Everything We Know About Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

All the Multiplayer

Arguably bigger (certainly more popular) than the single-player campaign of Call of Duty is its multiplayer component. Treyarch seems to be rethinking a number of things when it comes to Black Ops 2 multiplayer.

Shaking Up the Formula

First, forget Killstreaks. Treyarch is finally doing away with this antiquated way of rewarding players for good, after Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 took steps to diversify the way players could excel in its multiplayer. Killstreaks are replaced with “Scorestreaks,” which means that in order to access special rewards like airstrikes, drone calls and other perks and possibilities, you just need to score points, not necessarily kill guys. This is good news for support players who might not be the killingest members of their teams — you also get rewarded for capturing objectives, helping out the team and what have you.

Secondly, Treyarch has heavily reworked the Loadout system. Before, players had the capability of customizing a great deal about what they took into battle, but they had to contend with various buckets into which they could place materials: You had to have a primary weapon like an assault rifle, and had to have a secondary weapon like a pistol. You could pick various perks, but were limited in type and number. Everyone’s loadout could be different, but they were fundamentally similar when it came to distributions of weapons, explosives, perks and so on.

Not so in Black Ops 2. Instead, you’ll have a pool of points to spend, and those points can be spent in different ways. You can’t go crazy, though: there are limits so that you can’t snag five perks or walk into a match with six different types of rocket launchers. What you can do is trade in your secondary weapon, for example, for an additional point that can be spent on “wildcards.” The wildcards let you change your loadout in specific ways: one wildcard, for example, lets you pick two perks from the same category, instead of one from each of three categories, as is usually the case. So when you decide to forego certain elements of your loadout you don’t use, you can apply the savings toward tweaks that will make your character work better for your play style.

Finally, multiplayer matches for the first time will include multi-team battles, which means instead of just having two big teams fighting it out, players can make up three factions and take part in three-way battles. That’s not exactly new to competitive multiplayer, but it’s definitely new to Call of Duty.

Oh, and there’s a bunch of new equipment. Expect to be using things like stuns, smoke and even molecule-vibrating microwaves to distract and stun your opponents, plus heavy use of drones and other robotic elements. There’s a bunch of cool future-inspired weaponry that’s entering the multiplayer sphere.

Revamped Zombies

Treyarch’s CoD games are known for the Zombies mode, which first appeared in Call of Duty: World at War. Since then, Zombies has become a staple for the studio, and much of the downloadable content released for Black Ops concerned the Zombies mode.

This time out, Zombies has been tweaked significantly, and now supports up to eight players instead of the usual four. It’s also possible to play it competitively — you’ll take on a second team while dealing with the waves of zombies for which the mode is known (Zombies mode was the forerunner to the popular and ubiquitous “horde” modes we’ve seen cropping up in multiplayer ever since). That versus mode is called “Grief,” and allows you to screw around with the other team while trying to deal with zombies on your own.

You don’t just have to fight with the second group of four players, though; you can also team up with them cooperatively. Zombies also includes Survival mode, which is akin to the standard mode the games have seen in which players fend off as many waves of zombies as possible, and Tranzit mode, in which players travel from map to map in a bus, completing objectives along a story campaign. Thus, this will be the most robust Zombies mode by far.

PC Stuff and DLC

A few bits of housekeeping: first up, Treyarch has confirmed that Black Ops 2 will not include mod tools. We do know that it will have matchmaking and dedicated servers for league play — part of this is that Treyarch wants Black Ops to be used in eSports, and so it’s creating a more stable atmosphere in which players can take part. While dedicated servers will be available, you won’t be able to rent any.

As for DLC, we also know that Activision is offering another Season Pass for Black Ops 2, which suggests that you can expect quite a bit of DLC over the year of Black Ops 2′s viability. Both Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3 saw a huge inundation of DLC along the course of their lives, and that’s a plan Activision is sticking with going forward. You’ve been warned.

From what we’ve seen of Black Ops 2 so far, we’re pretty excited (although we say that every time — video games are often exciting before you actually get to play them). For those who like to hate on the Call of Duty series, we’re expecting a lot of refreshing changes from this outing. The new Strike Force missions, the changes to multiplayer and the expansion of Zombies should all be welcome additions to the game. I think “cautiously optimistic” is plenty justified by what we’ve seen so far.

Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

Crush the conspiracy with Game Front’s full Black Ops 2 walkthrough, with step-by-step instructions showing you how to complete each mission.

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