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Call of Duty: Black Ops gameplay preview

Hands-on: Treyarch's latest will-be chart smash...

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That intense level concluded Treyarch's single-player showing off. But it's the multiplayer game that'll have most hooked in the first week of Black Ops' release. Treyarch said they'd be keeping its multiplayer game under wraps for now, but they shared more than a few hints of what to expect.

Black Ops' multiplayer gameplay is being taken incredibly seriously by Treyarch, who've put in twice as much time, resources and staff into making it than World at War's. That's allowing
for more time to be spent refining the experience. It's even leading the single-player campaign in some respects, says Treyarch. Some of the maps in the single-player game are based on multiplayer maps. Equally, the crossbow we described earlier was, among other things, made for the multiplayer game and brought across to the single-player.

The huge multiplayer team spent a lot of time thinking about the basics of multiplayer gaming and how to develop a better game. The three areas of focus were boiled down to the social, competitive and players' experiences.

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On the player experience side Treyarch want to expand how a player customises the game to their own play style. That said, the team tells us they've done a significant amount of work on the create-a-class options to allow a player to personalise their battle strategy. It's different enough for the developer to promise it'll be a "new experience" that leverages the freedom that real black ops soldiers have with choosing their gear.

Treyarch say they don't want to mess too much with the tried and tested COD formula on the competitive side of things, but rather just tweak it where possible. They promise more equipment players can take to the battlefield and things that they can do to enhance their abilities against other players online, taking into consideration criticisms of previous COD games.

As for the social experience, Treyarch says they've had half of its development team focused on this, expanding the game with features that allow people to interact with others in and outside of the game. Maybe something like a stat-tracking website with forums and the like, we speculate.

This is all very vague but it paints the picture of a multiplayer mode that aims to be every bit as epic as thoseof the Modern Warfare games.

That's before we even get a hint as to what's in store for the four-player co-op mode, which was confirmed at the event but again kept completely shrouded in secrecy.

Call of Duty: Black Ops hopes to top this year's list of shooters - and it has every opportunity. Not only have the previous two Modern Warfare games firmly established the Call of Duty franchise as the king of shooters, but with Modern Warfare 3 now on an indefinite hold thanks to Infinity Ward being in turmoil as its staff quit in droves (30 have left, at the time of printing) and sue Activision (to the frankly astounding tune of 'up to $500,000,000'), this could be the time for Treyarch to step up and snatch Infinity Ward's crown.

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