Not only can you now modify game modes in Black Ops 2, but you can also now modify weapons. Every single weapon in the game can be modified with different camos, some of which can be unlocked by completing Challenges. Challenges is a system in Black Ops 2 which David Vonderhaar, Treyarch game designer, says will be extremely significant.
The idea behind the Challenges system is to try to help people to explore different aspects of the game by providing incentive for doing so. There will be more than a thousand challenges available. Each time a player completes a challenge, the achievement will unlock a new weapon camo, a player card customization option, or something else cool.
Also on the topic of unlocks, many gamers will be relieved to hear that Prestige levels are changing. Instead of hitting Prestige and finding everything reset, you’ll be given a couple options. You’ll be able to choose to unlock an extra Custom Class slot (you’re given a maximum of five of those), or you’ll have the option to reset all stats so you can rebuild your class from scratch. You’ll also be given a Prestige Unlock Token which ignores all level gates. You’ll be able to select any item you want with a Prestige Unlock Token; the unlock is permanent.
Vonderhaar jokes that the old system wasn’t particularly encouraging to players. “Thank you for leveling up! Do it again,” as he explained. This repetitious experience could become something of a grind—a chore as opposed to a real part of the fun. The new system should actually offer some more tangible rewards, but still offer the option of wiping the slate clean if that’s what a player prefers to do. When you hit the tenth level of Prestige, you receive a special emblem and all the content is unlocked. At that point you’ll pretty much be a total badass. Black Ops 2 will be coming out on November 13th. Don’t forget to pre-order!
While multiplayer mode has long been the main feature of Call of Duty games, players are always fast to complain about perceived unfairness, particularly when it seems like it might be the programmers’ faults. “There are a lot of polarizing conversations in the Black Ops community,” states David Vonderhaar, game designer at Treyarch. That’s why Treyarch has gone out of its way to try and create balance in gameplay in various situations in Black Ops 2. Creating more balance involved a complete overhaul of the multiplayer system. Here are some ways in which it’s being improved.
Killstreaks replaced by scorestreaks. Scorestreaks, as the name implies, will be rewarded for more than just killing other players. You’ll earn scorestreaks by doing other things as well such as capturing flags and achieving other team objectives. You’ll also earn points for kills by other team members if you have a UAV in the air and are providing support. In this way, Treyarch is trying to balance gameplay in favor of more play styles and reward players who choose to put teamwork first. The system is also intended to discourage players who deliberately join objective-based games simply so that they can try to rack up kills by camping out around the objectives. These players aren’t actually contributing to the team’s score, only their own.
“And it’s not like I don’t give you score for shooting people,” says Vonderhaar. “It’s still a shooter, but I’m going to give you more score when you place a guard turret and protect a path. I’m going to give you points if you have an assault shield and you’re blocking damage on your team with it. I’m going to reward you because you’re helping your team. Our new core reward system is always based on the things that make you win the game modes.”
There have been some changes to the way that perks work too in the name of fairness. Vonderhaar says that he believes that perks were becoming too complex, and that the new system will simplify them. They will also no longer be absolute. “In Black Ops our only balancing options were to remove the perk or keep it; now we can tune any perk by increments.” When perks were absolute, they were literally necessary in order to be competitive, but since other players already had the advantage, it was very difficult to move forward against overpowered players. “A perk should never be something you need just to complete … The community helped me understand that.”
One area that has not be specifically addressed where fairness is concerned is maps. One of the biggest issues with COD or any first person shooter game is when maps are designed in such a way that there are problems like respawn areas which are easy to control and take advantage of. It seems impossible that these matters have been overlooked, however, especially given the recent multiplayer map list which has been leaked online. The maps in the list seem to place a special emphasis on balanced gameplay. Hopefully that means that respawn areas have been more carefully thought out.
If you’re a big fan of Call of Duty, you may wonder how similar the game is to real life combat. While there’s obviously a big emotional gap between playing a game and fighting on the field, you may be interested in checking out some of the real war footage captured by soldiers on the field and posted over at FUNKER530 on YouTube. On this channel you can view footage captured by helmet cameras of real fighters as they participate in gun fights, set off missiles, and so on.
