If you cock your head towards the mountain caves of Cologne and listen carefully, you can just about hear the early rumblings of a newborn Gamescom awaking from its slumber. But why, you might ask, do those rumblings sound like explosions and gunfire? Why child, the answer is simple. Black Ops II has just shown of its new multiplayer bits and bobs.
There' s a metric shedload to get through here, and quite a lot of radical changes (in a CoD game, yeah, I know), so to avoid the unnecessary eating into of your time and mine I'm going to utilise a noble technique of the ancient journalistic clans known as bulletpointing. And thusly, in neatly pointed lists, the things you need to know about Black Ops II's multiplayer are as follows:
- Creating your class is now done with the 'Pick 10' system, whereby 10 points are available to assign across pretty much every element of your character.
- You are no longer restricted by having to fill certain slots. Don't want a side-arm? Drop it and use the point for an extra rifle upgrade or grenade tweak instead.
- You can use one point to equip a Wildcard. In exchange for the slot it takes up, the card will allow you to either carry two main weapons or equip three attachments to a single gun.
- No more abstract, ambient changes to weapon and soldier performance. No more Deep Penetration or Steady Aim making you and your bullets magically better, for instance. Instead, all weapon perks come by way of tangible, quantifiable weapon attachments.
- Weapon perks will be visible in-game rather than hidden away in your opponents' UI. If someone is rocking better aim, it'll be because they have a laser sight attached. If they have a laser sight attached, you'll be able to see the beam swinging around the battlefield.
- Not all attachment perks will work on all weapons. Good luck sticking burst fire on your shotgun. Instead the attachment system will force you to more logically, mechanically choose your perks to fit your chosen weapon-set, which should in turn feed into the Pick 10 system to make a more thoughtful customisation process overall.
- No more 'absolute' perks. For example the stealth-boosting Ghost perk now only works when you're moving, stripping power away from those who would abuse it for camping.
- They don't exist any more.
- The system has now switched to Score Streaks, a more refined version of MW3's separate Assault, Support and Specialist Point Streaks. Essentially balling them all up into one system, streak rewards are now bestowed for your total in-game score (built with everything from kills to captures to placing defensive equipment to calling in a UAV) rather than a tally of individual kills or support actions, meaning a more organic, emergent route to reward.
- The thinking behind this is that a more organic scoring system will encourage more desirable, free-form, collaborative traits rather than incentivising players to focus on one particular style of play. Basically, be adaptable and useful, score big, get rewards.
- There will be 20 Score Streak rewards.
Confirmed weapons and gear
- M1216 semi-automatic shotgun
- AN-94 assault rifle - Fires first two shots at a higher rate, presumably good for getting that early pin on a target.
- Raging Judge revolver - A sidearm that fires shotgun shells. Yeah, seriously.
- Assault Shield - A metal riot shield that can be planted in the ground to create moveable cover, much like Gears of War 2 and 3's Boom Shield.
- Microwave Emitter - Blocks routes by frazzling enemies.
- Hunter Killer drones - Attack the enemy in a swarm as one of the Score Streak rewards.
- Millimeter Wave Scanner - An optic that makes close-range, stationary enemies visible through walls.
- Autonomous Ground Robot - An ground-based attack drone that can be left to do the killing on its own, or piloted manually on the fly.
- Hellstorm missile - A cluster rocket with multiple smaller rockets held within its nose cone. Can be detonated late or early, for a precision or wider strike respectively.
- Multi-team multiplayer is now in. Three-versus-three-versus-three, two-versus-two, and four-versus-four-versus-four-versus-four are confirmed so far, and a maximum of six teams will be able to compete in the same match.
- Player cap is 18.
- There will be a theatre mode and extensive support for live eSports consumption with in-game livestreaming and commentary options.
- Zombies is coming back.