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How Black Ops 2 will keep players engaged

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Next month sees the release of the next game in the annualised Call of Duty series; Black Ops 2. Treyarch’s doing its best to spice things up, by adding all manner of new mechanics to the single and multiplayer aspects of the game – as well as numerous more subtle changes to keep players playing.

Treyarch’s director of communications John Rafacz said it’s all about balance. It’s no fun, in multiplayer games to go up against people who’re wildly better than you are; always one of my biggest problems with COD’s multiplayer (aside, y’know…from the whiny children).

It always starts out fun, but after a few weeks, after my skills have peaked and stagnated, others have become much, much better at the game – making it a perpetual game of respawn, run and die. There are now a number of systems in place to help players improve.

“There are three components to it,” he said to Kotaku. “There’s a thing we call boot camp.”

“Boot Camp is a mix of human and AI players versus a mix of human and AI players for full XP credit for the first ten levels. You are actually ranking up. Beyond level 10, once you pass that threshold, you start earning half XP. Then there’s bug stomp which is just you and your buddies wailing on the AI.”

“If you mix in those three modes of play, you find a real safety zone. You can play with your load outs, figure out what kind of player you are, hone your skills.”

For those of you who’re actually pretty damned good at shooting people in the face and knifing them in the back, Black Ops 2 has an extensive matchmaking system, pitting you against players of similar skill.

“Competition should be fun at any level. Because you and I, no matter what game we’re playing, we love to win and we might even be willing to lose if we were challenged or had a great game that was exciting.”

“That’s what gave rise to the thing we’re calling league play. This is a more robust matchmaking system. On day one you start playing and after a short while it starts to rank you. This is where we start matching you with people of like skill. Hopefully someone new to the game won’t be matched up against a true master.”

Another issue I generally encounter is when there’s one standout player that racks up the kills, making his teammates look stupid. This time around, taking some cues from Battlefield, probably, there’s more reward for co-operative team play.

“If you are the high K/D player, there’s still a place for you in the Call of Duty tent. We still love you. Rewards for that skill will be available. But if you apply that skill to the benefit of your team? We’ll reward you even more.”

“We’re trying to make sure people are focusing toward a more co-operative style of game.”

While we’re on the subject; here’ a nifty version of the recent trailer for the game, with a little more of a local spotlight; it features some deliciously choice quotes from the best local gaming media – and a bunch of other sites and magazines you needn’t worry about. It’s pretty awesome.

Remember, this isn’t the Call of Duty you think you know. I know it’s cool to hate on Call of Duty – but I’m actually starting to look forward to this. I’ve always thought that Treyarch made the superior Call of Duty games (COD 3 withstanding) – and their interesting take on the future gadgets of war has me intrigued.

Last Updated: October 18, 2012

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