Perhaps the most obvious difference between the footage and the game is how seldom the soldiers in the videos seem to be face to face with their enemies. Gamers may complain about campers in Call of Duty, but in real life, it’s competence more than “bravery” that is rewarded. Indeed, bravery on the battlefield in real life is much different than bravery on a screen. There’s nothing cowardly about taking a tactical position with plenty of cover. It’s just smart and rational. Although it’s probably also relevant that the footage on the YouTube channel is among the less graphic war footage that could have been posted.
What will be familiar to you is a lot of running around, ducking, and firing. The view point of a soldier from a helmet camera is very similar to the actual FPS viewpoint that you see on your monitor when you play a game like Call of Duty. Some of the tone may be oddly familiar to you as well; many of these soldiers are young guys who react similarly to their kills in real life to players in COD. While this might seem blithe and strange at first, consider that it’s probably quite the opposite. It’s not that these soldiers are disaffected—they’re just trying to cope with what’s going on around them. These videos give you rare insight and a point of view which you almost never see, and it’s definitely something to check out if you’re interested in finding out what real-life combat is like.
Call of Duty is one of the most popular modern combat FPS franchises of all time, though it has many competitors including the Battlefield and Medal of Honor series which also take place in modern and historical times. While games like these are good fun, they also have stirred a lot of interest in real life combat in many of their players. The next Call of Duty game, Black Ops 2, will be coming out on the 13th of November. The Care Package Prestige Edition of the game has already sold out, but there are still limited Hardened Edition copies left, and the standard edition of the game is also now available for pre-order. Black Ops 2 will depart from the modern warfare setting and take players into a near-future setting in the year 2025, but will continue to draw from the same “modern warfare” groundwork as previous installments.
There’s an interesting and well-written article over at ComputerandVideoGames.com about why the decision might have been made to set Black Ops 2 in the year 2025. The journalist really was uniquely positioned to analyze events, so the insight is pretty cool. It’s a couple of pages long, so if you don’t have time to read through the whole thing, here’s a summary and our thoughts on the matter. In the distant past, Infinity Ward was working on “a unique new IP,” which was rumored to be a sci-fi game based on concept art which the journalist who wrote the article (the one we just linked to) had glimpsed while visiting Infinity Ward for an interview.
Then there was a court case with Activision, after which Infinity Ward employees Jason West and Vince Zampella were fired for “breaches of contract and insubordination.” West and Zamplella now head Respawn Entertainment, and recently announced that they’ll be making a sci-fi FPS game which will “compete with things like Gears and Halo.” Now, despite not mentioning Call of Duty, it’s easy to see where all of this might have come from and where all of it might be going. Activision may have seen an opportunity to try to beat Respawn to the chase with futuristic FPS games, and therefore handed down the order to set Black Ops 2 in the future.
All of this seems pretty reasonable and may very well be the explanation for the move. Treyarch has done a lot besides just move the setting to inject new life into an old series as well. The only thing that strikes us is the references to Gears and Halo. It’s possible that Respawn was merely being political in deciding not to mention COD, and seized on two other games that took place in the future as reference points.
You have to admit though that Gears and Halo have minimal elements in common with COD—namely they’re all shooting games. Halo takes place in the far future though, not the year 2025 or anything close to our modern era, and Gears of War takes place on another planet. So if Respawn’s new game likewise takes place in a time and place far removed from our own, it seems like it would be less of a direct competitor with COD than it would be with Gears and Halo. It’s also worth mentioning that Gears is a third-person shooter game and not a first-person shooter game, so a slightly different format.
There is no doubt that these games directly compete for some gamers, but other gamers who enjoy shooter games will doubtless continue to play multiple franchises. The experiences offered are unique. Halo tells a distinct storyline about a hypothetical world, whereas Black Ops 2 offers a familiar world arena for combat and a situation closer to real life. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. We’ll let you know when there’s more news on Respawn’s new game.
While many fans of the Call of Duty franchise have been with the series for years now, there are always going to be brand new players who buy Black Ops 2 and who don’t have a clue what they’re doing. Or perhaps they’re players who have just taken some time off and need a refresher before they jump back into the battle online. Treyarch has decided to take extra steps toward orienting these people and getting them comfortable by introducing a special Combat Training element to Black Ops 2’s multiplayer experience.
