All You Need to Know About Black Ops II

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All You Need to Know About Black Ops II

Treyarch wants a branching campaign for its near-future shooter.

As expected, there's a new Call of Duty coming out this fall, this time with Treyarch at the helm. But while Treyarch head Mark Lamia calls Black Ops 2 the "worst-kept secret in gaming," he also thinks it was the "best-kept secret" as well - because the new COD has things that "nobody saw coming." We saw some of it coming, like the game's near-future setting in 2025 and the use of fictional military gadgetry like armed quadrotors. But speaking with Activision's social media guru Dan "One of Swords" Amrich, Lamia and the Black Ops II team laid the info out on the table.

The bulk of the game's single-player (and its multiplayer) will take place in 2025 as previously mentioned, as a third party brings the United States and People's Republic of China to the brink of open war by manipulating both sides. However, a good portion of the campaign will bring us back to the tail-end of the Cold War in the 1980s. In the past, players will see how 2025-era antagonist Raul Menendez became a villain and perhaps even sympathize with him before watching him commit atrocities in the "present" day.

Treyarch hopes to have a more character-driven campaign this time around, with Batman Begins writer and The Dark Knight storycrafter David Goyer on board to flesh out the heroes and villains. "We wanted to create the most compelling villain that Call of Duty has ever seen," said game director Dave Anthony, which admittedly shouldn't be hard. The game will also deal with the father-son relationship between Black Ops protagonist Mason and his son David, the main character in the 2025 sections - and answer questions about just how much of the Black Ops story was in Mason's head.

Perhaps most interestingly of all, though, is that Treyarch intends for the Black Ops II campaign to branch and diverge depending on player actions. This could be something minor that changes a section of gameplay - one level, escorting the President, has the player either rappelling down to join the squad or covering them from afar as a sniper - or a potentially major choice that changes the story. Even failing a mission in Black Ops II might not end the game, but would rather send the plot in a different direction. Considering that the "on-rails" aspect of COD's campaigns has been frequently maligned, this could be a welcome change.

The campaign will also include something called Strike Force Operations, which are non-linear single-player missions that give players options regarding the role they want to take. In a mission to clear out ground defenses so that an aerial gunship could blast a target, for example, the player could play the role of device operator flying armed quadrotors and other drones, and then to another member of the team to engage in a firefight on foot. The "Overwatch" mode would let players watch the action from above, guiding it in a manner more like an RTS, before zooming down to a soldier to get into the action.

Treyarch intends to give the game's engine a visual overhaul with new lighting and texturing, though it's unlikely that we'll see the sort of upgrades that would compete with the glorious terrain destruction of the Battlefield 3 engine.

Curiously, Treyarch didn't talk much about the series' ridiculously-popular multiplayer. "Multiplayer is no longer a one-size-fits-all solution," said game design director David Vonderhaar. "We've stripped the game back a lot and started from a very core place." Whether or not they'll still keep that damned Last Stand perk in the game remains to be seen.

There will, however, be zombies. "I'm not going to hide it from you - it's a Treyarch game, we're making Zombies," said Lamia, but he wasn't inclined to elaborate. "Zombies is its own game and it deserves its own time."

Also, they brought a horse into the motion capture studio. An actual horse. Black Ops II will feature the highest-of-the-high-technology combat equipment, and it will also feature horses. Just throwing that out there.

(One of Swords)


I'm trying to figure out how much of this is lies. So far, I'm going with everything pointing to this not just being a reskin of BlOps 1.

John Funk:

Also, they brought a horse into the motion capture studio. An actual horse. Black Ops II will feature the highest-of-the-high-technology combat equipment, and it will also feature horses. Just throwing that out there.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Featuring the most realistic horse expressions the gaming world has ever seen.

So they're actually putting that ridiculously huge budget to good use? Amazing.

This sounds pretty good though. I'll definitely be keeping my eye on it. Especially the zombies.

As odd as this will sound, my first thought was that the civilian cars (including police) looked pretty generic.

I understand the effect they are going for, but to me it seemed kind of "off" to have all of this super-science technology being unleashed (predicting what current military tech might turn into) with generic looking vehicles rolling around that seemed so generic they could probably have also been used in a game set in the 70s. :)

I guess it's a mild complaint since few people will be looking at that or thinking about it.

