Black Ops 2 doesn’t always put its best foot forward, partially an aspect of defaults inherited from the console ports, or simply seeming to overlook its own features regardless of platform. Here I will outline many common defaults that would be advantageous to change.
Field of View –
Under Options > Settings > Graphics there is the Field of View slider which does not default to its max value, 90. If you make any change from this guide, make it this one as having this field of view is critical to standing a chance in the PC version’s multiplayer.
Chat Messages –
In many cases, the multiplayer community can be quite coarse, and sometimes the worst thing about multiplayer is the other people. Call of Duty has long had options to mute voice chat, but Black Ops 2 introduces the ability to Hide the text messages from other players, so if you wish you can pretend you are just playing particularly convincing bots.
Audio Presets –
Black Ops 2 was plainly optimized on the audio front for the console player using their TV’s speaker system (i.e., not a headset) and thus the sound in a Call of Duty is the least tactically important yet. To compensate for this, you will want to drop out the music volume completely, and possibly lower the sound levels of the announcer. The next step is to move down to the Preset value within Settings > Sound and move it to Super Crunch. This is a general game effects amplifier, and though other player footsteps are still bizarrely whisper quiet in almost all scenarios, the distinct sounds of reloading and automated voice messages about throwing tactical equipment, among others, will stand out much clearer. You will also notice the sound of distant shots impacting, and grenades bouncing, which can decide a battle unto itself.
Customize Your Controls –
Experiment and find your preferences. I like to use the Toggle forms of Crouch and Aim Down Sights, and putting Tactical on Q and Lethal on CTRL to make use of my ring and pinky finger without sacrificing movement.
Set Your Max Ping –
In a recent patch Treyarch introduced the option to set the max ping to the host you would like to be matched with. This max ping defaults to 150, but it can be changed when you are in the lobby system searching for a particular game type. Just hit S and adjust the slider. I moved mine down to 90 and have thus far had a better gaming experience.
Optimize Framerate –
This may sound obvious, but it is beyond just a good feel. Black Ops 2, like all Call of Duty titles, runs on the id Tech 3 engine which powered Quake 3: Arena, among many others. Though it has many cosmetic and periphery improvements, the fundamentals still apply, and this includes the impact framerate has on collision and timing. The more experienced gamers may remember a time during Quake 3 competitive play where getting over a certain framerate (above 200 I recall, but not exactly) broke down the physics a small degree, allowing for jumps the player typically couldn’t quite achieve which changed maps such as q3dm13 that relied on putting a megahealth just out of reach. Black Ops 2 doesn’t have as drastic of scenarios as far as I am aware, but framerate can play a part in your movement speed a small part, jump height, and perhaps most importantly, fire rate. In short, forgo higher quality depth of field, ambient occlusion, and shadows to keep yourself above the 60 FPS mark, and really aim for the 120 range.
The following is more so general game theory, some distinct to Black Ops 2, some more applicable to any recent Call of Duty, either way they are not unique to PC gaming itself, but can make a big difference in your multiplayer experience.
The Gut Feeling
If there is a recent first person shooter where headshots are insignificant it is quite possibly Black Ops 2. In most cases a headshot is only going to impact your shots to kill by a single bullet, while taking your aim away from center mass. Nearly every weapon in the game is a 3 to 6 shot kill, with the exception of shotguns and sniper rifles. In most cases you will do better to aim for the gut, where any kick or flinch will still keep you on target. If you want to go for headshots still, I would recommend using the Toughness perk and aiming for the sternum to allow for the same mechanics. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all guns receive bonus damage from headshots (yes, this iteration is the most arcadey) and the ones I am aware of which do not are the M8A1, Skorpion Evo, Kap-40, and B23R. In any case, even with exceptional aim, you aren’t seeing much benefit from headshots considering this is a game where a 600RPM weapon is considered slow firing, especially if you are only saving yourself one bullet, as any damage taken during aiming for the head will put you above their hitbox while they can get 3 on your torso.
Hold the Line
Every Call of Duty map (if there are exceptions, let me know) is composed of three lanes with small passageways between them. The lanes can be interrupted by a solid structure, or large cover, causing a brief merge, but for the most part each level is three major lanes with arteries. The lanes hold objectives and the arteries allow for flanking and power line of sights (but always with a rear or flank exposed). In short, you should try and control a lane or two through patrol routes. In most maps the Domination points are all in the center lane, the primary exception that comes to mind is Standoff where there is a flag in each lane, forming a diagonal line across the map. Know the lanes of the map you are on and their strategic importance. Even in Deathmatch and Kill Confirmed, the lanes contain substantial lines of sight for observing where the enemy is heading to. Know the lanes.
