Hello, my name is Trent aka oTradeMark.  I started writing leveling guides back in MW2 because I wanted to level up quickly.  I’m a married gamer with 3 kids so I don’t have as much time as I did back in college to play video games yet I still wanted to take advantage of the in game bonuses that are given to you when you prestige.

On November 18, 2012 I became the first person in the world to reach Prestige Master in Black Ops 2.  That means I maxed out my level and prestige in less than 10 days (5 days in game time played).  This guide is a collection of the tips and leveling strategies I used to get there.

(NOTE: The leaderboards glitched on day 2 or else I would have had over 4 million score in this picture and been #1 on the leaderboards as well as the first prestige master in the world.)

The number one question I got when I reached prestige master first in the world was “How do you level up so fast?”  Unfortunately, there is no simple one size fits all answer to that question.  But if I had to summarize all of the information I used to level up quickly into one simple statement it would be this: In order to level up fast, you want to maximize your score per minute along side of your experience earned per action.  Or in other words, you want to maintain a high score per minute while effectively completing challenges and earning medals.

Now this is an extremely oversimplified statement that encompasses a lot of different strategies that I will outline in the guide below, but if you would like the quick and easy version of the guide, here are my 10 master tips to leveling up quickly in Black Ops 2.

10. Learn the black ops 2 leveling basics, Blops 2 has a different XP system than all prior COD’s
9. Forget about your K/D ratio and focus on your Score Per Minute
8. Play the game types which give you the best Score Per Minute & XP per minute played
7. Game the Objective
6. Use high XP yielding scorestreaks & complete the easy scorestreak challenges.
5. Complete random challenges by playing a variety of gametypes & using a variety of class setups.
4. Utilize complementary class setups in order to complete multiple challenges at the same time.
3. Try to earn easy XP Medals in every game that you play.
2. WIN!
1. Get better at the game, follow me at youtube.com/oTradeMark to learn how.

The leveling potential when utilizing these tips is enormous. When I played on my main account, oTradeMark, I was usually playing on very little sleep and I also stayed at level 55 on a couple of prestiges so my in game time played is not accurate for how long it took me to reach prestige master. But I leveled up my alternate account, EliteTradeMark, while trying as hard as I could to level up quickly and I was going through each prestige in under 4 hours of game time played.  If I kept that pace up I would reach Prestige Master in only 1.8 days of game time played! That is some fast leveling!

Now before we break down each one of these tips in detail let’s first start off by talking about what the advantages are of prestiging. Every time you prestige you get a new in game player emblem next to your name.  There are a total of 11 prestige emblems, one for each prestige and then a prestige master emblem for when you max out.

Aside from getting a cool emblem to show off next to your name, you also get a prestige reward and permanent unlock token each time you prestige.  For a reward you can either unlock additional custom class slots (up to 10 total custom classes maximum) or you can use a token to refund your unlock tokens or reset your stats.  Resetting your stats restarts your entire account at 0 prestige level 1 so I would never recommend doing that and the refund tokens is not really useful either so I always used my prestige rewards on unlocking additional custom class slots. Your permanent unlock token can be used to unlock any weapon, equipment, perk or scorestreak in the game as soon as your custom class is available (level 4).

But by far the biggest and best reward for prestiging comes when you hit prestige master.  After you max out at prestige master you unlock every weapon, perk, equipment and scorestreak in the game permanently. The only way that you will be able to have everything unlocked is if you make it all the way to prestige master. Keep in mind that you don’t unlock all weapon attachments and camo’s as those are related to weapon XP not player XP.

So, is it worth it? In my opinion, that depends on how much you plan on playing Black Ops 2.  If you play COD a lot and are going to play more than 5 days worth of in game time in black ops 2 then I would recommend going all the way to Prestige Master because that is the only way you will unlock everything in the game.  But if you are a casual player that is going to play less than 5 days of in game time in the next year then I would recommend not prestiging at all or picking the prestige emblem which you like the best from the ones above and stop prestiging when you reach that prestige.

