The Call of Duty: Black Ops II multiplayer reveal trailer has arrived, and it’s packed full of juicy details ripe for dissection.
True to their word, Treyarch has carried the futuristic theme of the game over to multiplayer in spectacular fashion, taking inspiration from titles like Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, while distilling the very best of the Call of Duty franchise into a brand new experience.
Firstly, let’s talk weapons. The basic archetypes survive intact; we see assault rifles and carbines of all shapes, sizes and fire modes, we see the ubiquitous bolt-action sniper rifles (usable with ironsights, for the first time since World at War), we see a full-auto shotgun and even the ever-faithful revolver. These guns all bear the stamp of progress, however, most amply demonstrated by the striking oblong magazine which one soldier loads into his rifle by slotting it into a gap above the barrel. The riot shield from the Modern Warfare games has also recieved a serious upgrade, allowing it to be set down on the ground and fired through, pillbox style. Black Ops II, it appears, will offer as much to tactical strategists as it does to split-second snap-shooters.
Sights tend to evolve more significantly than weapons do, and this holds true in Black Ops II as well. All manner of exotic scopes can be seen throughout the video, most notably a holographic-style sight that allows you to intermittently see the the outlines of your foes through smoke, and even through solid objects. The game also takes the ‘Hybrid Sight’ introduced in Modern Warfare 3 and takes it up to eleven, allowing players to attach a reflex sight and a magnifier to their weapon in and over-under configuration and switch between them in the blink of an eye, even while looking down the sight.
Those players who like nothing more than to throw things around are also well catered for. The crude sound-and-fury stun grenades have given way to ‘shock charges’, which are thrown like throwing knives and release a localised burst that disorients attackers. Without a shot from the viewpoint of the victim, we cannot say for sure how it works; suffice it to say that it allows the player at the beginning of the video to dominate his two unsuspecting opponents. C4 maintains its original form and function, and the knife and tomahawk are also reassuringly familiar, though even they have recieved a futuristic makeover.
The real stars of the show, however, are the various killstreaks and equipment available to players. One such gadget, The ‘Guardian’, is a deployable emitter that appears to ape real-life ‘Active Denial Systems’, which use high frequency microwaves to cause debilitating pain to enemies within its range. In game, it is shown suppressing enemy players attempting to cross a bridge, rendering them sitting ducks and earning its master bonuses in the process. Multiple controllable unmanned vehicles are also shown, from the powerful and maneuverable ‘Dragonfire’ quadrotor drone, to the fearsome ground-based ‘A.G.R’ which tears through even the most heavily armoured enemies with its twin Gatling guns. Such advancements mimic the progress of modern military technology, allowing mobile footsoldiers to take command of powerful force multipliers when guns and knives just won’t do the job.
We also get a glimpse of a number of vibrant maps and locations. The video opens in a mountainous area, complete with oil pipelines which form makeshift bridges; an expansive outdoor arena that is more than a little reminiscent of MW2′s Afghan. Its long sight lines contrast nicely with the two maps that follow; a shipping yard with a circular design , which could combine close range encounters among the labyrinth of containers with heated exchanges of fire in the centre, and a ruined city, with unnatural chokepoints and passageways formed from piles ruined cars and debris. Finally, your exhausted soldiers can catch a bit of sun along with their flying lead in a Seatown-esque Mediterranean village. We’ve likely been shown only a handful of the different battlefields available, but what we have seen is exciting; a diverse range of environments which reward different styles of play, and even buck the trend for ‘realistic’ grey-and-brown colour schemes with their vivid appearance.
Finally, the trailer also reveals a number of other interesting gameplay details. The ‘Dolphin Dive’ move from the original Black Ops makes its return, allowing players so inclined to leap heroically through windows and over ledges, blazing away as they soar majestically to a somewhat inelegant landing. As in Modern Warfare 3, a bar above the ammo count helpfully indicates your progress to the next killstreak. Probably the most interesting new feature, however, is what appears to be a dynamic loadout screen which automatically materialises over flat surfaces as you move into range, allowing you to view your weapon, sidearm, killstreaks and other vital information on the fly.
This trailer has me very excited indeed. I, personally, approve of this daring new direction for Call of Duty; for a franchise often accused of stagnation and frequent rehashing, this could be the breath of fresh air that puts it back on the map. Coming from Treyarch, I have faith that it will prove to be a supremely smooth and polished game as well.
As always, I am eager to hear your own opinions on the matter, good or bad, so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.