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Call of Duty: Warzone 2 review - A cluttered start to a promising future

Call of Duty Warzone 2 is available to download right now (Image via Activision)
Call of Duty: Warzone 2 is available to download immediately (Image via Activision)

Call of Duty: Warzone 2 is finally here, and as the franchise had promised, the game features a whole lot of new content after a long wait. I've been excited since the announcement of the game to see what the new vision is all about and how it differs from the last iteration.

Expectations from the latest Warzone 2 title have been high, but has the game lived up to its standards? As part of Modern Warfare 2, this new era of Call of Duty is considered the franchise's most ambitious project ever. In this review, I go through various aspects of the game, including the user experience and gameplay of the all-new COD title, before giving my final verdict.


The first-day experience of Warzone 2

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The day the Warzone 2 server went live, it clearly wasn't a pleasant experience for most. Honestly speaking, I had to wait at least a week to find a stable server. For the longest time, inviting friends to my party did not work and there were numerous in-game bugs and glitches that ruined my experience in the first week itself.

Infinity Ward passed on the responsibility of managing Warzone 2 to Raven Software while they focused more on Modern Warfare 2, following which the developers addressed the issues and fixed most of them. However, with a game this well-known, players don't look forward to facing such issues that can ruin their overall gameplay experience.

Despite the flaws that affect a player's experience in the game, the latest Call of Duty battle royale still deserves some praise. In this article, I share my thoughts on all the new features of Warzone 2 and what makes it unique from other similar titles.


More of a battle royale than Warzone ever was

The first thing that comes to mind while playing Warzone 2 is that the game offers a much better battle royale experience than its predecessor, Warzone. From traditional looting systems in battle royale games to in-game customization, the latest iteration of Warzone has all the potential to justify the genre at its best.

The game now calls for more tactical gameplay than ever before. While Warzone started with a bang and the skill gap wasn't huge from the start, it was ruined after a certain point in time. A lot of players with their excessively advanced movement skills made the gaming experience unfair for newcomers.

The biggest change that the new game brings is the removal of those movement exploits. Advanced moves such as slide cancelations and bunny hops are no longer possible to pull off. The basic movements for Warzone 2 are pretty simple and maintain the traditional Call of Duty movement style.

While this change has displeased many experienced fans, it gives other players the chance to fight back and focus more on positioning and aiming, rather than excessive movements that previously increased the skill gap.


Warzone 2 gameplay: First impressions

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I've always had a knack for tactical shooters and Call of Duty was my go-to game. Call of Duty: Warzone 2 offers the perfect blend of arcade-type gameplay and the tactical aspect of realistic games. If you're looking for quick movements to go along with casual gameplay, this is the ideal choice.

Aquatic combat in Warzone 2 (Image via Activision)
Aquatic combat in Warzone 2 (Image via Activision)

Speaking of gameplay, another thing that needs mentioning is the brand-new swimming mechanism. Earlier, in Warzone, players could not even touch the water surface for the shortest time.

But that has changed, and your in-game character can now swim in Warzone 2, dive deep into the river, and fool enemies by silently maneuvering your way around. This new feature adds more variety to the game, and I had an enjoyable experience while swimming with my friends in Al Mazrah's river.

Other small additions such as ledge-hanging or the ability to fire your weapons while using zip lines are definite improvements. However, I do feel that these mechanisms need to be polished and refurbished.

Firstly, none of the mechanisms felt smooth, and there are some additional problems such as not hearing those zipline usages when you are on a rooftop. Because of the terrible audio system, my character died several times.


Gameplay changes from the previous iteration that felt like a let-down

Stronghold in Warzone 2 (Image via Activision)
Stronghold in Warzone 2 (Image via Activision)

Coming to other systems in-game, the one thing that the community has an issue with is the looting system in Warzone 2. However, I do think it is an interesting addition that is truer to the core of the battle royale genre. Looting is now slower in Warzone 2. You have a backpack that you can fill by picking up items just like with other traditional battle royale games.

Do bear in mind not to simply pick up everything that you see. Unnecessary ammo or items tend to take up extra space in your backpack, so be selective with your finds. While some aren't in favor of this introduction, it is an addition that makes the game more strategic, making players conscious of their collected loot.

As a regular Warzone player, it took me some time to get used to the new system, but when that muscle memory kicked in, it became easier.

