Activision revealed the Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer component at an event this evening in Los Angeles. We'll have a full preview later on, but first we'll just run you through the various features that Treyarch is adding to the latest iteration of Call of Duty.
Producers Dan Bunting and David Vanderhaar took the stage at the LA Coliseum to talk three pillars for the new CoD multiplayer game: "Compete, customize and create." Competition was the first element -- beyond the standard Call of Duty multiplayer elements, Treyarch has added a whole new mode called Combat Training, which brings AI opponents to the mix. Yes, bots have arrived in Call of Duty.
Combat Training is a mode with its own ranking completely separate from any multiplayer play. Treyarch says it found that 30 to 40 percent of single player gamers had never once tried multiplayer, and this mode is an attempt to "introduce the Call of Duty game to an entirely new set of players who we feel are missing out," said Vanderhaar. The mode has its origins in a dummy the team created named Larry, who originally just stood in the field and reported back on damage received to the programmers. But when even the devs wanted Larry to be a little more active, they eventually developed the mode into a full package.
Combat Training allows you to play either by yourself or with friends -- we'll give it a look later this evening and let you know what kind of challenge Black Ops' AI bots will offer.
Treyarch also plans to diverge from the series tradition of set unlocks by introducing a currency to the multiplayer game, called CP or "CoD points." Everything in the game has a set CP price (or XP level limit) attached to it, so if there's a specific killstreak or weapon you'd like to unlock, you can save up and buy it at the first chance instead of simply waiting for it to open up. Perks also have an effect on how you look in the game -- choosing Scavenger outfits your character with lots of pouches on your armor, while Ghost puts you into a gilly suit. Other players can see that customization as well, so opponents can tell with a glance what perks you've got equipped. Guns can be customized even further than before, and emblems can be created and attached to guns.
Additionally, gear has been narrowed down into three categories: lethal throwables (like frag grenades) will always be used with the right bumper; tactical throwables will appear on the left bumper; "equipment" consists of all the other gear Treyarch has thrown into the game, from the usual claymores and motion sensors to new gadgets like a camera spike. New weapons have been added into care packages as well -- Treyarch showed off a gigantic Gatling gun, a special RPG, a napalm strike, a remotely controlled bomb, an off-site mortar team and a movable SAM turret that targeted any aircraft in the area.
Currency, said Treyarch, is useless unless you can gamble with it, so Treyarch has created four new multiplayer modes that revolve around gambling CP, called Wager Matches. In these matches, only the top three players get paid at the end of the match, and everyone else loses their ante CP. "One in the Chamber" pits players against each other armed with just one pistol and one bullet -- killing someone else earns you an extra bullet, but missing leaves you with just a knife. "Sticks and Stones" gives everyone a tomahawk and a crossbow, and hitting an opponent with a tomahawk automatically bankrupts them. "Gun Game" has players progressing through the various gun tiers -- a kill moves you up to a stronger weapon, but dying drops you back down. Finally, "Sharp Shooter" gives everyone a series of random weapons, with everyone switching to the next randomly selected one after a certain point.
Treyarch has also implemented "Contracts," which players can buy with CP and then pay off when certain criteria are met in the game within a certain time limit. Promise to kill 50 players in a certain amount of matches, and achieving the goal will pay back more CP -- but failing will cost you what you paid in the first place.
Finally, the developer also created the ability to record and playback matches during development, so it added a video recording system into the game. Players can save, share and browse recorded videos -- the system doesn't look quite as in-depth as what Bungie's put together in the past, but we'll have to see it in action.
Look for our more in-depth multiplayer impressions soon.