Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Hands-On

Gambling on matches and a suite of expanded customization options are some of the highlights from our time playing Black Ops online.

With Call of Duty: Black Ops, developer Treyarch is taking the venerable first-person shooter franchise into the secretive world of Cold War-era special operations. Thus far, we’ve seen single-player demos ranging from an intercontinental flight by SR-71 Blackbird aircraft to subterranean tunnel combat in the throes of a Vietnam war zone. Tonight, however, Treyarch and Activision gave the press its first look at the game’s online multiplayer side--that leveling-up system of persistent unlockables that’s long been a hallmark of the series. With additions ranging from training tools to ease in new players to a points gambling system for the hardcore bunch, it’s clear that Treyarch is casting a wide net with the new features it has conjured up for Black Ops multiplayer.

The most daring change to the leveling and experience points formula that Modern Warfare first introduced to the series is a new currency system. In addition to earning XP the good old-fashioned way, you’ll now be able to earn an in-game currency called CP, or CoD points. Depending on the game mode you’re playing, you’ll be rewarded in XP, CP, or both. On a basic level, CP lets you manually unlock new weapons, attachments, and perks a la carte, rather than follow the preset upgrade tree we’ve seen in previous Call of Duty titles. But in addition to paying CP for a new red dot sight five levels before you would normally unlock it, you can elect to gamble your CP in a new collection of game modes called Wager Matches.

These new modes--four in total--require players to risk some of their CP at the beginning of the match with the potential to win it all back and then some at the end of the match. The thing is that only the top three players in the match win money--the rest go away empty handed. In addition to this gambling mechanic, the four Wager Match modes offer an interesting twist on standard Call of Duty multiplayer modes. In One in the Chamber, each player starts the match with three lives and a handgun loaded with a single bullet. Killing players lets you pick up their guns, but if you waste your bullet, you’ll have to run around with only melee attacks. The action is very tense, and conserving ammo in such a way couldn’t feel like more of a departure from the usual run-and-gun style for which has the series has become known.

We also played a Wager Match mode called Gun Game. This one starts each player off with a single handgun as well, but the difference becomes apparent very quickly. With each kill in Gun Game, you suddenly pull out a new, more effective gun--essentially moving up a tier. There are 20 tiers in total, and the first to get a kill with each gun is the winner. However, when you get knifed, you’ll actually drop back a tier, so it’s possible to lose progress (especially if one of your enemies is hell-bent on griefing everyone). In our experience, the endgame strategy in a Gun Game match can differ wildly from its early moments, as the sniper rifles you get when you reach about tier 15 require a more patient shot than the shotguns and automatic weaponry you wield earlier. When you add this to the fact that you’ve got money on the line, it’s easy to see how some of these Wager Match modes could feel very intense.

If this new currency and gambling system is more suited for the hardcore Call of Duty player, the new Combat Training mode seems geared to lure in those who would normally be intimidated by such complex mechanics. For the first time ever in the series, players will be able to set up a match against AI-controlled opponents to learn the ropes of a competitive multiplayer match. These can be played either solo or with friends. Combat Training lets you learn the ins and outs of each map, as well as get a feel for the game’s various weaponry--all without the fear of being killed constantly by high-level human opponents.

Another new feature that offers similarly educational potential is the Theater. Like the Halo 3 mode of the same name, Theater automatically saves your replays and gives you the chance to go back and watch them from any perspective in the match. You can even record certain segments within the replay, customize the transitions, and turn them into a highlight reel of gleeful kills. All of these replays can be shared online, giving you the chance to either learn from the masters or simply boast your triumphs to friends.

