In the game's story, it's 2025. There is a cold war going on between China and the United States. In addition to the timeline-hopping story of Alex and David Mason and Frank Woods, Black Ops II's story will feature several points during which the player is given a number of different operations to undertake.
"You'll get to these points in the campaign," said Treyarch head Mark Lamia. "There'll be these hotspots around the world, as you'd expect in a cold war. And you'll get your intel drop on them and JSOC will come to you and say 'Here's what's going on. We need to drop a black ops team in. Which mission are you gonna assign your team to."
"You'll choose a mission, and that is actually a branch for the story, and the structure of the campaign." According to Lamia, if you die, that won't end the game but rather will be included as a part of the story—your characters are disposable, though the high-level narrative will (allegedly) play out differently depending on how you do in the missions. It's not clear whether the effects will be story-only or whether they'll actually have an affect on the gameplay or settings of missions in the rest of the game.
The Strike Force mission we saw was a raid on the Port of Singapore by Navy SEALs. A team of four fast-roped into the shipping port from a helicopter with a mission timer of 20 minutes. These missions operate a little like a skirmish mode; this one felt like a multiplayer map populated by bots. That’s a compliment, honestly. More interestingly, you could hop into “Overwatch Mode” at any point, a flying camera view, and assign movement waypoints to all team members. From there, you’re able to take control of any friendly unit—drone or man—at any time.
Sounds like they are adding a bit of Rainbow Six to the campaign. Interesting.
2. China is the new Middle-East: By 2025, oil will be yesterday's news. Instead, wars will be waged over what is known as 'rare earth elements' - a set of seventeen chemical elements which are used in the production of pretty much any modern piece of technology you care to mention - from nuclear batteries to the smartphone in your hand.
Now, consider that a country such as Iran currently controls 10% of the world's oil reserves. Now consider that China controls over 95% of rare earth elements. With that in mind, it's easy to predict that it'll be bombs over Beijing rather than Baghdad in 13 years' time.
5. You can fail your missions: The missions in question are the new 'Strike Force' maps - open-world sandbox levels which play out a little like a giant offline game of Domination.
The stage we were shown took place in a Singapore shipping yard, where the goal was to capture and control points of the map within a twenty minute time limit.
There's a strategic element, too. At any point during the fight, you can leap out of your soldier's body and zoom out to a screen where you can take control of various drones. Useful, because as ever your squad finds themselves heavily outnumbered.
If you fail to take control of the map within the allotted time, you fail the mission but the game continues regardless. In practical terms, this means that for the first time in a Call of Duty game we have branching storylines and the possibility of multiple different endings. But as we discovered, this isn't the only way you can shape the Cold War...
6. Your teammate's lives are in your hands: Black Ops 2 addresses one of the biggest problems we've always had with the Call of Duty series - namely hat you've never really had any control over who lives and dies on the battlefield.
"When you get to the end of the game we're gonna make it very clear to you the different things that could have happened" Anthony explains. "We're gonna make it clear that if somebody died, that that person could have survived. We're gonna make it clear that the Cold War with China was lost or didn't go well - but that wasn't necessarily the only outcome.
"We're gonna make it clear that Raul Menendez succeeded or failed at certain things owing to your actions. So when you get to the end of that game you're probably gonna want to replay it to see how things could have changed if you'd have played in a different way.
It sounds like Treyarch is going to expand the core gameplay mechanics nicely, sort of trying to impart more of a sandboxy element to the game. I'm starting to really look forward to this.
This was interesting because the editors are clearly down on the franchise. However, having said that, after seeing the demo one of them wrote:
The Black Ops II demo made me do a total 180. This is now one of my most anticipated games of the year. Honestly, seeing the campaign demo, I feel like Treyarch has been listening to the feedback fans have been giving. This feels different than the last few COD campaigns. Setting Black Ops II in the future sets it apart enough that it doesn’t look like the same Call of Duty game, but making it only a decade away keeps it realistic. There are no crazy futuristic cities with flying cars here. In the demo Activision showed us, we saw a familiar Los Angeles, but one besieged by futuristic planes and soldiers carrying high-tech weapons. Treyarch has kept it grounded enough to be believable and, more importantly, scarily plausible.
Strike Force gives me a lot of hope for the franchise as a whole. Fail-able missions and multiple endings are a huge step in the right direction for Black Ops II, and these missions are probably the most interesting part of the content we saw. Instead of looking at this as just another blockbuster shooter, I’m looking at it as a game with the potential to breathe new life into the franchise. I’m not sure what Infinity Ward is working on at the moment (probably Modern Warfare 4), but if Treyarch continues to innovate, I’m definitely looking forward to watching how the series evolves with other teams.
