The Future Is Drones: Black Ops 2’s Multiplayer Reveal

Oh god! Those weren't run-of-the-mill local pterodactyls at all!

After months of speculation and feverish, sweat-stained worry, Activision’s finally seen fit to set the world’s mind at ease. Turns out, the new Call of Duty game will have multiplayer after all. That’s right: multiple players. And I think I might have spotted a gun or two in there as well. Activision won’t confirm or deny that one just yet, though, so Black Ops 2 still has a very good chance of being a first-person slap-fighter. Right then. That’s the part where I spew vitriol about the obtuseness of big-budget videogame ad campaigns out of the way. So yes, here’s Black Ops 2’s first multiplayer trailer. It has some pretty neat-looking gadgets, including some kind of microwave beam and, of course, so many drones that you’ll keep thinking the word “drones,” and eventually it’ll lose all meaning to you. Drones drones drones drones drones.

Hm, that’s a lot of shiny new toys. Pulses that let you see through walls, the aforementioned microwave (?) emitter, new grenade types, drones that can punch right through riot shields, other drones that fly solo and rain down death from slightly above, and other other drones numerous enough to blot out the sun and herald the beginning of a dark age in which wars are won based on which side is nursing the fewest stubbed toes.

It does look admirably different, though. Well, at least, for a Call of Duty game. I’m not quitting my job to make an epic, months-long journey between 67 major retailers to make sure I get every pre-order item in anticipation or anything, but these items do look to vary things up a fair bit. Granted, I see “balancing nightmare” written all over a few of them – which is made all the more disconcerting by the heavily implied e-sports overtone of the shoutcasting bit at the end. We’ll see, though. At this point, I’m mostly grateful that Treyarch’s at least doing something new.


  1. TheIronSky says:


  2. Dowr says:

    Considering the game is based in the future, I thought the gameplay footage would feature The Dubstep, since that is the command practice in Computer Game Marketing Land, but I am wrong – Acti have gone Rock!

  3. Gozuu says:

    People need to stop this “Activision is horrible” thing and focus on what the developer of the game releases. If this had been another Modern Warfare shooter, many would have sworn that Activision was over this title in an instant. So now that Treyarch decides to go Future Warfare, let’s just admit that Activision isn’t the heart of the issue and never has been.

    Looking forward to learning more about this title, even though I swear I didn’t like Black Ops, this looks more interesting than two previous CoD titles.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      It’s interesting how RPS readers seem to have this image of Activision having only the COD/BLOPS franchise, plus some failed smaller studios. Probably because that’s the only thing RPS ever writes about. Not a word about Skylanders, for example (over 30 million toys sold).

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Skylanders is a console product. Why they hell would RPS or its readers be commenting on it here?

        Besides, one successful product does not a moral company make.

  4. GamerOfFreedom says:

    I am excited for this, the future warfare (it’s basically CoD mixed with Ghost Recon Future Soldier and Battlefield 2142) and the fact that Treyarch are so far inovating a lot more than IW ever were with the MW games. Oh right and DX11 support.

    • max_1111 says:

      Innovating how?
      Honest question. I don’t see anything particularly innovative about this. There’s (maybe) some neat little gimmicks here and there but nothing that i would label as innovative.

      • Dana says:

        Innovating within the series, perhaps ?

      • DK says:

        Compared to the ever-repeating dreck the non-Treyarch side of the CoD franchise was doing? Yeah, Treyarch is innovating. They, atleast, know that not having dedicated servers in the 21st Century is utterly retarded and have re-implemented them every time IW ripped them out.

        • max_1111 says:

          Someone has yet to actually say how any of this is innovative, even within the series…
          Telling me that, “Compared to the ever-repeating dreck the non-Treyarch side of the CoD franchise was doing? Yeah, Treyarch is innovating.” doesn’t actually clear anything up.

          • lwv says:

            I can see why the trailer would be kind of unintelligible for people who haven’t invested time in other CODs and only cared enough to watch it once.

