Autumn is upon us, which means it’s almost time for the release of the newest installment in the Call of Duty franchise. Love it or hate it, the game’s release has become an annual event, with millions upon millions of people lining up to buy copies at its launch.
For the 2012 release of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, developer Treyarch is aiming to prove that despite its yearly release, the series can still improve and evolve enough to stay competitive in the flooded realm of the FPS. So, what new additions will be made to Call of Duty: Black Ops II?
While the game will span three separate time periods, one of the most surprising moves of developers has been their decision to set the game in the year 2025.
No, you won’t be shooting lasers or energy beams at opponents, but new weapons and technology will be introduced, including the use of drones and automated combat robots armed to the teeth with grenades.
On top of that, game creators have consulted with military officials to create a completely plausible situation taking place in the not-too-distant future, with tensions rising between nations at a difficult time. Whether or not it results in a hard-hitting narrative has yet to be seen, but it’s shaping up to be a drastic tone change for the franchise.
EMPHASIS ON STRATEGY
In the past, Call of Duty’s single-player campaign has been a very traditional, linear FPS consisting of running, entering a room, mowing down enemies, and moving on to repeat the process in another area. There’s no real dynamic or use of tactics, just impressive cinematics and bullet spraying with various weapons.
In Black Ops II, Treyarch will be introducing an entirely new mission type in the single player campaign. Called strikeforce missions, certain missions throughout the story will have a much more “sandbox” feel, allowing players to approach and complete a mission using the weapons and soldiers at their disposal.
The main part of this mission is Overwatch mode, where you take a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield and control the actions of your team below, setting waypoints and issuing commands to them as you work to achieve the main objective. From Overwatch, you’ll also be able to take control of any machine or soldier on your team, whether it’s a drone or a standard infantry man. The game arms you with a handful of options, but leaves it up to you to direct the flow of combat as you use tactics and strategy like never before in a Call of Duty single-player campaign.
Strikeforce missions also mark the introduction of branching story arcs, something not seen in the Call of Duty franchise before. Depending on what decisions you make and how successful they are, you’ll experience the consequences of your actions as your story changes. Characters might die, and alternate events could take place, all dictated by your decisions made on the battlefield.
A WHOLE NEW MULTIPLAYER EXPERIENCE
It’s not a secret that a majority of players come for multiplayer, and stay for multiplayer. And for a good reason, too; through the years, Call of Duty has nearly perfected the multiplayer experience, whether it’s with leveling up, constructing loadouts, or even with map design and layout.
But there’s something to be said for the intimidating nature of Call of Duty’s multiplayer. It’s a fast-paced, reflex-based experience, and other players logged on the game aren’t always the most hospitable, especially towards newbies.
It’s because of this that Treyarch has taken an incredibly ambitious new approach to the way they’re designing the multiplayer of Black Ops II.
The first mode you’ll encounter in multiplayer is Combat Training, in which you’ll work to level up from 1-10 while fighting AI bots and other players in the different maps. Despite how this might sound like a “training wheels” segment of the game designed specifically for new players, there’s merit for returning veterans to play around in combat training as well. Black Ops II sees an entirely new loadout construction system, and combat training allows you some time and flexibility to play with the game’s settings to see what suits your play style best. On top of that, combat training also allows you to test team tactics, learn map layout, and hone your skills. Think of it more as a training tool than a tutorial, and one that will leave you more well-prepared for the overall experience.
Where Call of Duty has stuck to a fairly rigid loadout system in the past, Black Ops II breaks the doors down and leaves multiplayer wide open for customization. The game sees the debut of the “Pick 10″ system of loadout creation, where every gun, attachment, and ability costs players one point. To create your loadout, you’ll be able to mix and match a myriad of weapons and abilities to create whatever assortment suits you individually, whether it’s multiple attachments on your primary weapon or additional grenades and perks. The philosophy of Black Ops II’s multiplayer is simple; make it the game you want it to be. This strategy allows the game to cater to players old and new, regardless of experience in the multiplayer FPS space.
And those who want the option will be happy to hear that you won’t lose any of your progress after deciding to Prestige. Out of the ten Prestige levels, you’ll be awarded a token used to open up new customization slots, unlock weapons, and even have the chance to completely reset everything should you choose to challenge yourself.
Familiar modes such as Deathmatch are accompanied by new takes on the game as well. New ideas such as the eighteen-player multi-team deathmatch made up of four teams of three or three teams of four put a special emphasis on strategy, as you’ll need to communicate with your teammates during the most frantic of matches. Other modes such as Capture the Flag and Hardpoint will also be included in the game, each with a unique set of rules and conventions to suit the new format.
Black Ops II’s multiplayer is nothing if not ambitious, and it’s a promising formula that opens the doors wide open or new players and returning vets looking to frag each other out on the futuristic battlefield.
After the success that was the zombies co-op mode in Black Ops, Black Ops II returns with an entirely new format for fighting waves of the attacking undead.
If you followed the story line of the original Zombies at all, Black Ops II’s Zombie mode will continue the narrative, but set in a different location with new protagonists.
It’s running on the same engine as the game’s multiplayer, boasts an all-new leaderboard, statistics tracking, and multiple game modes to keep you entertained for hours.
Co-op fans can check out the Tranzit mode, made up of 1-4 player co-op tasking players with fighting off zombies while finding clues and trying to survive. Or, you can try out the new Grief mode, pitting players against both zombie and human enemies in a doomsday scenario. You’ll also be able to customize zombie modes, experiment with the various weapons found both in the zombies experience and unlocked within the core game, and have a chance to explore all-new Zombie maps.
But the most exciting thing about Black Ops II’s Zombie mode is just that; it’s more Zombies. And considering how fun the original was, there’s no reason not to be excited about a bigger and better experience a second time around.
Look for Call of Duty: Black Ops II on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC on November 13th, with a Wii U version coming shortly after.