Okay, let us be clear: like many of you, we’ve suffered our fair share of Call of Duty fatigue. It is a real thing, and when a franchise like CoD isn’t pushed from iteration to iteration, the experience can become less and less thrilling; especially when new Call of Dutys sprout up like weeds every single year.
Honestly, we weren’t that thrilled to hear that the next game in the franchise would be a sequel to Black Ops. We thought, “Ugh, more of the same.”
Then we saw the game’s debut trailer, and something about it clicked.
Yes, this is most definitely a Call of Duty game, but there were a few X factors in the aforementioned trailer that made us buy into what developer Treyarch is selling. Now we’re actually looking forward to what the folks at Activision and Treyarch are pumping out this year.
Here are a few reasons why…
When we first heard Black Ops 2 would take place in the not-too-distinct future of 2025, we were kind of left scratching our heads. Isn’t the modern-esque period meant for the Modern Warfare games, we thought? What could Black Ops possibly add to that equation?
Answer: a good bit, it seems.
By having a narrative that jumps from the late 1980s to the not-so-far-away future of 2025, Black Ops 2 has a chance to actually put on display how much technology has influenced our progression as a species over the last few decades. This will then put into perspective how much we rely on tech and how if it is turned against us, we’re basically screwed.
This leads to our next point…
It actually makes future war seem terrifying.
The future that Black Ops 2 theorizes, dubbed the “21st Century Cold War,” is a scary place. It’s Terminator, only a bit more plausible and without a bunch of time-travel paradoxes (we hope). If Treyarch can actually succeed in making future war scary, they should be commended.
As a collective community of gamers, we’ve become pretty desensitized to what sci-fi war is like. We’re presented with games like Halo, Mass Effect and Killzone and pushed out the door, told to go have fun shooting aliens and playing with crazy future-tech weaponry. The threat is established in the challenge of gameplay, not the atmosphere and tone of your surroundings.
We’re hoping Black Ops 2 does a bit of a role reversal, showing us that war in the future, however close, will be a scary, scary thing.
The game’s debut trailer gives us hope that that will be the case.
More from Treyarch.
We genuinely like Treyarch and their work with the Call of Duty line. To be quite honest, both World at War and Black Ops were better experiences when compared to Modern Warfare 2 and 3, as far as the Crave staff is concerned.
With Black Ops 2, Treyarch has the opportunity to do something completely unique for this franchise. If Activision actually lets them break the mold enough, this game, with all the early impressions we have from it, could be the most diverse we’ve seen in years.
Furthermore, we’ve enjoyed Treyarch’s take on multiplayer map building a lot more than Infinity Ward’s over the last few games. We hated the maps in MW3; but the maps in Black Ops and WaW? Loved ‘em. More of that design structure will be welcome.
Building a cast worth caring about.
The Call of Duty titles have never been known for their ensemble of paper-thin characters. Every year we usually get offered the typical grunt-making, curse-spewing soldiers and told to go with it; the fun of the Call of Duty games, we’re told, lies in the bombastic action set-pieces you take part in.
For what it’s worth, however, the original Black Ops actually showed promise with its cast. The main character, Alex Mason, displayed character growth – however minimal — over the course of the title. And the supporting cast was memorable enough to pick up on when one escapes certain doom – we’re looking at you, Sgt. Frank Woods.
Ice Cube, however, will forever be known as Ice Cube, not Corporal Bowman. But that’s proof everything can’t be perfect.
So where are we going with this? Well, it’s clear Black Ops 2 is building on the narrative of the original game; it is a direct sequel. We see Frank Woods has returned from the grave as an old man, and the dude shown runnin’ ‘n’ gunnin’ in the game’s future setting is Alex Mason’s son, David. Treyarch is making sure there is a cohesive universe being built and expanded upon with their Black Ops titles. This should equate to good things for the series’ cast of characters, hopefully making them far more memorable in the process.
This goes hand and hand with…
Crafting a memorable villain.
Infinity Ward tried desperately with the Modern Warfare series to create a memorable villain in Vladimir Makarov. And while Makrov’s scheme was certainly grandiose, the character turned out to be nothing more than a moustache-twiddling douche.
Treyarch is trying to avoid that pitfall. That’s why they’ve once again tapped screenwriter David Goyer to help pen the script to Black Ops 2, which tells the rise of the villainous Raul Menendez.
Why does this excite us? As Treyarch is quick to point out, Goyer is responsible for creating The Dark Knight’s version of the Joker, which was later masterfully played by Heath Ledger (we’ll leave it up to you to decide who deserves more of the credit). But we think it’s safe to assume Goyer knows his way around striking, memorable villains. Let’s hope he can do the same with Menendez.
Reaching back up to that memorable cast, for a bit, having aged heroes shows struggle and challenge. If Treyarch can find a way to connect Call of Duty fans to this franchise’s legacy in a meaningful way (say, through the introduction of even more veteran characters), we’re all aboard.
In all seriousness, we like this approach because of the unique gameplay moment it could possibly bring. Look, if the horseback riding is an on-rails segment that serves as little more than a 30-second distraction, we probably won’t like it that much.
If it’s like, for instance, the snow mobile segment we all remember…
However, if horses are used in a way we’ve never seen before…yes, sold.
Introducing choice and consequence.
A Call of Duty first, Black Ops 2 will introduce choice and consequence into the game’s narrative with “Strike Force” missions. We’re not expecting Mass Effect levels of choice and consequence, but what Treyarch intends to do with these single-play side missions is a nice change of pace for the Call of Duty franchise.
Over the course of the game, you’ll be able to take part in little skirmishes that dovetail off the main narrative to get a grander sense of the global conflict at hand. The goal of these missions will be simple: stay alive and repel the enemy forces. If you succeed, your soldiers live to fight another day; if you fail, those characters are 100% dead, and that will affect the outcome of the game’s story.
How this works exactly remains to be seen, but it’s an interesting design choice on Treyarch’s part. And hell, we’ll gladly take a CoD game that begs for multiple play throughs of the campaign to experience every possible outcome. Maybe this will finally justify the incredibly short 5-hour campaigns the CoD series is infamously known for.