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Treyarch aiming to 'rewrite the rulebook' with Black Ops 2

"We wanted to be more ambitious than we've ever been in anything we've worked on"

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 game director David Anthony has told us that Treyarch's aiming to rewrite the rulebook with its upcoming FPS.

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"The only thing we thought about when we put together the Black Ops team was: 'how can we give people a genuine reason to come back and play?'" he said. "Black Ops was the first time we had essentially collapsed all of the teams we had at Treyarch together into one. It took time for that to settle down.

"At the start of Black Ops 2 we had this team ready to roll from day one, so we wanted to be more ambitious than we've ever been in anything we've ever worked on. Right from the word go, we rewrote the rules - what could we do differently to raise peoples' expectations right from the start? So this is in our DNA; this is how we are approaching this game."

Asked how the studio plans to mix up the familiar Call of Duty formula, Anthony pointed to Black Ops 2's story, which will feature a number of branching paths, as well as its new sandbox levels.

"One of the ways we have been most ambitious is in terms of story. I worked with Hollywood screenwriter David Goyer for about the last three months editing the story on the first Black Ops, and we had a really great time. He genuinely enjoyed it, describing the experience as the most fun he'd had since film school 20 years ago.

"So we got to the end of the first Black Ops and he's like 'Dave, I want to work on the next one from the start. We've taken some risks on the first Black Ops; now let's rewrite the rules about storytelling in games.' So right from the start it wasn't a case of thinking how far do we needed to go to satisfy peoples' expectations... we're not even thinking about that. We just want to rewrite the rulebook.

"So the sandbox levels, these are called Strike Force," he continued. "Let me explain the overall branching story; you have characters - main characters - in the story who will live or die depending on what you do, and it's not just what you do - it's the choices you make and your skill in Strike Force. So depending on how skilful you are on those levels, it'll actually have an influence on the overall Cold War that's going on. So that's one example.

"But there are also decisions to be made in the campaign. Say you've got to stay on point during a mission but you see a squad mate in danger. So you have to ask yourself: are you going to help him, or are you going to stay on mission? Depending on how you approach that it'll influence the story; it may even influence the survival of characters.

"You play the game when it comes out in November, and you're all likely to get different outcomes. So when you get to the end of the game we're going to make it very clear to you the different things that could have happened. We're going to make it clear that if somebody died, that that person could have survived. We're going to make it clear that the Cold War with China was lost or didn't go well - but that wasn't necessarily the only outcome. We're going to make it clear that [villain] Raul Menendez succeeded or failed at certain things owing to your actions.

"So when you get to the end of that game you're probably going to want to replay it to see how things could have changed if you'd have played in a different way. So you guys could be talking to each other about Black Ops [1] and you could be saying: 'remember when Frank Woods did this in the level?' And you'd say: 'What? He's dead!' These kind of things are going to happen; you'll have these conversations about Black Ops 2. I think it's going to be a really interesting experience for people."

CVG's Black Ops 2 preview went live earlier this month alongside the game's debut trailer, which we analysed in depth here.

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