Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Guide

You’ve fired up Call of Duty: Black Ops, and you find yourself lost in a sea of CP and a ton of other players walloping you with radio-controlled cars. That’s okay — we all start out at the bottom, and while Black Ops has a lot of similarities to previous iterations of the series, there are some nuances to the game that new players can miss.

So we’ve put our heads together, and died countless times, to provide you with a multiplayer guide for Black Ops that lays out everything we’ve learned about climbing the CoD ladder.

Be a Team Player

Much of Black Ops’ multiplayer modes are team-based, and for some reason, players have a tendency to clam up and run around madly whenever they join these games — and never play as a team.

But joining up a team of individuals is a great way to lose a lot of games. Players who don’t communicate will always lose to players who do, because for every kill you take on your own, the rest of your enemies are finding ways to take you out. They know where you are, they’re moving in groups, they’re making decisions about what killstreaks to mobilize against you: meanwhile, you’re one guy shooting whoever you run up against. It’s a bad situation.

But if you come into a game looking to maximize your strategy with the talents and assets of your teammates, you’ll be able to customize your play style to the team: with a role to fill, you can be a more successful player. Sticking with a winning team will help you level up a lot faster.

Think Fast, Move Slow

The various maps in all Call of Duty games, including Black Ops, have lots of places where players like to sit and wait for careless opponents to stumble through a doorway and get blasted. Several maps have lots of interweaving interior areas with lots of blind corners, and all of them could potentially be a good place to get killed.

If you don’t plan to camp yourself, it’s tempting to try to cover lots of ground with your sprint ability — but try to resist the urge. Sprinting takes a few seconds to cool down after you use it, and if you happen to be hauling through a map and stumble onto enemies, especially if they get the drop on you, you’ll be unable to escape certain death.

So only sprint when you must: when you need to cover a lot of ground, or when you have to escape from gunfire. When you’re pushing through interiors, it’s best to go slowly with your gun up anytime you might be about to walk into a trap. Even taking out one or two guys lying in wait is better than taking a death just because you weren’t patient.

Hit the Deck (and Use Other Stances)

In Black Ops, you have three different stances: standing, crouched and prone. Most people you run into will be standing tall when you fight them, or at most jumping around. They usually don’t drop to the other two stances, and lots of players aren’t ready to deal with players who aren’t standing at full height.

Long story short: Learn to hit the deck when you run into a player. Black Ops has a feature that lets you dive to the ground, and if you can practice that move, you’ll make yourself harder to shoot while you return fire on opponents.

Maximize Your Killstreaks

You might have noticed how irritating those exploding RC cars can be as you’re running around Black Ops’ various maps, and there’s a reason they tend to blow you up: 1. they’re easy to get, 2. they’re small and sneaky, and 3. they can take out multiple enemies. The RC car is a perfect example of using killstreaks to your highest advantage, because the car is almost always a guaranteed kill.
Another early killstreak reward, the SAM turret, is a different kind of interaction altogether. It’s less about killing enemies, like most killstreaks, and actually functions to stop a lot of the killstreaks teammates get, like care package drops. And this can happen.

Killstreaks are most effective when used to augment your own play, or in response to the play of your opponents. It’s the same principle as if you were sitting at a poker table: if you notice enemy players are calling a lot of care packs, switch to a class that rolls out a lot of SAMs. If you keep running into groups of enemies and getting steamrolled, send in RC cars. Learn what your tools are, and roll them out against your opponents as appropriate.

Save Your CP

Leveling up through play is important, but earning the game’s currency, CP, is what will really allow you to find your perfect load outs and play methods. Most of the time, you’ll earn CP when you hit a new level or complete challenges, which is why it’s important to keep track of what challenges you have available to you.

While you’ll need CP to buy attachments, killstreaks and other stuff throughout the game, you can also spend CP to make CP, so it’s important you keep some money on hand at all times to use it to gamble. Wager matches and Contracts are both important ways of earning additional CP, but they’ll cost you an entry fee to enter each one. You’ll need ante money.

