Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Preview

So, Activision threw a very Activision-like party/event “thing” last night LA, similar in scope and vibe to their Activisionalooza event at E3, but this time celebrating the Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer reveal.

Team FileFront was totally there. We got a video interview with Treyarch Director of Online Games Dan Buntin (which will be up shortly), and we got a chance play a bunch of Black Ops multiplayer. Read on for a bunch of info on new modes and character customization in Black Ops.

What’s new about the multiplayer in Call of Duty: Black Ops?

The short answer is: “A lot, and it’s a lot of good stuff–But, CoD fans should be able to jump right in.” The core MW2 package is here, but Treyarch have perked it out to insane levels, adding tons of Class customization options, a new currency system, and a big dose of frantic tension with wacky modes, and by letting you bet your currency in matches.

There were three multiplayer modes on hand: Wager Matches, Team Deathmatch, and Objective-Based. Let’s jump right in with the most exciting of the three.

Wager Matches

This definitely stole the whole show. Wager Matches combine the world of competitive poker gambling, with the world of competitive multiplayer. At the beginning of a Wager Match, players “ante up,” putting a chunk of their hard-earned COD Points into a big pot.

If you finish the match in one of the top 3 positions, to the victor goes the spoils. You divvy up the pot with the other 2 top players. Didn’t make it to the top 3? You go bust. Say goodbye to all the COD Points you bet.

I kind of think this is genius, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been in a multiplayer game before. It was a total blast, and had everyone hooting and hollering at the event.

“Wager Match” is its own full mode, with 4 game types on display at the event. There were as follows:

Gun Game

I played a bunch of this one. It’s good times. All players start the match armed with naught but a wussy pistol. Score your first kill, and you’ll instantly swap it for the gun in the next tier (akimbo pistols). Score another kill, and you’ll unlock tier 3, a shotgun. There are 22 total weapon tiers in Gun Game. It’s like a regular game of Deathmatch, but also kind of a race. If you don’t land some kills early on, you’ll be surrounded by enemies with Rocket Launchers, while you still have the pistol.

One in the Chamber

Everyone starts with literally one bullet in their chamber. Spend your bullets wisely, and get ready to slap your opponents to death if you miss.

Sticks and Stones

Everyone has just the Crossbow and Ballistic Knife, and that’s it. It should be mentioned that the Crossbow is an exploding crossbow. Stick your enemy with an arrow, and they’re done in a few seconds. The Ballistic Knife is good fun too. It’s actually a projectile weapon. It literally launches out of a chamber, and is great for precise one-shot kills.

Sharp Shooter

Everyone starts the round with the same randomly selected weapon.

Team Deathmatch

Again, this is basically what you would expect from a CoD Team Deathmatch Mode. There is one notable exception: Kill Streaks are on steroids. You can pick 3 Kill Streaks to bring with you into a match, and the variety (and insanity) is pretty great.

An instant hit was the RC-XD, the “bomb on wheels” you may have spotted in the Black Ops multiplayer trailer. Get a 3x Kill Streak, and you can switch to controlling the RC-XD. Drive into a group of enemies, pull RT, and score an easy, satisfying kill.

We actually took down all of the Kill Streaks we could find in the menu, for your perusal. Check ‘em out:
Spy Plane – 3
RC-XD – 3
Counter-Spy Plane – 4
Sam Turret – 4
Care Package – 5
Napalm Strike – 5
Sentry Gun – 6
Mortar Team – 6
Attack Helicopter – 7
Valkyrie Rockets – 7
Blackbird – 8
Rolling Thunder – 8
Chopper Gunner – 9
Attack Dogs – 11
Gunship – 11

So, how do you go about unlocking new weapons, perks, kill streaks, etc? Let’s take a look at the Class system in Black Ops.

Create a Custom Class

When you crack open multiplayer in Black Ops, you’ll be prompted to create a “Custom Class.” You’ll be able to tweak your Primary and Secondary Weapons (with a sh#$load of attachments for each), your 3 Equippable items, your 3 perks, and your 3 Killstreaks. Within each of these buckets, there are a ton of variations. A few of them are available right at the start. The rest, you’ll either need to purchase using “COD Points,” or unlock with XP.

Primary Weapons:
Submachine Guns
Assault Rifles
Light Machine Guns
Sniper Rifles

Secondary Weapons:
Specials (includes the Ballistic Knife, Crossbow)

Equippable Items (3 Varieties):


Concussion, etc.

Camera Spike, etc.

Challenges vs. Contracts

There are a bunch of ways to earn COD Points (or as it should be named, “Wager Match Fuel”). “Challenges” are are basically the equivalent of Achievements. They’re ready to go, and all you have to do is fulfill the requirements in a match. Rack up a certain number of kills with a particular weapon, etc.

Contracts are similar, but again it brings in this “gambling” aspect to the game. You have to actually buy Contracts with COD Points. An Activision rep on-hand described it as an “investment.” When you buy a Contract, it activates it, and allows you to fulfill its specific Achievement-like requirements. Naturally, contracts pay out at a higher rate than Challenges–but you’re putting COD Points on the line up front, so you better deliver to make good on your investment.

Contracts are broken down into three categories. Here they are with a few examples in each bucket:

Mercenary Contracts (basic combat requirements):
25 kills with Spas Rifle
25 kills with Dual Mags

Operations Contracts (more stats-based):
TDM Victor – Win 2 games of Team Deathmatch

Specialist Contracts (rare, elaborate requirements):
Steel Meets Spine – Kill 5 enemies in the back
Scorched – Get 5 kills with flamethrower attachment

That covers COD Points, but how does XP factor into it? Glad you asked, voice in my head.

COD Points vs. XP

As you compete in matches, complete challenges and contracts, you’ll rack up both “COD Points,” and regular ole “XP.” COD Points are used to purchase new perks, weapons, attachments and so one. XP, on the other hand, organically accrues as you play the game, and contributes to standard level-ups. Just like in MW2, you will take on new Ranks as you rack up XP. New Ranks mean more perks, attachments, and other goodies. So, there are two paths to acquire new stuff. COD Points are more proactive, and XP just kind of racks up as you play.

Lastly, we wanted to show you all the different Perks we spotted in the menu. Check em’ out:

Flak jacket

Steady aim
Sleight of hand

Second chance
Tactical mask

We had a great time at the Activision event, and Call of Duty’s multiplayer looks like it’s going to bring a ton of fun to the upcoming title. Stay tuned to FileFront for our video interview with Treyarch Director of Online Games Dan Buntin, and look for Black Ops on store shelves November 9.

Want to breeze through the singleplayer before starting multiplayer? Use our full walkthrough to help!

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1 Comment on Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Preview

julian oronan

On September 13, 2010 at 2:56 am

nice!! will there also be a pc version??