Combat Training is essentially an extended introductory mode. Many FPS games include some kind of introduction or tutorial level, but this is one that will orient players to multiplayer gameplay and not just single-play gameplay. Players will be able to earn their initial experience points and start leveling up. It’s like the newbie level in an RPG in that sense, introducing players to Create-a-Class and helping them to build their characters and equip before hitting the battlefield. Players will fight against bots and human players during Boot Camp and will level up to 10. It’s possible to graduate before level 10, but not after—once players hit level 10 it’s time to either play through the Objective mode of Combat Training or join in the standard fighting.
The Objective mode allows two teams of six to compete in objective-based game modes. There are three bots per team and three players per team. Players can keep earning XP in this mode, but only half as much as they would if they were playing online in proper matches, which should encourage them to get out there. There is also a mode called “Bot Stomp” which allows a team of six players to fight against six bots in any gametype. This mode doesn’t award any XP. It’s a great way to learn the different game modes however, and to learn basic skills.
Matchmaking services are included as part of these modes, just as they are included in the standard modes. That way new players can play with and against players who are similarly unskilled. This prevents them from getting discouraged early on or not being adequately challenged as they move up in skill before graduating. It should also help with their initial placements post-graduation so that they don’t get dumped into combat with highly skilled players right from the off. This should ensure that their transition goes more smoothly and enjoyably.
The next installment of Call of Duty, Black Ops 2, is going to feature an overhauled multiplayer system which should show significant improvements in many areas. One of those areas is fairness. The reason? Major League Gaming (MLG) is becoming more and more popular with players everywhere, and video gaming is turning into a sport, complete with monetary prizes. “I’ve seen our game on the main stage at MLG with a hundred people in the stands rooting for their team,” says David Vonderhaar, game designer at Treyarch. “I’ve seen it and I think, ‘I’ve got to find a way to give this to everybody.’” Treyarch goes on to add, “It’s good for e-sports and it’s good for business … This can be the next big thing.”
To try and make Black Ops 2 more suitable for competition, Treyarch has been taking steps to try and make the game fairer, largely by regulating perk usage so that players do not become overpowered for indefinite periods. They’ve also added a number of features for e-sports, such as a one-click button that allows you to instantly stream your games live to spectators online. “Right now, people who livestream have to have a computer with very expensive hardware and lots of cables, and we got rid of that,” Vonderhaar says.
The streamed games will be watchable anywhere and will be available on numerous devices, not just home computers. If you’re out and about you’ll be able to watch matches on your tablet or mobile phone. To ensure fairness, there will be a slight delay between the game as it runs live and the game as it streams to devices in order to prevent cheating. Shoutcasting has been implemented as well, which offers an advanced spectator mode. In this mode, players will be able to not only spectate on matches, but do so using an advanced control panel that makes it easier to jump between players’ points of view. They’ll also have a scoreboard which they can use to see everything going on at a glance. Maps will make it even easier to track the action. They’ll then be able to provide live commentary as the matches unfold. Anyone can use the interface, but it was designed with use at MLG events and similar pro tournaments in mind.
Another change that is relevant to competitive gameplay is the league system, which is based on the one used by Starcraft II. The league system will figure out your skill level based on your matches and try to match you up with players who share your approximate skill level. “Treyarch, Blizzard … we’re all part of the same Activision family,” explained Vonderhaar, talking about how the new league system was developed. The league will be structured around 30-day seasons. At the end of each month you’ll have a chance for promotion based on your performance. The Black Ops Premier League will be the league for the top 2 percent of all COD players. But what’s awesome is that you’ll be able to compete within your league for victory and you’ll have a much better chance at actually getting better if you’re not constantly having your confidence smashed by vastly superior players—or wasting your time taking out opponents which are way too easy for you.
All of it comes together with the development of more balanced gameplay, the result of a number of design tweaks to the multiplayer framework. The way that killstreaks and perks work has been modified, and team players who play support roles and accomplish objectives in not deathmatch gametypes will now be rewarded more liberally than they have been in the past. Steps have been taken to try and dissuade campers and to get people back out in the open. All told, these modifications will not only make the game more suitable for professional competition, but will also make the game more enjoyable for casual players. In this way, pro sports is good for the whole COD community.
