When David Vonderhaar discusses Call of Duty: Black Ops II multiplayer, it’s like listening to an intelligent, articulate critique of the franchise’s unwillingness to change. As Game Design Director, Vonderhaar is the idea man. He’s a well-spoken developer who’s proud of his team and title. When he tells me about the new direction for Black Ops II multiplayer, he’s confident and excited. But each time he tells me about a new concept, he qualifies it by saying, “I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner.” Vonderhaar is hard on himself, and it’s hardly surprising. His smart and simple changes seem so obvious the moment you see them that you’ll wonder what took so long to implement them.
With Black Ops II pushing its setting a decade into the future, it makes sense that Treyarch is, finally and in multiple ways, modernizing Call of Duty. The overhauled user-interface makes Modern Warfare 3 look and feel like a relic of gaming’s past. The newfound depth of character customization caters to and empowers different kinds of Call of Duty players. Most importantly, the retooled reward system will alter the way millions of people play the biggest first-person shooter in existence.
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