Call of Duty: Black Ops Guide: Multiplayer Perks and Killstreaks

By Xav de Matos, Nov 18, 2010 1:00pm PST Like other high-profile, multiplayer shooters, Call of Duty: Black Ops is insanely competitive online. The battlefield is so frantic and fast-paced that it's easy to get overwhelmed and decide to retire from really exploring the game's online offerings.

Call of Duty: Black Ops tries to alleviate some of that by offering players "Combat Training," a single-player experience where players can face off against A.I. controlled bots. The hope, according to Treyarch, is that players will become comfortable with the basics of the multiplayer mode and take their new-found knowledge to the online space.

The purpose of this feature--like our previous Halo: Reach and StarCraft 2 coverage--is to give new players essential, basic info for survival. Here we will focus on two aspects of Black Ops: Perks and Killstreaks. Here we will attempt to breakdown some basic load-outs for players new the the Black Ops experience as well as detail some core combinations that could help you survive a little longer against the competitive landscape of Black Ops online.

Unlike previous Call of Duty games, Black Ops leaves everything open to the player. So long as you collect enough of the in-game currency, you can purchase any Perk you want. At level 10, players can even purchase and customize their Killstreak rewards.

While each Perk gives players special attributes, like Lightweight's ability to allow players to move faster, completing specific challenges can give players the ability to unlock a "Pro" mode to that specific perk. Pro Perks add even more abilities to the player when that specific Perk is selected.


Your character's appearance will change depending on the first-set Perk you select

    Perk Set 1
  • Lightweight: Move faster
    • Pro Mode: No fall damage.
  • Scavenger: Pick up ammo from fallen enemies, including Lethal grenades
    • Pro Mode: Start with extra magazines, replenish Tactical grenades
  • Ghost: Undetectable by enemy Spy Planes and the Blackbird
    • Pro Mode: Undetectable by all aircraft, dogs, IR, and sentries. No red name or crosshair change when targeted
  • Hardline: Killstreaks require one fewer kill to activate
    • Pro Mode: Change the contents of friendly or enemy Care Packages
  • Flak Jacket: Reduced damage from explosions.
    • Pro Mode: Immune to fire damage. Increases time to throw back frag grenades.

    Perk Set 2
  • Hardened: Increased bullet penetration through walls and hard surfaces
    • Pro Mode: Increased damage to aircraft and turrets, reduced reaction and recoil when shot
  • Scout: Hold breath longer for steady aim when scoped
    • Pro Mode: Faster weapon switching, faster raise and drop times
  • Stead Aim: Increased accuracy when firing from the hip (Not looking down sights)
    • Pro Mode: Aiming after sprinting is faster, recovery rate after lunging with knife is reduced
  • Sleight of Hand: Reload weapons faster
    • Pro Mode: Faster aim-down sights (ADS) with non-scoped weapons
  • Warlord: Equip two attachments on primary weapons (excluding under-barrel attachments)
    • Pro Mode: Spawn with one extra Lethal and Tactical grenade (excluding "Willy Pete" smoke grenades)

    Perk Set 3
  • Tactical Mask: Reduces effect of Nova Gas grenades
    • Pro Mode: Protects against Tactical grenades, reveals locations of flashed or stunned enemies on mini-map
  • Marathon: Sprint for a longer duration
    • Pro Mode: Unlimited Sprint
  • Ninja: Move silently
    • Pro Mode: Completely silent, while enemy movement is louder
  • Second Chance: Automatically pull out your pistol on the ground before dying
    • Pro Mode: Survive longer on the ground; teammates can revive you
  • Hacker: Detect enemy equipment, explosives, and turrets
    • Pro Mode: Ability to sabotage enemy equipment, turrets, and care packages. Invisible to motion sensor equipment.

By default, players have free access to three Perks: Lightweight, Hardened, and Tactical Mask; and three Killstreaks: Spy Plane, Care Package Drops, and Attack Helicopter. Each Perk is priced at 2000CR; Killstreaks vary in price.


It may not be the most exciting killstreak, but Spy Planes are essential to success

Deciding What Kind of Soldier You Want to Be
Although Call of Duty Bucks are relatively easy to come by, they shouldn't be spent frivolously. It's important to decide what kind of player you want to be as an individual and as part of a team. In the beginning I always play team-based games for added support and to watch the tactics of other (and better) players on my side.

It would be wise to focus on the Perks you like (or have the best success with) and rush to unlock that Perk's "Pro Mode." You can always branch off if you choose to change your playing style or when you Prestige (achieve Level 50 and buy in to the "Elite Club").

We will outline three basic Perk loadouts in this feature that will help beginners gain a strong footing and close their Kill/Death Ratio gap.

