'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.

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 a point to allow you to bend those rules, giving you access to, say, two different lethal grenades, or two different Tier 1 Perks.

Here's what really makes the Pick 10 system a genius idea for franchise veterans who know their niche: It allows you to carefully subtract entire parts of the the gameplay experience, allowing you to focus your precious boosts on areas in which you already excel.

Here's an admission I'm not too proud to make: Save for when a pesky chopper mandates the careful application of a rocket launcher, I never use Secondary weapons in Call of Duty. I almost never use Tactical grenades, because I am a big dumb animal who rushes blindly around corners and into foxholes.

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There have never been any bonuses for that kind of behavior in a Call of Duty multiplayer experience before; but in Black Ops 2, I can just unequip my Secondary weapon and its attachments entirely, and rid myself of all tactical grenades. All of a sudden, I have a third of my precious points freed up again, which I can spend equipping additional attachments for my Primary. Or just take the Overkill Wildcard to swap that meddlesome Secondary weapon for an additional Primary.

During a lengthy hands-on session with Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, the proof of this new functionality was in the pudding. Each round, I would reevaluate the handful of classes I had created. What worked? What wasn't I using? Without realizing it, I wasn't just honing a loadout; I was giving myself a clinic of what I was good at in Call of Duty, and learning what I shouldn't even bother with. And each round, I was getting better as my proficiencies came closer and closer to parity with my loadout.

Of course, a lot of that had to do with familiarizing myself with the new machines of war in Black Ops 2's near-future. Like, for instance, the Target Finder, a scope that does little in the way of magnification and aim, but highlights any target that enters its viewfinder — perfect for players that can't tell enemy from shrubbery.

You can lean into bad habits, and make them into unique advantages.

The Shock Charge is going to be a personal favorite of many, many players. It's a throwable proximity mine that instantly detonates when an enemy draws near, temporarily paralyzing them. As a means of crowd control, it's slightly less potent than the Flashbang and Concussion grenades; but as an alarm system — you're alerted when the charge is set off — it's invaluable.

My personal playstyle absolutely requires both of these, I quickly learned. I am a fiercely paranoid Call of Duty player, and being able to see enemies the millisecond they appeared, or be alerted when an enemy triggered the charge I set just seconds ago, gave me a marked advantage. Those are, I imagine, bad habits to have. But in Black Ops 2, it doesn't matter. If you load yourself up correctly, you can lean into those bad habits, and make them into unique advantages.

What really drives that point home is when you play without using your meticulously sculpted build, which I happened to do after sitting in on an in-progress demo session. Without tools tailored to my playstyle, I got completely destroyed by run-and-gunners with their stealthy archetypes, and snipers with their weapons and abilities of long-range mass destruction. Pick 10 may just be Call of Duty's greatest multiplayer equalizer to date.

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