The Black Ops Quandry
When developing a shooter, balance is one of the most important aspects to pay attention to. An imbalanced shooter quickly becomes unenjoyable and stacks players with certain guns/perks. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 started the imbalances by including the perk Stopping Power without the perk Juggernaut, effectively limiting you to using only that perk as your Tier 2 perk. Treyarch got rid of this problem by simply removing Stopping Power from the Black Ops perks. What they didn’t pay attention to, was the balance of all of the other perks in the game.
Tier 1 Perks: Otherwise Known as Ghost
Out of the Tier 1 Black Ops perks, you can already see that Treyarch is punishing anyone who decides not to use a standard approach to gameplay.
Lightweight allows you to move faster, but the bonus is only 10%, which is hardly useful compared to your other options. With the removal of a quick-mounting perk like Marathon Pro in Modern Warfare 2, you lose all of that momentum every time you have to climb something.
Scavenger no longer replenishes equipment, grenades, underbarrel attachments, and launchers. The pro version allows you to replenish tactical grenades and gives you extra mags, but really all it’s doing now is allowing you to shoot without thinking. There is no extra tactical element present with this perk, and it becomes effectively useless.
Ghost has become the most widely used 1st tier perk due to the fact that it does more than any of the other perks. At the standard level, you’re given a ghillie suit, and you become invisible to Blackbirds and Spy Planes. Once you hit the pro version, you become invisible to all killstreaks, dogs being the exception, infrared, and you don’t show up as a red name when targeted over. This makes you essentially invisible when in cover. This is superior to every other 1st perk.
Hardline lowers your killstreak requirements by 1 each. It is a decent perk, but in no way does it come close to being as good as Ghost Pro
Flak Jacket takes the already useless explosives in the game and turns them into nothing. Explosives were nerfed as a method of preventing the frustration that comes from being blown up, but in the process made it nearly impossible to rid your game of a camper. With Flak Jacket, you are on the verge of being invulnerable to explosive damage.
Tier 2 Perks: No Sleight of Hand? You’re Doing It Wrong
In the Tier 2 section of perks, Sleight of Hand has come out on top as the most popular perk choice, and for good reason.
Scout doesn’t even come into this equation, as snipers are never used in game, and even though the Pro version is decent, the lack of powerful secondary weapons makes this perk useless.
Sleight of Hand improves your reload time, as well as allowing you to aim down your sights faster with the Pro version. The only perk that comes close to the advantage of being able to aim-down-sights faster is Steady Aim Pro, which allows you to recover from sprinting faster. A player using any other second perk will most likely lose to a player with Sleight of Hand Pro in an even match due to the speed increase of your ADS.
Tier 3 Perks: What’s Even Going on Here?
Out of the Tier 3 Black Ops perks, Hacker and Tactical Mask Pro offer a distinct advantage over the other 3 perks. Tactical Mask Pro makes you almost immune to flashbangs and stun grenades, and paints enemies who have been flashed or stunned by your grenades, showing them through walls. This is so unbalanced it borders on the insane. Tactical grenades become useless against these players, and you become clearly visible to them when they hit you with even the slightest bit of their tactical grenades.
Hacker turns claymores and other equipment into bright red glowing icons, making destroying them incredibly easy while assuring that you never get hit by a surprise claymore.
Even Hacker seems underpowered when you look at the sheer survivability Tactical Mask adds.
Looking Back to a More Balanced Time
Looking back at the origination of the Perk system in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you can see what a mostly balanced system looks like. Certain perks were effectively useless, such as Eavesdrop, and Double Tap, but almost every perk was equal to each other, and had a balance. Stopping Power was countered with Juggernaut. Juggernaut protected you from certain headshots, but left your firing power diminished. Grenades and grenade launchers didn’t have the miniscule explosion radius that exists in Black Ops, nor the extraordinary one that existed in MW2. And whereas Sonic Boom did exist, the firing rate of your explosives was slow enough that it it could never be abused.
The new games need to take a leaf out of the older games, and take a look at what makes a balanced game while adding innovative new gameplay. It’s tough, for sure, but when you’re paying $60 for a brand new game, you shouldn’t expect the same game you bought last year, but with a couple of new gadgets.
This post is part of the series: Call of Duty: Black Ops Perks
Your guide to perks in Call of Duty: Black Ops.