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Preview: A deeper look at multiplayer in Black Ops II

Sep 27 // Hamza CTZ Aziz    @CTZ

So we gave you a pretty extended detail look at Black Ops II's multiplayer not too long ago. It was a lot to take in, but guess what? There's more. So much more. In fact, Treyarch had us out for another visit just to see the rest of the multiplayer content.

There's going to be a ton of game modes, for the hardcore players to the more casual ones. Most importantly, Treyarch is looking to capture the segment of people who don't touch multiplayer at all by giving "ways for players to play who are intimidated, or maybe uninitiated," game design director David Vonderhaar told us.

"Call of Duty is a very popular online game. But we know for a fact that there are still people that don't play multiplayer. I want them. I want them to come play, and I want to do stuff to make sure that happens."

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Call of Duty: Black Ops II (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U)
Developer: Treyarch
Publisher: Activision
Release: November 13, 2012

First, let's focus on the core traditional experience. You can expect these game modes: Team Deathmatch, Free-for-all, Domination, Demolition, Kill Confirmed, Hardpoint, Headquarters, Capture the Flag, and Search & Destroy.

Hardpoint is the newest mode to be introduced into Call of Duty, and it's inspired by King of the Hill modes. It's a super fast gametype that will see players capturing a location for as long as possible before the location moves to a new area of the map.

Then there's Multi-team, which is supported in Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, and Hardpoint. Public matchmaking-wise, there will be a max of three teams of three, or three teams of four. Otherwise, you can do up to six teams on the custom games side.

Something I loved about the original Black Ops that I sunk more hours into than anything else from the game was Wager Matches. They're back with a new name: Party Games. You can expect Gun Game, One in the Chamber, Sharpshooter, and Sticks and Stones to return.

Treyarch is working on more gametypes for Party Games, and they're all designed just for players to have fun with. These modes blow up the traditional game rules, toss the create-a-class stuff to the side, and bend the score-streak system to maximize player enjoyment. You're still earning experience, leveling up your weapons and rank, and there is public matchmaking as well.

And yes, this means the crossbow and ballistic knife are back. The crossbow can be fitted with attachments like the reflex, ACOG, zoom, and dual-band scopes now. You can even fit it to fire three bolts at once.

Now these are modes best suited for the experienced players, so what about the players that are too intimated like David was talking about? That's where Combat Training comes in, broken up into three aspects, all of which are still tied into the core experience.

First there's Bootcamp, a mode where two teams will face off against each other in Team Deathmatch, with each team made up of three human players and three AI bots. You can rank up, and earn full experience points anywhere between levels one and ten. After you've reached level 11 you can no longer access Bootcamp.

Then there's Objective, where you can play if you're past level 10, but you only get half the experience points you normally would. Otherwise it's the same setup as Bootcamp with the human/bot team mix, just set on objective game modes like Capture the Flag.

Lastly there's Bot Stomp, where a team of six human players will be going up against a team of six AI bot players. You earn no experience points at all, and it really serves to let players experience the high-end game without the typical stress you'd get in a real match. It's a great way to practice on a Team Deathmatch and Objective-type modes. Plus, as David put it, "bots do not yell at you if you don't perform well. They don't get upset, and they're not racists."

If none of these public-style matches appeal to you, don't worry, custom games are back in a big way. "Quite honestly, custom games have haunted me since we put them in Black Ops," David told us. "They've haunted me because I've always wanted to -- and we finally did -- make sure every game mode can be customized in some really meaningful ways."

You can build the default classes, add in bots, restrict content, starts at 150% health -- everything can be changed in whatever crazy way you want. You can even alter the pick-10 system, limiting it down to just pick-3, or even going to the maximum number of items a player can carry with pick-17.

There's lots of ways to play, but you players looking to stick with just the public, official gametypes can finally rest easy as Treyarch detailed how Prestige will work. There's 55 levels, and ten levels of Prestige. Typically when you've hit the max level and been given the choice to Prestige, all your stats get reset.

Now when you level up to a Prestige opportunity, everything gets reset except for your weapon experience points, and your challenge progress. So now you can pick up your weapon progress from where you last left off and continue to raise its stats.

Additionally, you'll get a Prestige-specific unlock token, which you can use to unlock an item permanently so you don't need to grind to reacquire something you really like again, have extra create-a-class slots (up to five more), reset all your stats to start fresh, or get a refund of all your standard unlock tokens.

Each time you level up, you are given an unlock token that you can use to unlock a gun, or items for your custom class. With the refund option, you could be at level 24, decide you hate your entire setup, and use refund to get all 24 tokens back to unlock different content instead.

So what happens when you hit the max level of Prestige? You become a Prestige Master, and it opens up all the content. So there's a real solid reason to Prestige beyond simply bragging rights.

For those of you who do enjoy bragging like crazy, that's where Challenges come in. There are over 1,000 Challenges to do, and completing them gives you XP bonuses and a ton of cosmetic unlocks. 

Now you can get camouflage for every single weapon -- even knifes, shields, and rocket launchers. There's more camo options too, even stuff that out-blings the gold skin. There's a bunch of optic choices now, from standard stuff to funny choices, such as a curly mustache reticule called "The Steve," based on the mustache of the lighting director for the game. There's even a cool-looking Eotech zombie reticule, which you can apply to the actual Eotech scope featured in the game.

And what's Black Ops without the Playercard customization? The emblem editor is even more robust, featuring 32 layers and tools that let you copy, paste, flip, move, rotate, and scale objects. There's an RGB color mixer, transparency options, over 150 backgrounds, and over 150 shapes to to use too. And I know what you're thinking, but know that you can disable user-created content if you'd rather not be subjugated to all the penises and other lewd content.

Still with me? Good, because there's one last thing to talk about and that's Theater mode. Now, anyone can make a movie with just the push of one button with Highlight Reel. This feature will automatically create an edited film from the best moments of your last match. Once the reel is completed, you can go in to edit it or just upload it online immediately.

Your films can also use up to 20 clips now, up from 10 in the last game. Plus, you can merge your clip of 20 down to one, then add in more clips. You can merge a number of clips together, which allows you to make even better-quality videos now. Another new feature is the ability to attach your camera to an object and follow its path. So you can place the camera onto something like the Dragonfire -- or even a missile flying towards a target -- for better camera angles.

There's going to be a lot of social features as well. You can bookmark your last match with the press of a button to easily pull up the video footage without having to dig it up, there is a community section where you can see videos from the entire community or just your friends, and you'll have the option to up- or downvote videos.

Needless to say, there's absolutely a ton of content in the Black Ops II package. You'd need to have a screw loose not to see just how much Treyarch is putting into the game. They've completely overhauled the multiplayer features, and that's just one part of it. You have the single-player that will change based on your actions, the whole livestreaming initiative, and the Zombies mode, which very well could have been its own separate game. This is a real sequel in every conceivable way.


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Call of Duty: Black Ops II


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