Play to Your Weapon
The lanes are important, but so is keeping out of them if need be. The commanding weapons of a lane are the sniper rifles and light machine guns who have the lowest damage fall off over range, as well as the highest penetration making them good for countering concealment. Assault Rifles are more useful for handling lane merges or patrolling between two lanes. Sub-Machine Guns are ideal for striking in and out of lanes using the arteries, and Shotguns have their home in the arteries themselves, dashing from cover to cover and surprising SMGs around corners or lane fighters who got too close to a boundary.
Do not try to make your weapon fit into where you want to go in the map, rather let it decide that for you. You do not want to find yourself in a position where your weapon is functioning as a six shot kill but the opponent is operating at three shots. An important note on shotguns is that where other guns have a damage fall off over distance, shotgun pellets (and slugs) cease to exist entirely over a certain distance. Do not venture far with them or you will certainly die due to an inability to meaningfully fire back.
Play to Strengths
It is tempting to try and shore up the weaknesses of a weapon, such as giving a quicker reload and faster draw to an LMG, but that typically amounts to a mediocre assault rifle. In the case of that LMG, focus on its ability to penetrate walls and maintain a long line of sight. In any scenario, find the strengths of what you have, make them stronger, and stay in that particular scenario. This makes you inherently a team player as you then fill a role in both the map and the mode.
To Buff or Counter?
This coincides with playing to strengths, but select your perks and equipment on either the angle of buffing yourself or countering the enemy. Running Ghost only matters if the enemy team keeps UAVs up and your team (or yourself) isn’t shooting them down. Running Hardwired only matters for Counter-UAVs and EMPs. Hardline is great if you plan on being the one that keeps sending those ScoreStreaks up.
Analyze each item to see what the assumption is behind it, find the trend of your assumption, even it out, and play accordingly. If you are running Hardline you probably see yourself rushing and doing well, so you will probably want Scavenger to resupply or Fast Hands to quickly pick up enemy weapons, and perhaps Engineer to see enemy devices ahead of time to plan your route (Dexterity would be another good choice, but if you are herding the enemy you shouldn’t need the extra response time out of a sprint). Many perks are counters which you can typically count on being useful, namely Flak Jacket and Tactical Mask, as it is rare I play a game that doesn’t involve someone leaving bouncing betties or tossing stun grenades around every corner. Your mileage will vary, but try to analyze your own trends and what path you are setting for yourself with each custom class.
Call of Duty is in some circles infamous for ″Press SPACE to″ with a curly arrow prompt, where doing so will cause your character to mantle above the obstacle. What is lesser known is that these prompts are scripted, but the action itself is not. Meaning, if you think you can mantle it, you probably can, and you can even mantle in mid-air. Black Ops 2′s maps are littered with these possibilities, and many of the arteries are composed entirely of them. If it feels like you have to go out of your way to get to another lane in the map, you are probably missing a mantling point.
When it comes to highly specialized lines of sight the Call of Duty franchise is an eager participant. For every power position there is often a line of sight that serves little purpose, but if you look carefully, frames only the head of the player using the power position while giving you much greater concealment. Look for small holes in sheet metal, small spaces between stacked crates or in crumbling stonework. Look over, under, and through (exploded) vehicles to get a bead with great cover. You are always visible from somewhere not immediately obvious in Black Ops 2, and thus so is your opponent.
I recommend roleplaying, where you create classes that are ″characters″ to you, and play as them. You can take this quite literally or use it as a molding. I will give you some examples based on what I have done.
- Overkill Wildcard
- Mark 48 LMG with FMJ
- QBB LSW LMG
- Flak Jacket
- Tactical Mask
- Death Machine Scorestreak
This is a bit of a comedic class to play, a parody of Rambo, it accounts for the long reload time of LMGs by simply using Overkill to carry two as it is much faster to switch from one to the other. The result is seemingly unending firepower with strong penetration as far as the enemy is concerned. Couple that with the perks and it takes a lot to bring me off target.