Neutral to any “hardcore” or “casual” designations is the expanded suite of customization tools in Black Ops. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how well you know a map’s check points--all you need is an artistic streak to appreciate these additions. The big one is the emblem editor. Modern Warfare 2 introduced the idea of player emblems--those little graphics that players could choose to appear next to their names on the onscreen menus and “killed by” notifications. In Black Ops, you can design your own emblem from scratch with a system similar to Forza Motorsport’s multilayered vinyl editor. After you’ve made your own custom graphic--we elected to go with a bunny rabbit with an imposing skull for a face--you can then choose to slap that emblem onto your gun for all to see in battle. The same goes for your clan tag, as well. Other options include expanded camo patterns and even customizable reticles. If you’ve ever wanted to grief opponents by killing them and making sure the kill cam they see of your actions shows a smiley face aiming reticle taking their lives, well, now you can do that.

Of course, Call of Duty online multiplayer is still, at its heart, about visiting exotic locales and finding new and exciting ways to shoot people in the face. So naturally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention some of the gear and maps we experienced during our hands-on time. One of the fun new bits of weaponry is an honest-to-goodness flamethrower gun attachment, and we had a fun time roasting enemies with it. There’s also a Valkyrie missile that lets you fire your weapon and manually guide the ordinance directly to your target, whether that’s through windows or around corners. In terms of map offerings, we played in three different locations: a snowy Russian mountaintop called Summit, a Vietnamese urban war zone called Cracked, and a fairly standard warehouse map called Radiation.

There’s certainly a lot to the multiplayer in Black Ops. We could go on about various and sundry observations we spied, like the equipment you can drop to wreak havoc on your enemy's radar or the minature RC car rigged with explosives you can unlock as a kill streak, but we might be here all day. So suffice it to say, there’s quite a bit going on here--but fortunately, it's not all added complexity purely for the most diehard of players. Still, exactly how all these new features wind up coming together is something that only time will tell, but we’re optimistic about a lot of these features. When you throw in the training tools to help ease the transition, a lot of these things look even more appealing. You can expect to see more Black Ops coverage leading up to the game’s November 9 release date.

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665 comments
ranman1990
ranman1990

i dont know about all of yous. but im pretty pissed they didnt allow any customization for the offline multiplayer.

nabeshin
nabeshin

The maps, from what I've seen on BO, are pretty large like MW2. Hopefully they don't blow as hard as MW-2's did. The failure was creating too many camping spots with way too much open space in-between. trying to sneak up on someone who can see you coming 2 mile out while crouching between 2 rocks that have only one way in is just bad game design. I prefer to bring guns to a gun fight, not marshmallows. Camp less, play more.

toms123
toms123

'the new Combat Training mode seems geared to lure in those who would normally be intimidated by such complex mechanics' I think it is also for people who have bad internet connections, or who do not have a net connection at all. I bought COD4 MW and was left with a game that lasted only 5 hours, the only reason i will get this game is because of AI-controlled opponents for the MP maps. it is bad when games have loads of mods for online and no modes for offline play on the maps. its nice to look forward to a new game other than UT3.

toms123
toms123

'the new Combat Training mode seems geared to lure in those who would normally be intimidated by such complex mechanics' I think it is also for people who have bad internet connections, or who do not have a net connection at all. I bought COD4 MW and was left with a game that lasted only 5 hours, the only reason i will get this game is because of AI-controlled opponents for the MP maps. it is bad when games have loads of mods for online and no modes for offline play on the maps. its nice to look forward to a new game other than UT3.

Mazena86
Mazena86

Lol @ knicks0320 A lot of people prefer CoD4: MW1 over MW2 for several reasons. Dedicated servers, no overpowered killstreak rewards and the possibility to lean for example. Oh, and generally better map design - I mean the layout, the maps are much more detailed and atmospheric in MW2, but it just distracts you. Also, in MW1, hackers can be banned from individual servers, in MW2 hackers are free to do whatever they want with pretty much no consequences. Oh, and MW1 had the Gun Game (which has been my favorite gamemode for a while - I'm so gonna rock Black Ops' wager matches) mod which was not possible in MW2.

knicks0320
knicks0320

Im not going to say MW2 is the greatest game ever or anything, but im guessing that most of the people here who just flat out hate it probably just suck at it. :/

footelong7
footelong7

going against what some people say, im really looking forward to it. different maps, game modes (one in the chamber :D), different guns, split-screen online, ZOMBIES!! i really like the new additions and am hoping it will be as amazing as it seems.

