“I was very fortunate to get to go to an EB / Activision media promo of Black Ops 2 the other night and they provided each of the people attending with these cool Call of Duty Dogtag USB’s with information on them. Here is the official document and information they provided, along with my commentary.” – Ben
“I’d like to thank Goodgame AU/NZ for sending me along, the site will be up and running soon – check it out & sign up” – Ben
“This is my first ‘behind the scenes / sneak peak’ at an upcoming game, I don’t think my write-up is as good as Ferral’s… but here we go” – Ben
Call of Duty®: Black Ops II
Multiplayer / Zombies Overview
The most anticipated game of the year and the most ambitious Call of Duty® game ever, Call of Duty®: Black Ops IIwill hit shelves worldwide on November 13th. Rooted in near-future fiction, Call of Duty: Black Ops II multiplayer will introduce players to some of the most cutting-edge weaponry and equipment that 2025 will have to offer.
ALL-NEW CREATE-A-CLASS: Create-a-class has been re-booted, introducing players to a new “pick-10” allocation system, allowing an unprecedented number of combinations of create-a-class content. Players no longer have to take content from each category; instead, trade items from one category for extra items in another – any combination of 10 items makes almost anything possible.
“We were given access to a wide selection of guns and kit; though I did notice that certain items – like the crossbow – weren’t available to us during the demo. The pick 10 system is very interesting and the ‘wildcard’ modifiers will ensures that this is the most customizable kit you’ve seen in a Call of Duty game.”
Ten points and nearly endless combinations: every piece of content is worth one point, and you can spend your 10 points in any way you like, encouraging a greater level of customization for individual play styles.Also a point each, Wildcards allow players to “extend the system” and configure classes in more unique ways – players can take multiple perks from one category, equip their primary with three attachments, carry two lethals, and more.
“Wildcards act like a modifier to the rules; say you want to have three attachments to your primary you can do that – but you’ll have to give up something (remember you only have 10 points; so that additional attachment has to be paid for by sacrificing another item – like a perk, secondary or tactical for example).
The Wildcards mean you can sit down and create some really interesting classes; in the reveal trailer with the directors commentary he shows how you can remove your primary weapon and make a very fast pistol and knife class. I experimented with this class-type during a match and instantly got my ass handed to me by seasoned players sporting SMGs. This class would probably suit a small map or one with lots of rooms/places to quickly run for cover.
One of my favourite Wildcards I tested out were doubling up on the second perk (ghost + cold blooded) which gave me my “stealth” class and countered the tech advantages some of the new scopes provided. The moment I had this class equipped I managed to get back into a positive K/D.”
ALL-NEW SCORE STREAKS: Scorestreaks reward players for helping their team win the game: capturing flags, defending your teammate with an Assault Shield, getting kills and assists are all examples of actions that help your team win and thus give you score. Each action has a different value and can influence the theater of operations:
“Killstreaks are now called Scorestreaks in Blops 2; which is logical since you can earn these rewards from doing things other than just getting kills. Like MW3, you get rewarded for doing objectives like capturing a domination flag, or taking out UAVs.
The new thing in Blops 2 is the concept of “objective multipliers” for Scorestreaks. This is an active attempt to reward people that participate in the the objectives of a match; what I took this to mean is that if you capture flags, you’ll earn a bit more than people that just run around killing people. If you have the flag, and kill someone, you’ll get a bonus etc. I can’t confirm exactly what will equal what, but suffice it to say the take home message was – you can earn Scorestreaks in other ways than just shooting people.”
2025 comes to life (new-age tech):
- Guardian – A high-powered microwave turret used for crowd control that emits an intense directed energy wave, used to block navigation routes.
- Swarm – Kamikaze Hunter Killer drones attack enemies and enemy equipment in a morale destroying swarm.
“the Guardian made an appearance in the reveal trailer and basically acts like a line-of-sight turrent but firing microwaves that cook and disorientated the enemy rather than spray bullets. You get points for each enemy that is damaged by it; and probably get a little bonus if you finish off any foe stuck in it. It’s a strong defensive Scorestreak that can lock down strategic points – think bottlenecks on maps, heavy traffic areas or doorways.
The ‘Drone Swarm‘ is the highest Scorestreak reward from what I can remember and results in a large number of drones appearing in the sky and killing any foe in the open. Think of a rain of automated predator missiles – that’s what it’ll be like. The drones by themselves as a low Scorestreak option are pretty annoying; I can only imagine what kind of hassle a swarm would be.”