10. Learn the black ops 2 leveling basics, Blops 2 has a different XP system than all prior COD’s
Let’s start with the basics.  In black ops 2, there are 10 prestiges with 55 levels in each prestige.  Counting your first 55 levels of non-prestige, that is a total of 605 levels you need to get through in order to reach Prestige Master in Black Ops 2.  Each prestige requires 1,249,100 Experience to complete and the half way point through a prestige experience wise is roughly around level 41.

One difference between Black Ops 2 & previous COD games is that it’s a bit harder to track your leveling progress as the in game pop-ups have been replaced with +score popups so the only time you see how much XP you are earning is after each game in the after action report.

But the biggest difference between Black Ops 2 and previous COD games in regards to leveling is that the challenges in Black Ops 2 don’t reset when you prestige.  All of your challenges are static throughout your 1st-10th prestige.  This is both a good and a bad thing.  It’s a good thing because you can work on whatever challenges you have unlocked without worrying about them resetting when you prestige.  It’s a bad thing because in previous games you could take advantage of the challenges resetting by completing the easy challenges every prestige.

Basically, you can look at your journey to Prestige Master as one huge prestige consisting of 605 total levels.

9. Forget about your Kill/Death ratio and focus on your Score Per Minute
There seems to be a trend that gets worse and worse with each COD iteration… that your K/D ratio is a reflection of how good you are. And it seems every year more and more players play COD purely to improve their K/D ratio. While I don’t have an issue with people who care about their in game statistics, the truth of the matter is that in game statistics are easily manipulated and aren’t a very good reflection of how skilled a player is.  Statistics are more accurate when looked at together, for example how good someone’s K/D is in relation to their W/L, SPM, and other factors like if they play solo or with a team and what gametypes they play.  That being said, I play to win because in my opinion that is the purpose of any game… to win.  And if you want to level up quickly you should forget about your K/D ratio and focus purely on your Score Per Minute.

Every in game action that earns you score also earns you XP, although the amount of score you get is not always exactly how much XP you get.  For example when you kill someone with a score streak like Dogs or Swarm you only get +15 Score but you get +100 XP.  But because there is a direct correlation of your score to XP it stands to reason that the higher your Score Per Minute is the faster you are going to level up. (Not taking into consideration challenges and medals which do play a big factor in how fast you level up.)

Now that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about how many times you die vs how many times you get kills.  You still need to get kills in order to have a good score per minute and so if you do nothing but die all game you aren’t going to level up very fast.  But someone with a 500 Score Per Minute & a 2 Kill to Death ratio is going to level up faster than someone with a 5 K/D and a 200 SPM.

But focusing on your score per minute and doing things that earn you XP/score rather than just staying alive and focusing on your K/D will allow you to level up much faster.

8. Play the game types which give you the best Score Per Minute & XP per minute played
There has never been a Call of Duty game that rewards players more for playing the objective than Black Ops 2.  Because of this, the game types which offer the best leveling potential are all the objective based gametypes.

In my opinion, the two best gametypes for leveling up quickly are Hardpoint & Kill Confirmed. Domination, Demolition & Headquarters have good leveling potential as well. If you are a solo player then party games are also a great alternative for leveling up quickly depending on how good you are at them.

On the other hand, TeamDeathMatch, Search & Destory & Capture The Flag are typically slower paced games focusing primarily on kills and coincidentally are slower to level up in. The one exception is in regards to Search & Destroy during double XP weekends, when each kill is worth 1000 XP. If you are a good S&D player then playing it on a double XP weekend can lead to some pretty fast leveling.

Now the reason that Kill Confirmed & Hardpoint give the best leveling potential is because of how many opportunities you have to play the objective every single game. In Kill Confirmed, each tag you pick up is a whopping +100 score and XP. You also get XP for your kills and denies.  Denying your own tags earns you an XP medal worth 250 XP as well. But the reason I like Kill Confirmed so much for leveling is because of how easy it is to cycle your streaks in this game type. If you are an aggressive player who is constantly picking up tags and getting kills you can easy cycle your scorestreaks multiple times in the same life. I like to use UAV/VSAT/EMP because once I earn the first VSAT/EMP I usually am able to stack another VSAT/EMP in the time that the enemy team is blind/revealed, leading to a consecutive wave of VSAT/EMP’s.

