Black Ops II is the sequel to Call of Duty: Black Ops. It is the ninth main installment in the Call of Duty first-person shooter franchise. It is mainly set in 2025, with one-third of the game in the late 1980s. The timeframes and stories are linked through the playable characters Alex Mason and Frank Woods in the past and David Mason – Alex Mason’s son — in the future. The future missions also feature an older Woods providing context for the 1980s setting and the same villain, Raul Menendez, whose decades-long vendetta is the primary focus of the single-player campaign. The plot revolves around a new cold war between China and the United States over REE (Rare Earth Elements) and Menendez’s manipulation. It focuses on unmanned drones and other robotic technology, a first for the series. Another series first is the opportunity to choose multiplayer-style loadouts before each mission and a much less linear campaign. The player can now make options throughout the tale that affect everything from minor details like the appearance of NPCs to extensive selections that can completely shift the ending. Strike Force missions are new sandbox-style missions. These missions, which play similarly to a real-time strategy game, allow the player to command troops and drones from an overhead view, with the option to zoom into any of the units; at this point, the gameplay shifts to normal first-person shooter controls and gameplay. Strike Force is included in the campaign and impacts the plot based on the player’s performance.
Multiplayer features traditional game types (Deathmatch, Domination, Kill Confirmed, and so on) and ratings. On the other hand, the loadout system has been updated to a new ten-point system, unlike any previous entry in the series. Players are granted ten points to spend on weapons, attachments, and perks, each costing one energy. The game also introduces wildcards, which allow players to circumvent the rules of create-a-class by having three branches on their primary weapon, two first-tier perks, or more devastating grenades, but more points are spent. Black Ops’ player card, stats tracking, and emblem creation return, as do theatrical mode and combat training (which is now integrated into multiplayer as a playlist). Dedicated servers, albeit with limitations, revert to the PC version. Players cannot run servers; instead, Activision hosts them, and they must be joined using the now-standard matchmaking mechanism. Killstreaks have been renamed scorestreaks because points now count alongside kills, encouraging less camping and more objective play. Lightning strikes (akin to napalm and mortar strikes in the past), autonomous dragonfire drones that track down and kill enemy players, and other new scorestreaks are available. Dogs, RC-XD exploding cars, and franchise staples like the UAV and care packages are all returning strikes.
Call of Duty: Elite is now free, and new league matches have been added. League matches, like StarCraft II, place a player into a division (Bronze, Silver, etc.), after which they compete on a competitive ladder with other players of similar skill. Through the Elite service, all players can access complete stat tracking and leaderboards for league games.
The Wii U version supports split-screen multiplayer, with one player utilizing the TV and the other using the GamePad’s built-in display. The GamePad is used to modify the game by setting up loadouts and selecting scorestreaks in classic games.