The devil is in the drones.
When Call of Duty: Black Ops sold like a bajillion units two years ago, everyone knew there'd be a sequel. Unfortunately, without some sort of first-person crystal ball simulator, we've been in the dark on how the follow-up to the blockbuster shooter would look.
Last week, in a pre-E3 Judges tour presentation, Treyarch studio head Mark Lamia took the stage and spoke directly on the fear that Black Ops 2 would be "more of the same". This time they were going to create a "different kind of sequel", jetting players back and forth between the cold war and 2025, where a new cold war between the United States and China has led to a massive build up of arms. [My people seem hellbent on invading the US, apparently. ~Ed. Nick]
The hook, of course, is that much of the military force employed by the US is controlled by computers and an enemy by the name of Raul Menendez has "stolen the keys" to the system. In the beginning of the demo we were shown, David Mason, son of Black Ops protagonist Alex Mason, was on a protection detail to escort the president to an location in downtown Los Angeles.
On route, the highway is struck by a swarm of drones, forcing Mason out onto the expressway where he's given two choices. He can snipe from a raised position while his teammates escort the president or he can join them in rappelling to the ground below. Mason then shoots at the freeway signs above some enemies and watches it crash down on top of them. Throughout the demo, Treyarch seemed keen on showing off some of the enhanced destruction in Black Ops 2.
Following the brief sniping section, Mason gets in a new convoy vehicle and proceeds to smash through barriers and run down enemies as a freeway overpass crumbles into rubble next to him. Jumping forward, the demo then sets Mason in the cockpit of an FA-38 fighter jet. Providing cover for the president's convoy, the fighter jet seems to handle like a helicopter.
Mason soon gives chase to the swarm of drones attacking the city. This plays out in an almost all-range mode, a la Star Fox 64. Mason could boost to flank the drones and then lock on with missiles. At the end of this section, Mason points his fighter jet straight towards an enemy gunship. Before crashing into the opponent, Mason ejects and comes tumbling down out of the dramatic explosion before pulling his chute.
At this point, Treyarch wanted to show off their new Strikeforce levels, which are Spec-Ops-esque missions that affect the campaign's storyline. In fact, Treyarch detailed that they're are failable and that negative outcomes can impact the overall story.
In Singapore, players will be tasked with keeping a cargo ship from leaving port. The player can switch from teammate to drone and back to another teammate. You can play these missions entirely from the first-person view of the soldiers on the ground or entirely from the air, like a tactical strategy game.
In the demo, the player takes charge of a soldier to capture one missile defense network, and then later zoms out to direct soldiers to the next objective. Here an assault drone is available to make an assault on another capture point. The player could direct these units or take direct control at any time.
And while we didn't see anything first-hand, Treyarch confirmed that Zombies mode would return with bigger worlds, new game modes, and that it would be such a fully-fleshed mode that it could be its own game. We'll bring you more on Black Ops 2 as it nears release on November 13th.