Treyarch has lifted the lid on the latest Call of Duty multiplayer experience that is Black Ops 2.
Promising to offer a game that "will change how you think of multiplayer", the latest revelations as to the game's new loadout and pointstreak system alludes to a unique CoD experience, fulfilling the borrage of requests for change from haters and lovers of the series alike.
So what's new in Black Ops 2, and is it really all that different from previous CoD entries?
Killstreaks Are Now "Score Streaks"
The Call of Duty multiplayer experience has long been defined by its killstreak system: going back to the CoD4 days where the illusive helicopter rewarded strategic gameplay and defensive-minded tactics. While the series has changed a lot since then, through to Modern Warfare 3's get-rewarded-for-doing-absolutely-anything pointstreak system, the series has remained one that is especially rewarding for both the individualistic and team-focused player.
Treyarch is looking to mix things even further than what Infinity Ward did with Modern Warfare with its new Score Streaks system. Players will earn points towards the "Score Streak Meter" for kills and "Scoring Events", such as capturing a flag or enemy location. Once that meter fills up your score streak will be active, giving you access to one of the 22 score streaks available in the game. You'll need to play rather skillfully and strategically to unlock all 22.
The difference from Modern Warfare 3's pointstreak system is that it's possible to unlock two score streaks at once: for example, you might manage to grab a flag, kill an enemy and eventually capture the flag, which would give you 400 score streak points and unlock two score streaks at once.
Ideally, Treyarch is creating an environment that rewards team play just as much as individual play, something Infinity Ward tried with Modern Warfare 3 to modest success: people still play Domination for the kills.
Once you unlock a score streak you'll have access to many devastating rewards, like the Guardian, a turret that sends out explosive player-stunning waves of energy. Then there's the AI-controlled tank that can also be controlled with a hold of the X button.
The new multi-team deathmatch mode will allow four teams to compete on one map, with up to 18 players competing. Think of Modern Warfare 3's Face-Off mode x2. Then there's Hardpoint, in which two teams vie for the "hardpoint", which changes location throughout the duration of the match.
The Level System
Treyarch is aiming to keep the leveling up system simple and quick, limiting the game's multiplayer component to 55 levels and 10 levels of prestige. According to the developer a player can move through 55 levels in 24 hours of play, which is about normal for a Call of Duty game, give or take a few hours and, of course, the skill of the player.
Medals (probably stolen from MMGN.com) will reward players for, quote, "doing something cool". If you earn a medal in the game this will attribute extra XP, much in the same way accolades reward players with extra XP in Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3.
The challenge here is knowing that not all actions in the game will act towards your next score streak, nor will they to XP. Both scoring events (which contribute to your overall score for a match) and XP (which are attributed to your leveling up) are separated rather intricately by Treyarch, and there is a fine balance between earning one or the other when unlocking a new medals. You might score points doing one thing, or unlock a medal doing another. You might even earn both with specific actions.
According to Treyarch, this will keep players "engaged".
Each time you level up you'll unlock a token, which can be used to unlock items, of which there are well over 100. These items include the standard CoD playfair: weapons, perks, equipments and even score streaks. However, while you might get a token at, say, level 10, you won't just be able to unlock any item, rather only the items available to level 10 players.
Interestingly -- and something that is considerably different to other Call of Duty games -- you won't be able to unlock all items until you Prestige once, which adds extra incentive to enter the bragging-rights mode and play through the multiplayer component beyond the 100% completion mark. Previous Call of Duty games haven't really rewarded the player for Prestiging outside of a shiny new badge, although Infinity Ward added the honourable Prestige token system in MW3, which allowed you to choose from a number of special features like limited Double XP or Double Weapon XP.
The new Create-A-Class system in Black Ops 2 reinvents how your loadout is shaped for every match. Interestingly, some classes won't need to have primary or secondary weapons, as was revealed in the multiplayer trailer last week.
The newly-named "Pick 10" loadout system allows you to choose any ten items from the game, be it weapons, attachments, perks or grenades, in a boardgame-like allocation system. These items are placed into pre-determined slots, which can be used for a certain type of item: if you don't wish to take a grenade into a match, you can use that slot for a perk. Heck, if you don't want a primary weapon you don't even need to take one in. Whatever tickles your fancy.
Every item will cost 10 allocation points, while "wild cards" will allow you to pick two perks from the same category, which certainly makes things interesting. You could look at them a little like weapon proficiencies: an extra perk on the side.
However, weapon proficiencies won't exist, and all weapon modifications will come in the form of attachments.
The multiplayer trailer revealed a stack of new items. The Millimetre Scanner is an awesome weapon attachment that targets enemies via a pulse from your weapon, allowing you to see through walls and smoke and giving you a better opportunity to take out a hiding sniper.
The Assault Shield will allow you to plant a shield in the ground to use as portable cover, and was also on display in the multiplayer trailer.
Treyarch's new League Play feature sorts players in divisions based on skill, meaning players of a certain skill level will be able to get something a little more competitive out of the experience.
Then there's the shoutcasting system, which offers a number of different viewing options and an accessible UI for people looking to Codcast matches.
And then there's the live streaming feature, which takes the multimedia component to a whole new level. This feature will allow players to stream their games live with the press of a button, with iPad/tablet support promised by Treyarch.
By Gaetano Prestia