I spent a considerable amount of time with Call of Duty: Black Ops II over this past weekend. Part of it was that the game industry is finally slowing down for the holidays, and that means I can finally take weekends off again. And part of it was that there was a Double XP weekend.
Either way, one of the most satisfying moments of my Black Ops II career so far was maxing out my level and being asked if I wanted to do it all over again. Why not?
For those not in the know, the Call of Duty games allow you to level up by scoring points and things. Black Ops II has a level cap of 55, but once you hit that cap, you can “Prestige,” which means you start back over at level 1, losing all the perks and things you’ve worked so hard for. (Well, not all of them. You can keep whatever emblems you’ve earned, and your weapon experience won’t reset.) Oh, and you can do this multiple times. Like, way more times than should ever be considered rational by any human being.
When I was first introduced to the concept (back in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare), I thought it was the worst idea ever. I mean, I just spent hours upon hours unlocking all this cool crap (like weapons, perks, and killstreaks), and now I’m supposed to just give it all back only to unlock it all over again? But wait, it comes with a different icon so your opponents will know you are the ultimate Call of Duty badass. Okay, I’m in. (To be fair, the Call of Duty games have been getting better at handing out rewards to Prestige players ever since the original Modern Warfare.)
Now, the idea to implement Prestige levels in a competitive shooter was possibly the laziest development decision in history. I mean, you can add more than 50 extra levels of advancement to a game by adding a single Prestige tier. You don’t even have to come up with new rewards for every level; players just unlock all the same crap that they already unlocked the first time. It’s far easier to program 50 levels of advancement, followed by a Prestige tier, than it is to program 100 levels of advancement. This is probably why the idea is being copied by several other franchises now.
But this is actually brilliant. There’s no possible way any competitive shooter could continue to dish out rewards for hundreds of levels, yet COD figured out a way to make players want to keep leveling up over and over again.
And that’s part of what makes COD’s multiplayer so addictive; players feel constantly rewarded for playing by seeing their character continue to level up, even several hundreds of levels past what was actually the level cap.
So, sure, this is an incredibly lazy development decision, perhaps the greatest example of corner-cutting in video game history. But that doesn’t mean it’s not brilliant.
Editor / Social Media
Date: December 18, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*