Today was the massive reveal for the zombies modes in Black Ops 2—and we say modes because there are three of them, and “massive” because they are like a whole other game unto themselves. While we knew that the zombies were going to play a more central role in Black Ops 2 (owing to their popularity), we had no idea that Treyarch had more or less made a whole new game and packaged it in. We know people complain about the prices of video games these days, but seriously, Black Ops 2 is like getting three games in one. The single-player campaign mode will have lots of replay value, the multiplayer mode will of course remain the game’s central pillar, and the zombies modes are going to blow you away.
Let’s talk about the largest, most exciting mode, which is called Tranzit. Remember that old, dilapidated bus we saw in the teaser trailer about a week ago? It turns out that bus isn’t just part of a map, or an object in the background—it’s an actual transportation method players can use to explore the huge open world environment of Tranzit. This is the first time we’ve seen a Call of Duty game integrate open world gameplay. It’s going to be amazing.
“Imagine a world where there isn’t just one area, but multiple areas and there’s land in between that,” explained Mark Lamia, Treyarch studio boss. Players have the option of exploring the world on foot or using the bus in a co-op mode which can be played by 1-4 players at a time. There are four playable characters available to choose from. The bus offers cover and speed, but also can turn into a deathtrap since it’s an enclosed space. Exploring the world on foot can expose a player to more danger, but also more opportunity in terms of looting.
There’s going to be an actual crafting system in Tranzit that allows you to take objects you find in the environment and fashion them into makeshift weapons to help you battle your way through the zombie apocalypse. So your creativity and ingenuity can help you to survive by making customized items—something else that’s brand new to Call of Duty. There will also be plenty of other weapons strewn about the landscape including some futuristic technology and also fun “wonder weapons” with magical abilities.
While Tranzit is the centerpiece, there are two other zombies modes available. One of them is called “Survival,” and it’s pretty much what most of us were expecting when we heard that Black Ops 2 would include a zombies mode. Survival is traditional gameplay on a single, confined map. The maps are areas found in Tranzit, but they are limited to their own dimensions and do not allow you or your opponents to wander off. Originally this was all we were really picturing with the zombies mode!
The other mode is called “Grief.” This is a competitive mode that pits teams of four gamers against one another. You’re not allowed to shoot at the other team, however, and you instead need to try to use the zombies that are also present on the map against your opponents while they do the same to you.
In terms of game mechanics, these modes may appear as co-op modes, but they include many of the features that were previously only available for multiplayer mode. This includes advanced statistics, leaderboards, and matchmaking systems. There will also be a lot of options you can use to customize the zombie modes. You can for example skip the initial rounds and jump straight to the more challenging rounds of zombie onslaughts. You also can change the game to headshot-only mode, or you can enable or disable specific weapons such as the wonder weapons.
Players were getting tired of waiting for information on the zombies mode, but we can all see now why there was such a long wait. It wasn’t just to build up the hype and anticipation, but also simply because this has been a huge undertaking. The zombies modes will add considerable value to the game; Tranzit will in many ways likely offer the most compelling experience in the game. Multiplayer modes with single maps have always offered excellent replay value since every match plays out differently—but the Tranzit mode with its open world will offer even more possibilities for variations and unique experiences. It will call upon players to make tactical decisions and to be inventive in their gameplay. The environment will be very detailed and will offer map lovers a whole new world to explore, with plenty of action along the way.
Black Ops 2 will be coming out on November 13th, which means there’s still a bit of time to pre-order. When you pre-order the game, you get a Nuketown 2025 map as a free bonus. There is a Nuketown Zombie map for those who pre-order the Hardened Edition limited collectible version of the game. The Care Package Prestige Edition has sold out already, but there are still a few copies of the Hardened Edition left, so now’s the time! In light of what we now know about Tranzit and the other zombies modes, it’s now obvious that Black Ops 2 is actually an excellent value, so that Hardened Edition price shouldn’t look quite as steep anymore!