Hardpoint is also full of opportunities to play the objective, which in this game type is a “zone” that each team tries to control in order to gain points and win the game. Every time you capture or clear out the enemies from a hard point you earn +200 score/XP. You also earn a score/XP bonus for killing enemies on the hardpoint or defending against enemies while standing on the hardpoint.

Domination, Demolition & Headquarters all have good leveling potential as well. They all have plenty of opportunities to play the objective (if you have good team coordination) and plenty of opportunities to earn kills/streaks/xp medals.

Party games have a lot of leveling potential as well if you are good at consistently winning them.  The best party game for leveling up is Sharp Shooter. One of my subscribers pointed this out to me week 1 and while it is a good game type for leveling, I personally dislike playing party games because it lowers your overall score per minute. But from a pure leveling standpoint there are a lot of XP medals you can earn in SharpShooter especially if you are good that can get you a lot of XP each game.

7. Game the Objective
I already mentioned that playing the objective can lead to a high score per minute and faster leveling. But the fastest way to level up is to do what I call “gaming the objective.” Gaming the objective is playing the objective in a way that allows you to earn additional points and XP. I will give you several examples on how to do that in each game type below:

Hardpoint – Gaming the objective on hardpoint is one of the hardest & most rewarding ways to earn XP in the game. The first time you capture a hardpoint for your team you earn +200 score and XP. Then rather than just defending the hardpoint you want to allow the enemy team to “break” the point by turning it red. Once the enemy team has “broken” the hardpoint you can clear the hardpoint out again and earn another +200 score and XP. You can repeat this process as many times as you want during each hardpoint. You also earn +100 score and XP for a kill and a +25 point bonus for them being on the hardpoint. If done correctly, you can earn +325 score / XP for every single kill you get when clearing the hardpoint. This does require a lot of team communication and your teammates will need to know what you are doing because if they just defend the hardpoint regularly the enemy team will just “contest” the hardpoint and never break it which means you won’t get the bonus points. Try playing multi-team if regular hardpoint is too difficult as you will be playing 3v3v3 and it’s easier to communicate this with your team if there are only 2 others you need to talk with.

Domination – When you are capturing a domination point you earn a bonus +100 score & XP. Rather than just capping the enemy flag next time you invade their base, try using this bonus to your advantage while running a stealth class. Infiltrate the enemy base with a silencer + ghost and hop on the enemy flag just long enough to get a couple of kills then run away. Rinse & repeat until the enemies spawn flops. You are basically farming double XP & score in the enemy base by only killing the enemies while trying to capture their domination point. This works even better if you can get tac inserted  somewhere near the enemy domination point so you can quickly return to their flag anytime you get killed. Another way to game the objective in Domination is the spawn flop strategy. Basically you get your entire team to push into the enemy team’s spawn and capture their flag. If you clear their spawn out they should flop spawns behind you and capture your original flag. You can also allow them to capture the middle flag B at the time. You then reverse your direction and repeat. Essentially you are constantly capping flags by forcing the enemy team into spawning on the opposite side of the map. If done correctly and with enough teamwork you can have double digit captures every single round.

Headquarters – Just like in Domination, you earn double points/XP for getting a kill while capturing an objective. Rather than standing on an HQ point the entire time before you capture it, try doing hit and run sprees near the HQ point. Run up to the HQ point and try and get a couple of kills while within the “capture” range of the HQ point and then run away. You will probably want to use tactical insertion and flak jacket when utilizing this strategy as HQ is notorious for having explosives thrown at neutral capture points.

Capture the Flag – When you are in possession of the enemy flag you earn double score/XP for each kill. Use this to your advantage when playing CTF to farm a lot of kills. The enemy will have vision of you on their minimap so it’s best to try and do this when your team has a lot of vision scorestreaks like UAV/CUAV/VSAT/EMP.

Demolition – You can game the objective in demolition by allowing the enemy team to plant/defuse a bomb and quickly killing them and following up with another plant/defuse. For example, let’s say that you are on offense. Run up to a bomb point and plan the bomb then hide nearby and allow the enemy team to defuse it.  As soon as they defuse the bomb kill the defuser and replant the bomb.  If you are on defense then you do exactly the same but you let the player plant the bomb then immediately kill them and defuse the bomb. This takes a lot of team communication like hardpoint because your entire team has to know when it is okay to kill the enemy team and when they need to leave them be.

