The Most Significant Multiplayer Update Since Call of Duty 4 - Hands-On with Black Ops II MP
Post by Naren @ 02:32pm 24/08/12 | Comments
AusGamers' resident CoD rover, Naren Hooson, took Call of Duty: Black Ops II for a multiplayer spin recently and compiled this incredibly in-depth run-down of what you can expect...
Once again the annual Call of Duty ritual is upon us, and the magical word “Multiplayer” has those devotees to the franchise on edge. Some have been waiting a few -- others many -- months for what is to be revealed.
It’s Treyarch’s turn to show their wares, and how impressive they really are. A complete redesign of the multiplayer set up, with a noticeable emphasis on rewarding a team playing style that includes score chasing over kill count, is the ace up their sleeve and it can’t go understated that this looks to be the most significant overhaul to multiplayer the series has seen since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Score Streaks completely replace Kill Streaks and are only achieved by doing something in a match that contributes to the score. Each action offers a different value, so helping your team out more gets you that Score Steak sooner. Set as a build-up meter system with three tiers, it rewards for scoring for the team come in the likes of the usual UAV, the Guardian Turret, Hellstorm Missiles, optional controlled weapons and drones, complete player controlled drones, complete AI drones and more.
John Rafacz, Communications Director for Treyarch, explains a little about this. “If you look at what the team are doing with Score Streak and how it applies to gameplay, there’s a real desire to reward people who play for the objective. You know, and not just a straight Kill Death kind of player. If you are a straight Kill Death player it’s like, Free For All, Team Deathmatch is still very much for you. When it comes to objective games, you know, being a high... being a slayer still counts, but there’s extra score to be awarded to guys who are playing for the flag, helping team members and really kind of working as a team.”
One of the new rewards, the Guardian Turret, is a peek into the technological evolution of the near future. A man placed turret of sorts that emits microwaves in a set direction, therefore heating it up and causing significant damage to anyone in its path.
“The Guardian, which is also in use, but right about now probably about the size of this wall and requires a small trailer tractor-size power source,” explains John. “But in 2025 it’s now deployable and in Multiplayer this can have some serious gameplay ramifications because if you’ve got two guys with Guardians, they can suddenly block off an entry point to a flag. That utilises microwave technology; if you step into its path, you feel like your skin is burning, so why wouldn’t you want that?”
Unmanned drones come in various forms. The Autonomous Ground Robot (AGR), once dropped in a crate by a chopper, gives you the choice to let it do its own mobile sentry destruction by AI control, or you can get your datapad out and control where it goes and what to target. Sentry guns operate with the same control capabilities.
The MQ-27 quad rotor gives a player complete control of what is essentially an airborne light machine gun, offering precision takedown of targets. If you just want the AI to do its job then an A10 strafing run will pour down destruction and give you continuous reports on its progress through radio contact.
That’s only the surface of Treyarch’s overhaul though. The core of this comes with the completely new create-a-class set up. With a new visual layout, the renamed Pick-10 system gives 10 points to spend anyway you see fit among all the choices. All the options for weapons, attachments, perks, lethal and tactical equipment have been put together and set up to allow you to spend your ten points in a way that best suits your playing style.
Aiming for even more freedom though, Treyarch have added three Wildcards slots to the loadout. When a point is spent here, these give you the option to have up to three primary attachments, two secondary attachments, two of perks 1, 2 or 3 and two of the lethal or tactical equipment selections.
Therefore you can have more of what you really use, and cut out what you don’t use. You can even choose to not use a section if you want, and use the points elsewhere. Take out the primary weapon all together or go in without grenades but with an extra perk in a single category.
A vertical and horizontal scrolling screen is in place to help you choose weapons in real time and if you overspend the points, a new screen appears giving you a choice of what to cut out of the class. This proved tremendously more efficient when altering classes on-the-fly between matches.
Weapon options are made up of similar hardware to what we’re used to, upgraded for the near future. It’s the attachments and equipment that gets exciting. A Millimeter Scanner Sight that detects stationary targets through surfaces and smoke will still show scanning through the optic even when not scoped.