One thing that made our beloved Warzone so special was the introduction of the loadout system. I hate to say it, but loadouts are almost obsolete. But you can still grab your loadouts from a stronghold or the standard drops.

However, the Warzone way to get your loadouts from the buy station and push enemies is now non-accessible. While the developers are trying to remove the skill gap and make the game approachable for a larger audience, I do believe this new take was unnecessary and has ruined the overall experience for players who adored Warzone.

Getting your loadouts from a stronghold is also a pretty difficult task, as you could face stiff resistance from opposing squads. While the addition of a stronghold calls for more in-game engagements and firefights, taking away the ability to buy loadouts is pretty unnecessary.

Standard loadouts are also not all that practical. They are now more like packages in the mid-zone, which are difficult to get if you are playing beside the circle. I hope that the developers bring back the old loadout system and not take away the essence of Warzone with the new game.


Combat experience is best-in-class in Warzone 2

Grab your squad — Al Mazrah is calling. Where we droppin’ today? 🤔🪂 #CallofDuty #Warzone2 https://t.co/nPPbh1Caxf

Since Warzone 2 shares the same engine as Modern Warfare 2, the two games share a similar weapon progression.

Like with Modern Warfare 2, gunplay is also fairly smooth. Weapons do have more recoil than their predecessors, but they can be controlled with some minor tweaks. The only thing that might hold back the combat experience is the low TTK (Time to Kill) in the game. You can literally knock down an opposing player within a second. Hence, players camp around the map and try to get to higher ground to gain an advantage over their opponents.

While gunfights are still pretty exciting, the low TTK can be challenging for some players when engaging an opponent. My character died multiple times because I failed to locate the enemies before they spotted me.


Al Mazrah provides different scenarios for battle sequences

Al Mazrah is the biggest map in Warzone history (Image via Activision)
Al Mazrah is the biggest map in Warzone history (Image via Activision)

Upon launch, Call of Duty: Warzone 2 introduces a new map called Al Mazrah. This desert-themed fictional location is the capital of the Republic of Adal. The entire area is tied to the Modern Warfare 2 storyline, and many of its subsections are core battle maps in the multiplayer mode.

I was able to experience some parts of Warzone 2 before the launch of the game. My first impression was that the map is well-designed and built perfectly for all types of combat depending on your choice. There are more places to explore, and unlike Caldera's randomly plonked-out shacks, the small POIs do not feel out of place.

Some of the points of interest on the map also pay tribute to the classic Call of Duty maps. Al Mazrah city's main building resembles the Highrise. From the Dome's resemblance to the Observatory to the uncanny similarity of the Terminal to the map's Airport, Call of Duty fans have not failed to recognize their favorite multiplayer maps over the years in Al Mazrah.

One thing that I did not like about the map is that fights are mostly city-based, and the middle area of the zone is more engaging than the rest of the map. If you land too far away, you'll have plenty of time to freely roam across the map, albeit without much action. However, to engage in combat, you will need to come closer to the middle of the zone.

The main reason behind this issue is the massive size of the map, which feels large even for 150 players competing simultaneously. However, when the zone is sub-sectioned into a multi-circle (which is a new addition to Warzone 2), the game calls for smaller fights all across the map and requires more engagement. The sad part is that you don't get multiple circles in every match and it is randomized.


Warzone 2’s new game modes bring out a whole new perspective

In terms of playlists and modes, Warzone 2 offers probably the most versatile experience ever. You can either play the traditional battle royale mode with your squad or hop in all by yourself. But there is more to explore as Warzone 2 also offers a third-person mode.

This mode in Warzone 2 brings out a whole new perspective with battle royale. There is a mode called Unhinged Battle Royale where you can befriend your enemies, and a new section called DMZ, an objective-based extraction mode with PvPvE experience.

One thing that makes the traditional battle royale experience different from the previous one is the new Gulag system. You no longer just find one player and get back into the match in Gulag, but engage in a 2v2 fight where you need to rely on your randomized teammates to kill opposing players.

New Gulag in Warzone 2 (Image via Activision)
New Gulag in Warzone 2 (Image via Activision)

The new Gulag also introduces Jailors, whom you can kill by befriending your enemies using proximity chat before escaping together. While this new mode is pretty interesting and gives players the chance to return to the game, you no longer have the ability to control the situation yourself.

With the addition of the previously mentioned Stronghold, there is a new taste for Warzone 2, and players now have more objectives to complete in order to earn in-game cash and rewards.