Kill Confirmed – KC is probably the hardest to “game” the objective as the objective is nothing but tags. One method of farming XP in MW3 was using a tactical insertion in Kill Confirmed and repeatedly dying while reclaiming your tags. In my opinion I feel it’s faster to just kill players and collect their tags but if you get good at it and don’t mind ruining your stats it wouldn’t be that bad of a way to level. Denying your own tags only earns you +25 score in game but you earn a +250 XP medal for reclaiming your own tags so most of the XP comes from that.

6. Use high XP yielding scorestreaks & complete the easy scorestreak challenges
One of the best ways to earn a lot of XP very quickly is by using the correct score streaks. Every score streak in the game has a set of tiered challenges that relates to it. Most of the scorestreaks that earn you kills have a challenge for getting 5/15/25/50 kills with that scorestreak earning you 500/1000/2000/5000 XP respectively. This means that if you got 50 kills with all of the assault scorestreaks that are relatively easy to get 50 kills with you would earn 8500 XP, a bonus of 170XP per kill. But some scorestreaks are not unlocked until very late in the leveling process, like dogs and swarm. Because of this, make sure that you are always using the scorestreaks that you unlock in later levels as you unlock them.

Once you have completed the majority of your score streak challenges (ignore any challenge that is very difficult to complete) I suggest you move onto using support streaks like UAV, Counter UAV, Orbital VSAT and EMP. In my opinion, support streaks earn you a lot more score & XP when used properly, and they also benefit your team a lot more, leading to more wins and more scorestreaks from your teammates as well. The reason they are so strong is because of their potential to stack off of each other, especially when your entire team is using support streaks. There have been dozens of games where the team I was on has had a VSAT/EMP up for over 90% of the game because everyone was stacking each other’s kills. Even just running support streaks yourself you can give your team vision for the majority of the game when playing well.

Every kill your team gets while you have a support streak up earns you +10 score & most like +10 or more XP. This is hard to test perfectly because you can only see the total XP you earned after each match and you can’t tell where all of the XP came from, but if we assume that each assist kill earns you +10 XP & score you can stack that multiple times in one life. For example let’s say that you launch a UAV/VSAT/EMP all at the same time. Every single kill your team gets for the 60 seconds they are up will earn you +30 Score and XP, and because VSAT/EMP is so good you can usually get another VSAT/EMP just from assists and a few kills while it’s up.

Let’s say you are able to get 3 sets of UAV/VSAT/EMP up in a single game. Every time you call a set of streaks in your team will likely get 20+ kills while it is up (if they are aggressive). That is +600 score and XP off of assist points alone, not to mention your own kills/objectives you get while you have vision on the enemy team. A VSAT/EMP combo is so strong. Not only do you have perfect vision of the entire enemy team they also can’t call in any scorestreaks and they have no vision from their mini-map so it is pretty much a slaughterfest while it is up. Stacking your support streaks off of each other while your team is all running support streaks is a great way to get a ton of score and XP each game.

5. Complete random challenges by playing a variety of gametypes & using a variety of class setups.
There are a lot of challenges in the game that can be completed by simply adding a little variety to your game time. All weapons, attachments, scorestreaks, game modes, perks, equipment and wildcards have challenges. Make sure that you are utilizing a wide variety of items when leveling up and playing a variety of gametypes to complete a wide variety of challenges. Be aware that all challenges need to be “unlocked” before you earn them by reaching a certain “level” each prestige. Because of this, make sure that the challenges you are trying to complete are actually unlocked and available to be completed in your barracks.

