You saw the debut trailer for Activision’s latest installment in the multi-billion-dollar Call of Duty franchise, titled Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which will take gamers to the year 2025. (Click here if you’ve not yet seen it)
Now you want to know what in the sweet hell is actually going on in the trailer so you have a better idea what to expect when the game hits store shelves on November 13, 2012. Thankfully, plenty of details are already being shared, and it must be admitted: things are sounding pretty promising.
Personally, after first seeing the trailer I was a little unsure of how I felt. “The future” has been done in so many video games that, even though it’s new ground for Call of Duty, it felt like it didn’t fit well in this particular franchise; almost a little cheesy even. One of the appeals of CoD games is that we’re made to feel like we’re in these high-intensity war situations. Seeing as how we have no idea what the world will be like in the year 2025, it could be a lot harder to place yourself in that world and those situations…even if the games are more known for relying more on Michael Bay-esque action sequences than realism.
The trailer was only the first look at the game, of course, and these are just early concerns. But thankfully time wasn’t wasted in getting more details out about Black Ops II. Game Informer was able to chat with Treyarch about the new title, and they learned a whole lot of details that have me much more optimistic.
First of all, the game doesn’t just randomly jump to the year 2025 and call itself Black Ops II. It is a direct sequel to Treyarch’s previous effort, where you will primarily play as David Mason, the son of the first Black Ops‘ main character, Alex Mason (who was voiced by Sam Worthington). You’ll also play as Alex again in some flashback missions (though no word yet if Worthington is returning), and other familiar faces will be back, like that of Frank Woods, who you see as a very old man at the beginning of the debut trailer.
The gamemakers did their research when figuring out what kind of conflict to use as backdrop for their game. They went to military expert Peter Singer, author of the book Wired For War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, in an attempt to figure out the most realistic scenarios that could lead to war in the future. What they came up with was something even President Barack Obama spoke about in a speech recently: rare Earth elements (no, not Unobtanium … probably not, anyway). Very rare metals and other elements that are essential in everything from our entertainment and communication (TVs, iPhones), to our energy needs and military technologies (wind turbines/hybrid cars, missile guidance systems/stealth bombers).
For the game it will be those who possess these very rare elements that rule the world, and why a whole new Cold War has begun. In reality, it is China who stands atop the mountain, controlling 95% of the rare Earth elements.
Black Ops II will offer up another insane, theme park ride of a game, as has become custom for Call of Duty titles. But that’s not all it will be, not this time. Treyarch has clearly heard the fans’ distaste for the lack of freshness and originality in recent games, and they want to really mix things up this time around.
Intriguing changes include the ability to choose your next move. One example given was the choice to either rappel down and get right in the fight, or, if it be your preference, stay up high and use a sniper rifle to take enemies out (a sniper rife that can see through WALLS, folks—hooray future!).
Treyarch is really focusing on replayability with the new game, coming up with multiple different ways to approach your campaign, in addition to the above mentioned snipe/rappel option. Black Ops II will have numerous important decisions that will alter the course of your game, and, more importantly, how your game ends. There will be points along the road where characters can and will die, having a major impact on where things go and how they end for you.
Then there’s Strike Force missions. Throughout the game, you’ll be presented with multiple Strike Force missions, each of which has an effect on the war going around you. Unlike side quests in some other games, however, you won’t be able to go back and do the other missions you passed on. Those will have to be tried out in another play through.
When you choose one of these Strike Force missions, you’re dropped in as a “nameless soldier,” and you’ll be able to tackle the mission as you see fit, not how the game was designed for you to complete it, as is the case with most CoD games. Even better—you’ll have the option of going into Overwatch mode at any time, where you can go into the body of another nameless soldier in a better position, any type of heavy artillery vehicle you might have on your side for a particular mission, or you can just stay in Overwatch mode, commanding squads and strategizing the best course of action.
All of this may just sound like filler content to try and shake things up, but the Strike Force missions will be crucial to your game. How you deal with them will lead to “radically different endings” when all is said and done.
By my count, that means that Black Ops II will not only have all the first-person shooter action you crave each year, but it will also have hints of RPG and real-time strategy gameplay as well.
That’s about where the dirty details end for now. Multiplayer changes and additions were not touched on, though a cryptic message was offered by one of the game’s design directors, who said of the multiplayer “one size doesn’t fit all anymore,” and continued that they wanted to figure out “which cows are sacred, and which cows can be sacrificed.”
Oh yeah, and there will be zombies.
Major thanks to Game Informer, who was able to get all of this great information! Be sure to head to their site for much more info and a few more screenshots!