32605250
32605250

@mw2hardcore please, send me the punch to my email !

mw2hardcore
mw2hardcore

bd company 2 is TERRIBLE. anyone who thinks mw2 is best thumbs up. anyone who doesn't thumbs down (if you thumb down i will puch you really hard in the middle of your face).

redfarm_619
redfarm_619

Small, tiny little maps just don't cut it anymore. MAG, BF2 and Project Reality have it right. A map where it could take 4 minutes to walk across is/are the future. COD MW......quick everyone get to the crane. BAH!!! Won't buy.

Splin001
Splin001

Treyarch has been trying to add new things into the Call of Duty series, Infinity Ward remade Call of Duty 4. For example, zombies. Who would've thought zombies would be such a great addition? Not Infinity Ward, it seems.

toritofine
toritofine

mw2 was never one of my favorite games, honestly, but still, it's some good fun... i hope black ops keeps up with it

Mustangooos
Mustangooos

I just dont know about call of duty since the first modern warfare/cod 4... I mean MW 2 was real good but you could've stuck with cod 4 and be just as happy in my opinion so im just not sure. They need to come up with something completely different as the saying goes dont fix what aint broken.

ste-g
ste-g

call of duty is getting boring fast. there throwin new game modes and other stuff too get people too buy it. itl be the same old. small maps, camping, no-scoping, and other glitching boring stuff. not for me thanks

GordonFrohman11
GordonFrohman11

Looks good but still to similar to Modern Warfare 2 for my taste. When will Treyarch learn that they can do other things rather then just attempt to emulate the games of Infinity Ward?

313striker
313striker

wow I was a bit sceptical about new call of duty but man.. this wager mode I think I could start playing it again!

nyuncleben
nyuncleben

The best game would be COD's addicting leveling and variety (maps, weapons, gameplay, etc.) in Battlefield's large scale maps, vehicles, and destructable environment. RC cars and guided missiles? Seriously? Why not power ups and double-jumping too. I'll still get the game. I'm a fan-boy.

FH_roks
FH_roks

kill streaks split screen special ops better single player perks equipment graphics

meleekill989
meleekill989

who plays call of duty anymore when we have battlefield? i mean, can any one of you name a single thing about call of duty that gives it the advantage?

FH_roks
FH_roks

I agree with CrusaderX7 mw2 is a great game what r u complaining about

SociopathicBox
SociopathicBox

hmmmm....naaaah ill pass, Im was over CoD a long time ago.... I dont even think I was into Cod in the first place, can someone tell me why THIS is such a success even though its the same thing over and over again? There are such better games out there, especially this summer.

liamboi16
liamboi16

I've never really been a fan of the Call of Duty series, but there's something about this installment. The customization options look great and the wager matches and currency seem like a healthy addition to the series. November's going to be a good month.

yalc_22
yalc_22

Looking forward to this, i jumped on the MW2 bandwagon later than most and had a loads of fun running a muck with my friends, Always good to have something to play with your friends.

lithus
lithus

wager matches seems like a great idea but very limited here. Why only free-for-all matches? And what's with the hoaky modes? Why not just wager in a straight up Team Death Match? And a crossbow that explodes...really? Leave that mess for Gears of War..lol

suberbard
suberbard

how can u people not like cod its the best ever

Gam1nG_W1zard
Gam1nG_W1zard

im gonna get this. but i hope 2 god that they get rid of painkiller i swear that pisses me off..but other then that, it looks like a good buy..oh i hope ppl cnt melee me from 10ft away lol

Anarchist93
Anarchist93

I used to love call of duty before but now its become really weird and i can only play Battlefield and Medal of Honor.

sturd880
sturd880

I was ready to write Call of Duty off. To my surprise Modern Warfare 2 dominated and crushed competitors like MAG and Bad Company 2. So as much as I would like to move on from Call of Duty the fact is its still the best shooter franchise around and Black Ops is another must-buy. Maybe next year COD will get dethroned?

