Black Ops 2 Multiplayer Preview – Eurogamer Expo 2012
We’ve all heard the expression “tough act to follow”, but when it comes to the Call of Duty franchise Treyarch don’t just have one tough act to follow, but arguably four. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has forever changed the landscape of the FPS genre, and with the exception of perhaps World at War each subsequent game has built on the last, to the point where COD is virtually a religion – complete with suicide bombers.
Last week we got to try Call of Duty: Black Ops II’s multiplayer mode at the Eurogamer Expo in London. The experience consisted of two matches: a warm-up game on ‘Kill Confirmed’ (yes – it’s returning) followed by a new mode called “Multi-team Deathmatch”. It was a local match which we played using 12 connected Xbox 360s.
With Black Ops II, Kill Confirmed makes its second appearance in the series. The premise is identical to the mode we’ve grown used to in Modern Warfare 3, with the exception that instead of having twelve players divided into two teams of six, we were divided into four teams of three. This made the game feel more intense, and to be frank a little too hectic. Spawning under these circumstances was an issue – especially for gamers who are used to playing 6v6 where likely half the map is ‘safe’ at any one time.
The second match we played was a “Multi-team Deathmatch”, a mode identical to the classic Team Deathmatch, but again consisting of four teams of three as opposed to the traditional six-on-six format. The same spawning issues we had with Kill Confirmed were found in the Multi-team Deathmatch due to the extra hostile traffic. On top of that it became clear that having such a higher ratio of hostile players in the game meant that kill-streak spamming was worse than ever; for example the HUD radar seemed to be jammed every second of the game. While issues existed with both of these new modes, the game will more than likely include the traditional modes too, which the majority players will undoubtedly flock to.
There were three maps in total on display at the show. The first was called “Express” – a downtown LA setting torn apart with visible scarring from futuristic warfare. It was a medium sized area reminiscent of previous maps like Invasion, or Bakaara. The second map we saw was “Cargo”, a dock-land which was littered with generic cargo crates. Finally we saw “Hijacked” – a very small map comparable to Dome or Nuketown. It is set aboard a small luxury Yacht at sea and has an instantly familiar feel to it.
All the maps we saw looked and felt like typical Call of Duty designs; symmetrical boards with high-traffic choke points and safer spawn areas. Visually the maps felt a little repetitive, although that’s probably just symptomatic of this being the ninth entry in the series.
The Weapons and Classes
Some of the biggest changes to the multiplayer come in the form of the new “Pick 10” create a class system. This is an entirely new approach to creating a class in which every element of your set up – weapons, grenades, perks or attachments – uses one of your ten allotted spaces. This gives you the freedom to truly tailor your soldier to your own play-style; don’t like flash grenades? Fine, don’t take any! Choose an extra perk instead.
While this sounds complex, the system is surprisingly intuitive. Before the first round started we were able to customise our classes using this new system, and nobody had any issue. I was able to create the exact class I wanted within a minute or so. The weapons too are largely familiar, albeit with different numbers after their name. FAL is back, as is a new version of the Type-95.
It’s another Call of Duty game. It really is as simple as that. It was a lot of fun to play, leaving us all smiling and high-fiving in jubilation when we won a round. It handles a little slower than MW3, feeling instead more like the original Black Ops. This was a good thing though; the game felt much steadier and fairer than I expected, but let’s face it, people who are going to buy Black Ops II already know that they are going to buy it. And those people won’t be disappointed; it’s another great game that will keep 12-year-olds the world over prestigeing for months to come.