            New stuff of note:
            -scopes that can see through walls
            – what looks like three-way tdm
            – variable fire modes for guns (I think, based on the bottom right corner)
            – riot shields that can be planted in the ground
            – a new class system that’s far more elastic than in previous games. Towards the end of the trailer there is a player running around with six perks and no primary weapon.

            Not all new to the genre, but things that will make it a significantly different game from MW3 or Blops. Infinity Ward is the “more,bigger, faster” cod dev, Treyarch is the “slower, weirder, more deliberate” cod dev.

    • xavdeman says:

      Tell me, mr. GamerOfFreedom, what good is DirectX11 support, if you’re unable to notice any increase in graphical quality anyway, since it’s still the same old engine with the same low-res textures and the same low poly-models, without good animations, and with cheap sounding guns and other sound effects. Also: the gameplay is the same. Stun grenade is now ElEktro Shoxxor grenade 2.0, C4 got a new detonator, there’s AC3’s mohawk now to throw, and some kind of forcefield.

      • elmo.dudd says:

        DirectX11 support doesn’t have to mean “prettier” things. Dirtying up a screen with shaders isn’t the only way to use something like DX11. It gives them access to faster common operations with more precise ranges. So yeah the textures will still be horribly low res if that is your concern, but it can also mean a further increase in performance and fewer errors.

        The gameplay is the “same”. It is the same at the core, they’re not going to sabotage a franchise still doing solidly. A few things though – the shock grenade sticks to where it impacts but the effect lasts for multiple seconds meaning you can lead people with it around cover, and their teammates can walk into it as well. The tomahawk was in Black Ops as well, it is a fan favorite for its silliness but also satisfaction when it gets a kill.

    • GamerOfFreedom says:

      Well of course it’s when say innovating I mean in the scope of CoD, MW2 and MW3 was basically the same game.

      DX11 in my opinion shows that the PC version will not just be a lack luster version.

      • Alexander Norris says:

        MW2 and MW3 was basically the same game.

        If you’re considering “innovating within the scope of CoD” then that’s blatantly not true – MW3 added weapon levelling and killstreak packages.

        • GamerOfFreedom says:

          It still felt the exact same and in my opinion looked worse than MW2.

          BO2 is in the future, has a 3 team game mode and probably loads more changes because it’s in the future + there appears to be both future and 1980s weapons

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            The Future is the Future.

          • Brun says:

            Multi-team Deathmatch isn’t even innovative. Halo 3 had it, if I remember correctly.

            EDIT: Actually I think Halo 3 had multi-team CTF. So basically, CODBLOPS2 lifted a game-mode concept from Halo 3 (or even some earlier game that I don’t know about) and then dumbed it down even more by making it deathmatch instead of objective-based. Shocking, I know.

          • elmo.dudd says:

            MW3 felt the same as MW2 because it starts off minutes from where MW2 ended, it is very much the exact same world. It is a completely direct sequel. The multiplayer does have the same core, but the different strike packages shook things up quite a bit, and the additions of Kill Confirmed, Team Defender, and Drop Zone were all interesting. Then you have Infected, All or Nothing, and One in the Chamber – and of course the standby of Gun Game.

            Brun – If you want innovation for the entirety of gaming, you are going to be expected by every game that follows a genre you aren’t ignorant of. For first person shooters we can point to most everything occurring within Doom, Marathon, Quake, and Rise of the Triad plus their assorted mod scenes (particularly Quake). So when looking for innovation, you should look within the context of the sub-genre – military themed arcade first person shooters.

  5. coldvvvave says:

    Old men are the future.

  6. max_1111 says:

    Needs more 360 No Scope.

  7. Kollega says:

    Now, i am not going to state that future war is any worse than today war or past war, since they’re all bad enough, but it’s still a little disconcerning how CODBLOPS 2 will probably portray the “sit-in-a-bunker-and-kill-people-remotely-while-sipping-Mountain-Dew” kind of warfare as “heroic”.

