How Black Ops 2 makes online multiplayer less intimidating

"For as popular as it is, there are still a lot of people that don't play multiplayer," David Vonderhaar, game design director at Treyarch said about the ubiquitous Call of Duty franchise. "And quite frankly, that bugs the sh*t out of us."

Given its rabid fan base, the competitive aspect of Call of Duty may seem increasingly foreboding with each iteration. Black Ops 2 tries to break the mold, by making the online accessible to "every single type of player."

In an effort to make online more appealing to casual players, Combat Training has received a significant overhaul. There are now three modes within Combat Training, each serving a different purpose.


The first mode that players will probably want to try is "Bootcamp," which lets newcomers play a typical 6v6 COD match. However, there's a twist--three opponents on each team are actually bots. By offering AI opponents online, "we can dial up and dial down the difficulty," making a player's first steps into the online world of Call of Duty less intimidating. Even better: "bots don't yell at you if you're new to the game and they won't call you names."

You'll be able to enjoy a taste of Black Ops' extensive progression system through Bootcamp as well. You'll earn full regular progression XP in Bootcamp--but only until level 10. Afterwards, Treyarch kicks you out because you should be "good enough" to face the general Call of Duty community.

If you aren't entirely ready to take your training braces off, you may want to join "Objective." This second mode allows you to play all the objective-based modes offered in Black Ops 2, minus capture-the-flag. As with Bootcamp, you'll be playing with three bots on each team. Unlike Bootcamp, however, you'll be able to earn XP even after level 10--however, all XP gained will be halved.

Finally, if you just want to have fun against the AI, there's "Bot Stomp" mode. This pits a team of six humans against six AI. "It's pretty fun to kick the bot's asses," Vonderhaar explained. "As a new player, having some success is important." As expected, players won't earn any XP in this mode--so don't expect to grind your way through this mode.

Clearly Activision has a lot to gain by expanding Call of Duty's online audience--there's a lot more DLC to sell that way. And while no one can be sure if their experiment will work, it's clear that Black Ops 2 takes significant steps making an intimidating experience seem that much more approachable.