In Treyarch's current build, each season is just over thirty days long, and placing, winning or ranking up will give you a chance to be promoted to the next league at the end of the month. Black Ops' Premier League will be home to just two percent of all CoD players - the very best players in the world - but no matter the league you reach, you'll get to feel like a winner. Sure, you won't ever be Manchester City walking home with the Premier League trophy, but you can be Fleetwood Town - undisputed champions of the Conference and bloody pleased about it.
"We haven't had skill-based matchmaking in a Treyarch Call of Duty game since CoD3," says Vonderhaar, "and this time we've actually built a feature around it. You're always rewarded and you always feel like you can achieve something, no matter yourskill level."
But the biggest upgrade is one you'll discover the moment you hit Start for the first time. In Black Ops II you'll create your class from a pool of perks and weapon upgrades with total freedom. You can play with a rifle, no sidearm and extra claymores; with two rifles and no non-lethal grenades; or as an mad axeman with six perks, no guns, and a single tomahawk.
"Internally we call it the Pick Ten system," explains Vonderhaar. "What this means is you can literally pick ten pieces of content - weapons, attachments, grenades, perks - and take them into the fight. But you can forgo taking a weapon or a perk and spend that point somewhere else, like on a Wildcard." Each Wildcard costs one point, and each will 'break the rules' of CoD's usual Create a Class system. With the right Wildcard you can apply two perks in slot one, use three attachments, or double your lethal grenade slots.
"I could spend thirty minutes alone talking about the weapons system improvements," says Vonderhaar, "but what you need to know is that attachments modify weapons and perks modify your character, and there's no crossover."
Every new level earns one unlock token and every perk, Scorestreak, attachment, and gadget is unlocked one token at atime. Each new rank - Sergeant, Lieutenant - unlocks the next tier of equipment, so there's still an enforced progression through the ranks, but for the first time there's areason to Prestige once you pass level 55. Fifty-five tokens aren't nearly enough to unlock everything in Black Ops II, so you'll need to do two full laps of the levelling system before you have every tool at your disposal. "The game is no longer about level one to fifty-five," says Vonderhaar. "Now it's about one to fifty-five and the levels of Prestige; they have value now. You'll be able to buy any perk by level 55, but if you want a complete set it'll take longer."