- Mark 48 LMG with FMJ and Target Finder
- FHJ-18 AA launcher
- Blind Eye
- Cold Blooded
- 2x EMP grenades
This isn’t a class where I don’t have fun, but rather where I deny the enemy team of fun. If they are rolling over us and calling in all kinds of gadgets to aid them, I have the LMG to suppress them and rewards like the AGR. The launcher for anything aerial, and Engineer plus EMP grenades to spot sentry guns and guardian turrets through surfaces, and take them out instantly. Blind Eye keeps their helicopters from targeting me, and Cold Blooded makes it harder for player controlled ScoreStreaks to spot me amidst it all.
- MTAR with Stock and Quickdraw Grip
A simple class with room for variation, Snappy is my direct combat participation class. The emphasis is on responding quickly to a single target (Quickdraw, Dexterity) and maintaining mobility and accuracy while engaging (Stock, Lightweight, Toughness). The MTAR was chosen as being a great all around assault rifle which is accurate when bursting but has the capacity for a 3 shot kill. The SCAR-H or AN-94 are other good choices for this.
- Perk 3 Greed
- 2x Black Hat PDA
This is bordering on a non-combat class. The Black Hat PDA is a very powerful piece of equipment which can quickly convert enemy bouncing betties, claymores, and shock charges to your team, meaning an enemy’s trap is now a bigger threat to them. Though you can always perform this through walls, with Engineer you will be able to spot your targets quicker, removing guess work. The remainder of the class focuses on mobility for quick evasion and resupplying. Beyond this class, the Black Hat PDA is great in a pinch. I’ve converted enemy shock charges as they were thrown at me only to have the enemy continue sprinting forward and be stunned by them making for an easy kill where I was otherwise surprised. It is also a great tool for leading an assault on a captured Hardpoint or Headquarters. Do it right before you step in the door and as the enemy team is focused on your entrance, they will find their bouncing betties literally rising up against them.
This is a lot of specific advice, but some things are better stated plainly:
- Never sprint around corners unless you absolutely know all is clear.
- EMP grenades work through walls, with a large radius, and even if there is no equipment to destroy they will still produce a hitmarker if an enemy player nearby had their minimap affected by it. Treat it like cheap mini-radar.
- Always move among anything that interrupts line of sight, it can soak just enough damage to keep you alive even from concentrated fire from a good player.
- At full health you can survive a direct stream from the Guardian Turret long enough to kill it with most automatic weapons.
- A single EMP grenade can wipe out an entire area of equipment, no matter how many. This includes Sentry Guns and Guardian Turrets.
- Tactical Mask and Flak Jacket are both very good Perks for their purpose, never underestimate the potency of using them.
- Always take the battle to the enemy, the network logic is on your side in those scenarios.
- If a knifer is within 10 feet on your screen, on theirs they are in your face.
- If you are using Ghost, keep away from your teammates, or trail behind a single teammate. The enemy will anticipate the teammate but will also be expecting only a single opponent.
- Hardline adds a percentage to each point you get for its contribution to the ScoreStreak rewards. It does not impact your direct score, and it does not apply to assists from UAV/CUAV/VSAT/EMP.
- Engineer also adds a delay to triggering enemy equipment, just because you can see their equipment doesn’t mean you have to destroy it.
- You can sprint through without being harmed in most scenarios which can make it great for rushing. Be cautious of teammates following you though, as they will likely walk right into the delayed device and take a shot meant for you, feeding kills to the enemy.
- Your sprinting time is modified by the weapon currently selected, so yes, switching to the knife for sprinting can be advantageous.
- Crouching will protect you from a bouncing betty, a full prone position is not required.
- Watch your KillCams, it will sometimes reveal a path, line of sight, or grenade trick you weren’t aware of.
Though most of the following are console players, the data they provide is almost always platform neutral. I would recommend spending sometime watching videos of the highly skilled players, my favorite is TBNRFrags who seems to favor making literally any class combination work. Woody’s Gamertag specializes in general advice for the average player, referring to himself as an unexceptional gamer. His Dissecting the Greats video series is a breakdown of amazing gameplays on a moment to moment basis and the Tactical Tuesday uses his own gameplay to show what went right and what went wrong in the behavior of a normal player. For breakdowns of weapons, equipment, perks, quirks of the game logic, and highlights of lines of sight and jump spots in maps, you are well covered by XboxAhoy, Drift0r, and TmarTn . If you want to see how to do something amazing in Call of Duty, chances are there are already ten people who have done it and posted in on YouTube, so watch and learn.