The information that was discussed really narrowed down to three key elements - eSports, Prestige and Zombies. The latter, in particular, could very well sway those who might not be initially convinced that a Call of Duty game is a reasonable purchase this holiday season.
While we run through some of these details, take a gander at these fresh new screenshots of the game in action, featuring maps Express, Hijack and Overflow and a sneak peek at the popular Zombies mode - which now comes ready and waiting as a bona fide extra on the disc.
Treyarch and Activision are taking on eSports in a big, big way. Anyone who attended the Eurogamer Expo in Earls Court this past month will know of the huge space that Call of Duty: Black Ops II occupied, set solely on pushing the gameís online community features and sporting initiatives.
League Play will be supported, allowing clans of all kinds to jump into skill-based matchmaking tournaments. Some events will have various conditions set for victory, which each team will need to adhere to in order to win. CoDCasting - the term used for broadcasting your FPS game to the community - allows spectators to watch games, switch to map views, access picture-in-picture features and check up on live stats.
Each player in action has a Ďnameplateí that spectators can see to identify them - a bit like the number on the back of a footballerís shirt. And itís not just online players who will be able to spectate either - new live streaming features will mean that matches can bounce off servers to reach all kinds of users on different devices. An example Activision used was back at E3 2012, where the company used its own server to push live streamed matches onto iPads.
Some gameplay mechanics have been tweaked that take full advantage of the sporting opportunities available, too. The most obvious of these is the Pick 10 feature - essentially, itís a brand new loadout system that allows you to pick and choose any weapons, items or perks within a value limit of 10.
Players can also equip Wildcards, which go some way to bending a particular rule in their favour. For instance, having a Perk 1 Greed Wildcard will allow you to pick two perks from the first perk tier, instead of two. Weíre assuming that balance has been considered when designing these.
Rejoice! You wonít have anything taken away from you once you hit Prestige! Hooray! There are 55 levels to reach in Black Ops II, and 10 levels of Prestige to ding. Every time you do, you wonít get your weapons XP reset, nor will your challenge progress be wiped. Itís a Prestige feature for a more gentler, kinder era.
With Prestige comes great power and responsibility, obviously - and such powerful unlocks in Black Ops II are tied to tokens. Tokens can be exchanged for a piece of content, but itís not quite as straightforward as youíd think. Unlock tiers begin to split and branch off after a while, meaning that you can build a rather unique super-soldier depending on your combat strategies.
Perhaps a major turning point for the Call of Duty series was in the rather enjoyable and throwaway Zombies experience. In the original Black Ops, Treyarch released the Rezurrection add-on pack which provided a nice wrapper to contain the mode in and to expand upon it somewhat.
Now that the Zombies mode is right on the disc, Treyarch wants to build on it further with new zombies, new worlds and new weapons. Looking at the announcement trailer, itís almost as if this is Activisionís interpretation of Left 4 Dead - especially when you consider that the story in Rezurrection is continued in a story mode titled Tranzit.
On top of a Grief mode and Survival mode to complement Tranzit, it also transpires that Black Ops IIís Zombies mode is using the same multiplayer engine as the main game. This means that everything that you can access from the core multiplayer side - leaderboards, stat tracking, matchmaking, custom games - is also accessible in the Zombies side.
Say what you will about Call of Dutyís single-player themes and storytelling approach - when it comes down to it, the thing that tends to draw people back is the admittedly addictive multiplayer. And with Treyarch upping the stakes, this could very well be the game that takes competitive gaming to the next level.
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