Warzone 2.0 is the latest battle royale game – but is it the best?

Warzone 2.0 is the latest battle royale game – but is it the best?

There are many who have had enough of Battle Royales by now, but I am not one of them. With neither teenage reaction speeds nor endless free time to devote to ‘gitting god’, battle royales’ run-and-gun approach evens the playing field; I’d rather lose a match due to crap trading and bad luck than give in to someone who has managed to unlock a fancy gadget because they’ve clocked 1000 more hours into the game than I have.

As the dust settled around the Battle Royales, Apex Legends was the last thing standing for me, and – like many of us with jobs and kids – I simply didn’t have time to mess around with the rest of them, either. Consequently, while I enjoyed my time with Call of Duty’s first toe-dip into the Battle Royale-flavored waters, Blackout, I spent just enough time with Warzone to know that I didn’t like it pretty as much as Apex and left it there. No offense, Infinity Ward; it’s not you, it’s me.

The problem with being a new – or even retired – player, however, is that it’s impossible to know when it’s best to return. Occasionally I poked my head over the hedge to get a sneaky look – and it looked good over there! – but surely it was too late now? I didn’t know the map. I didn’t know where people camped or sniped from, or where the top loot originated. I didn’t know the shortcuts to help me escape the closing circle (or three; Warzone 2.0 bucks the trend and can offer more shelters, making the battle for the final zone that much more dramatic). Apex Legends’ shrink zone, for example, is quite forgiving, meaning you can sometimes use it to a tactical advantage when entering a fight; However, Warzone 2.0’s gas cloud is not, and I just learned that the hard way.

Warzone 2.0’s launch trailer.

But with Warzone Two-Point-Oh comes another piece of the cherry. With the alien sandscapes of the new Al Mazrah map and a refreshed Gulag system – oh my, how quickly that place makes me feel bad about myself, even though I now have a partner by my side – it can feel like perfect time to jump back in… well, if you can make peace with server instability, anyway.

Sharing so much of its DNA with Modern Warfare 2, Warzone 2.0 will likely feel more familiar to COD players than battle royale players, and the couple of weeks that some have had to acclimate to MW2’s weaponry and progression system will no doubt come in . practical here. For me, as someone who has yet to spend much time with MW2, the learning curve was sharper and longer, not least because Warzone’s looting feels notably slow – and perhaps less intuitive – than not only its predecessor, but its peers as well.

I never let go of the feeling that Warzone’s new backpack system was slowing me down. Not only does it take a while to open and rummage through your bag, but slowly looting the corpse of a downed enemy is more precarious than ever thanks to the never-ending threat of a possible third-party attack and the endless bugs of sitting items. close to – or on top of – each other, making it terribly complicated to grab the one thing you want. I’m further frustrated that my operator decides for herself what is and isn’t in my best interest, as she only wants to auto-collect ammo for weapons I currently have. If you’re collecting extra ammo for an aspiration charge (and aren’t we always?), it’s up to you to retrieve it manually.

COD war zone

Warzone 2.0.

Speaking of loadouts, one of Warzone’s more unique features, the loadout system, has also been tweaked. Whereas before you could save your favorite weapons and perks as a loadout and unlock them via a Buy Station – instantly increasing your odds, of course – you’ll now find it harder than ever to do so. Warzone 2.0’s buy stations are much more sparse, so if you want access to everything, including your perks, you’ll need to try one of the rare Loadout drops or embark on a Stronghold… if another team hasn’t already You turned to it, of course.

Consequently, by moving away from loadout dependency, IW has had to revamp the loot and bolster weapon diversity. Yes, it’s improved the meta – killcam no longer shows me getting executed by the same two weapons over and over – but it makes the gunfight (and your survival) a lot less predictable too, as you’re forced to pick up and experiment with weapons you may have previously preferred to ignore.

All Battle Royales try to shake up the formula a bit to make them stand out – Fortnite has building, Apex Legends has special abilities, Fall Guys has delightfully murderous jellybeans – and for Warzone, that USP is its gulag system and lobby size , welcoming in an eye-popping 150 players per lobby: 50 percent more than most other BR titles. Al Mazrah is big enough for that – you’d think that with 150 people you’d be jumping endlessly from one firefight to the next, but with 18 points of interest, that’s not the case; battles are intense (the de-facto time to kill has dropped by a third) but rare – and some places will feel delightfully familiar to those who have spent time in the multiplayer lobbies of old COD games.

COD war zone

COD war zone

COD war zone

COD war zone

Warzone 2.0.

The problem is, dissected further into squad preferences – Quads, Duos, third-person trios and “Unhinged” Trios (where you can recruit enemies and expand your squad) – getting 150 people on a server at once is apparently a pretty big ask, and if I didn’t sit around waiting for more players on the main start screen, I waited for servers to fill up in the pre-lobby. So if you’re new, or even just a little rusty and you crash out of matches early rather than later, there’s a hell of a lot to hang around, which is especially frustrating if your playtime is limited.

And then there is proximity talk. Putting aside the fact that I’m female and allergic to being out as such in a multiplayer lobby at the best of times… well, what’s the value? Beyond indicating when enemy players are in your immediate vicinity, all it did for us was stifle the ability to talk tactics with your team (and usher in the inevitable “jokes”; it’s amazing how many non-English speakers know the words “sandwich ” and “kitchen”). After half an hour of listening to other people’s horrible music, screaming kids and snacks – have we collectively forgotten that there’s a microphone built into the PS5’s DualSense?! – I switched off the function. I can’t imagine turning it back on either.

Perhaps most appalling of all, even a week after launch, the servers remain woefully unstable. Yesterday, for example, my battle pass unceremoniously reset all my progress – locking me out of the loot, loads and operators I’d unlocked so far – and some lobbies are so bad they’re unplayable. I’ve also been on the wrong end of that invisibility bug, finding myself beaten down by invisible players (which is very unfair since I barely have time to react to the ones I can see).

COD war zone

Warzone 2.0.

And it is of course the latter problem that stings the most. Bugs, bugs, and server issues are so often par for the course now with triple-A launches—free-to-play or otherwise—making it hard to muster the effort to invest time and resources into a game so unstable that you can be locked out of own equipment at a moment’s notice. I suspect that in a few weeks, when casual players drop off and servers are less strained, Warzone 2.0 – which has undoubtedly improved Warzone’s formidable foundation – will grow in confidence again. The question is: are you prepared to wait?

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