A range of new features:
- Interactivity: Commandeer a Hellstorm Missile and guide it to its path, or disperse a cluster of bombs and try to take out multiple enemies – the ultimate risk/reward scenario. Also, take control of a VTOL Warship and rain steel from above.
- Player or AI-Controlled: Take control or let it do the work for you – engage the AGR (Autonomous Ground Robot), a sentry drone which will fight autonomously on the player’s behalf, or can be user-controlled. Sentry Guns work the same way.
- Player-Controlled: Harness the power of the MQ-27 Dragonfire, a remote-controlled quad rotor with a light machine gun that can surgically eliminate targets on the ground. Use the Lodestar to find, hunt and kill anything on the map.
- AI-Controlled: A range of weapons at your disposal here: call in a strafing run using the A10F Warthog and listen as the AI pilot maintains constant radio contact, informing you of its progress; the Lightning Strike allows players to pinpoint three target areas and launch an aerial assault.
- Uber-weapons: Once you’ve held the War Machine, you’ll never want to hold another grenade launcher again. The Death Machine makes its updated return in 2025, giving players their own, hand-held Gatling Gun that can shred anything in sight.
“In Black Ops 2 you are given the choice to set certain Scorestreaks to be AI-controlled or player-controlled. So you can use your reward however you like; Call in a helicopter and let it do it’s thing whilst you keep running and gunning or find a nice spot and pick off your foes yourself.”
UPGRADED WEAPONS, ATTACHMENTS AND EQUIPMENT: Near-future warfare means upgrades in technology that soldiers will use in the field. Additionally, weapon perks are now built into the attachments:
- Assault Shield (Riot Shield) – Create and move portable cover
- Target Finder – Easy identification of friend or foe
- Millimeter Wave Scanner – New optic that shows stationary (non-moving) targets at close range and through surfaces
- Dual Band Scope – Shows any object that generates heat, allowing for more precision in long-range shooting
- Shock Charge – Non-lethal thrown device that electrocutes and stuns enemies that come near it
- Laser Sight – Both visualized on the gun and seen by the weapon’s owner and other players – you immediately understand the capabilities of this perk and the player that’s got it.
“I tested out a few of the new scopes and here were my thoughts;
- Assault Shield; the upgrade to the classic riot shield – you now get the option of shoving your shield down in front of you and firing your secondary from behind it. At that point you lose the ability to quickly shield yourself from side shots, but you gain the ability to shoot. I couldn’t manage to get the hang of it in my fast paced games; but this will be a great tactical weapon. My biggest grief with this was – I was knifed by a guy directly in front of me (…patch that PLEASE).
- Target Finder; this was my most hated feature of the reveal trailer and I still consider it a ‘n00b scope’. Enemies without the correct perks will be highlighted by red diamonds whilst ADS. I tried it, found it a bit helpful when looking for longer range targets, but kind of distracting too. I tested it out on a Sniper Rifle with good effect – it helped highlight some smaller targets far off in the distance. As a slight side-note, I found the sniping to be rewarding – but the maps I used them on were not suited to that class.
- Millimeter Wave Scanner; my favorite new scope (image below) – this one fires a ‘scan’ of a limited area in front of your ADS allowing you to see foes through objects (for a limited distance). In the image provided below you can see the ‘result’ of the scanner – foes hidden behind an object appear as a ‘grey noise’ outline. It’ll make those ‘deep impact’ kills a lot easier.
- Shock charge; this is my new favourite tactical grenade/weapon – it featured in the reveal and basically shocks nearby enemies which stuns them. The cool thing that the trailers didn’t show or explain is that this device can wait and activate itself on proximity – so if you see someone; throw it, miss, it’ll wait until they get near.”
eSPORTS – A huge inspiration for the team and a core pillar to the multiplayer agenda, Call of Duty: Black Ops IIintroduces Live Streaming and Shoutcasting, taking the competitive spirit of Call of Duty and elevating it to a spectator sport, while providing the tools to beam compelling gameplay to the world.
- CODCASTING – The caster is a specialized spectator who takes on the role of color commentator for any recorded game video, providing play-by-play coverage of the action. There are a variety of shoutcaster-specific features built into the game:
- Picture-in-Picture – This view shows a list of everyone in the game, their current score streak, and their status.
