Everything We Know About Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

The Call of Duty franchise is nearing its yearly release, and the latest iteration actually looks pretty promising. Taking a near-future setting with lots of sci-fi elements mixed in, but continuing with the stories and characters established in Treyarch’s last entry, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 seems poised to give us all a big reason to get excited about Call of Duty again.

So here it is: All the stuff that’s fit to print about Black Ops 2. Here’s what you need to know ahead of the Nov. 13 launch.

The Setting

Last time, Call of Duty: Black Ops took place during the actual Cold War of the 1960s. This time out, the “black ops” that are taking place are happening in the future — 2025, in fact, but with events hopping around and taking place during the Cold War as well.

The 2025 section of the game is its “present,” and follows the son of Alex Mason, the first Black Ops’ protagonist’s son. The events in 2025 quickly escalate to war when the game’s primary antagonist, Raul Menendez, and his terrorist organization find ways to turn the U.S. burgeoning robotic and drone military forces against the country. We’ve seen levels take place in a number of locales, but it seems that a major mission will find Los Angeles under attack as Mason and his allies work to protect the President of the United States.

Drones and robots are a big part of the story we’re expecting to see play out, as what triggers the crisis is not a foreign force attacking the U.S. (although there are foreign fighters in the form of Menendez’s Cordis Die terrorist group), but the U.S.’s own automated fighters turned against it. Expect to be using high-tech gear to headshot guys through walls, but also to dive out of the way as tiny drones come flying at your face, all of which will be carrying machine guns.

The portions of the game that take place in the past feature Alex Mason himself as protagonist, and are meant to show the lead-up to Menendez’s eventual attack on the U.S. through the course of the Cold War. Expect to see locations in Central America, Aghanistan, Angola and other places that saw conflict during that period, as Alex takes part in proxy wars for the greater global strife.

Strike Force: You Can Lose

One of the big changes to Black Ops 2′s story is that you can fail on various missions, and that will affect the branching story. This takes place in certain levels called Strike Force missions. These missions pop up from time to time in the course of the game, and have an interesting mix of strategy and first-person elements. In a Strike Force mission, you’re dispatched to fight in some proxy conflict with Cordis Die at different points around the world.

From the sounds of things, you can choose which of these Strike Force missions to participate in, and you’ll only be able to choose one at each point from which they originate, which means other missions will be closed to you. The outcomes of those missions affect the story — so if you drop into a Strike Force mission and lose it, the story will be affected by that failure. Your character for those mission will also die, permanently.

Strike Force also is different from any other Call of Duty experience in a meaningful way, because it seems you play it a little more like an RTS title than a straight first-person shooter. You can move elements around the battlefield to fight off waves of enemies, and then you can drop down into the battle in first-person and take on the roles of various combatants. That means you can drop into the role of a soldier as a team enters a room and clear it out, then bounce out and jump into a roving robot or drone, complete another objective, and hop back to another combatant. Strike Force missions are timed, it seems, so simultaneously accomplishing lots of goals is a must.

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