E3 2012: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 first look

Call of Duty Black Ops 2Honestly, it’s not even worth making a joke like “you may have heard of Call of Duty.” Your grandmother has heard of the Call of Duty franchise, it is not just the biggest in the gaming industry, it is one of the biggest entertainment franchises in history.  So odds are you have heard of it.  Besides, we’ve used that joke before and don’t want to be repetitive. 

The broad details of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 have been known for a bit now.  The game is set in the near future, and will star David Mason, the son of Alex Mason, a presumed dead supporting character from Black Ops.  The world of tomorrow’s military actions will be defined by the advent of technology to fight wars.  Unmanned drones will patrol the skies, while mechanized walking tanks will control the ground.  It is a reasonable trend, as it will protect the lives of our soldiers.  At least until someone else takes control of those systems, and turns them against us.

Black Ops 2 takes place in the year 2025, and the worst case scenario has occurred.  The US specifically (and presumably the world) is facing a massive attack.  Most of the details are still under wraps, but Activision and Treyarch have begun to show off a few sections of the single player story, as well as a new mode called “Strike Force,” which will be a standalone feature, but it will have an effect on the campaign. 

The demo we saw was the same as that shown off at the Microsoft Press Conference, plus a bit more. 

The setting of the demo, which takes place about half way through the game, took place in LA on June 19, 2025.  The city is under attack from unmanned drones, as well as enemy troops on the streets.  The attack is one of several timed attacks across the US.  Along with the Pentagon, Washington DC, and Wall Street, the enemy, led by a man named Menedez, planned a series of attacks meant to cripple the country in one blow.  The attack on LA was directed at the world’s leadership, which was meeting in LA at the time. 

The demo begins with Mason guarding the President in a convoy under attack.  The drones take out the highway, forcing Mason to step outside and jump on a SAM turret to take out the drones.  Once the SAM was hit, Mason was sent scrambling as the truck the SAM turret was on began to fall, and the fight took to the streets. 

One of the minor changes to the game is that there will now be choices mixed in.  In the example shown, Mason can either snip to protect the POTUS, or rappel down and fight on the ground. As the game is set in the future, there will be all new weapons.  Most will be familiar with a few tweaks, but there are some — like the new sniper rifle that features and x-ray scope and a power-up shot which can shoot through walls — that are new for the game. 

The tech in the game is primarily based on real-life weapon development.  There is still very much of a slant to the fantastic, but there is a realistic basis for all the weaponry. 

COD black ops 2 dronesAs Mason advanced down the street, taking out enemy after enemy, they are joined by an FA 38, which can hover overhead, and begins to act as an “armored overwatch.” As Mason continued through the ruins of the city, another new weapon is introduced: the friendly drones. 

Mason was able to mark areas and send drones to attack that section and take out oncoming troops. Following a firefight in the streets, a skyscraper ahead of the crew began to fall.  After a short cut, Mason and his crew headed onward, and found the FA-38, and the wounded pilot.  Mason took charge of the plane, and took to the skies to continue the fight. 

The flight controls seem straightforward enough.  The action will take you all over LA, as you fly between buildings and shoot down drones and enemy helicopters.  After taking several out, the demo concluded when Mason bailed out second before ramming his plane into an oncoming fighter. 

The gameplay was smooth and the lauded 60 fps was obvious.  The graphics still need a touch of polish, which will certainly happen before the November release date, but the weapon selection seems fresh and unique.  The use of future tech opens up a massive new world of combat for the Call of Duty franchise, and the inclusion of more gadgets and tools seems like a natural one. 

As for the combat, it was pure Call of Duty.  There is a reason why so many others use the same control scheme, it just makes sense.

The next thing on display was a new mode called “Strike Force.” Treyarch was tight-lipped on how this factors into the campaign, but it is its own section, and the developer did say that what you do in Strike Force will affect the campaign. 

COD black ops 2 SingaporeThe level being shown took place in Singapore, and featured squad based combat.  As the primary player, you will be able to move your squad toward objectives in multiple ways, and Treyarch claims there is an open world, sandbox approach to the mode. 

In this particular demo, there were three points that the team needed to approach and interact with, then hold for a limited time to complete the overall objective of sinking an enemy controlled cargo ship. 

What makes this mode truly unique is that it is more than just a shooter; it incorporates tech-based strategy.  At (seemingly) any point, you can call in a UAV to mark targets and send your squad.  You can also take control of offensive machines and attack both enemies and enemy armor before switching back to your standard FPS point-of-view. 

