Welcome to yet another new feature series for Cheat Masters. This is called the Wishlist, and in it, I will detail upcoming games or game systems that don’t have a lot of information about them released yet, and make a list of all the features I want to see, and all the ones I’d rather be left on the cutting room floor. On this edition of the Wishlist, we take a look at Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, a game that is rumored to be revealed on May 1st, and is likely the next core Call of Duty game that will release in November of this year.
1. Wager Matches
A problem I’ve had with the swapping of developers that goes on with the Call of Duty franchise each year is that favorite modes and features are abandoned with each installment. The first Black Ops introduced Wager Matches, which were incredibly frantic, fun, and challenging. I loved Wager Matches. They pretty much made Black Ops for me, since the rest of the Call of Duty multiplayer experience has gotten pretty stale to me thanks to the lack of innovation that particular facet of the series has experienced lately.
So, what does Activision decide to do? They have “Infinity Ward” cut Wager Matches out of Modern Warfare 3. Not only was this an incredibly stupid decision, but it severely hurt the multiplayer value of Modern Warfare 3. Modern Warfare 3′s multiplayer experience is just bad, with bland, lifeless maps, and the lack of Wager Matches. Black Ops had incredible multiplayer maps, as well as this incredible multiplayer mode that was left out to pasture with Modern Warfare 3.
For the Wager Matches, I’d love to see all of them return. One in the Chamber, Gun Game, you name it, it deserves to be in a potential Black Ops sequel. However, I’d also like to see more Wager Matches. I can’t even begin to imagine what else Treyarch can think up to spice up Wager Matches, but I have faith that they can think up some pretty creative things.
2. Multiplayer maps with PERSONALITY
I mentioned this in passing in the last section, but honestly, Modern Warfare 3 was a major letdown thanks to the multiplayer maps. They may have been designed to prevent camping and be “fair”, but they were all boring. They were gray, the game looked exactly like Modern Warfare 2, and absolutely none of the maps have any personality.
Black Ops, on the other hand, featured really clever and entertaining maps. I loved almost every map in Black Ops, with my favorite being Nuketown. Nuketown is a small map, that made Wager Matches even more fun, and all the other game modes all that much better. The close-quarters combat was incredibly exciting and entertaining, and it made me sad to see that Modern Warfare 3 didn’t have an answer to Nuketown.
I know I’m not the only one that loved Nuketown. The map was so popular that Treyarch, on more than one occasion, held special weekend events called Nuketown 24/7. Heck, I wouldn’t mind if a reworked Nuketown made its way into Black Ops 2. Why not have a “Greatest Hits” of Call of Duty maps? That actually wouldn’t be a bad idea for DLC, and for once, I wouldn’t complain about the ridiculous $15 asking price…
3. Nonlinear campaign
Believe it or not, Call of Duty games didn’t used to be a “FOLLOW ME” simulator. The first few games in the series featured expansive, open areas, freedom to experiment with different strategies, and a very low level of linearity. Call of Duty 4 introduced the intensively linear approach to the series, but it handled it well. By the time Modern Warfare 3 rolled around, I was sick of following people down hallways constantly.
Black Ops 2 needs to return to the basics. A non-linear campaign in the vein of Call of Duty 2 (which to this day is still my favorite Call of Duty campaign) would be excellent. Imagine the improved gameplay mechanics in a larger, nonlinear battleground, as opposed to constricting corridors with no room for improvisation or freedom.
This would increase replayability and make the game feel incredibly different when compared to the last five games in the series. When I think about how much fun I had with Call of Duty 2, and how boring Modern Warfare 3 was, it makes me sad to think how far the series has fallen, from a campaign perspective. Black Ops 2 is Activision’s opportunity to return to form and deliver an action-packed, nonlinear, exciting campaign just like the good old days.
