Adventures with CODBLOPS: My journey to the center of the Call of Duty storm. From zero to prestige and beyond.

Bang-a-rang! I am level 45 and the ground is literally shaking. Men, bullets, and grenades are filling the negative space around me until it seems there is more of them than there is air. Furthermore, “ground” is an inappropriate word because we are on a large yacht. I hustle on over to a care package dropped at my command and open it like a birthday gift. A Guardian tower. Time to get mean.

I head on over to the level’s most trafficked causeway, plop it down, and get ready for some fun. As the enemy team rounds the corner, they are halted and shield their eyes and ears with their forearms as they enter the field emitted by the tower. I jump out, my trusty, best-friend carbon fiber Remington 870 with me, and put two down with one pump and wipe the last one up with a few more. Holy crap, I think I am having way too much fun.

Yes, I’ve warmed up to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 like a young child to an ugly puppy. I am looking pretty wrong indeed, the game offering a buffet of modes and gizmos and things to while the time away. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I slam my mouse down in frustration and leave the table, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t come right back. It’s a fun time when you don’t take it seriously and a horrid, bleak nightmare when you do. There is always a Blue Shell, it seems.

So, why the change of tune from a few weeks ago? Let’s examine how I play, because the amount of options given to the player is one of BLOPS’s biggest draws.

My favorite class looks like this: My buddy, the 870 with a long barrel and laser sight, Lightweight, Fast Hands, Dexterity and (most importantly) the tandem of Engineer and two Black Hats. What I do with that is this: I sneak around the corridors and hallways until, via my Engineer perk, I see an enemy piece of equipment highlighted through the wall. From there I sprint over post-haste and clickety-click the bad guy’s equipment and make it this guys equipment.

I adore this for a few reasons. First, there is something so deliciously devious about taking away someone else’s toys and making them yours. It’s the same way Doritos are always taste better when they’re from your friend’s house. Second, you feel eminently safe, protecting yourself and your team by converting the hostile gear. Third, you are never ganked by an obnoxious hidden claymore or Bouncing Betty. It is good in every game mode.

And game modes galore, I say! I touched on it briefly in the previous entry, but there are some super fun games to be played. While none change up the actual moment-to-moment in the way a Rocket Race or Juggernaut would (from Halo of yore), the architecture of the match is changed. If I want to play like a jackass, throwing my life wantonly into the gnashing maw of gunfire, I won’t play Deathmatch where those lives are precious. I’ll hop into a round of Hardpoint or Domination. Likewise, when I just want to shoot dudes and slam brews … well, then I play Deathmatch.

Look, I’m not even that good. I hover right around the middle of the Kill-Death Ratio numbers but, as I said earlier, BLOPS is best played with a light heart. By focusing on the secondary and tertiary elements of the game (I have a class that doesn’t even have a primary weapon, hah), I have somehow broken the cycle of getting too worked up over the immediate, degrading deaths I frequently suffer. But there is another key aspect I have noticed: the community.

When compared to the stomping grounds of XBL and PSN populated by onlee seeriuz gamerz, the men and women playing on PC seem to be a bit more laid back. Frankly, CoD is not a skill test on the platform, but rather an outlet (have you played CS:GO or TF2?). The entire community — at least in the fun-timey Public hopper — seems so much nicer than its console counterparts. Almost every single game ends in a repetitious ceremony of GG’s. How quaint.

And, I’m beginning to see it. Beginning to see how the series can have such a firm hold on people. With so many ways to play and the always-on crumb trail of unlocks, it’s fun to see and feel yourself growing. With its hyperactive speed (the bigger the gun, the worse the class, it seems) and popcorn tempo of hand-outs, other games do seem a bit slower. In Guild Wars, running seems slower and the moments seem further apart. It’s akin to eating Snickers your whole life and then getting a salad with dressing on the side.

Don’t worry, I’m not entirely sold. There are still flaws, like what do I do when I have everything and don’t care about cosmetics? What then? The game is still quite brown all over, making all the screenshots look identical. However, the series has come a long way in these handful of years and I’m grateful to be wrong thus far. So, until next time, I’m Nick Cane and this is Adventures with CODBLOPS.