How Black Ops II can mend a broken relationship
"I've fallen out of love." Maybe you've heard that term before. The notorious phrase describes "broken" relationships - ones that were once golden, and are now struggling to survive. As the reveal trailer for Black Ops II flashed, exploded, raced across my screen, this phrase instantly popped into mind. No, not because the franchise has ruined several of my relationships with women, but because it perfectly describes my current feelings (or lack thereof) towards Call of Duty.
Lets flashback to 2007: Call of Duty was an established franchise, geared towards World War II and FPS fans. Then, almost unexpectedly, Activision released Modern Warfare. Until November 5, 2007, shooter fans had never quite experienced a game that captured warfare as brilliantly as COD 4 did: massive, deadly weapons, fast-paced online action, and heart-throbbing singleplayer moments. I mean come on, we all remember ourselves being wide-eyed as the nuke exploded, right? Nevertheless, Treyarch then shined with Call of Duty: World at War in 2008. Aside from the COD "norms," World at War featured a groundbreaking mode that is still played by thousands: Nazi zombies.
As you can tell, these two titles are still beloved favorites of mine. Because of their successes, I had never been more ecstatic for a game than I was for Modern Warfare 2. Sadly, it let me down in every way, and it only got worse as time went on. Sure, the series has since offered me some great moments, but like the phrase states, I've simply fallen out of love with Call of Duty. Despite this, my heart still yearns for "what used to be." Black Ops II can save this relationship, but how?
After frantically searching the Internet for gamers' favorite Call of Duty moments, I've surprisingly found that it was COD 4's singleplayer mission: Ghillie in the Mist. What does this tell you? Gamers still adore a brilliant singleplayer story. Treyarch needs to recognize this and address this as their main issue. Sure, Call of Duty's campaigns have never been insanely time consuming, but the past three installments have reached an all new low (I kicked through MW3's campaign in under 5 hours). What Black Ops II's campaign needs is a lengthy, 8+ hour, in-depth story that utilizes the new era they're entering into aka the future. The campaign also needs to focus entirely around as few of characters as possible. The web of relationships that's been created in the series is utterly confusing and wasteful to an action-packed narrative. Finally, Treyarch needs to surprise us. It's become almost laughable how one can predict the moments about to happen in a COD game. Oh, that helicopter is coming for evac, I'm sure it won't get shot down. Oh, there's a big jump, I'm sure I won't almost fall off but have my squad mate pull me back up. See what I mean? Whatever it is, Treyarch, throw us a bone we've never tasted.
So, we've analyzed singleplayer, but what about the beloved multiplayer? Though the Black Ops II hoopla is still relatively young, Treyarch has confirmed, a lot I might add, that they're delivering an entirely new experience for multiplayer. That's great and all, but are they really going to come through with it (hopefully)? What Black Ops II's multiplayer really needs is a shake-up. Toss out close-quarters maps, add [more] vehicles, and focus on teamplay. COD 4's experience was unlike anything we had seen in the series or genre, which is why it was so addicting. Again, utilize the era change, Treyarch, because everyone knows that the formula works. And finally, polish, polish, polish. You know folks are coming after your game to ruin the fun for others, so truly prepare for that. Keep things balanced, clean, and friendly for players. Yeah, it may take some time and money, but we all know Activision isn't short for cash and employment.
"OMG, BLACK OPS II IS GOING TO HAVE ZOMBIES." You really have no idea how many times I've heard that since the reveal trailer. Zombies are going to be bigger, better, and more highlighted than ever before, but how can Treyarch make the mode truly unique once again? Frankly, players need more modes. Toss us some 8-player, 12-player, even 16-player zombies matches with maps that vary in size. Toss us some humor; take a lesson from Saints Row: The Third and go big. Include upgrades that keep players coming back. In reality, anything is at Treyarch's fingertips with "Nazi" zombies, so like the story - keep us on our toes.
Maybe you're where I am on this issue. You may still undoubtedly love the series or hate it with a passion. Either way, there is hope for Black Ops II. If Treyarch can put their "passion" stamp on this and utilize the features they've announced, Call of Duty can take over gamers' hearts once again. I may have fallen out of love, but I still hold out hope for a brighter future.
You can follow Tate Steinlage on Twitter - @SteinlageT.