Lewk-07
Lewk-07

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Emprrah
Emprrah

Black Ops = Perfect Dark on Steroids n Heroin.. this game looks promising.. just hope they tweaked little things like bein able to move chairs , furniture n able to shoot out lights...

Braden-O
Braden-O

im gonna pre order it but if this one lets me down like mw2 did then well SREW CALL OF DUTY and thats what i say so blakc ops u better prove ur self that u can keep making this franchise move on cuz if u mess up like infinity ward did then well call of duty is nothing but shoit boosters hackers (not much of a prob on ps3 cuz xbox is a hack bot ) and also noobtubers although it is fun to do it and campers they arent bad all u have to do is find a way to get around them so black ops and treyarch u got this please be good please

SgtStrungOut
SgtStrungOut

Nothing but noobs and casual gamers play COD nowadays.

littleboomer
littleboomer

I'm so happy you can play against bots with friends (online AND split-screen right?). Without bots split-screen is pretty lame. The weapons and new game modes sound awesome too. I hope they can deliver on all these additions.

Lewk-07
Lewk-07

Some one mentioned hackers. PS3 didn't have any of the f@gs the 360 does. (aim bots among other things)

Lewk-07
Lewk-07

@edub272 For the most part people that camp are actually just moving slowly. Or at least thats the case for me. If you run and gun like a f@ggot and don't even give me time to move before you come back it's gonna seem like i'm camping. Then the game becomes about point counter point where you have to out accuracy me and snipe me or flank me. I never have had a problem against campers and i don't launch rockets like a f@g to kill them (every spot in the game has a counter point). side note: Valkyrie rockets = gay im not even going to buy the game cause of that (this is supposedly Vietnam WTF).

CrusaderX7
CrusaderX7

Am I the only person on earth who enjoys MW2 and doesn't whine and b**ch about it??

edub272
edub272

and i cant believe so many people are supporting campers!!! YOU CANT DEFEND YOURSELVES, there is a difference between getting on a perch and sniping & sitting in a corner crouched with crosshairs waiting 2 - 3 minutes for someone finally come into your view. The way I see it, ITS A VIDEOGAME, why waste time not moving trying to get a few unsatisfying kills, when you can charge in the front door, flank around the outside, or use coldblood/silencer and sneak your way around.. idk its just me but I like fighting my way to where people respawn and wreaking havoc, but campers, i suppose you can stay back and defend home base lol or do whatever it is u do

edub272
edub272

BFBC is not better than cod, but BF3 will definatly be, and im probly gonna buy MOH because the online is being made by DICE and theyre the absolute best at online mulitplayer shooters, i just dont like the bfbc engine and the whole destruction system.. anyone play BF:Modern Combat? i did on ps2 online and that game was siiiick, im thinkin MOH will bring some of that type of action back and frankly the COD series is just getting a little stale for me. I feel like i know exactly what to expect and whats the fun in that, Ill support a reboot of the MOH series

anothereviewer
anothereviewer

ah i swear if i see another bfbc being better then black ops comment ima get justin bieber to love bfbc

CoD_KING85
CoD_KING85

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

CoD_KING85
CoD_KING85

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

slavik700
slavik700

A camper is somebody who doesn't run out into the open so you can shoot them at your leisure, right?

nhall00195
nhall00195

Hackers have ruined every multiplayer shooter on earth...why bother playing. I will never play again. Companies don't take it seriously, so I won't be back until they do...EA is one of the worst btw

advanracer
advanracer

CQB? nah..more like...CSC: Claymore Suicide Camping XD. LOL .

laofuzi300
laofuzi300

Why ppl hate camper? that is a skill too. Also do you think is a skill if a person run around map never tired killing ppl with a SUPER LONG RANGE MELEE knife and dual super shotguns? In CoD MW2 Camper is the only way to counter a CoD MW2 Runner.