- Map View – This view shows both sides of the battle from a top-down perspective in an easy-to-read 2d graphic.
- Score Panel – Similar to what currently exists in professional sports, this view shows the big picture of overall team scores and objective information.
- Name Plate – Similar to the name on a player’s jersey, easily identify the player being spotlighted.
- Listen In – Drop in/out of player conversations and listen to the action as it happens.
LIVE STREAMING – To make competitive gaming not only fun to play but also fun to watch, Treyarch has made it possible to live stream from inside the game. Players only need an internet connection with the required minimum amount of upstream bandwidth and a copy of the game.
LEAGUE PLAY – Competition is fun at any level, which is why Treyarch has introduced Leagues, offering skill-based matchmaking and seasonal ladders. Play a small number of matches to get your skill rating, and from there, you’ll be placed into a division with players of similar skill. Keep winning and you’ll move up in rank – steady progress will move you up the ladder and into upper divisions. Skill-based matchmaking ensures that you are challenged but not out-gunned.
“I’ve never been much for clans or competitive gaming, but I have to admit I might want to try it out. They’ve tried to upgrade the features for competitive players (all listed above). Things like PIP, Score Panel, Name Plate mean that as you are spectating a match, you’ll have all the necessary info right away.”
Game Modes – Call of Duty: Black Ops II brings back fan-favorite modes, while introducing a number of enhancements that provide players with the opportunity to define the gameplay experience. All of the objective-based modes are now round-based. (For example, in Domination, players will switch sides so that you have to attack and defend the objectives.) Call of Duty: Black Ops II enables three game modes to play in Multiteam mode: Team Death Match, Hardpoint and Kill Confirmed.
Hardpoint is a new game mode inspired by those traditional King of the Hill style modes, where teams are battling for map control.
“All the classic game modes will be making a come back. The new kid on the block is the ‘Hardpoint’ mode. I have to confess I’m still pretty confused about how the mechanics of this game mode run and I couldn’t immediately work out how it differs from HQ, but you basically get a certain part of the map that you have to hold and control. Whilst playing this mode, I recall storming a Hardpoint with an assault shield and causing chaos.”
Custom Games – Play with up to six teams and 18 players. All game modes, and all variants of game modes, including Hardcore, Multiteam, and Party games are available for players to be able to customize. While League Play fulfills the promise of making gameplay fun at any level, custom games ensure that it’s fun in a different way – because you get to define the parameters. Players can:
- Change the default classes available in their Custom classes.
- Decide if they want players to be able to use their Custom Classes, or just the defaults they designed.
- Add bots to almost all game modes.
- Restrict the content that is available. For example, you can banish certain attachments or Perks from being available.
- Re-design the Pick 10 as a pick 3 up to pick 17.
“Custom games now have more features and things you can modify. I’m particullarly interested in the idea of pushing the Pick 10 system up to Pick 17 and just having an insane over-powered match. Conversely, it’ll be cool to restrict certain things (like claymores, n00b tubes) and see how people react. You can also add Bots into the mix, so if you are just playing 1v1, you can actually have more than 1 foe lurking on the map.”
Party Games – Formerly known as Wager Matches in Call of Duty®: Black Ops, Sharpshooter, Gun Game, One in the Chamber and Sticks & Stones all make their return. These “just for fun” modes don’t use Create-a-Class or Scorestreak systems. However – unlike the previous title’s Wager Matches – players will earn XP and can even rank up the normal progression as you would with traditional game modes.
“Party Games are your ‘non-standard’ game types and were previously eager matches or community modes in earlier versions. The idea behind them is ‘they are fun games that you play with your friends’. I’m partial to the old ‘sticks and stones’ (knives and crossbow only) matches.
I also find that game game and one in the chamber are good ways of ranking up your lesser used pistols and guns.”
Combat Training – Evolved further, Combat Training is now integrated into the main game, offering three playlists for players:
- Bootcamp: Players rank up from 1-10 and give full XP for doing so. Bootcamp is Team Deathmatch only with a combination of 3 human players and 3 bots on their team, versus another team of 3 humans and 3 bots. It’s an excellent way to try and get the hang of MP with a lot less pressure.
- Objective: A combination of humans-and-bots versus another team of humans-and-bots, in a mix of objective-based modes where you can play beyond level 10 and earn ½ XP.
