Last night a group of journalists were abducted from a hotel deep in the heart of Cologne and driven, in luxurious coaches, to the dirty underbelly of this oddly divided city, no this isn’t some oddly inappropriate history lesson but rather an exclusive look at the upcoming Black Ops 2 multiplayer experience.
Okay maybe that’s a bit harsh as the place seemed fine but as we’ve already heard that zombies are going to be in Black Ops 2 I think it was fair to say quite a few of us were expecting an army of the undead to arrive and eat us alive.
So it was with much joy that we turned the corner and arrived at a red brick building with flashing lights, camera crews and many waving Black Ops 2 flags. Once inside we were quickly checked to see if we were allowed in and then given a fancy lanyard, a koelsch (fantastic beer) and ushered into one of the best setups I’ve ever seen for an event such as this.
As our local rep was only too happy to point out my iPhone camera didn’t get the best picture of this layout but take a look.
This is about half the TV’s which were all 42” and surrounded by 4 plush chairs. During the presentation the gameplay and details was shown on the large projections on the stage and in front of each of us on our smaller personal TV’s giving everyone assembled the very best view in the house.
And then the lights dropped, the local MC told us the rules which included no video footage, no photo’s and no telling you that eSports is a major driver for Call of Duty Black Ops 2 multiplayer…
Oh wait no, that’s the one thing they really wanted us to tell you about so let’s start there.
eSports is big business in America with millions of dollars changing hands every year in the game and with more and more people pushing for eSports to be recognised as an official sporting code it isn’t surprising that Activision and Treyarch have decided to make eSports a central theme for Black Ops 2 multiplayer.
But Call of Duty is already one of the top eSport titles I hear you say but there is a big difference as the eSports ability in Black Ops 2 has been supercharged giving players and commentators all new tools to make the game accessible and professional at the same time.
On the one side they have now included something they are calling CODCasting where an extra player can join in the game and call the game as it plays out. This commentary and their viewpoint is then broadcast out over the Internet and can be viewed by players all over the world.
CODCasting will include the following features
- Picture-in-Picture: This view allows you to continue to watch the game while seeing all the details of the current players, their current streaks as well as their positions. So not so much picture in picture as picture in reports.
- Map View: A simple high level map showing you where everyone is on the map at this time.
- Score Panel: Yeah this is a bullet point on my press sheet.. apparently being able to see the score is a feature?
- Name Plate: When you’re in first person mode that person’s name will be shown on the screen.
- Display Options: The commentator can disable parts of the players hub to make for better viewing. Obviously this will not affect the actual player in game just the stream.
- Listen In: The commentator can drop into a teams private chat and broadcast what is being said.
We were given a quick demonstration of how this works and it’s really entertaining to watch, none of this is a break through in the world of gaming but it does add that extra bit of professionalism to the gaming scene and it could help unearth some unique gaming treasures around the world.
What was also a surprising announcement was when the promotional female executives walked through the journalists holding iPads that were showcasing a current on going game.
There are limits as to who can CODCast and when, these limits haven’t been announced yet but upstream speed is one of them and that will likely stop anyone in South Africa from participating.
After the eSports we got into the nitty gritty about what has really changed about Black Ops 2 multiplayer and before you ask they haven’t clarified the dedicated server issue yet. We have an interview with them coming up and we’ll check then.
Create a Class
But what has really changed is the class creation functionality. You’ll recall that in all other recent Call of Duty’s the class creation lets you pick a primary weapon with 2 attachments, a secondary weapon +1 attachment, 3 perks, 1 tactical grenade and 1 lethal grenade.
Well that’s no longer the case, now the class creation functionality gives you 10 points and you can load up however you want to.
At first it seems very similar as the standard loadout also used 10 items so what’s changed? Well while there are limitations you can now completely alter the class by deciding to completely forgo the secondary weapon and it’s attachment.
Instead of that you can now add a wildcard (1 point) which will enable you to have 3 attachments on your primary weapon. Or a different wildcard allows you to have 2 primary perks or double lethal grenades.
In fact there was even a custom class setup which had no weapons at all and was basically a ninja knife man with all the perks and speed they could muster.
Weapons and Score Streaks
Kill streaks are no more in Call of Duty, from now on they will only be known as score streaks and while the idea is identical, kill a few people in a row and unlock your first streak action, there is a subtle and yet awesome difference.
Now instead of just kills counting towards the streak it is simply about points. Each kill is worth 50-100 points depending on circumstances but capturing a flag is 250 (I think), so if you are playing CTF and have their flag and are returning to base you merely need to assist in a kill and capture the flag to open your first streak action.
Now being a support player really can result in some serious benefits.
Some of the streak actions are pretty awesome as well with the Microwave turret being shown in an earlier video and the hunter killer drone also making an appearance. There were quite a few others but unfortunately my inability to point and shoot at the same time has relegated them to mere dreams for now.
One such dream is the AGR or Autonomous Ground Robot which is a small self controlled tank that wrecks destruction wherever it goes. What’s also a nice new feature is that while the AGR us autonomous you can choose to take the controls and target it at a specific point instead of it being left as a killing machine.
Upgrades and cool things
So we’ve covered the gist of the changes now but some other smaller issues made the game really stand out for me.
Little additions like the Millimetre Wave Scanner which is an attachment that will show you a faint outline of someone who is stationary through solid objects.. it’s an anti-camping attachment and that just makes me happy.
The assault shield is the riot shield from previous titles except this time you can stick it into the ground, Gears of War style, and then use it as cover in fierce fire fights.
And last but definitely not least is the promise of League Play. My problem with every single Call of Duty over the years is that I enjoy the game for 2-3 months and then everyone just gets to good and I can no longer have an enjoyable game. Well with league play you are pitted against people in your league and while the cream of the crop move up and get to yell obscenities at the professionals moms we get to kick around in the fragile old gamer league. Not only will this make the game more playable and long lasting for me but I also suspect that it may make the game more enjoyable for my ears as the people in the lower leagues will all realise they stink at the game and therefore the ego’s should be kept in check and the childish insults may in fact only exist higher up in the league.
A man can dream can’t he?
And that’s that, we played for around 3 hours last night and unfortunately have to report that team SA let you all down. Next year instead of journalists we’re going to send Call of Duty experts to pretend they are us and redeem our honour.
Oh hey I forgot the most important part. Multi-teams, we played a deathmatch game with 4 teams of 3 people working in squads. It was incredibly fun and working together and shouting at Devon for not watching your back is a great stress reliever.
Multi-team allows up to 4 teams of 4 players in each to battle it out and truly adds a great new addition to the game. I can’t wait for the 3 men tournaments to start happening so that I can show my team mates that it was really them who let me down and not the other way around, no matter what the scoreboard said.
We’re at Gamescom all week this week so stay tuned to hear all the best news first and don’t forget to check out our Gamescom minisite www.lazygamer.net/category/gamescom-2012 and place your pre-orders for Black Ops 2 through all the links you see floating around.
Last Updated: August 14, 2012