    Note that, although this scenario is likely, maybe the game won’t actually try to portray that as “heroism” and i’m just talking out of my ass here. But it does seem to be a likely scenario.

    • belgand says:

      If you want to learn more about the “sit in a bunker” sort of future warfare you really ought to read “The Forever War”. Quite an excellent read.

      So what about the person who designed and built the drone being piloted? Do they at least get to be counted as heroic? Not that I’m particularly a fan of heroism as a concept to begin with, but it rather seems that finding a way to not get shot in the face sort of deserves at least a bit of a nod for giving the whole thing a bit of a think first.

      • Kollega says:

        I’d say whether the drone creator can be counted as “heroic” depends on what the drone operator is shooting at (real live meat people or other unmanned drones) and which sides in the conflict abide by the Geneva convention.

        I could probably explore the question in greater detail, but i can’t be arsed :-P

    • elmo.dudd says:

      I’m trying to think of a moment in the CoD franchise where it was ever “heroic” for the drone workers. The closest to heroics was when you were on the ground playing as an individual in the most immediate danger – and this is in a franchise where the Americans always bungle something terribly, and the Europeans (particularly the British) always save them. The drone segments are few and far between, and usually just there for a brief change up in the flow.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      There’s a thin line between ‘heroism’ and ‘stupidity’ anyway. It’s not about dying for your country, it’s about making the other guy die for his.

  8. Shralla says:

    Already played Blacklight: Retribution. It’s free, too.

  9. Haxavier says:

    I won’t get this because I’ve already spent too much money this year (Dishonored!), but I at least hope Treyarch took some notes from the Infinity Ward sequels and avoid the really bad multiplayer design mistakes from MW3. The ideas for the killstreak styles are solid and work well, but the maps were horribly designed and the weapons are all samey and too heavily weighted for CQB builds. Lynch me if you like, but I thought Black Ops had some of the best-balanced multiplayer gameplay of the series, with the MW sequels becoming progressively worse and worse.

    • PostieDoc says:

      I agree with you. I still play BO on the 360 with a few mates but found MW3 to be a terrible game.
      There are no standout maps in MW3 (Dome is ok).

  10. BreadBitten says:

    The game has nearly enough elements to make me want it, a neat looking and believable portrayal of future conflict, drones, a nice array of weaponry, more drones, Trent Reznor, even more drones, David S. Goyer and of course drones; but I have that sinking feeling that when it’ll come down to actually playing the game all those neat things will serve almost no purpose because the game eventually reveals itself to be a game of follow-the-leader-through-the-closed-corridor turkey-shoot with no room for experimentation.

    Also, before anyone points it out, a branching storyline is not what people meant when talking about future Call of Duty games being more ‘innovative’; if you’re going to make a game about war at least make the battlefields–well–actual battlefields, and not restricted to an alleyway conveniently constructed of some debris.

    Oh shit I just noticed! DRONES!!!

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It’s fairly interesting to compare Black Ops (and World at War) to Modern Warfare 3, actually. IW and Treyarch have different ways of doing scripted corridor shooters – IW leaves you mostly free and puts a giant FOLLOW objective over the NPC you’re following, which seems to make it feel cheaper than when Treyarch do the same thing by just having a lot of “cutscenes” that take away control from you.

    • bear912 says:


  11. Alexander Norris says:

    Granted, I see “balancing nightmare” written all over a few of them – which is made all the more disconcerting by the heavily implied e-sports overtone of the shoutcasting bit at the end.

    Maybe this means BlOps 2 will have dedicated servers and even more focus on balance than the first one?

    For all its CoDness, BlOps 1 was the best-balanced CoD game ever, bar the AKS-74u. Treyarch did the exceedingly smart thing of having the guns in one category be similar to each other except for a few small differences. Unfortunately, they didn’t go far enough, as those differences were enough to make one or two guns in each category the clear winners (FAMAS/Commando, AKS-74u, SPAS-12, Stoner, WA 2000/L96, CZ75/Python).

