Black Ops II is the ninth main title in the Call of Duty franchise and the sequel to the first-person shooter game Call of Duty: Black Ops. Most of the game takes place in the not-too-distant future, in 2025, although about a third of it is also set in the late 1980s. The two timelines and the tale are related by the playable characters Alex Mason and Frank Woods in the past timeline and David Mason, who is Alex Mason’s son in the future. Both of these characters can be found in the past timeline. The future missions all feature the same antagonist, Raul Menendez, whose decades-long vendetta is the primary focus of the single-player campaign. These future missions also feature an older version of Woods, who provides exposition for the 1980s backdrop. The story revolves around a new cold war between China and the United States over rare earth elements (REE) and Menendez’s manipulation of the market for them. It is the first installment in the series to concentrate heavily on unmanned drones and other forms of robotic technology. Another novelty for the series is the opportunity to modify your loadouts like multiplayer games before beginning each mission and a somewhat less linear narrative. Throughout history, the player will have the chance to make decisions, some of which will have a minor impact, such as how non-player characters look, while others will have a significant effect, such as altering the course of the story entirely. New missions in the sandbox style have been added, called Strike Force. In these missions, which are played in a manner that is analogous to a real-time strategy game, the player is given the chance to command troops and drones from an above view. However, the player also has the option to zoom into any one of the units, at which point the gameplay switches to the typical controls and gameplay of a first-person shooter. The Strike Force mode is included in the campaign, and its success or failure affects the plot’s progression, depending on how the player fares in it.
The standard game modes, such as Deathmatch, Domination, and Kill Confirmed, are available in the multiplayer mode, as are rankings. On the other hand, the loadout system has been updated to a brand-new ten-point system that is entirely different from any other game in the franchise. The player starts with 10 points that can be spent on purchasing perks, attachments, and weapons, each of which costs 1 point. In addition, the game includes wildcards, of which players can select up to three. These wildcards allow players to break the limits of the create-a-class feature by, for example, having three attachments on their primary weapon, two perks of the first tier, or more devastating grenades, but at the expense of using more points.
Along with the reintroduction of theater mode and combat training, which is now integrated into the multiplayer mode as a playlist, the Black Ops features player cards, stat tracking, and the ability to create emblems are also back. The PC version will again support dedicated servers but with some new limitations. Players cannot host their servers; instead, Activision is responsible for hosting servers, and players must still join them using the traditional matchmaking method. Killstreaks have been renamed scorestreaks to reflect that points now weigh in and kill. This change is intended to discourage camping in favor of more active participation in the game’s objectives. Lightning strikes and autonomous dragonfire drones that hunt down and kill enemy players are examples of the new scorestreaks that have been added. Other new scorestreaks include napalm strikes, mortar strikes, and lightning strikes. Some returning hits include dogs, exploding RC-XD cars, franchise mainstays like uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs), and care packages.
The premium Call of Duty: Elite service is no longer pay-to-play and has been updated to include new league matches. A player in a league match is placed into a division (Bronze, Silver, etc.), after which they compete on a competitive ladder with other players of a similar skill level. This system is identical to that used in games such as StarCraft II. All players who subscribe to the Elite service get access to detailed stat monitoring and leaderboards for league games.
The multiplayer mode of the Wii U version may be played in split-screen mode, with one player utilizing the TV and the other using the display built into the GamePad. During regular gameplay, the GamePad adjusts the game by choosing which loadouts to employ and which score streaks to activate.