There are a lot of cool things you can purchase for your Black Ops gamer card to customize your look, but it’s always better to resist the temptation and hold back your CP for new items and weapons. The best way to get better at Black Ops is to find your perfect load out(s), and that means unlocking new stuff. Once you find a combination that compliments your play style, you’ll always find yourself more successful.

Sign Some Contracts

The Contract system is the quickest and often easiest way to snag more CP. Whenever you load into a session, you should buy new contracts you feel confident you can earn. Get a few contracts you’re comfortable with and you can continue to buy them over and over once their cool down expires.

Contracts break down into three different categories, with each customized to cater to a certain sect of player. Be careful not to sign up for contracts you don’t think you’ll be able to do, because they basically amount to a waste of money.

Mercenary Contracts: Using Specific Weapons
More often than not, Mercenary Contracts boiled own to what kind of weapon you’re using, and racking up a lot of kills with it. They break down into three types by number of kills, with Cruelty being the lowest, then Ferocity, then Brutality, which require 75 kills in 40 minutes of play to unlock.

Mercenary Contracts are handy if you can find one that applies to a weapon you’re comfortable with, but don’t get suckered into using a gun you aren’t really prepared to handle just because there’s a contract available for it. Trying to pull down a bunch of sniper kills when you’ve never picked one up is a recipe for wasted CP.

Specialist Contracts: Specific, Weird Actions
When you snag a Specialist Contract, you’re signing up to do something out of the ordinary. One of the more simple ones demands you stab an enemy player in the back; another asks you to steal care packages from enemies.

Specialist Contracts that are easy can be fun, but they’re also deceptive — the ones that seem easy can often be a little difficult to fulfill. You’d be surprised how tough it is to find an enemy to stab in the back.

Pick your Specialist Contracts carefully and consider what you’re going to be doing when you buy them. You don’t want to join up with a team and then be the guy screwing around, trying to get grenade launcher kills when your team needs your help taking a fortified position.

Operation Contracts: Rewards for Different Game Modes
The simplest set of contracts gives you rewards for being successful in different game modes. The positive part of Operation Contracts is that they get you changing up your routine and playing different kinds of games.

Like the other contracts, don’t rush into anything in Operations until you’re comfortable with what you’re attempting. Hopping into a game type you’re not familiar with will just get you frustrated if it also costs you CP. Meanwhile, once you know what you’re doing, you can make fast and easy cash with your Operations Contracts just for playing normally.

Killcams, Replays and Statistics

You can get a ton of information from dying in Black Ops, provided you’re paying attention. Every time you’re killed, the game gives you the option to watch a few seconds of footage from the player who killed you. Lots of times, it can help show you where people are hiding or how they’re approaching a situation in order to take you out. It can also show you what you’re doing wrong.

The Theater Mode in Black Ops is equally useful, especially when you’re getting dominated by a particularly good player. You have a free chance to watch anyone who’s besting you in their element, for an entire game, to see how they play and how they beat you. You can learn a lot from other players.

After you hit Level 10, you get access to all kinds of statistics about how you play the game, including rundowns of where you land hits on enemies. If you tend to hit enemies in the knees, you need to adjust your gameplay and work on your aim. There’s a lot of information, about all kinds of different aspects of your play, and the smartest players use it to make themselves better.

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3 Comments on Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Guide


On December 29, 2010 at 8:26 am

I liked a lot of this, but teaching people to drop shot will cause them to receive a lot of flak from online players >_>

Phil Hornshaw

On December 29, 2010 at 8:45 am


Yeah, you’re probably right, but online players whine about everything. They don’t like when you hit them with “noob tubes” either, but that doesn’t make them any less effective.

Al Ranno

On January 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm

So me and my buddy sat down and busted through this horrible game. If you really like watching cruddy cut-scene after cruddy cut-scene then this is a game you’ll love. you spend more time walking around doing nothing then you do actually playing and shooting. the story was awful and the game play reminded me of 8 years ago. The graphics were also a huge disappointment. I honestly feel that Activision owes me a few hours of my life. This is more of an interactive movie than a game. I would have rather played pong the entire time.