    It’s a real shame – CoD especially would benefit from having 6 or 8 guns total with 3-4 models and animation sets to each gun (i.e. you have the “fast, weak AR” and “slow, heavy AR” guns and each has several models with the exact same stats – M4A1 and FAMAS, AK-74 and SCAR-H, etc.), as it would make balancing much more of a possibility. This normally doesn’t get done because people expect real guns to be modelled “realistically,” but the sci-fi guns are exactly the sort of excuse that’s needed to redesign the game that way.

    On the one hand, the odds of this actually being done are pretty much zero. On the other, Treyarch have proven they’re willing to at least try to balance the game, unlike Infinity Ward. I guess we’ll see.

    Oh, and the DLC map packs still fucking suck. :(

  12. philbot says:

    Well it looks a lot better than MW3 at least. Not much of a CoD fan myself, but the shoutcast thing could be pretty interesting… I wonder if it will stream to the web or it will require you to be running the game (would cross platform shoutcasting be possible!?). That’s certainly a feature I wish Bf3 had anyway, a battlerecorder :(.

  13. Nemon says:

    I would actually like trying a multiplayer slap-fighter.

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:


    • belgand says:

      Agreed. Although I wouldn’t want to have to unlock the fabulous dresses I assume I’m allowed to outfit my avatar in.

      I’d also be up for a fighting game based on brawls in hot tubs.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Sissyfight: Slapfighter Extreme Slapaction

  14. mr.ioes says:

    Those riot shields are stolen from CS 1.6. Hmpf.

    • Tei says:

      Or maybe both are taken from the same source: real life.

      • elmo.dudd says:

        +1 to Tei, the world is larger than just games, not everyone plays every game.

  15. Moni says:

    They finally decided to make the gun-shoot sounds more meaty. Although, since it’s the first game after Battlefield 3 launched, it smells a bit of a “me too” mentality, which is a shame.

    • max_1111 says:

      To me they sounded more like the snap, crackle, pop coming from my bowl of Rice Krispies.

    • elmo.dudd says:

      They… …sounded like gunfire from any CoD. It varies more by the weapon than by the release.

  16. chromeshelter says:

    It does look better than any CoDs before, thats for sure (except CoD 2 maybe :D). I also liked Black Ops > MW 2-3, i think that Treyarch just does its job better than IW. Plus the game finally has a new-ish theme. I really liked BF 2142 and this reminds me of it a lot. And yeah, as it was mentioned above the shooting feels a lot meetier and less airy – floaty – spammy. I will defo buy this.

  17. dee says:

    That bit at the end: are people really playing COD competitively? On consoles?

    The commentator was going wild over the most trivial gameplay in the trailer.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      “…are people really playing COD competitively? On consoles?”

      Yes, but only if you consider slinging homophobic insults at other players to be a competitive sport.

    • Moni says:

      Call of Duty was a regular at MLG events until this season began, when it was dropped. It’s certainly interesting if they’re pushing to try and get it back on the circuit.

      • zeroskill says:

        No wait, competitive FPS, played with controllers? That’s hilarious.
        No wonder they throw insults at each other, imagine having to drive your car with your feet. You would be pissed off too.

        What’s next I wonder, Starcraft 2 with joysticks? Make it happen MLG.

  18. Groove says:

    This is a serious question for people who have played Modern War games.

    What always gets me about these trailers is that the player will walk forward a bit, stop in the middle of a corridor (no cover or tactical positioning used) to aim at someone at the end of the corridor, then the target dies from 2 shots in the thigh (or something). This is repeated over and over again. The player will never see any return fire and the targets will hardly ever move more than a couple of feet.

    My question is, is this at all representative of the game experience? Because the multiplayer trailers always look like trailers for singleplayer games, and ones with terrible AI at that.

    • Groove says:

      Damn, I just had a chance to turn the volume on and noticed that the first/last bit is supposed to be a competitive match. That had the same symptom of using no cover, and his two targets barely moved. Is that right?

      • Steven Hutton says:

        In fairness, both of those players got hit by “shock” grenades. Which appear to do the exact same thing as stun grenades from the previous games. I.e. screw up your vision and bring you to an almost complete stop.