- Bot Stomp: Play in an effort to demolish the other AI-filled team to practice up or just have a good time. XP is not rewarded in this humans-versus-bots mode of play, but it is a great way to practice up, level up skills, learn maps and modes and still get the multiplayer game experience.
“Another good idea was upgrading the training side of CoD. People that have never played before or just struggling to get up to speed can practice in some new modes that help you hone your skills. This might even be useful for seasoned players to sharpen their accuracy or headshots (also I suspect some hidden content will be associated with training).”
Challenges – Encourages and rewards players for branching out and experiencing game content, always providing a new goal around every turn, as well as bragging rights for those that achieve them. With thousands of Challenges to complete, it is the way for players to unlock cosmetic content and a way to define the player persona in the world of online play.
- Weapon Camos: Every weapon in the game (including launchers, knives and Assault Shields) can be camouflaged.
- Reticles: All of the major scopes in the game have their own set of Challenges. Completing those Challenges allow players to customize the reticle used on the attachment, showing people how far you’ve progressed and enhancing the player’s online persona.
- Playercard: It’s like your own Call of Duty: Black Ops II business card: it possesses your name and consists of an emblem (made by the player), background (unlockable), clan tag, matchmaking level of a player and current League Play rank.
“Challenges have been improved to be even more varied and fun than ever. There are easy challenges and there are insanely tough ones. There are also lots of hidden or secret ones that you’ll discover once you do something random. I’ve often thought that I should be rewarded for getting a game-winning throwing knife kill…maybe I will now.
Weapon camos; can now be added to other weapon types like launchers and pistols. You get 10 standard ones, and then there are more hidden ones that you’ll unlock as you use each weapon. I can’t fully confirm it, but there will be some odd/funny ones in the mix.
Reticiles; you can earn new styles and new colors for your scopes with reticles. There is a biohazard one for zombies fans, and a mustache one for hipsters (le sigh).”
Theater – Provides players with a set of features, serving as both a production tool, but also a research and training tool.
- Social: Utilizing a robust system of bookmarks and content tagged with meta-data (game mode, time/date stamps, score, captures and defends,) Theater makes finding content easier by providing visibility into the “Recently Shared” listing of films and screens from among the entire community, or the “Activity Feed” of just your friends. There is also an Up/Down voting system for films and screenshots that lets fan favorites rise to the top
- Highlight Reel: Not everyone has hours to spend in the Theater to make movies, so it has been simplified to a one-touch button experience: at the press of a button, the game will do all the work, creating a highlight reel on the fly. Players can customize settings to expand/simplify the contents of a film. Once created, players can edit further, or simply save it and be done.
- CODcast: A special type of Theater mode, players can CODcast previously-recorded games providing the opportunity to practice casting games, or even create a video-on-demand series, or even a training tool to study up on strategies/tactics.
New Features: Theater brings with it:
- Clip Count: Players can store up to 20 clips.
- “Merge Clips:” If players make a film with all 20 clips and then merge them together, it becomes one big clip
- “Attach to Object:” Players can attach the camera to objects in the world including many Scorestreaks like the Dragonfire or RCDX
“The Theatre comes back with some improvements. They’ve tried to accommodate for both the novice and pro video maker alike. The highlight reel means that you can ‘auto generate’ a video that features your kills or your point achieving moments. The detail and what gets included can be customised in the settings (assuming there will be ones like ‘kills only’ etc).
A feature I liked was increased Metadata for matches (so you can find which match you played) and the ability to quickly tag matches for later editing. How often do you do something epic, then continue on for a few more matches and then realise you don’t know which match the ‘epic moment’ was in?. I’ll be keen to see how the ‘quick labelling’ feature works; I guess it’ll have to be a part of the post-match lobby?
I just hope that the linking to YouTube and rendering software provide greater quality than the first black ops.”
Prestige – Returning with 55 levels with 10 levels of Prestige, Call of Duty: Black Ops II does not “wipe the slate clean” and require players to start over at each Prestige – instead, it continues a player’s level progression. Weapon XP and/or earned attachments are not reset, nor are Challenges – anything earned stays unlocked for continued use.
