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The Five Ways That Black Ops Changes Multiplaye
The Five Ways That Black Ops Changes Call of Duty Multiplayer
Money, gambling, movies, and happy face reticules are just some of the ways that Black Ops changes up COD multiplayer. Now with new gameplay footage!
By Thierry Nguyen

Quote:Earlier today, we had a brisk and information-dense presentation followed by some quick play sessions of the multiplayer features for Call of Duty: Black Ops. The easy assumption to make with Black Ops would be that it simply features "more stuff." Take the current number of quantifiable items like killstreaks, perks, weapons, and levels, and crank out a bunch more. And that is indeed one aspect of Black Ops' multiplayer.

Examples of the above include stuff like an expanded Killstreak list that includes Cold War-ized versions of popular Modern Warfare multiplayer tropes; the UAV has given way to the Spy Plane. The Napalm Strike replaces your typical airstrike. The gunship is an appropriately Cold War era helicopter rather than a modern behemoth. And there're new Killstreak rewards, like the exploding RC buggy (affectionately referred as the "bomber buggy") or the minigun called "Death Machine." But once you get past the traditional, "here's more stuff," you can see that Treyarch is actually adding five major changes or additions to what we would traditionally associate as Call of Duty multiplayer.

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No. 1) Combat Training

So Treyarch has come to the same conclusion as Epic: not enough players actually go online. Despite the fact that COD hosts a thriving multiplayer community, the developers found out that a huge percentage of COD players simply never go online for multiplayer. The first major method the team wants to fix this with is through Combat Training, a sort of bot-match mode. For players who indeed are too intimidated to go online and test their mettle against other players, Combat Training will let them play against the A.I. and get used to the multiplayer experience. Online director Dan Bunting comments that the mode grew from the team's internal use of an A.I. bot (named "Larry") for balancing purposes, and they decided to let players go against Larry before jumping into the real world.

No. 2) Customization

Modern Warfare might have introduced character classes with Perks and whatnot, and while Black Ops retains that same basic formula, the team has made some distinct changes to the character system. The key thought behind customization is the idea that the player should truly feel distinct and individualized, and the degree to what can be changed has increased significantly.

For one thing, there're the obvious visual changes that come from selecting a base class. Choosing a flak jacket fellow gives you a different character model than choosing a stealthy ghost guy. After that, the team has further changed the way your armament works; gear is now divided into "lethal" (anything that can kill, like grenades), "tactical" (things that don't kill, but give you options during gameplay, like flashbangs), and "equipment" (items that can be deployed, or picked up, such as gun turrets or motion sensors).

Further than that though, you can also customize your emblems and weapons. The emblem editor lets you muck around with three layers (the emblem itself, any sort of tag or text, and the background), and it somewhat resembles the livery editor from something like a Forza game. The main example is when Bunting created a horse emblem that featured pistols instead of hooves adorned against the American flag. Then you can take said emblem, and apply it to your weapon -- in addition to changing the weapon's basic camouflage patterns or even the actual red dot sight (my favorite example is a rifle that changed the red dot sight into a blue happy face). The actual player classes, plus their gear, is part of the overall theme of player choice that Bunting cites frequently.

No. 3) Theater

Likely inspired by Halo 3, Black Ops now supports a full theater mode for sharing your exploits online. Each player gets a file share space where he or she can place films, screenshots, or even custom game settings, and these items are all searchable and viewable. Your recent matches are available for searching, clipping, machinima-ing, and everything. Bunting wouldn't elaborate on what exactly "custom games" actually entails, but it's still interesting to see that every Black Ops player will have a central hub to post bragging rights (besides a Youtube channel).

No. 4) Money

Perhaps the biggest change to COD is the concept of money which complements the leveling system. Lead multiplayer designer David Vonderhaar jokes that money came about from the simple fact that he's a greedy fellow who loves money and gambling said money. Bunting elaborates the system: in addition to earning experience points for levels, players will earn Call of Duty Points (CP). Every time they reach a level, they don't simply unlock one new gun. They unlock whole categories of firearms and attachments, and you then spend CP to buy gear for yourself. You can even take Contracts (additional challenges within a session, such as placing within the top three using a certain weapon) for additional CPs. As Bunting reiterates, the core of multiplayer is about player choice, and now in addition to designing their own looks and color schemes, players will be defining their own loadouts via money.

No. 5) Wager Matching

So with the addition of money comes the other item that Vonderhaar loves so much: gambling. Wager Match is a separate multiplayer mode where you simply gamble your CP in a series of specific matches. The four "wagers" you can partake (so far) are: one in a chamber, sticks and stones, gun game, and sharpshooter. As noted, each Wager Match mode has specific rules, and does different things to your gambled CP.

One in a chamber starts simply: you have a knife and a single gun with a single bullet. Taking down foes will earn you more bullets to use, but once you run out of bullets, you have just the knife to stab fools with. Sharpshooter also has a pretty easy to grasp concept: everyone gets a random weapon that they are stuck with, and the emphasis is on pure, well, sharpshooting skill with whatever you have. Sticks and stones gives you ballistic knives, the crossbow, and tomahawks to take on players with. While the ballistic knives and the crossbow present standard "these are neat ways to kill opponents," the tomahawk presents the most interesting effect: it fully bankrupts its victim. The moment someone succumbs to a tomahawk, they instantly lose all of the CP they wagered for the match.

Quote:For me, the most interesting mode is easily Gun Game -- which itself seems reminiscent of a PC mod for Modern Warfare. This one has players working their way through a series of specific guns during a session. At any one time, you're locked to using one specific weapon, but a kill will automatically equip the next highest gun in the list -- meaning you start out with a lowly pistol but as you kill foes, you work up to better pistols then to submachineguns to shotguns to assault rifles and the like. The inverse happens as well -- every death means you get knocked down to using the previous (and weaker) gun. The first player to have used every gun becomes the winner of the wager. From my experience, it's just pretty neat to be on a solid kill run and just watch your arsenal get more and more lethal as you score -- only to be knocked down a peg or two from someone else interrupting your streak.

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