Alex will return as a playable character in flashbacks to the late 1980s. As a de facto enforcer of the Reagan doctrine, he will be in charge of igniting and arming proxy wars with Russia in locations like Nicaragua and Afghanistan.
Black Ops 2's story spans generations, Lamia tells us. The father and son have a mutual enemy: Raul Menendez. Menendez is a mysterious figure. We know he's somehow tied to the Reagan-era conflict in Nicaragua. I ask Lamia if Menendez might harbor ill-will towards the United States, considering the government was reluctant to provide additional funds to the country's rebels at that period. Lamia won't provide a definitive answer just yet.
Screenwriter David Goyer (The Dark Knight, Superman: Man of Steel) returned to help Treyarch develop the time-bending tale, and create what both parties believe will be an unforgettable villain in Menendez. Lamia can't help but remind me that Goyer was responsible for Heath Ledger's Joker.
Both Masons will receive help from Frank Woods who somehow did not die in the original Black Ops. In that game's campaign he tackled villainous Victor Kravchenko, who was wearing a belt of live grenades, out a window. Hidden intel in Black Ops hinted at the possibility of Woods being alive at a POW camp in Hanoi.
A very old Woods is still alive in 2025 and a narrator of sorts in Black Ops 2. He explains what happened in the 80s while on assignment with Alex Mason and why it matters in the game's present.
Woods has an ongoing story of his own, and though it's unclear, the Treyarch team hinted at a major third-act reveal imagined by Goyer. Maybe I'm way off, but could Woods have been brainwashed in Hanoi like Alex Mason was in Vorkuta in the original Black Ops?
Anyhow, in the late 1980s, which will be roughly a third of the game, you will see how Menendez becomes a monster of a man, and in 2025, you will see what he's capable of. It's rather unsettling.
What's most important, though, Lamia tells me, is believability. "We gotta be grounded," he repeats time and again, like a holy mantra.
Rare Earth Elements
Lamia tells us future war won't be about oil, but rare earth elements.
Rare earth elements are about as grounded as it gets. The minerals are essential to many of today's most important products, from smartphones to renewable energy devices like wind turbines and hybrid car batteries. Rare earth elements also play an important role in the creation of most modern military technology.
So what's the rub? In the real world, rare earth elements are almost entirely controlled by China's market, which provides 95% of all REEs. By comparison, Iran controls only 10% of the Earth's oil.