Call of Duty: Black Ops II is set in 2025, as opposed to the Cold War setting of Black Ops. In this new setting, China and the United States are locked in a cold war after China bans the export of rare earth elements following a cyberattack that cripples the Chinese Stock Exchange. War is now defined by robotics,cyberwarfare, unmanned vehicles and other modern technology. The game’s story deals with the speculation that this unmanned technology could just as well be used against those it was meant to protect.
Although the game is set in 2025, it will start in the 1980s Cold War era in order to focus on the origin story of the primary antagonist of Black Ops II: Raul Menendez, who, in 2025, is provoking a war between China and the USA. In the 1980s section of the game, the player protagonist will be Alex Mason, protagonist of Black Ops. Much of the action in this section will take place in the proxy wars of Central America. Another character from Black Ops, Frank Woods will be returning in Black Ops II and will narrate the story into 2025. In the 2025 section, the player protagonist will be David Mason, son of Alex Mason.