“There are no laser guns, Multiplayer takes place purely within the 2025 fiction. In the campaign you’ve got this time spanning narrative between the first cold war and the second cold war. Multiplayer is exclusively in 2025, so while you won’t see laser beams and aliens, the guys went to great lengths to really make sure that plausible technology that is currently being used now is applied in a 2025 way. And the two best examples that can readily be seen [are in] the Multiplayer trailer.” John says, referring to the Millimeter Scanner and Guardian turret.
Then there’s the Target Finder, a tunneled sight that helps you distinguish friend from foe by lighting up an enemy target with a red square. Although the tunneling effect cuts out peripheral vision somewhat, it can be extremely useful in a crowded situation. And of course there are the classics: red dot, laser, ACOG and hybrid sights, grip and suppressors.
As all gun modifications will come under attachments, fast mag, quickdraw, grenade launchers, extended clips and more all have to be accessed here and the perks categories are kept for themselves.
Placeable assault shields come under weapons and will be a crucial element in defending the various scoped weapons as well as the previously mentioned Guardians. These can also be taken out by the added tactical EMP grenades that will disable anything electrical. So any drones can also be rendered useless if targeted correctly.
“I can tell you that when it comes to that 2025 fiction, you’re dealing with a world that is rooted in drone warfare and technology in advanced robotics. So you’ll find things like EMP grenades are going to be pretty handy,” John alludes.
On top of that we’ll have access to shock grenades that will stick almost anywhere to give out a shock when an enemy comes within a set radius. Great for use in a doorway or passage as an alarm system. The Black Hat PDA will also give you hacking capabilities, and while I didn’t get a chance to use it, I assume enemy drones can be turned using this device.
A combination of the new Score Streak set up and Point-10 system necessitate a change of the level up and prestige progression as well. Moving up through 55 levels will now be done with experience points, in the form of medals, alone. Score points will not impact this. And with up to one hundred items needing to be unlocked with the single tokens awarded at each level up, almost two prestiges are needed just to unlock everything. Therefore prestige will now not reset all unlocked items.
Multi Team Deathmatch and Hard Point were the new game modes revealed. The first one is exactly that, up to six teams of up to 18 players in various configurations; four teams of three, three teams of five and so on, all out for the high score in a rotation of objective games.
Hard Point is basically King of the Hill; a single point on a map to gain control of, that changes location once controlled for a certain amount of time. In the roster to really concentrate the action to a single point on the map. More so than Domination, which pops up again along side Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Search and Destroy and of course much more.
E-sports is also high on the agenda this time round, with the offer of League Play, a skill-based match-making system that sees you matched with others of similar skill levels. Treyarch aim to keep it fun for any skill level and see people progress from that level.
Live streaming over Wi Fi for PC and iPad is also now at the click of a button in theatre mode and CODcasting has never been easier. Moreover, none of this is part of some Elite packaging component, it’s all baked natively into the Black Ops II experience.
“Call of Duty is really all about competition and it gives people a very natural arena to play in. You’ve got your teams, you’ve got the stadium. But now what do you need to wrap a production around it, to infuse personality and to beam it to the world?” furthers John. “Who is the Hastro? The Howard Cocell? Who are those star players and how do you package that all up? And now you’ve got a suite of tools that offer that all from in-game that allow anybody to package that up themselves.”
With so many options completely reshaped, this is a completely new, and very exciting Call of Duty multiplayer.
While John wasn’t giving anything more outside of the Multiplayer zone, he did have this to say about Zombies. “The Zombies mode is being built in the Multiplayer engine. If you look at the dynamic gameplay the Multiplayer guys squeeze out for themselves, you can imagine the amount of creative freedom that this now offers. The Zombies team are guaranteeing that this is the biggest zombies universe you’ve ever had. So it is much more than the World at War unlock that we saw a few years ago. Now it’s its own full blown lifestyle.”
Unfortunately Trent Reznor’s involvement is limited to the score (actually, a single track), so we won’t see any Nine Inch Nails guns.
“There certainly wasn’t the rail gun thing, I will say that the first question out of everyone’s mouths was: Nine Inch Nails gun?” John concludes.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is due to release on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 this November 13th.