'Call of Duty: Black Ops 2': Everything you need to know

We have gobs of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 content. Want to know the tiniest details about the new single-player Strike Force missions? We have video. Or maybe you want an overview of the level in which Los Angeles is destroyed by a fleet of drones? Here's a shot by shot recap. What about a run down of the reinvented multiplayer? Or the deep support of eSports? You got it. But what if you don't have time for all thousands of words and nearly 20-minutes of video. Good news, we have a cheat sheet. Here's the brass tacks. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 takes place in the the late 1980s, in which you play as Alex Mason, and in the year 2025, in which you play as his son, David Mason. Woods somehow survived the grenade blast in Black Ops and serves as narrator in the year 2025. He is old. The story details the rise of Raul Menendez, a villain determined to use the world's increasingly autonomous armies against themselves. Strike Force missions are non-linear levels scattered throughout the single-player campaign that allow players to shift between an entire team of soldiers and machines on a battlefield. Winning or losing these machines will determine the game's outcome in some considerable way. Multiplayer will be set entirely in 2025. It will include a map on an island of Yemen and a map at the center of downtown Los Angeles. The multiplayer is designing the game with e-sports in mind. There will be more Zombie modes. There will be horses.

'Call of Duty: Black Ops 2' multiplayer: but wait, there's more

Developer Treyarch is blowing the bloody doors off Call of Duty: Black Ops 2's multiplayer suite. It's ditching established Create-A-Class rules for multiplayer class customization. It's doubling down on eSports and skill-based league play. It's even bringing competitive multiplayer to its popular Zombies spin-off mode.

But the Santa Monica-based developer, once widely regarded as the back-up Call of Duty team, is doing more with multiplayer in Black Ops 2 than anyone else. It's doing it more thoughtfully, making online multiplayer more approachable, more customizable than ever.

The...

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'Call of Duty: Black Ops 2' Zombies grows with story-driven campaign, 8-player versus mode

Treyarch's enduringly popular Zombies gameplay mode will return in its third major iteration in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, delivering the biggest, most substantial take on the co-op mode ever. What began as an Easter Egg in Call of Duty: World at War is now a full-fledged game mode with its own narrative and its own unique competitive multiplayer.

Zombies in Black Ops 2 will boast new playable characters, new special zombies, and new weaponry, some of it based on future tech of the game's 2025 setting. Treyarch also promises guns familiar to Zombies fans, plus "some new zombie weaponry."...

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'Black Ops 2' establishes Treyarch's identity in the shared Call of Duty franchise

With its drastically different "Pick 10" class creation system and branching single-player campaign, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 introduces quite a few bold changes to the annual franchise.

The changes are a stark reminder of the popular franchise's shared development duties between Infinity Ward (the Modern Warfare series) and Treyarch (World at War and Black Ops). There's certainly similarities between the two in terms of tone, brand identity and technical specs — both place a huge emphasis on running at a butter-smooth 60 frames-per-second, for instance. But they've always had their...

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See 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 2's' new shoutcasting tools in action

Call of Duty developer Treyarch is getting behind eSports in a major way with Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, building divisional League Play, live streaming, and shoutcasting into its the futuristic first-person shooter. Black Ops 2's built-in shoutcasting features are designed to give commentators a set of simple, broadcast quality tools with the goal of improving the production of streamed and televised eSports events.

During a recent visit to Treyarch in Santa Monica, we had an opportunity to shoutcast — or CODcast, as Activision has branded it — a live Black Ops 2 multiplayer match....

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Activision confirms the death of deathstreaks in 'Black Ops 2'

Gone is the chance in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 to take out your killer by dropping a grenade as you die or shooting them down with a well-placed shot as you bleed out.

While Activision already announced that "scorestreaks" are replacing the streak systems found in Call of Duty's Modern Warfare 2 and 3, some people seemed confused or concerned about the fate of deathstreaks. Black Ops, the last Treyarch Call of Duty game, did not include deathstreaks either.

Reached for comment today, here's what Treyarch developers had to tell Polygon:

"Black Ops 2 MP does not have any deathstreaks, this...

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'Call of Duty: Black Ops 2' multiplayer helps you find your playstyle

The Pick 10 customization system in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 isn't just a new way to make your online soldier your own — it's a new way to play Call of Duty altogether.

For those who haven't followed the new Create-a-Class system here's a synopsis: You have ten "points" which you can spend to fit weapons, grenades, perks and attachments into your loadout. You still have to adhere to the franchise's set-in-stone rules, to an extent — you can't bring 10 different primary weapons into battle, for instance. The exception to that rule, however, is Wildcards, which can also be equipped with...

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'Black Ops: Declassified' uses old-school Create-A-Class, not Pick 10

Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified, the first Call of Duty outing on the Playstation Vita, won't be built around the Black Ops 2 timeline, innovative new multiplayer class system, or weapons, Activision reps told Polygon.

