Posted on November 21, 2012 AT 03:20pm
Variety is the spice of life. When it comes to modern day shooters, this usually comes across in terms of being able to customize your in game character to your play style. Since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was released around six years ago, many shooters have started following a more RPG style system for character customization. Each release of Call of Duty has brought with it different tweaks to how you can build out your own character and make them more fully fit your particular play style. With the release of Black Ops 2, the franchise has taken both some steps forward as well as a step or two back. While there are many more customization options than in previous installments, they have also removed some of the new systems introduced in Modern Warfare 3 that will definitely be missed by the community. This series of articles will focus on the multiplayer aspects of the game as I am not a Campaign or Co-Op type player most of the time. I live for the competition that comes with multiplayer game modes, so that is where I spend 90% of my game time.
For this installment, Treyarch has decided to go slightly into the future. The have pretty much played out world war 2 as much as possible and with the first Black Ops have already covered the Vietnam and Cold War era as well. In order to not tread the same ground as Infinity Ward, they have skipped over the current generations conflicts and have gone a route similar to Ghost Recon by positioning themselves in the near future. Near enough to use some modern day gear but also far enough forward to give themselves some room for creativity when it comes to using slightly more futuristic gear. This gives them some room as well to work in some ideas that just wouldn’t play well if they were sticking to more realistic military specs. I will admit that I have not had time to test all the weapons yet in the game. Instead of focusing on how individual weapons behave, I will instead focus on how the games systems have evolved from the previous games in the Call of Duty franchise. This will be a series of articles focusing on the multiplayer aspects of the game. The first article will focus on the new Pick 10 system Treyarch has implemented for class build and customization.
One of the major improvements over the past few releases of Call of Duty has been the deepening of the class build customization system. Being able to outfit my soldier with different equipment for different game types allows me to better build my character to fit my playstyle. Being able to save multiple builds and have them available to me in game makes it very easy to switch between game modes like Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. In one I may want to be more offensively geared to put out as much damage as possible, in the other I may want to focus more on speed and stealth. Black Ops 2 keeps this system in place and actually improves upon the customization by allowing even more flexibility in how you build your class.
With Black Ops 2 the new class building system is referred to as the Pick 10 system. This means that you can pretty much pick just about any combination of ten items. This includes weapons, attachments, perks, lethal and tactical gear as well as the new wildcards. This system gives you much more flexibility than the previous games allowed for. If you really want to build a weapon specific class you can work it so that you get three attachments on your primary weapon. Or if you have always wished that you could just have one more perk, now you can, the wildcard options give you the ability to double up on any of your perks. So for example if you like Dead Silence as well as Engineer in the perk three group, you can use the “Perk 3 Greed” wildcard to allow you to take a second perk from group three. What you have to remember is that the second perk and the wildcard each take up one of your ten items you can equip. So it is a balancing act. In order to have extra choices in one area, you need to give up items in another area. For example, in order to have room for the wildcard and two perks from the perk three group, I may need to not have any tactical grenades or maybe no secondary weapon. Below you can see an example of building a class using this system. Note that there are more slots available than you are allowed to fill, basically remember that though there are a lot of slots for equipment, you can only equip 10 items, perks, wildcards and gear as they all take up slots. The wildcards really give you a very deep amount of flexibility to create the ultimate class to really match your play style. For example, I wanted to find a good way to cover choke points or escape routes especially when playing game types like capture the flag, and found that by using the pick 10 system I could create a build that allowed me to have 2 bouncing Betties and a shock charge. Below is an example of a build that I am using. Note that you can see at the top of the class screen how many of your 10 slots have been filled. In the image below, I have filled all 10 of my slots and have chosen the Danger Close wildcard to allow me to take a second item in my lethal gear slot. The wildcard takes up a slot and so does the second bouncing Betty.
There are not many wildcards to choose from and using them usually means you have to give up another piece of equipment, but if used correctly, you can really come up with some good class loadouts. You can choose up to 3 wildcards, but again, you only have 10 slots so if you are going to use all three you will most likely be severely limiting the amount of gear you are going to be able to take with you onto the battlefield. For example, if I want to use the “Perk 3 Greed” wildcard to allow myself to take a second perk selection from the perk three group, the wildcard itself uses one of my ten available equipment slots and so does the additional perk. So adding another perk actually takes up two additional equipment slots, so you must pick and choose carefully in order to balance your class build.
The wild card system adds a lot of depth and flexibility to Black Ops 2 that will allow players to really put together some of their dream builds. I can’t count the number of times I wish I was able to get all my stealth perks plus add scavenger or extreme conditioning to the mix in past Call of Duty games.. Now I can, but again you have to find the right balance. All my perks do me no good if I don’t leave myself enough room to equip my weapons and gear.
Perks are a vital piece of any class build. These allow you to really tailor your player to the way you want to play. Do you want to make no noise when you run? Do you want to be invisible to enemy aircraft? Perks allow for all this and more. One of the things that you will notice right away in Black Ops 2 is that they have broken some perks out to separate their affects. For example Dead Silence and Awareness are two perks that allow you to move silently or to better hear other players when they are moving. In previous versions of Call of Duty these would have been part of the same perk, with one being an upgrade that you got from unlocking the pro version of dead silence. The below images will give you an overview of the Perks in Black Ops 2. I will go into more depth on the specific perks and their uses in another article.
Another thing that you will notice is that concept of Pro versions of perks is gone, yet another thing from Modern Warfare 3 that has been scrapped in Black Ops 2. Though you will notice that many of the perks have additional behaviors that they give you for example the dexterity perk allows you to aim more quickly after sprinting, but also allows you to climb and mantle objects more quickly. The engineer perk allows you to not only see enemy equipment on the battlefield, but also to delay explosives and to booby trap or reroll care packages. So while they have done away with Pro perks, many of the perks do much more than the versions in previous games.