The Speedy Nuisance

Perk Loadout: Lightweight, Slight of Hand, Marathon
With this loadout, players will be extremely fast and have a greater ability to keep running. Once the "Pro" Maraton perk is unlocked, players can keep running and cover distance in maps much faster than others. Combined with a submachine gun, this set works to allow players to run into enemy territory quickly and put a ton of fire on the opposing team with extremely fast reload times.

Combined with a suppressor attachment for your favorite submachine gun, this loadout will make you extremely difficult to track by enemies--unless they use a Spy Plane. To compensate, I tend to bring a launcher with me that can lock-on to enemy aircrafts. One shot and the plane is down and you can go back to laying waste.

The flaw here is that ammo gets depleted extremely fast with strategy. You can pick up enemy weapons to aid you in the fight, but you'll lose the suppressor (unless that weapon has one). If you want to adjust for this and don't mind a speed decrease, you can select Scavenger as your primary perk. This will allow you to resupply on the field.

Also, think about purchasing the Claymore equipment with this loadout and set it up in enemy territory. Your best bet is to set it up on an angle near entrances or other high traffic areas.

The Hidden Killer

Perk Loadout: Ghost, Warlord, Ninja
Depending on how well you aim, you may want to select Scout (holding your breath longer) as your second perk rather than Warlord. The benefit of Warlord is that you can add a suppressor to your weapon while also maximizing your ammo count.

Using either of these two combos allows you to maintain your stealth in most situations. Spy Planes won't see you and firing your weapon won't give up your position on the mini-map. But remember, you will be spotted on the killcam, so it's wise to keep moving--which is where Ninja comes in handy--because whoever you snipe will be out for blood.

For equipment, a Motion Tracker is your best bet. Set up your sniper spot by first dropping the Tracker--this gives you a warning if any sneaky enemies are trying to flank your position. After each shot and reload, keep your eye trained on the mini-map. Also, when confronted, switch to your secondary weapon to fend off attacks at close quarters.

When you move positions, remember to grab your Tracker and bring it with you. As you move, it's wise to keep your secondary weapon equipped, just in case you come near enemy forces and don't feel comfortable setting up quick sniper shots.

The Tank

Perk Loadout: Hardline, Hardened, Tactical Mask
You can go in multiple directions with the loadout I call "The Tank." The purpose of this loadout is to maximize damage you do to the opposing side while providing your team with crucial intel. With Hardline, you can easily get a Spy Plane perk after two kills and Hardened can allow you to fire shots through surfaces as players jump into cover.

Warlord is also a good pick for someone using Hardline. Add a Red Dot sight and a Dual Mag to your primary weapon, and you can get a good grip on nailing enemy forces and have one helluva fast first reload.

The last Perk is really up to you. Recently, I've been seeing a lot of high-level players using Nova Gas to flush enemies into a controlled area for easy kills. For that reason, I recommend Tactical Mask. If you'd rather be a walking death machine and good teammate, pick Hacker. This way, you can spot enemy equipment, turrets and explosives and relay that info back to your team--saving yourself from embarrassing deaths in the process.

Essential Killstreaks

Beginners should keep Killstreaks within a limit they know they can achieve. Attack Dogs is an awesome way to take out enemy forces, but 11 kills is a lot to ask from someone starting fresh. (Remember, Killstreak kills do not count toward your next streak). Save your coin and focus on picking up upgrades.

For those looking to be team saviors, try selecting a "Defender" trio of streaks: Spy Plane to spot enemy forces, Counter-Spy Plane to disable enemy intel, and SAM Turrets to handle anything else enemies put into the sky. Defenders should also select a launcher with tracking capabilities to take out enemy planes if a Killstreak is not available. This works well with Hardline as it requires one less kill per-streak.

Speaking of Hardline: if you select this primary perk, make sure to stick with the default Care Package streak (if you're not looking to be a defender). Sharing 10 crates completes a challenge that puts you closer to your "Pro Mode," which will allow you to change the contents of a Care Package.

Also, think of the team when using specific Killstreaks. If you already have a Spy Plane in the air, don't use yours. [A reader tells us that stacking Spy Plane Killstreaks increases the speed of the scanners.] Also, try to time your Counter-Spy Plane with a teammate's Spy Plane. This disables enemy forces and gives your their position. In some cases, this translates to easy kills if you can take out the enemy team as they aim to the sky in an attempt to shoot down your birds.

Keep these tips in mind when you start off. Hopefully you won't get too frustrated. Remember to pace yourself, check your corners, and learn how to effectively change positions (from standing, crouched, and prone). It reduces your hitbox and it has the ability to disorient other entry-level players.

Have some other tips? Add them to the comments.

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