I'm skeptical about the branching campaign idea.

However, the rest of it sounds pretty good. I despise the MW series, but still...


Music reminded me of Deus Ex: Human Revolution tbh...

On paper, it sounds cool and it's a new thing in CoD games I believe. And more zombies is cool, but we'll see.

Sounds more interesting than the all-too-familiar trailer originally suggested.
However, I'm still incredibly sceptical; CoD's been hyped before, and we all can see how much of Modern Warfare 3 was directly and unsubtly copy and pasted from Modern Warfare 2.

If they make the campaign actually long, and not ridiculously simple and fast to complete, then I might even consider buying it within the first year of it's release.

Other than that, I'm not buying it one bit. I'll believe it when I see the reviews and play the game.

I figured there would be zombies. I saw the poster they're giving away at GameStop when you pre-order it and it had this chick holding a skull. I immediately thought of zombies, I dunno why.

Also it makes sense because Zombies = Profit.

On the one hand: that all sounds... very intriguing.
On the other hand: it's still Black Ops.

Cautiously optimistic. From I can see now, looks fucking badass. I really want this to be good. And also, FUCK YES! ZOMBIES!!

Also, horses. Awesome.

and i thought all you needed to know was:

Shoot. things. in the face.

i hope there is rambos bow as an easter egg hidden in the dessert (of afghanistan?)

I was all set to hate this after 2010's Black Ops and its sheer awfulness but... this actually seems like it might be good. Some of that actually sounds like noticeable change in the series? And interesting, new gameplay mechanics? From a Treyarch Call of Duty? I don't even know what's real any more!

In short, I am cautiously optimistic about this one.

Horses? In a game about futuristic warfare? lolwhut?

Anyways, I like what I'm hearing thus far, I'm cautiously optimistic about this one, which is a huge step-up compared to how I thought MW3 would turn out.

My hope? That they merge Black Ops and the Modern Warfare universes into one game that is released every 2 years rather than two parallel games that are released every year...

I mean, if we're going to live with it, why not at least make it pleasant? looks interesting and it will probably be fun, but am I getting taken for the same old ride. Show me everything cool about the game and then just load it with crap. I did like Black Ops for what it was, a COD game that was trying to make something of itself. Who knows maybe we'll all hit the lottery and this'll be good...or it'll be the fourth time Activision has somehow convinced me to buy another one of their games.

I'll believe it when i see it. All imperical eveidence points to Call of Duty continuing to circle the drain in terms of quality. Infact that is bad analogy. MW2 was circling the drain. Everything after that is firmly churning around in the U-Bend.

Well now. I have to admit this is interesting. I didn't really expect much more than a "here we go again" sequel, but this is pretty neat.

Oh god...

Best case scenario, this whole thing is either a sham, with all of the new and exciting stuff quietly taped down or otherwise moved to the side, or a complete misfire, with the alienation of established fans that could not care less about any of the story, characters, or anything that isn't explosions and multiplayer...

Or worst case scenario, it still is a sham, but the established players trumpet the game as a milestone in storytelling in video games.

He is right... I didn't see that coming. That may mean there is hope for the game series as a SP game. But... I don't think they even know how to make something that isn't linear as all hell... That's not true, in their distant past they made a baseball game.

But, all of the joking aside, I think they probably don't know what that actually means. I can see it attempting to be linear and failing... but I'll hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

I have seen companies fail at this. I love the open choice between being good and bad in the force unleashed for instance... that is until it really just hinged on a single decision in the game. I think Jedi Academy did the same thing but it's been so long since I have played it.

I'm not impressed. When the game becomes an Action/RPG with a story longer than 5 hours, that's when I'll be amazed.

Color me impressed. Not at the game yet, I'm still trying to figure out how much of it is lies, but at the fact that they made me somewhat curious about a COD game. Open world missions? Slight mission variations? RTS elements? I don't think they'll be done well, but they're making changes, and that's always a good start.

It has zombies, I am sold, seriously, the amount of fun me and my friends have with the other Treyarch CoDs zombie mode is insane. I'm sure we could fill a book with the stories we have.

Horses? In a game about futuristic warfare? lolwhut?

