Failure in Black Ops 2 Could Be Call of Duty’s Greatest Innovation
Win Some, Lose Some
Black Ops II will not only include a narrative that tells a real story, it’ll be the first Call of Duty game with a branching story influenced by player choice. Where earlier CoD games are a mostly linear experience akin to riding a roller coaster, Black Ops II is going to allow players to make choices that directly influence the experience they have — and sometimes, those choices are going to have very real consequences for the larger game world.
The easiest place to see those possibilities are in the Strike Force missions, which are one-off side missions in which players can go influence the results of the greater Cold War taking place in Black Ops II. Those missions seem like they would really lend themselves to cooperative play, but rather than lean harder into multiplayer, Treyarch is purposely building these missions to be single-player experiences. There’s a reason for that: The developers want these missions to have consequences. You can fail Strike Force missions, and your failure can have serious implications to the larger plot and geopolitical climate of the game world, according to Treyarch Studio Head Mark Lamia.
That’s huge. Call of Duty has never been anything other than a foregone conclusions as players move from point to point in the narrative. While characters might die and huge events can happen, those things are never more than the pre-scripted decisions of the developers. Failure in Call of Duty always meant merely replaying the game. Here, Treyarch is taking the opportunity to challenge players in a way that the series really has never achieved before, and what’s more, they’re making them actors in the Call of Duty experience more than they ever have been before. If you fail in Black Ops II, it can screw up the world. Never before has Call of Duty had real stakes like that.
More Than Just More Shooting
Treyarch’s addition of Strike Force missions also suggest a deeper well for the developer to draw on in terms of what Black Ops II will offer. These missions, which allow players to command battlefield assets from above as in a strategy game, or zip down into first-person and play as a soldier or a drone or a robot, are serious departures from the gameplay of Call of Duty we’ve seen for almost a decade.
We’re not sure just how well Strike Force missions will play yet, obviously, but apart from piloting vehicles (or shooting from vehicles), we haven’t seen much in the way of adjustments in the Call of Duty structure since the series’ inception. What’s more, Treyarch is making these sections nonlinear “sandbox” experiences, in which players choose how to approach each objective. It’s rare that the series ever slackens the reins on how players deal with any given issue — so you’ll not only be dropping into an arena with objectives to accomplish, you’ll have the ability to play those missions in a number of different ways apart from just adjusting your tactics.