Selecting perks and using the wildcards to double up on some of your perk slots really gives you so much more flexibility in your builds. There have been so many times in past Call of Duty games where I have wanted to use two perks from the same group. It is really nice to be able to do so now using the wildcards. I can’t wait to see what interesting and useful combinations the community comes up with.
I can’t talk about class builds without mentioning Killstreaks/Scorestreaks. In Modern Warfare 3, we were given the ability to customize each class with its own killstreak. This was a great addition and it added a few new ways of choosing how you were rewarded for your gameplay. besides letting you assign different killstreak packages to each class, they also introduced multiple killstreak systems. You could choose the traditional method of getting up to 3 kill streak rewards based on how many kills you were able to get without dying. You also had the support option introduced which allowed you to focus on rewards that allowed you to play more of a support role for your team calling in UAVs and other support oriented rewards for your team. You also had the option for those who were more the run and gun style players of forgoing kill streak rewards all together and instead replacing them with the specialist streak which unlocked more perks for you the more kills you got. This added quite a bit of variety to the class builds for Modern Warfare 3 and led to a much more flexible system based on how you preferred to play the game. Unfortunately, Black Ops 2 completely tosses these ideas out the window and instead returns us to the days of having only one style of killstreak reward which more closely follows the traditional route of kill X number of bad guys, and earn this reward. They have tweaked it a bit in terms of not just basing it off of kills this time around but on how many points you earn before you die. So points for assists and equipment kills, etc… all count. This means you can earn them a bit quicker under the right circumstances. This would not bother me as much, if they had not also removed the ability to have a separate Killstreak/Scorestreak package with each class build. Unfortunately we are back to having only one Scorestreak setup that is used by all of your classes. To me this a definite step in the wrong direction. The system introduced in Modern Warfare 3 gave me much more flexibility to have Killstreaks that were specific to my class build or gameplay type. If I have different builds for team deathmatch and capture the flag, it makes sense that I may want different Scorestreaks for them as well to better match how I play that gametype. With all the other advancements to the class build system, it seems like a glaring omission.
The Scorestreaks in Black Ops 2 are pretty nice and they have definitely added a larger variety of rewards this time around. I am very happy to report that we actually have a useful Sentry Turret now and it can also be remote controlled if you want to. In Modern Warfare 3 we had the option for a remote sentry that was pretty much useless based on the slow fire rate, poor targeting and low damage output. There was a second turret option in Modern Warfare 3 that was more useful, but required you to directly control the turret. In Black Ops 2 we now have a Sentry Turret that not only works perfectly fine on it’s own, but also allows you to control it whenever you want. It also lasts a lot longer than the turrets from past games. I have had well placed turrets last the entire match.
If you plan with your teammates when configuring your Scorestreaks with your tactical and lethal gear you can really set up some nice combos especially for defending areas in objective based games. Mix a sentry turret with a guardian and some bouncing Betties to protect them and you can lock down an area pretty well. There have also been some really nice advancements in tech for some of the Scorestreaks like the Hellstorm Missile, it is an upgrade of the predator missile from MW3. The Hellstorm allows you to fire at a single target like the predator missile, but it also has the even more powerful option of splitting into multiple rockets that will target multiple targets on the battlefield. The Scorestreaks in Black Ops 2 are definitely a great addition to the game and add a lot of variety to your arsenal. I am a big fan of them so far, my only complaint is not being able to configure different Scorestreaks for each of my classes. I am sure I will get over it eventually, or maybe they will update it at some point to add this functionality in.
Tactical and Lethal Gear:
In Black Ops 2 the lethal and tactical gear options definitely add some extra spice to your loadout. You will notice pretty quickly that they have really upped the types of gear you can carry especially in the tactical slot. It used to be that the lethal gear slot was the only option for deployable gear that could slow or stop an enemy. With the introduction of Shock Charges, you now have a tactical option that can slow and damage enemies. It is triggered by enemy motion so makes a great tool for setting up defensive perimeters. It can be thrown and will stick to whatever surface it makes contact with. So you can plant it in walls or on the ground, you can also pick it back up and use it again if it has not been set off. In another article I will go into more depth on the different pieces of lethal and tactical gear and how they can be used to your advantage in different scenarios.
Overall I am enjoying the pick 10 system for creating classes in Black Ops 2. There are a lot of things that give you more control and flexibility than ever before in a Call of Duty game. The introduction of the wildcard system really adds a whole extra level to the customization and opens up exponentially more ways to build your character. I really like the direction they have taken, but at the same time as I have said before, I feel that they have also taken a couple of steps backwards by not incorporating some of the systems introduced in Modern Warfare 3 namely the ability to have Killstreaks for each class, the 3 different Killstreak systems, weapon specializations and Perk Upgrades (Pro Perks). I fully understand that Treyarch is not Infinity Ward, but in the past both companies have incorporated the best features of each others games and in this case I feel some of that has been lost between releases. I truly feel that if Treyarch would have included these features from Modern Warfare 3′s class build system it would have make it the most robust and flexible customization system in a modern day shooter.
There is a lot to love in the class build system in Black Ops 2, and I can’t wait to see what combinations the community comes up with. Feel free to share your favorite builds in the comments. In upcoming articles in this series I will get deeper into specific gear and perk details as well as covering the various multiplayer modes including the new League Play options. Check back soon for part 2 of my Black Ops 2 Multiplayer Breakdown series.
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