Call of Duty: Black Ops II – To Prestige or Not to Prestige?

Call of Duty: Black Ops II has joined the ranks of its predecessors as one of the best-selling games of all time, and these annual installments in the franchise are intended to be played year-round. Developers Infinity Ward and Treyarch have done their best to extend the life of the multiplayer game by staggering the release of multiple map packs per game throughout the year, as well as adding new multiplayer game modes to play. But like many online games, it is possible to reach the point where the player hits the level cap and has unlocked all significant items. To combat this, the developers added a few different elements, like challenges and unlockable titles/emblems to encourage players to try new weapons and game modes. But the most important addition was Prestige.

With its origin being 2007’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Prestige gives the player the ability to re-lock and reset everything but their basic statistics in exchange for an exclusive emblem next to their username. The player starts over at level one, and has to re-earn all of their weapons, challenges, etc. This can be done ten times per game (fifteen in the original Black Ops), significantly extending the life of the multiplayer experience by giving players more to do. The point? Well, other than keeping the game from becoming stagnant, the player’s Prestige emblem gives them exactly that; prestige to show off against other players.

The biggest problem with Prestige, a problem that has kept many from diving in once they hit the level cap, is that it resets nearly everything. Some challenges take an extremely long time to clear, or are simply not available until a high level, which can be a deterrent and cause players to stave off hitting the confirm button. Some players just don’t want to lose their favorite gun. Fear not- Treyarch has aimed to remedy these issues.

How Prestige is Different this Year

Starting with Black Ops II, entering Prestige mode no longer resets everything- only some things. All of the weapons, equipment, and scorestreaks will re-lock, as they did before. Basic stats, like Kills and Wins will not reset, just like before. The big change here is that the challenges do not reset. Trying to unlock the Millimeter Scanner or Gold Camo on the Skorpion EVO, but didn’t get them before hitting level 55? No problem. When the gun is unlocked in Prestige mode, the progress from the last Prestige will have been saved. Trying to unlock the calling card for getting 50 Kills with the K9 Unit? Don’t worry, it’s 50 kills total across all Prestiges. None of these cumulative challenges have to be completed within the confines of one run to level 55. In fact, most of them are designed to last over the course of multiple Prestige levels, and many are not even available until you have entered Prestige Mode.

Additionally, weapons can also enter Weapon Prestige separately from regular Prestige. Like other recent Call of Duty games, weapons earn experience as they are used. As the weapon levels up, attachments are unlocked. However, oftentimes there are still many camos to be unlocked long after the level cap is hit. So, players now have the option to Prestige their weapon, re-lock all of the attachments, and earn XP for leveling up the weapon again. The perk here is the ability to add a clan tag and emblem to the weapon as the two prestige levels are scaled. Coincidentally, I unlocked the final Golden Camo for the MTAR within two matches of maxing it out at second weapon prestige. Good timing.

This all still leaves the issue of losing the favorite weapon at Prestige; Treyarch has a fix for this too. With each Prestige, players earn one permanent unlock token. They can use this to unlock one weapon, scorestreak, or piece of equipment permanently. This means that the Skorpion EVO or the Bouncing Betty can be available as soon as they earn create a class every time they hit a new Prestige level.

Along with this unlock token, a choice of three other perks comes with each Prestige level. One option is to add an extra create a class clot, another to reset used unlock tokens to be reused in that prestige level. The final option is for those that found the previous iterations of Prestige to be their cup of tea- it wipes everything, including stats.

Why Players Should Prestige in Black Ops II

While it was certainly easy to make a case for sitting at the level cap in games past, it is equally easy to make a case for Prestige in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Stats, scores, and challenges do not reset unless you want them to. Prestige is no longer “starting over”, but more of an extension of the game beyond level 55. The only downside is that the player is initially limited in terms of equipment. But even that is remedied by the ability to choose one favorite, or even vital piece of equipment to use from the start.

The choice of whether to enter Prestige Mode was always difficult for some. Now, it’s a no brainer; everyone should Prestige in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Whether you like it this way or the old way, you can do it your way with the tools Treyarch has provided. So keep hitting the Prestige button, and enjoy the new maps packs; Revolution is set to hit the Xbox 360 next week, and Playstation Network sometime next month for $14.99.


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