How will Treyarch lure Call of Duty players back into the online arena this November? It's a difficult question. As John Rafacz, the studio's director of communications points out, many subtle changes have been implemented into Black Ops 2 to ensure the hordes remain interested.
One of the trickiest aspects of a multiplayer shooter is balance. If two players of wildly different skill levels meet each other it's not fun for anybody. Rafacz explains how new users can improve their technique.
"There are three components to it," he tells Kotaku. "There’s a thing we call boot camp."
"Boot Camp is a mix of human and AI players versus a mix of human and AI players for full XP credit for the first ten levels. You are actually ranking up. Beyond level 10, once you pass that threshold, you start earning half XP. Then there’s bug stomp which is just you and your buddies wailing on the AI."
"If you mix in those three modes of play, you find a real safety zone. You can play with your load outs, figure out what kind of player you are, hone your skills."
What about stepping into proper competition? Rafacz explains league play is included to keep things close.
"Competition should be fun at any level. Because you and I, no matter what game we're playing, we love to win and we might even be willing to lose if we were challenged or had a great game that was exciting."
"That’s what gave rise to the thing we’re calling league play. This is a more robust matchmaking system. On day one you start playing and after a short while it starts to rank you. This is where we start matching you with people of like skill. Hopefully someone new to the game won’t be matched up against a true master."
Rafacz makes a point of ensuring there is a place in Black Ops 2 for all types of players, although teamwork is going to produce the best rewards.
"If you are the high K/D player, there’s still a place for you in the Call of Duty tent. We still love you. Rewards for that skill will be available. But if you apply that skill to the benefit of your team? We’ll reward you even more."
"We're trying to make sure people are focusing toward a more co-operative style of game."
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is available worldwide on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 from November 13. It will also receive a Wii U release on November 18 in North America and November 30 in Europe.