DMZ - Everything but Call of Duty’s answer to Escape from Tarkov

DMZ- A new way to play Warzone 2 (Image via Activision)
DMZ- A new way to play Warzone 2 (Image via Activision)

DMZ is an all-new experience for players who like more tactical but casual gameplay. You can fight AIs, earn rewards, complete objectives, or hunt enemies.

This means you can choose to fight other players in a match. However, you can still play a co-op type of game with your friends on a lazy Sunday. Furthermore, you can simply call for extraction anytime you wish, which means there is no real need to complete the whole match if you don't feel like playing it.

One thing I need to mention about DMZ is the advancement of the AIs in the game. They can sometimes be more difficult to take down than real players, which makes the game a massive improvement from the Modern Warfare 2 campaign, or the AIs that we experienced in the Invasion multiplayer mode.

However, DMZ is not everything to look for in an extraction-type shooter and as rumors suggest, the mode is nothing like Escape from Tarkov. It is undoubtedly a fun way to grind your weapons or have some casual fun but is not as tactical or slow-paced as other extraction shooters in the market.

DMZ has its elements and there are a lot of places to improve. A point that needs addressing with DMZ is that it does not feel any different from Warzone 2. While it is part of the game, the addition of dynamic weather or even the night-time experience would have made a vast difference and made the mode more intense.


The best thing in Warzone 2 is the introduction of the proximity chat

Who’s makin’ new friends in proximity chat? 😏 https://t.co/CtF8oXUtAZ

While Warzone 2 comes with a lot of new innovations, a welcome addition is the proximity chat that enables you to talk to your enemies and befriend them in Unhinged mode or in DMZ. This unique option makes the Warzone experience much more dynamic and fun.

We've seen content creators deliver hilarious content using the new chat feature, with some even starting Uber services on Al Mazrah using the same system and Warzone 2.


Warzone 2’s graphics/UI/audio/performance

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Warzone 2 shares the same engine as Modern Warfare 2, with both games having cross-progression systems and similar User Interfaces.

However, they both share what is probably the worst UI in the franchise's history. It can be annoying to navigate around and going through the in-game options is a pain. The two game's user interfaces look like Netflix's UI on a Smart TV.

Coming to graphics and performance, I played the game on a PC equipped with RTX 3060 Ti, Intel I5 11th generation processor, and 16 GB of RAM, which is ahead of the game's minimum system requirements. However, I did not get more than 100 FPS in any settings in Al Mazrah.

While the graphics are pretty decent and the details appreciable, overall, it does not look as impressive as Verdansk. The game also needs more optimization as it lags sometimes, resulting in a decrease in framerate.

As for the audio in the game, if my experience can be considered universal, it is terrible and needs a complete overhaul from its core. Issues such as footsteps disappearing or sounds coming from the wrong direction made me go crazy for the longest time. It got better with some recent patches by Raven Software, but there is clearly a lot of work that needs to be done to improve the experience in Warzone 2.


In conclusion

Coming to the final verdict of the game, despite the poor launch and terrible experience on the first weekend, the game did get better with time. It now gives a more dynamic feel to the traditional Warzone experience and lets you explore more.

New modes such as DMZ or third-person battle royale let you play the game in various ways, all of which are extremely fun and engaging from the get-go. The graphics are also eye-catching and the desert-themed Al Mazrah reminded me of Black Ops 4's Blackout map, which was a bit nostalgic, to be honest.

However, as mentioned earlier, the audio experience in the game needs fixing. While the developers connect with the community and try to create a more user-friendly experience, this level of performance is not expected from a game made by a AAA studio.

Honestly, Warzone 2 is nowhere near perfect. Compared to its predecessor, it also falls short in a lot of places. However, the game offers so much content and is Call of Duty's most ambitious project ever.

The game's vision is to invite players from different FPS genres into a unified community. With more polishing and optimization, we can hope that Warzone 2 overthrows the success of Warzone.


Call of Duty Warzone 2

The Scorecard (Image via Sportskeeda)
The Scorecard (Image via Sportskeeda)

Reviewed On: Windows PC

Platform(s): Xbox Series X, Series S, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows

Developer(s): Infinity Ward, Raven Software

Publisher(s): Activision

Release Date: November 16, 2022

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Edited by Dinesh Renthlei
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