        Although, yeah, if you wander into the open like that you should really expect to get killed. Probably by some dirty, camper with a sniper rifle. Muhahaha.

      • elmo.dudd says:

        There are two elements here – getting footage for a trailer, and the mechanic of not being able to shoot while sprinting combined with the delay in ending the sprint and raising your weapon back up to hipfire, and then to aiming down the sights.

        Is this representative? Not quite, most players learn when they can sprint because of the risk of it. Is the damage representative? Sometimes. However most guns in the franchise are 3 to 6 shot kills. The franchise uses a classic health model of simple quantity for the whole of the player, where location is a multiplier to damage done (different guns have different multipliers FWIW). There is also the chance that some of the people had not regenerated their health yet – most good streaks get ended by a boost of confidence resulting in sprinting into an area/not waiting to regenerate before taking on another target.

    • dee says:

      ” the player will walk forward a bit, stop in the middle of a corridor (no cover or tactical positioning used) to aim at someone at the end of the corridor, then the target dies from 2 shots in the thigh (or something).”
      That’s COD’s dynamic, I guess.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Three things:
      a) no, it’s not.
      b) you are watching console footage.
      c) you are watching staged footage for a trailer designed to make the game look appealing in a trailer.

      CoD on consoles is to CoD on PC as a slug drugged up on sedatives trying to swim through molasses is to someone sprinting down a street (Quake is the Formula 1 car that person is trying to run after).

      CoD on PC is at least 2-3 times if not more faster-paced than the game is on consoles – which is why the balance so often falls apart.

      In a real round on PC, at least half the server is sprinting around firing wildly from the hips and lobbing grenades in every direction at any given time (the other half are camping, sadly). Regenerating health also forces you to use cover to break line of sight so you can heal up – although people die way, way faster on PC than they do on consoles because you have a mouse.

      • Koozer says:

        Listen to Norris! After playing MW2 and BLOPS on the PC, watching a friend play MW2 on an xbox was painful. And when I say ‘play’, I mean ‘wait for auto-aim to swing the crosshair over targets.’

    • derbefrier says:

      pretty much but CoD is an arcade shooter. its not trying to be realistic, its this generations Quake or Unreal. Its run and gun battle of fast reflexes mixed with nade spam, noobtubes and just general unorganized chaos. I know this being a PC site there is is a slight hint of bigotry when it comes to console players (LOL DUMB CONSOLERSS!!!!!!1111!!) and theres no question controllers are inferior to mouse and keyboard when it comes to FPS games but its still fun and can be highly competitive and contrary to popular belief not everyone on xbox is a 12 year old kid throwing racial slurs around. I would say its no more common than it is on pc at least in my experience.

      Playing with an organized team is a lot of fun and playing against an organized team is a lot of fun as communication and strategy prevail over nade spam and killstreak spam (good teams wont let that happen). I guess what i am saying is people here dont have a clue what they are talking about and are just spouting the same old baseless elitist remarks against console players we have seen for years and years now.

  19. zeroskill says:

    Wow you get an exclusive map when you pre-order? Activision doesn’t even wait anymore for the DLC map packs, they split the community right off the bat. Well at this point it doesn’t really mather anymore becasue around this time next year you will buy another MW game anyway so why the hell care about communites in the first place, right. Milk the crap out of those suckers.

    • jezcentral says:

      When you split up your player base, and each fragment is still made up of millions of people, it’s probably not much of a concern.

      • zeroskill says:

        This is a PC gaming site so I assume were are talking about PC specific communities here. Not console. Call of Duty isn’t actually that popular on the PC. Proof?

        link to

        26,086 33,161 Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 – Multiplayer
        7,139 8,669 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – Multiplayer
        4,595 5,553 Call of Duty Black Ops – Multiplayer

        Payday is more popular then Black Ops. It’s nowhere near as popular as on the console boxes. Its not like they have endless amounts of players on the PC, so yes I think community splitting IS a concern to those that actually like playing those games.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        zeroskill’s right on this one. MW2 is the first MP game I’ve ever purchased all the DLCs for only to have problems finding people to play with online, because of a) a P2P matchmaking service that doesn’t allow easy pre-start switching to more accessible vanilla maps, and b) the fact that roughly only half the MW2 players on PC actually owned the DLC maps, which meant they couldn’t play with the rest of us.

