Players will now unlock guns, grenades, equipment, attachments, killstreaks, and everything else through in-game currency, which is earned through playing the game. You will still level-up through experience points, which may unlock the privilege of purchasing some new guns, but everything will be purchased. This means that players can unlock the weapons they want without having to grind through guns that they'll never use.
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I'm told that this currency is entirely in-game and will not be sold through microtransactions, which is something I immediately expected when the system was introduced. Since it is tied to the game's progression system so closely, it will not be something to buy with real money.
There are two ways to earn more currency, dubbed "CoD Points" or "CP" for short: Wager Matches and Contracts. Wager matches consist of four free-for-all gametypes that are different than the standard CoD gameplay. Only the top three players will win money and everyone has to ante-up to compete. They are:
- One in the Chamber - Everyone starts with a pistol and a single bullet. Each kill earns an additional bullet. One-hit kills only. Waste your bullet(s) and you're left with your trusty knife.
- Sticks and Stones - Everyone gets the crossbow, ballistics knife, and a tomahawk (throwing knife, basically). Kills with the crossbow and knife earn points. Kills with the tomahawk will bankrupt the unlucky recipient.
- Gun Game - The first to get a kill with all 20 weapons wins the game. Everyone starts with the same gun and a kill instantly switches you to the next gun in line. Melee kills will drop the killed player back a gun. The guns go, roughly, from pistols, to shotguns, to submachine guns, to assault rifles, to machine guns, to sniper rifles, to explosive weapons, and finishes off with the crossbow and then ballistics knife.
- Sharpshooter - Everyone has the same gun, always. Guns switch automatically every :45 seconds to something random. The final gun nets double points.
The second way to earn more CP is through Contracts. These can be purchased and are time-limited challenges with payouts if completed. Harder challenges net more CP. A player may have one active contract in each of the three categories--Mercernary, Operations, and Specialist--and can be tracked along any statistic in the game.
These might be things like getting 5 kills with an assault rifle without dying, winning two team deathmatch games, or stabbing three enemies in the back. Contracts can yield both XP and CP, depending on the specific challenge. Treyarch can also post new challenges directly to the game without the need for an update, similar to the way new playlists can be created.
For those players that aren't ready to jump online, Treyarch is adding "Training Dummies" for some botmatches in "Combat Training". Players will level-up and unlock new gear offline, but it will be separate from the online persona. The bots will have three difficulty levels and can play on any map in free-for-all and team deathmatch games. This mode can also be played cooperatively with friends against bots.
As teased in the multiplayer trailer, Black Ops will also include a theater mode, which will allow players to view replays of their most recent matches, chop out video clips and screenshots, and share their creations with the community at large. It will allow players to view the action, in both first- and third-person, from any participant in the match. All in all, it's extremely similar to the theater mode in Halo 3.
I got to play three of the Wager Matches and some team deathmatches and will have hands-on impressions soon.