Interviews

Black Ops 2: "We retain plausibility and authenticity"

Treyarch's John Rafacz on a "new world of gameplay"

So you've played through multiple prestige levels and handed asses to legions of unwitting noobs. Or perhaps you're one of those unfortunate greenhorns, new to the world's biggest first-person shooter?

Whatever camp you come from, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 looks to make your CoD experience more refined, more personal and ultimately more fun. Careful consideration has gone into ensuring both hardcore veterans and cack-handed newbie operatives can thrive, without the dumbing down or ratcheting up of difficulty levels. John Rafacz, director of communications at Treyarch, gives us a sit rep.

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How have you worked towards topping the narrative of the first Black Ops?

Coming out of the first Black Ops, the team really asked themselves a couple of questions. What can we do that's new that will give people a reason to come back, and ultimately, where are we bringing this style of storytelling? From there everyone started gravitating towards this near-future setting.

Was the future setting chosen to freshen things up for veterans growing tired of the CoD formula?

The near future setting is really that jumping off point, because there's this universe of fresh creativity that it brings up. In multiplayer it has some real-world applications. This is not laser beams and aliens stuff. It retains its plausibility, its authenticity, but at the same time it opens up a new world of gameplay.

What would your message be to the cynics?

I would say that there's a lot on offer! In single player you have innovations like the Strike Force levels. For the first time in a single player campaign you're entering into a sandbox environment that how the ending of your story changes. In a Strike Force level you can fail.

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Within multiplayer there's a reimagined create-a-class that allows you to forgo some types of content to build a class that's most valuable to your style of gameplay. And then there are zombies!

How do Strike Force missions work?

At a couple of points throughout the campaign, the head of Special Ops will come to you and explain that there's this flashpoint and that your services are requested. No matter who or what you play as, you'll set waypoints and issue commands in order to achieve objectives. There's definitely a tactical element to it. Also, if you play through the game and succeed at all of your Strike Force levels and I fail at all of mine, (totally likely, by the way) the geopolitical fiction that wraps the ending of your game will be different.

Does this mean you're a terrible CoD player?!

Black Ops 2 welcomes all skill levels and because of that, I've found a home!

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We had a letter from a gamer/golfer suggesting a handicap system for less able players...

It's always fun when you win. It can even be fun if you lose, but only where it's been an exciting challenge. However, it's never really fun to have someone wipe the floor with you. And do you know what? We would even argue that the guy that wipes the floor with people isn't really having fun, either.

League Play helps rectify that, and it places you in ladders with players of similar experience, where you're challenged and you're rewarded for advancing. And it really speaks to your golfer!

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