This week celebrates the one-year anniversary of Call of Duty: Black Ops on the Mac. While this may seem insignificant to some, it holds a special place in my heart for the fun and community experiences the game has offered. And while everyone will have their opinions about the Call of Duty series, for many the brand stands for exciting multiplayer action and explosive campaigns. We have gotten a number of the earlier Call of Duty games on our beloved Mac platform, but Black Ops is only the second “modern” title released after Modern Warfare. Made public a number of years after the last Call of Duty game, the announcement of Black Ops on Mac was a big deal in 2012. Today we have a year in review, a look at the game since its launch, and how the multiplayer and the community has evolved.
The majority of this article is going to focus on the multiplayer side, but I wanted to put in a word for the campaign if you haven’t played it yet. It has an intriguing story, a number of spectacular set-pieces, and it allows you to use weapons you never get in multiplayer. It is a treat visually and aurally. The voice acting is top notch with the likes of Sam Worthington, Ed Harris, Gary Oldman and even Ice Cube lending their talents. If you have skipped the campaign up until now in favor of the multiplayer, give it a try. I bet you will find yourself wanting to finish it.
Put gamers together in any multiplayer shooter setting and what will they do? Form groups of friends or common interests, and thusly, the rise of clans in Black Ops took place. Everyone wants to be part of something, and many players started their own clans or joined others. A lot of these clans came and went, but some are still alive to this day. Notable clans which any regular player would recognize or remember include BAMF, MCC, HAIL, NB and more. Friendships were made, rivalries were forged and many clan wars and skirmishes took place. MacGamerHQ even hosted a tournament for all clans to enter, which the BAMF clan won.
In November 2012 we saw the release of the Annihilation & Escalation Content Pack. Offering 8 new battlegrounds and 2 additional zombie levels, this content pack was a must for any hardcore player. All the new maps were varied and colorful which was a departure from the sometimes drab or dull colors of the maps in the base game. Learning each new map was a fun and fresh challenge that definitely extended the game’s value and enjoyment. And while the Content Pack sadly has yet to become popular enough to be commonplace on the servers, many a fun match has been had upon the included maps nonetheless. With the current Black Ops Anniversary sale on GameAgent, the Annihilation & Escalation Content Pack should see increased exposure; it’s currently 50% off or comes bundled free with the purchase of the base game.
One of the first things Aspyr did was create a Black Ops Mac Facebook group. While the social media setting isn’t directly related to the game itself, it has become a gathering place to discuss favorite maps and weapons, post your best screenshots, make new friends, or arrange zombie and wager match games. Certainly not all active Black Ops players use the group, but over 150 players do, making it a significant hangout for anyone interested in the game. Naturally it has had its share of drama, but at the end of the day it always gets resolved and people move on to having fun with the game. It remains active to this day with new players joining frequently.
In May of 2013, Aspyr released the Remote Console, or RCON application for Mac gamers along with the ability to rent your own server from www.gameservers.com. This provided a well-received boost to the player community, especially clans, as players could now rent and own their own server spaces. I was actually the first player to host and configure a custom server and would later document setup and settings in a few videos. The custom servers had less lag than the others, could have useful server messages and allowed admins to kick or ban unruly players. The best part of these servers was the ability to control map rotation, game type and even create custom game rules enforced by server admins. This gave way to a number of popular custom game types, such as snipers only, but other variants such as shotguns or pistols also showed up. Additionally you could mix and match your favorite game types; personally, I would run Demolition, Domination and S&D only. While unranked servers were easily the best in terms of pure customization, they were unfortunately not used enough to really justify renting one.
I have actually seen a lot of new players lately whenever I login to play Black Ops. Players will always come and go, whether veterans or new, but it is nice to see the game still active, player-owned servers still going and people joining the community. It is a fun and, for the most part, friendly place where a great time can be had on your own or in a clan. Every gamer makes their own stories as they play, whether it’s a hilarious death, an epic last stand or that one time they wiped out the whole enemy team in S&D by themselves. The game has made, and will continue to make, these stories as we all play, and the community and social setting gives us a place to share them.
While the game has seen some hiccups, such as a lack of voice chat or players running into performance issues (often due to the relatively demanding system requirements; pro tip: use GameAgent’s Mac Match feature before buying!), the game lives on in our small corner of the gaming market that is Mac gaming. Because it is our game..a Mac game, the smaller community means you get to know everybody. You are able to regularly connect with familiar names and players which makes the experience that much more enjoyable whether you are on the same team or competing. Love it or hate it, Black Ops is here to stay and continues a year later. Many thanks to Aspyr and to the Mac gamer community who both make this game happen.
Are you still playing Black Ops today? Are you a newcomer? Let us know your thoughts or experiences in the comments!