4. Four-player split-screen online WITH BOTS
Modern Warfare 2 has one of the best offline multiplayer experiences in the history of gaming. Not only does it allow for four-player split-screen, but Modern Warfare 2 also added the leveling up capabilities that was featured in the online mode, making the offline multiplayer a blast as well. Black Ops, unfortunately, seriously ruined the offline multiplayer, didn’t allow the Combat Training bots to be in multiplayer, and had everything unlocked from the start. Where is the fun in that?
Modern Warfare 3 is no better in this regard. Black Ops 2 is a chance for redemption. Bring back the four-player split-screen with the online ranking system. Let there be bots. Why was Combat Training restricted to online-only access in Black Ops, anyway? It made no sense. That kind of mode is made with offline players in mind. No multiplayer experience online will ever match the thrill of offline multiplayer, and developers need to start paying more attention to that mode.
5. Combat Training
Like I said, Combat Training. Bring it back. Why wasn’t it in Modern Warfare 3? I have no idea. Laziness is the only answer that I can come up with. Combat Training needs to return for Black Ops 2, and it needs to be accessible offline. Perhaps add bot customization or something along those lines to make it even more appealing.
World at War had Zombies. Modern Warfare 2 didn’t. Black Ops had Zombies. Modern Warfare 3 didn’t. This needs to stop. Black Ops 2 needs to have a Zombies Mode, and every Call of Duty game after it should have one as well. Why? Because it’s popular. Because fans enjoy it. Because you don’t neuter a franchise with each subsequent installment. That’s taking one step forward and two steps back.
One thing that has always hurt this game mode, in my opinion, is the lack of a narrative. I would love to see a Zombies mode with more of a focused storyline, with more maps, instead of the absurdly complicated puzzles we are treated to with the current Zombie modes available. Solving the puzzles is not fun. It’s work.
Obviously, I’m not saying they should axe the standard Zombie gameplay; include it as an option for all the maps. A focused narrative for this mode just seems like the natural evolution of the series.
7. Spec Ops
Just like the Modern Warfare games have been guilty of dropping Zombies, the Treyarch-developed games have dropped modes as well. Modern Warfare 2 featured a very entertaining co-op Spec Ops mode, with tough, mini-missions that challenged your skills very well. Black Ops dropped it. Then Modern Warfare 3 brought it back with authority. Black Ops 2 needs this mode to feel complete.
Spec Ops is fun, it’s challenging, and at this point, it’s a requirement. Withholding game modes from the fans is just a bad idea on Activision’s part, and it upsets people. Like I said, it’s going backwards, and not making progress. Spec Ops with a Treyarch-spin sounds nice, and I’d be interested to see how they could innovate this mode.
8. Survival Mode
Added to Spec Ops in Modern Warfare 3 was Survival Mode. This Horde-like mode proved to be one of the best additions to Call of Duty formula. However, it didn’t feel like Spec Ops, and I think it deserves its own spotlight. Shorten the name to Survival Mode, make it four-player split-screen online, and watch the money roll in.
With better maps, this mode will be even more fun! Imagine Nuketown with this mode. The very thought of it makes me weak in the knees! (…) I will be incredibly disappointed if Black Ops 2 drops this mode as well, and if Treyarch and Activision were smart, they’d make sure this was available at launch.
Wager Matches, better maps, nonlinear campaign, four-player split-screen online with bots, Combat Training, Zombies, and Survival Mode…these are the features that need to be in Black Ops 2 for it to be a truly successful game. If Black Ops 2 continues the pattern of dropping game modes made by “the other guys”, it will be a shame.
Will Black Ops 2 include these features? What else will be available in the game? How is Activision going to make good on its promise of meaningful innovation? Hopefully at least some of these questions are answered come May 1st when Activision officially unveils its next Call of Duty game. Will it be Black Ops 2? Will it be Future Warfare? Who knows. May 1st will reveal the truth, and by the time E3 2012 rolls around, we should know everything there is to know about the next game in the Call of Duty franchise.