If you typically place at the top of your team, one good set of challenges to earn are the game type challenges for wins / top place finishes.  Every single game type in the game has challenges for winning X amount of times and placing in the top of the leaderboards X amount of times. This is a really easy way to earn some XP off of challenges by playing a variety of game types and just doing well while you play them. For example, in free for all, there are 3 challenges that have 3 tiers which all essentially are earned the same way. There are challenges for winning 5/25/50 matches of FFA. There are challenges for finishing in the top 3 of 5/25/50 matches of FFA. And finally there are challenges for finishing in 1st place of 5/25/50 matches of FFA (which is kind of silly since winning & taking 1st place in FFA are the same thing). But essentially all you need to do is win 50 FFA matches and you will earn 9 challenges by doing so. 3 challenges will be completed when you win your 5th match, 3 challenges will be completed when you win your 25th match, and 3 challenges will be completed when you win your 50th match. Keep in mind that the challenge XP is not amazing experience though. All 9 of the challenges I referenced earlier will only earn you around 25,000 XP total for 50 matches of FFA (a bonus 500 XP per match). So only pursue the challenges in game types where you know you can win matches quickly and still maintain a fast leveling pace.

Prestige challenges are also a good way to earn XP, which are only available after you prestige your first time. I worked towards all of the challenges in my barracks which were easily earned.

WARNING: It is very important that you understand that not all challenges are worth completing. Don’t work towards challenges or play game types which cause you to play poorly. The fastest way to level is always to perform well in the matches you are in. So if you are bad at using sniper rifles, don’t try and complete the sniper rifle challenges. If you can’t earn high scorestreaks, don’t equip them. If you can’t use a sight, attachment, or class setup, don’t use it. Use a variety of items and play a variety of gametypes as long as you can consistently play well with what you are using. If you are struggling to use a certain setup or play a certain gametype, move onto something else.

4. Utilize complementary class setups in order to complete multiple challenges at the same time.
Aside from using a variety of items in your class setups as mentioned above, you want to create your custom classes in a way that you can work towards multiple challenges at the same time.

Let’s take for example the challenges for attachments. Most attachment challenges are 5-tier challenges requiring you to get a certain number of kills while using the attachment in a certain manner. For example, the stock attachment has 5 challenges that you can complete for getting 50/100/200/300/500 kills which earn 500/1000/1500/2500/5000 XP respectively. That means that when you get 500 kills with the stock attachment you will earn 10,500 bonus XP through challenges (an extra 21 XP per kill). You might be saying, well wtf, a bonus 21 XP per kill? That sucks. And individually, yes it’s not that great. The power of challenges lies in the potential to stack multiple challenges. Now let’s take a look at the challenges for stock, quickdraw, reflex sight, primary gunfighter, dexterity, cold blooded, lightweight, dead silence and a perk greed card. Each one of those items has 5 challenges worth 10,500 bonus XP each. If you were to get 500 kills while aiming down sights with the above class setup you would complete 45 challenges worth a total of 94,500 XP. That’s a whopping 189 bonus XP per kill purely from challenges.

So try to create your class setups in a way that you can work towards multiple challenges at the same time. Eventually I will post a variety of class setups that you can use in this section in order to work towards multiple challenges at the same time.

3. Try to earn easy XP Medals in every game that you play.
XP medals are earned each match by completing certain in game tasks. There are a lot of XP medals which can be earned very easily each game. There are also a lot of them which are not easily earned each game but can lead to some huge XP gains if you can manage to earn them. I will list all of the XP medals which I know about below and I will specifically talk about the ones I feel are worth special mention.

Opening Move (500 XP) – Capture the neutral flag B in Domination. This is one of the best XP medals in the game. Just for capping the neutral flag B in a game of domination you earn 500 XP! You can do this for both rounds of domination for a +1000 XP bonus each game. I recommend always starting out domination with a class that has tactical insertion and flak jacket plus lightweight/extreme conditioning if possible. That way you can run straight to the B flag, tac insert near the flag, and repeatedly rush it until you cap the flag. Easiest 1000 XP you can get in a game if done correctly. Once you cap the flag feel free to switch to whatever class you want afterwards.

First Blood (500 XP) – Kill the first enemy of the game. This medal is semi-luck but the other reason I suggest you start with a lightweight/extreme conditioning class is so that you can rush the enemies choke points and get the first blood. Getting the first kill of each match earns you an additional 500 XP. Both of these first 2 XP medals reward aggressive fast paced game play to start the game off so make sure you have a class setup for this at the start of each game. Once someone get’s first blood you can switch to whatever class you want afterwards.

Hijacker (250 XP) – Captured an enemy Care Package. Keep an eye out for enemies who call in a care package. Not only can you usually pick up a few kills near an enemy care package, you also earn a bonus 250 XP for doing so. Utilize the blackhat PDA equipment for long distance stealing that is safer and also booby traps the enemy care package.