Instead, the game's multiplayer will make use of the perks, weapons, and gameplay style of the original Black Ops. That's in part because the game itself takes place in the 60s, 70s, and 80s and is meant to tell the story of what happened after the original Black Ops in a series of Spec Ops-like single player missions.

During a demo at Gamescom today, an Activision rep...

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All of the 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 2' Create-a-Class options (so far)

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 incorporates a new way of creating multiplayer classes, letting you slot in 10 options at once to build the warfighter of your choosing — and an extensive list of options was shown at a Gamescom event last night in Cologne, Germany.

We quickly jotted down all of the options available to players using the new Pick 10 system so far, save for a few primary attachment options on different types of guns. Keep in mind that the game's not out for another three months, so this likely isn't a final list — but as of right now, there's more than plenty to choose from.

P...

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 embraces eSports with built-in broadcasting, seasonal league play

With Black Ops 2, Call of Duty developer Treyarch is not just rewriting many of the systems that power the series' online multiplayer. It's also openly embracing its eSports fanbase — those who play Call of Duty professionally and the people who tune in to watch high-level competitive play.

Calling eSports "a major, major initiative for us," game design director David Vonderhaar says that Call of Duty is already a sport, but it needs the production, the personality, and the means to broadcast that sport to a wider audience. To help make that happen, Treyarch is building new tech for B...

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An introduction to 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 2' with Treyarch Studio Head Mark Lamia

Want to hear about the new Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 from the man in charge of its development studio? We sat down the Mark Lamia, Studio Head of Treyarch, to learn how we got from the end of Call of Duty: Black Ops in 1968 to the sequel's late 1980s and 2025 settings.

"While most of the game takes place in that future setting," says Lamia, "you're going to be reliving part of the the first Cold War in that late 80s period through the eyes of Woods, who, of course, you played alongside with in Black Ops."

"It's a direct sequel to Black Ops," says Lamia. "You're going to play as Alex Mason...

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What is 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 2's Strike Force? Treyarch Studio Head Mark Lamia explains

You've read our intensive Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 info dump and you want to know even more about the new single-player Strike Force missions. Understandable. They may be the strangest, gutsiest, most innovative addition to single-player Call of Duty since, well, the first Call of Duty.

We spoke with Treyarch Studio Head Mark Lamia about the mode, its origin and the criticism that Call of Duty is a linear FPS.

"You can take over any of your team members and they have different weapons. You can take over any of the tools on the battlefield, so any of the drone technology.

"I think that's...

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Just how zany is the futuristic setting of 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 2'? We talk with Treyarch Studio Head Mark Lamia

Mark Lamia, Studio Head at Treyarch, introduces us to the two settings, two the protagonists and the one evil super villain in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. This is the first of three videos, and a quick introduction to the studio's big ideas for the new game.

"Often we found ourselves being too conservative," says Mark Lamia, Studio Head at Treyarch, referring to his team's realistic take on the future. Lamia hired a number of consultants to help Treyarch create a believable 2025. They helped separate plausible tech from vaporware.

In our interview, Lamia also talks about the tone of Black...

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'Black Ops 2' Sound Designer will interrupt his family vacation for your aural pleasure

The sound team has the best office in Treyarch. Clean wooden floors lead into foam-padded walls; it's one of few areas in the Santa Monica complex where you can stretch out and not hit a computer or another employee. Near the soundboard, Shawn Jimmerson, a skinny tall 30-something, fiddles with a plank of wood covered in wires, computer chips and coins. Sound was always a hobby for Jimmerson; now it's his life.

This contraption, he tells us, is responsible for a couple of sounds in Black Ops 2. It is the tangible result of dozens of conversations about what the year 2025 sounds like.

Audio...

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Black Ops 2 "documentary" examines the frightening reality that shaped the game

Walking tanks, exo-skeletons, hacker-terrorists. Turns out the fictional future wars of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 aren't that far off, or fictional.

In this six-part Call of Duty video series – part advertisement, part documentary – we hear from retired Lt. Col. Oliver North (of Iran Contra fame), a military expert from think tank Brookings Institution and a special forces major. The trio explore the past advancements in military innovations, the reality of current technology, how some threats and deadly mistakes have already popped up, the threat of hackers and the importance of...

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'Call of Duty: Black Ops 2' trailer details drone army and hacker threat, makes mysterious nod to 1986

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 takes place in the year 2025 and features walking robotic tanks, armed quadcopter drones and a plot that seems to pivot on the threat of a hacker takeover of an increasingly autonomous military.

In tonight's two-minute trailer, aired during the NBA playoffs on TNT, we get our first look at the Treyarch developed game due out on Nov. 13.

An opening surprise shows that Sgt. Frank Woods, last seen flying out a window with a grenade-laden Russian terrorist and seemingly exploding, is still very much alive. As narrator he walks us through the military technology of...

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