Black Ops 2: Here’s What We Know So Far

Now that Black Ops 2 has finally been announced officially, Treyarch and Activision have been shelling the Internet with a barrage of details about Activision’s latest annual guaranteed cash cow. Horses! Robots! America In flames! The usual middle of the road action you’ve come to expect! Zombies! And so on. The fact is, there’s a lot of information out there, so to help you out, we’ve scoured the web to bring you as much as we can in easy, digestible form. It might not be pretty, but neither is war, soldier, so quit yer bellyaching and grab your gear.

Here’s everything important we know (so far) about Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

* The Story

Like us, you’re probably not expecting the story to matter nearly as much as the multiplayer and inevitable Zombies Mode. Despite this, a lot of effort seems to have gone into creating a blockbuster movie plot with some nods to recent other games, particularly Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

The trailer slipped a lot of details into the collective unconscious; horses, for example. Horses; Robots; Los Angeles in flames (which kind of sucks, since it’s where I happen to live. Stay way from Echo Park!). The game‘s near future setting has been confirmed – it idoes indeed take place in 2025 – and it appears Treyarch is actively gunning for the DXHR fan who wanted more hardcore combat in their near future setting. Flying hoverjet things (drones, but big ones), ubiquitous in such settings, are in effect, as is Extremely Cool Future Music. Ditto walking tanks…

Actually, if I might digress, 2025 is literally 13 years from now. We are not going to have extremely cool, huge hoverplane drones like in Deus Ex, unless the Earth’s gravity changes, or we figure out some kind of hitherto unknown ultralightweight and ultrastrong construction material. And all pilots and passengers become anorexics. Also walking tanks are a major physics and balance FAIL. Those feet will punch through weak ground like toothpicks through paper, and they’re going to be easy to trip. OK, they look awesome, so OK.

…Anyway, there’re also more specific details emerging. In addition to the 2025 setting, there’s apparently a playable prologue set in the 1980s during the end of the cold war, which may address the ending of Black Ops 1. There may also be playable settings in other eras as well. Check out our look at what the new trailer reveals about gameplay locations to find out more. For more story details, see VG 24/7′s decent breakdown.

There’s also a surprising feature new to the Call of Duty franchise:

* Non-linear gameplay elements for the first time in series history.

Injecting a bit of choice in a series whose single player campaigns are notable for their strict linearity, Black Ops 2 will feature a new option, Strike Force Missions, that promises to shake things up. These missions, assigned to certain missions around the game’s globe, become available during critical moments, and offer players the chance to mix up how they complete the single player campaign.

One example Joystiq saw gave players the chance to assume command of strategic elements in an ongoing battle, such as a swarm of attack drones, in order to complete specific objectives. Success or failure will supposedly affect how the main single player storyline progresses, either presenting players with setbacks, or making the antagonists plans more difficult to complete. They are also optional, and choosing one will lock others out. Hopefully, Zombie Mode will have something similar, because I definitely want to control a horde of the undead.

* Of course Zombies will be returning.

It almost seems unnecessary to say it outright, but yes, Zombies Mode will be back for Black Ops 2. And it sounds like it’s going to be ginormous. Concrete details are scant, but Activision Community Manager Dan Amrich dropped some tidbits soon after the official announcement that give us a hint of what’s to come. “If you like zombies,” he said, “you’re going to be really happy with what we’re doing with Black Ops 2. It’s our biggest, most ambitious zombies effort ever.” Que my 8 year old nephew squealing with joy.

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