ops 2” is the Create-A-Class formula, which deviates greatly from the traditional and familiar style. Instead of choosing from a limited list from different categories (primary weapon, secondary weapon, lethal grenades, tactical grenades, equipment, and three perks), the new “Pick 10” system offers up nearly limitless combinations using Wildcards. There are ten slots and players are able to swap out anything for something else. This means, it’s possible to have a class with three primary weapons or five perks. The possibilities are sure to make matchmaking always evolving.
Vonderhaar explains, “When we started development on ‘Black Ops 2,’ we were really passionate about and inspired by the need to challenge all of the core assumptions about what cows were sacred inside the game. So every gameplay system has been re-examined very critically and carefully to be sure that we give the player the utmost control over his experience. All these changes push the boundaries of what fans expect, but we do it in all the right ways that they’ll be okay with.”
The author of this article is a Video Games Examiner in the Greater Boston, MA area. He also writes articles for Tech Research, Hobbies, and Marking & PR on pingroof.com. Subscribe to all of his channels and be sure to follow him on Twitter.