I am curious to see if any MP changes are in the works, too.
I missed this a few weeks ago. Darn summer distractions.
I have to admit: Blops 2 is the first CoD game that I am really looking forward to getting. It's not just the fact that I am still greatly enjoying my time with MW3(!), but I love the near-future setting. And now this trailer reminds me a bit of the good ol' days of C&C.
Why would you play this and not BF3? Or CS? The CoD franchise needs to be stomped out. They pump out these titles like Madden games.
Because they're fun?
While I love the BF franchise, I also love CoD. It is a remarkably well made and fun game. Why should something like that be stomped out? Does BF3 or CS lose something by having a competitor with its own fanbase?
I never understood why the BF crowd insists on comparing their game to CoD - the two are extremely different in their approach to the FPS genre. Battlefield is all about what its name suggests: big, objective based, combined arms battles. Great!
CoD is not about that. CoD is, stylistically speaking, about small commando raids where the name of the game is to chew up the other team and not to take and hold territory. But more to the point, CoD is really about e-sport than it is about anything else. CoD is a game for lone wolves who want to go head to head against other players without having a tank lumber in the way. When it comes to achieving this goal, CoD always delivers the goods, which is why they move 20-25 million units and have over 2 million paid subscribers to CoD Elite.
Despite the hate I am finding MW3 to be a great package for the money (I know the hardcore CoD fans say MW3 is a step back from MW2, but I can't comment since I skipped MW2). You get a great cinematic campaign, 16 Special Ops challenge missions, multiplayer with a bunch of different modes from standard to hardcore, and the new Face Off mode (1v1, 2v2). Plus they keep pumping out maps to keep the game fresh. Despite the fanboi hate from some of the CoD crowd, I find MW3 to be one of the best gaming packages for the dollar I ever purchased (even more so since I got it on sale). And I say this as someone who only tried MW3 because Steam had a F2P weekend and I was bored. I went in with low expectations, so that probably helped. But I now have 90 hours in the game and I still enjoy it. It keeps calling me back for another high adrenaline fix.
I am glad Activision is continuing to pump them out - they remain one of the most popular franchises in gaming history, and for good reason.
And I think the near future BlOps 2 is a very clever move for the franchise. By getting away from the admittedly threadbare modern warfare angle that EVERYONE covers, from BF3 to CS, Treyarch is planting the CoD flag on virgin territory before anyone else (well, with the exception of Blacklight Retribution which isn't quite up to CoD's standards). I expect this new time frame is going to make BlOps 2 break a new record on release (pre-orders already have exceeded old CoD records). I know I am much more interested in the game because of this cyberpunk / war with China aspect than I otherwise would be in yet another contemporary Middle East / war with Russia setting. Add in a campaign with branching storylines, plus Rainbow Six-styled, randomly generated skirmish missions, and this go around for the franchise sounds like a bold step in a new direction.
So, that is why I have fallen for CoD. Again, I love Battlefield too (haven't tried BF3 yet, but I put over 160 hours into Bad Company 2), but CoD offers something very different from a Battlefield experience; it's its own unique take on pure death sport, and I find that refreshing.
I never have tried CS, but I will be trying CSGO at some point. However, based on some beta vids I've seen, CSGO looks absolutely boring and blah compared to CoD. But we'll see.
BTW: I think EA is making a BIG mistake in how they are trying to muscle in on Activision territory. Medal of Honor: Warfighter might as well be called Medal of Duty: Call of Honor it is such a clone of CoD (even down to a spec op approach!), and the idea of rolling out CQ maps for BF3 just doesn't make any sense to me outside of the fact that CoD's small, high intensity skirmishes still appeal to shooter fans.
Whether you’re a veteran of the franchise or new to shooters, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 multiplayer is poised to blow you away. It’d be easy to give it a quick glance and dismiss it as more of the same, but what’s different is what makes this edition shine, and what’s the same makes this COD experience all the more addictive.
Instead of simply giving its die-hard audience more of the same, Treyarch has gone the extra mile to keep the Call of Duty brand fresh. A revamped Create-a-Class and Score Streak system is more than icing on the cake of the futuristic multiplayer game, which still remains very ‘pick-up and play’ friendly. So far, Treyarch has positioned Black Ops 2 as the best Call of Duty ever, and we still haven’t seen everything yet! But the proof will be with the finished game when it’s released on November 13.
As a reward for surviving 11 days in the 18th Century because of Hurricane Sandy, I pre-ordered BlOp 2 today. Treyarch has wisely allowed pre-loading on Steam so all that CoD goodness is already trickling onto my HD as I write this.