Last night at a special event held by Activision and Treyarch at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, we got a chance to play some Call of Duty: Black Ops. Specifically, we were there to check out the multiplayer aspects of the game and generally get an in-depth preview of the whole experience.
After being plied with some excellent cocktails we were whisked into the IMAX theater at the center. Once inside and seated, we were shown some terrific demo videos and given the scoop by Treyarch designers David Vonderhaar and Dan Bunting which showcased what players can expect from the game.
Some of the items they touched on were the game’s new multiplayer features using pillars that the company focused on during development: Compete, Customize and Create. We got to see quite a bit of the game and even got some playing time.
Here’s the highlights:
One thing I was particularly interested in was the all-new multiplayer mode called “Combat Training.” This new feature , which is unique to Black Ops, allows you to experience multiplayer gameplay but replaces the threat of real online players (and severe pwnage) with AI-controlled bots.
This allows you to hone your skills while not suffering any real damage or lowering of your standing in the online world. Players can also invite friend into the match, allowing for some co-op play.
Since the early beginnings of gaming (raise your hands D&D fans) experience points have been an important component of the game. That tradition has been carried on to the recent multiplayer modes in the newer Call of Duty titles. When a player attained a new level they also gained additional weapons, perks and more.
This game is taking a slightly different, and in my opinion better, approach. In addition to earning these items the old fashioned way, they can also be purchased with something called COD Points. So now, lower level players can get the gear they want without having to reach a specific experience level. Having two ways to do this I think is a great new feature in this game.
This also allows players to compete in what will probably become one of the favorite modes in this new game: The Wager Match.
The Wager Match
Wager Match features four game modes that allow players to gamble their COD Points within a multiplayer match. If you win, you get more COD Points. If you don’t win, just like in the real world, you cough up some cash.
Some of the Wager Match modes include “One in the Chamber” where each player starts the match with a pistol and one round of ammo. “Sticks and Stones” where the player is given a crossbow, knife and a tomahawk.
In “Gun Game” players start with a pistol and with each kill progress to the next higher weapon. Lastly, “Sharpshooter” has each player starting with the same weapon which, after a period of time, rotates randomly to a new one.
I can see spending some time in these modes, especially the one with the Tomahawk. Trying to use that last night was definitely an exercise in patience. Can’t wait to try again.
Design Emblems, Theater Mode
Players can now create their own custom emblems using a ton of included images, layers, and backgrounds. I was particularly impressed with the emblem featuring a horse with pistols for hooves created by Bunting last night. It was pretty awesome and I think I may have to steal that one.
Theater mode will allow players to create custom videos from multiplayer matches. These videos are accessed via a community portal in the game. Uploading and watching others’ videos seemed to be a relatively simple process and I can see this becoming quite popular as players show more and more videos of themselves taking out their opponents. After all, what’s the sense of killing some noobs if you can’t show it off to your clan pals later?
Playing the Game
The nice thing about a Call of Duty franchise game is that if you’ve played any of them before, you can jump into a new one and pretty much start playing. That’s not to say Black Ops doesn’t have any original material and is just an add-on to Modern Warfare 2 or something, it isn’t. It’s just nice to have something familiar for players and then offer them more on top it.
Last night Bunting mentioned a statistic that a large percentage of gamers don’t ever play in the multiplayer mode and just go through the solo missions. It seems with Black Ops, the designers and Activision want to appeal to that segment of the gamer population. As someone who mostly plays solo missions and rarely, at least these days, ventures into the multiplayer world, I can appreciate that.
Be sure to check back for more from Call of Duty: Black Ops including more on the solo missions and a review of the game once it’s released. Also, check out the “Wager Match” multiplayer trailer below.