“Prestige has changed; no longer are you sacrificing all your hard work for just bragging rights, new emblems etc – gun XP & attachments remain; which means when you unlock a favorite gun you keep your progress with it forever (unless you use the ‘reset stats’ option in prestige). I was thinking about this and I believe this will encourage players to use different guns as you’ll be less concerned about gaining back your favourite gun’s camo/attachments”
Prestige – Awards: Upon achieving Prestige status, players receive a “Prestige Token,” which is a special type of Unlock token allowing players to unlock whatever they want – forever. That includes things for which players haven’t reached the level requirement. Achieving Prestige brings a few rewards to use such as the ability to take an extra Create-a-Class slot (up to 5 total), the ability to reset stats entirely, or secure a “refund.” (A refund returns all of the unlock tokens spent so far and relocks the content.) Players can then choose to unlock a different set of items than the ones previously selected.
“I’ve gone from being one of those played that never prestiged, to one that is doing it repeatedly for the cred. The rewards of prestige far outweigh the rewards of not prestiging. The refund concept is interesting because you get the chance to re-do your permanent unlocks if you make a mistake or select something that turns out to be a dud. You MUST prestige if you want a chance of experiencing all pieces of kit… I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to.”
MULTIPLAYER MAPS: In the gameplay rotation:
- Aftermath: Ruins of downtown Los Angeles after a drone attack.
- Cargo: In the docks of Singapore, where cargo containers are constantly moving and changing the shape of cover in the map center.
- Turbine: Set in a wind farm in the desert plains of Yemen, Turbine is a large, open map, with the ability to climb on everything.
- Yemen: Urban street fight with tight alleyways and lots of changing elevation to the battle.
- Overflow: Great Urban engagements in the flood littered streets of Peshawar, Pakistan.
- Express: Los Angeles bullet train station with good long to medium engagements up and down the train tracks.
- Hijacked: Luxurious super yacht with frantic, yet controlled close quarters engagements.
“The maps we played seemed to be well designed with good options for movement, flanking, and the odd overview areas to pick off does from a distance. I would need to play them again with a few different game modes to see what they are like for domination, CTF etc – I didn’t really have too many issues with the spawn points – but Straussy did point out that a few times the enemy were able to ‘spawn camp’ to a degree”.
THE BIGGEST ZOMBIES EXPERIENCE TO DATE: Call of Duty: Black Ops II Zombies features three different ways to survive the zombie apocalypse. Unravel the mysteries of a dying Earth in Tranzit, fight endless waves of zombies in Survival mode, or compete in the new 4z4 last-human-standing mode Grief.
- 1-4 player co-op in a large open world with a variety of locations. The new Buildables gameplay elements help players move through each area to find the key tidbits that reveal why they are there and what they must do to survive. All the while, public transportation is still operational, as a bus will regularly stop at each location. Zombies ride for free.
- Recreating the classic mode of just purely surviving the shambling, incoming Zombie horde, Survival mode allows you to play 1-4 players co-op in specific locations from the much larger Tranzit area.
Grief: You and friends can take on up to 4 people in a team vs. Zombies vs. team scenario. 2-8 players are thrown into an area to be the last humans standing.
- MP TECHNOLOGY WITH ZOMBIES: Call of Duty: Black Ops II features new and extensive stat tracking as well as leaderboards for bragging rights. A new skill-based matchmaking system will allow players of the same ability to take on the horrors of the night in public game modes. For players that are looking for an extra challenge, Zombies features custom games: Headshots only, higher starting rounds, and a toggling of extra items are all available.
“I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a big Zombies player. I know people love it and think it’s the best – but I don’t really get it (perhaps I need to play it with a few beers). From what I gather they’ve added new features to the Zombies area – but they didn’t let us play it. The concept is that there are different ‘zones’ and the bus is the primary means of getting to and from each zone. You can walk and navigate without using the bus, but you are more exposed to danger. The ‘grief’ concept is a new addition and add’s a “evil-twist” element to the gameplay. The idea here is that you are competing against another ‘team’ of humans to survive – and whilst you cannot directly hurt them, you can direct attention (zombies) towards them. Think of your Walking Dead episodes and how Zombies react to certain stimuli… it’ll be something like that. Hopefully that has a few zombie-fans excited?”
“I’ll be getting my copy asap (for PS3) and playing under ‘Insanity540’ if you want to have a match. I like TDM, but I’m going to branch out a bit and expand my game mode styles. I hope you have enjoyed my preview – and I hope Activision etc etc are fine with me releasing these details (they never mentioned NOT to). Look forward to the game coming out.” – Ben