The Fifth Column: Going Hard Core
Despite the fact that I own a number of first person shooter games, I have not spent much time playing in deathmatches on Xbox LIVE. This all changed quite dramatically when I bought Black Ops 2. I originally bought Black Ops for the co-op zombie mode but I soon tired of it and turned my attention to the other multiplayer options. Once I discovered the Hard Core mode, I was hooked and have not looked back.
For the uninitiated, Hard Core is much like the Core mode, except that it has no HUD, less health and friendly fire is on. I find that Hard Core adds a greater realism to the game because you have to rely a lot more on audio clues in order to find the opposing team, you also have less health which means that you can be killed by three bullets or less. Because friendly fire is on, you also can’t spray and pray indiscriminately, if you do get a team kill, you will be booted from the game. The one glitch in the team kill sanction is that the host cannot be kicked for team kills, which is something that Treyarch needs to address.
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Given how much time I have dedicated to Hard Core Team Deathmatch, I thought that I would share my tips on loadouts, perks and score streaks. When I first started playing Black Ops 2, I favoured the assault rifles. I started out with the Type 25 and then moved on to the SWAT 556 and then the M8A1. The Type 25 is a full automatic, which means that it is great for medium to close range firefights. The SWAT and M8A1 are burst fire weapons which means that they are good for medium to long range encounters, I generally use the assault rifles for the bigger levels where there may be sniping opportunities. My preferred scope is the Target Finder because it allows for good peripheral vision and is also useful for finding campers.
I however decided to try a different loadout after playing a number of rounds of Team Deathmatch where players with sub machine guns ran circles around me. I changed my gun to the Vector K10 with a reflex sight for improved accuracy and a long barrel for increased range. This gun has served me very well and I have reached Prestige 2 with it. I also added the Lightweight, Toughness, Dexterity and Engineer perks. Engineer is by far my favourite perk and the great thing about it is that it allows you to see enemy equipment which means that you won’t be surprised by a mine, or shock charge. It also makes it easier to find and destroy sentry guns and guardians. The other advantage is that the location of mines and shock charges gives you a good indication of where snipers may be hiding and this allows you to plan your strategy accordingly.
I don’t equip any lethal grenades because there is the risk of a stray grenade causing a team kill. Instead I use EMPs which are very effective against enemy equipment. In addition to getting XP for destroying equipment, you also get score for any kills that your teammates make while your EMP grenade is in effect. I have even been able to take out a Hellstorm missile, Dragonfire quad rotor and a Hunter Killer drone with an EMP. It was not intentional, they essentially got caught in the crossfire of my grenades but it was great to see that it was possible.
As regards score streaks, I normally equip the UAV, Hunter Killer and Lightning Strike. The UAV normally allows you to get a lot of assist XP but recently I have found that my UAVs are shot down fairly quickly and I have swapped it for the Hellstorm missile. I am tempted to try out the Care Package but my main concern is that a Care Package becomes a bullet magnet as soon as it is dropped and you end up having to fight off the opposing team in order to get to it.
In summary, Hard Core is a great mode because it introduces a much needed element of realism to Team Deathmatch games. Because of the decreased health and friendly fire, you need to be a lot more careful about where you run and who you shoot because a team kill will get you booted from the server. With a well conceived load out of weapons, perks and score streaks, you will be Prestige-ing in no time. I would be keen to know what your preferred Hard Core setup is, especially if you favour the assault rifles so feel free to drop me a line in the comments.