Lets not beat around the bush here, Activision’s annual FPS powerhouse and money printer, Call of Duty, is making a return this year with Black Ops II and it’s posed to be a huge hit again. For most people, the major draw is multiplayer and as we move closer to it’s November release date, the small trickle of information is quickly turning into a flood. With Gamescom taking place last week in Germany, Black Ops II is letting loose with big changes to help mix up the familiar feel from previous entries in the series. Lets take a closer look:

Let us start things with a major change: Killstreaks are out. I’ll wait a minute to let that sink in…

For anyone that’s played a previous Call of Duty game online starting with CoD4, you know that Killstreaks are one of the biggest aspects to multiplayer. Chaining kills together without dying gives you better and better rewards to help in dominating your foes. In an effort to attract gamers of all types outside of the hardcore users, Modern Warfare 3 tried to mix things up by offering different types of streak bonuses to appeal to different players. Treyarch instead is completely overhauling the system opting to remove Killstreaks completely and replace them with a Score Streak system. Instead of kills counting towards rewards, now any major actions from kills, assists, team oriented actions, etc, will give the player (and team) points. When hitting a certain threshold of points, abilities will be able to be used.

So why the huge change? Well, Treyarch believes moving to Score Streaks will help in two areas. The first being it should help less competitive players help their team and contribute to the goal while rewarding them with rewards they normally would have a tough time achieving. The other belief is that it’ll help drive players to accomplish goals more than camping or focusing solely on kills.

Livestreaming is also making it’s grand debut with Black Ops II.

In a move that I hope takes off for games in the future, Treyarch is allowing players to livestream their game on the internet whether from a console or PC. Black Ops II will also have USB camera support for those of you wanting to film yourself at the same time. While this practice is very easy to do on PC, it’s virtually unheard of on the console side and I’m really hoping this feature becomes a staple going forward. If done right, it could really revolutionize multiplayer gaming down the road.

Not interested in livestreaming? Not a problem as Treyarch is also adding the ability to Shoutcast. It’s just as easy to set up as all it requires is the press of a button and you’re off. For those that don’t know, shoutcasting is extremely popular in eSports and competitive gaming and it’s basically a way to act as a commentator during a match. Players will also be able to get their John Madden on in the Theater mode for matches that have previously been played.

Lastly, the character customization has been revamped from the ground up. Referred to as “Pick-10”, this system will give players complete freedom when customizing a class. You’re given 10 points to spend any way you want. Want to spend all of your points on perks? Go for it, though you won’t have a secondary gun or tactical items, but hey, you can always scavenge the battlefield for guns, right? Maybe you want only 1 perk and a lot of items to bring with you. Not a problem. There are new features called “Wildcards” that you can spend points on essentially acting as modifiers allowing players to do things like add a third attachment to a weapon or select an additional perk. It’s a rule breaker, man. This system really opens up the gameplay and should provide some really unique and interesting builds from the community, something that Treyarch is really hoping for.

I have to really hand it to Treyarch. Combined with the different things they’re doing with the campaign and now these changes to the well-loved multiplayer, they’re really trying to reignite and bring innovation to Call of Duty. Something which I feel has been lacking lately. I’m definitely curious to see what else they have up their sleeves in terms of tweaks, updates, and new content. I’m sure we have not yet seen everything.

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