Once all three points were interacted with and controlled, the demo ended with a missile crashing into the ship and sinking it.  How this fits into the overall game is still unclear, but it is an intriguing new look for Call of Duty that felt a touch reminiscent of the recent Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, which also heavily used gadgets, tech, and squad-based play.  Expect to hear more about this mode soon. 

Sadly, as is traditional with Activision, there was no mention of the multiplayer.  We do know Treyarch will again bring its uber-popular zombie mode back, but we’ll have to wait and see what changes it has undergone, as well as what we can expect from the online multiplayer. 

The glimpse shown off looks like the series is in good hands with Treyarch at the helm, and longtime fans will likely be pleased at the fresh new take on the futuristic warfare, which is a slightly new direction for the franchise, but not one that is so alien as to make it feel unfamiliar.  The controls and graphics look to be the same as Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops before that.  It won’t win over the haters, but with tens of millions of fans worldwide, it doesn’t have to. 

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 will be released for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 on November 13.  It will then likely go on to make a billion dollars by the 20th

Product Review

Cyberpunk 2077 looks like an astonishing evolution for action RPGs

Cyberpunk 2077's hour long E3 2019 gameplay presentation dazzled us. From its staggeringly varied approach to combat to a dizzying degree of customization, Cyberpunk 2077 looks like it could set a new bar for open world RPGs.
Gaming

Borderlands 3 feels like more of the same, but that’s a good thing

Our Borderlands 3 preview takes a look at new weapons and mechanics that help make it a new but familiar experience. It's your standard Borderlands fare and ultimately more of the same, and that isn't exactly a bad thing.
Gaming

The Genesis Mini will make you wonder how Sega lost the console wars

Sega may have lost the console wars to Nintendo, but it has stepped up its game in the new, retro console wars. The Sega Genesis Mini boasts an impressive lineup of games and has authentic, charming hardware design.
Deals

Need a smartphone? The Razer Phone 2 gets a huge $300 price cut

Mobile gaming has grown seen incredible growth in recent years. The best gaming smartphones tend to be expensive, though, but the beefy Razer Phone 2 is on sale right now for a huge discount on Amazon that can save you hundreds.
Deals

Walmart drops a big $200 price cut on the Dell XPS 8930 PC

If you're looking for an affordable gaming PC, you'll want to check out this Dell XPS 8930 Gaming Desktop Computer (8th Gen), which is $200 off from Walmart. Normally $1,400, a cool 14% discount brings the price down to $1,200.
Gaming

From Nintendo to Capcom, here are the best booths we saw at E3 2019

Every year, publishers and developers gather in Los Angeles to show off their games at E3. Booths are a major part of the excitement and this year didn't let us down. From Nintendo to Capcom, here are the best booths of E3 2019.
Gaming

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is endearing and wonderfully weird

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is as magically weird as I remembered. The super cute art style fits Koholint Island so well, and Nintendo improved multiple, critical mechanics.
Computing

Don’t call it retro. Atari’s VCS is a modern console for PC gamers

You might think the Atari VCS is another retro console like the Nintendo SNES Classic or Sega Genesis Mini. You'd be wrong. Atari's VCS is actually a modern console that runs PC hardware. Yes, it can play Atari games, but it does much more.
Gaming

Call of Duty: Mobile is the best shooter I’ve played on a smartphone

Call of Duty: Mobile attempts to put the franchise's tight gameplay in the palm of your hand. It's largely successful, thanks to precise controls and attractive graphics. The game arrives on iOS and Android later this year.
Gaming

The PlayStation Network is back up. Here’s the latest on the PSN outage

Sony's PlayStation Network is back online after going down for several hours on Thursday afternoon, annoying legions of gamers right in the middle of E3. Here's the latest on the outage
Cars

Tesla screens may support YouTube with next software update

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced today at E3 that the infotainment screens will support YouTube video streaming very soon. This most likely lines up with the latest software update that is expected later this year.
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for June 2019

Looking to score Nintendo's latest console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals, including discounts on bundles that feature must-have games like Super Mario Odyssey, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Florida’s autonomous vehicle law, E3 updates, and more

On this episode of DT Live, we take a look at the biggest trending stories in tech, including Florida allowing fully autonomous vehicles on the road, Atari’s new gaming system, E3 updates, high-speed rail, and more.
Gaming

Niantic Labs sues hackers who help players cheat in Pokémon Go

Niantic Labs has filed a lawsuit against Global++, who is said to be behind the hacked versions of Pokémon Go and Ingress. The legal action comes as the developer is preparing to launch Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.