Long Shot (250 XP) – Killed an enemy with a long distance shot. This XP medal is a sniper’s best friend. Getting a long shot medal earns you 250 XP. That’s a great bonus for getting a kill at a distance. But you don’t need a sniper rifle to pull this off, any time you see an enemy unaware of your presence at long distance feel free to fire some shots his way. A lucky kill at distance nets you some awesome bonus XP.

Playmaker (250 XP) – Capture a flag in Capture The Flag. Rewarding objective players in CTF. Your potential to earn points and XP is usually near the enemy flag.

Retrieved (250 XP) – Retrieve your own dog tags in Kill Confirmed. As mentioned in an above tip, it’s always worth it to deny your tags if possible, there is a huge XP bonus for doing so. Tactical insertions make it a lot easier to stay near one side of the map that you want to push on and makes it easier to reclaim your own tags.

Victor (250 XP) – Completed the match with a victory. One of the best medals in the game given to you just for winning.

Wipeout (250 XP) – Clear objective of two or more enemies. This is an incredible XP medal for objective game types like hard point, headquarters, etc. It’s easiest to do when flanking and when using a silencer so you don’t instantly alert the enemy team but clearing an objective with more than 2 enemies on it will net you a cool XP bonus.

Gun Expert (200 XP) – Scored the most points in the game with a particular gun in Sharpshooter. This is one of the reasons Sharpshooter has so much leveling potential. You get an extra 200 XP just for getting the most points with each gun. With a rotation of 6+ guns you have a lot of potential XP to earn for being good at sharpshooter.

Blackout (100 XP) – Destroyed an enemy UAV or Counter UAV. This is a great XP medal for support players who carry blackhat PDA’s or a launcher in their class setup. Black Ops 2 is notorious for constant UAV support. If you run a stinger and 2 blackhat PDA’s you can earn over 400 XP each spawn just by taking out enemy scorestreaks.

2. WIN!
One of the easiest ways people overlook on how to level up quickly is to win the game. Winning a game has 2 benefits. 1. You earn a bigger match bonus when you win than when you lose. 2. You earn a 250XP medal medal just for winning. Not to mention that typically the winning team has more score on average than the losing team.

What’s the best way to consistently win? Play with a team. You don’t have to play with MLG caliber players to constantly win. As long as you have a team who communicates and plays the objective you will win 75% of your games just by being more co-ordinated than your enemies.

If you are looking to find people to play with online there are websites out there that can help you do that. http://hupitgaming.com/LetsPlay/ is one such website. I also have a website with a community forum online at https://www.gamingupgrade.com/community/index.php where I will be promoting a section where you can play with players who have similar interests or the same objective as you.

For those of you wondering how your match bonus is calculated, I do not have the exact formula for this in Black Ops 2 yet, but in MW3 this was how you determined your match bonus:

Match Bonus = S x T x ((R + 6) / 12) … Where:

  • S = Scaler (1 if Win, 0.5 otherwise)
  • T = The length of time the game lasted (in seconds)
  • R = Rank (1-80)

1. Get better at the game, follow me at youtube.com/oTradeMark to learn how.
I sometimes get messages from people which say, “Hey TradeMark, I followed all of your tips but I’m still not leveling up as fast as you, WHY?!?!? TELL ME NAO!!!”

The fact of the matter is, that regardless of how many tips and strategies I give you for leveling up quickly, the number one way to level up quicker is always going to be to get better at the game. The better you are at the game the more gunfights you are going to win, the more medals you are going to earn, the more games you are going to win, which all lead to faster leveling.

But getting better at Call of Duty is a much broader subject which covers a lot more topics than this guide. If you would like to subscribe to my youtube channel, I try to teach people ways they can get better at Call of Duty, while also providing some entertainment for my viewers as well. I am not the best Call of Duty player in the world, but I do have a lot of accomplishments under my belt. I have won over $40,000 worth of prizes playing Call of Duty through COD Elite competitions, including a 2011 Jeep Wrangler, Ipads, Astro’s, Clothing & lots more.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Youtube

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