Not as unrealistic as one might think. Read the book "Horse Soldiers" by Doug Stanton. Horses still have their place.

This is the first think that gets me even thinking about a CoD game scene MW 2, so lets set my status as "Interested but not on board yet."

Its just more shinny tin foil to attract the magpies. Its still going to be a linear set piece shooter with the same shallow game mechanics, shitty maps, power fantasy rewarding kill streaks, unlock treadmill, and horrible FoV that makes you feel like you have blinders on.

Its like witnessing a kid going up to a pot of spaghetti cooking on the stove, he puts his hand in it and gets burn. "AHHHH IT HURTS!" You know its a hard lesson for the kid to learn but he now knows better than to put his hand into boiling water.

Next day he sees a pot of macaroni cooking on the stove. You tell them "If you touch that it will burn you" but the kid replies "Well this isn't the same as the spaghetti, this time it will be a lot better" so he puts his hand in the water and gets burned. "AHHHHH IT BURNS!!!! I'm done with this, Never Again!".

Next day he sees a pot of fettuccine cooking on the stove...... (hint he gets burned again).

Edit: To continue the analogy if im going to pay 60 dollars for a dinner I want a good quality steak that is meaty with not too much fat. I do not want pasta, it may fill you up but is hardly satisfying and too shallow a food to be worth 60 dollars. Also if people keep buying the pasta then people are going to stop selling steaks and just make more pasta or make hamburgers because the bar is being set low and people are paying 60 dollars for it. Stop gaming obesity, eat a better quality game. (its too much fun to do this)

After reading this and seeing that they're actually using the large budget to do something good I'm eager to see what the outcome of this will be. Here's to hoping.

Don't you mean "Call of Duty 9: Blacks Ops 2"?

Not really interested. I've become increasingly sick with the 'on the rails' linear MMSs. Good luck to them if they can tell an interesting story, but I'm oozing skepticism at this point.

"All you need to know about Black Ops II" is

It's another Black Ops game. It's a branched variant of the recent CoD games, set in a parallel future-present where shit is going down. It's going to be more popular than religion, it's going to be ridiculous to the point of wearing a lamp shade on it's head, and it's going to involve the teabagging of faces over the swears of children thinking that swearing makes people take them seriously. It'll be about 7 hours long, if that, at it's comfortable pace. Oh, and Gav might write another line in a song about how they still haven't gotten rid of Second Chance.

I'm so excited.

Holy crap. I never would have thought that treyarch would be the ones paying attention.

It's looking promising, very promising.

If you can actually use any of the drones besides the quad rotor drone such as the quad walker and the jets then count me interested otherwise this will not be the second COD I ever played.

I'm mostly curious if Kevin Sherwood and Elena Siegman will be returning to do the songs for zombies to be honest.

Well, at least the "Modern Warfare 2.5 hurr hurr" people will be shut up by this news.

I'm not to sure. As much as I enjoy Treyarch being decent at giving the series a tune up, I'm still a little cautious when it comes to Singleplayer. One of the flaws of Black Ops was that it was really easy to see how hard they were trying and failing, and it became sort of distracting.

But hell, they brought the Dark Knight guy along. If it fails, it'll fail in style.

The whole branching thing and "a loss is not necessarily game over" isn't entirely new though. Previous Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six games allowed you to continue the campaign even if you lost a few men here and there, that did however mean you had less (wo)men to chose from as you progressed. Desperados also let you lose characters, but that made it a lot harder. Freespace 1 and 2 also had a lot of missions where if you failed, you could continue on, but your next mission would as a result be harder because that enemy ship you just let through the warp gate would add another enemy to the next battle. In addition your commanding officer would yell you out and give you no stars. Sometimes you wouldn't be able to complete all assignments, and you would have to make a decision on whether or not to take down that big ship or just get the hell out of there and at least survive.

But yes, Black Ops 2 will of course be revolutionizing the genre again...

If the multiplayer is anything like Black Ops i'm sold anyway.
And just NO to destructible environment.. it just won't work in a COD game, maps are too small and certain areas need to be guarded by terrain to complete objectives.
The only thing i have a problem with is future warfare...
I just wish i got into COD before MW2.. sounds like W@W would have been the perfect game for me.

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