        If Activision continue to insist in P2P matching for future CoD releases, the least they could do is allow those who don’t own the DLC content to play on DLC maps, a la PAYDAY. Of course, they won’t do that for obvious reasons.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      What amuses me about this is that Nuketown was an absolutely dreadful map. Presumably they’re remaking it for Black Ops 2 because of its ‘popularity’ – but it got played most of all the Black Ops maps because it’s the easiest to exploit for fast ranking up. It’s tiny but has various long sightlines, you can practically throw a grenade from one end to the other, and generally the body count is enormous. About the only way to do well is to mercilessly camp, spam grenades and spawnkill and rack up your stats.

      Some of the other maps were truly superb bits of design, but the one they want to resurrect is the shitty killbox…I really liked Black Ops, but that fact, more than anything else, makes me temper my interest in this game.

  20. Conor says:

    That esports bit at the end was embarassing.

  21. Dances to Podcasts says:

    The first thing I noticed was the guy with the red… Keffiyeh? He was the first thing shot that actually looked like a human being, with some personality, maybe a family, father, mother, sister, brother. I was still wondering about that when the shoutcast bit started.
    Oh dear.

  22. elmo.dudd says:

    One thing that RPS failed to note with this post is one that is right in your face but Treyarch didn’t spell it out, which is the rather different create-a-class system.

    For those who may be unfamiliar with it, from CoD4 onward it was as such:
    Choose a primary weapon, choose unlocked attachments, choose camo
    –choose proficiency (MW3 only)
    Choose a secondary weapon, choose unlocked attachments (not all of them)
    Choose 1 perk from each of the 3 tiers
    Choose lethal attachment, choose tactical attachment

    Black Ops 2 however shows different configurations than this – one YouTube commentator observed that all of the classes shown add up to 10 “items” but in different arrangements. You can get extras of certain equipment, or a second perk of the same tier – you don’t have to have a perk from each tier.
    They have setups such as just 1 perk but a primary weapon with numerous attachments, and additional lethal and tactical equipment.
    Six perks and just a sidearm.
    One perk in one tier, two perks in another tier, no perk in the remainder, with more equipment.

    It sounds small, but has implications for building more distinct custom classes.

  23. piratmonkey says:

    As a console player and Black Ops fan, this looks fantastic. To anyone who says “they play shooters with controllers!?” yes, we do. I grew up on them and prefer them immensely to the mouse. There is no need to lecture me on how the mouse is infinitely more precise etc. because I’m aware but just don’t care.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I can’t tell what you want to acheive here. I mean, I grew up playing FPSs with keyboards (not mice). Mouse and keyboard work much better; it’s a fact. I took a little while to get used to it, and it changed everything. I’m glad you’re happy with what you’re doing, but how does essentially telling everyone “I enjoy playing badly” actually help? You must care somewhat or you’d not spend the time telling us. I really don’t think it’ll stop anyone from ridiculing FPS-on-a-pad players.

  24. Sayori says:

    It certainly looks better than BO in graphic aspect. And that’s it.
    Futuristic?! What the hell? Yeah, there’s some kind of mech, some kind of fancy knife – that’s it.
    It doesn’t make me feel I’m in the future. Go see Blacklight Retribution. It’s free and yet 900x better than BO2.

  25. Ham Solo says:

    Where can I buy the 1 map DLC for 50€, please?!

  26. Spicy Keychain says:

    Lol look at the noob hardscoping at 1:27

  27. lpw says:

    After seeing a few gamplay vids on YouTube I’m really looking forward to it… Looks awesome and some of the new weapons etc look great.