In the game's story, it's 2025. There is a cold war going on between China and the United States. In addition to the timeline-hopping story of Alex and David Mason and Frank Woods, Black Ops II
's story will feature several points during which the player is given a number of different operations to undertake.
"You'll get to these points in the campaign," said Treyarch head Mark Lamia. "There'll be these hotspots around the world, as you'd expect in a cold war. And you'll get your intel drop on them and JSOC will come to you and say 'Here's what's going on. We need to drop a black ops team in. Which mission are you gonna assign your team to."
"You'll choose a mission, and that is actually a branch for the story, and the structure of the campaign." According to Lamia, if you die, that won't end the game but rather will be included as a part of the story—your characters are disposable, though the high-level narrative will (allegedly) play out differently depending on how you do in the missions. It's not clear whether the effects will be story-only or whether they'll actually have an affect on the gameplay or settings of missions in the rest of the game.