The current Call of Duty: Warzone situation feels like deja vu. Much like when Black Ops Cold War integrated (and later splintered) Warzone in April 2021, the battle royale is currently marred by its recent integration of Call of Duty: Vanguard. As it did back then, developer Raven Software had to take extreme measures to ensure the game remained playable and fair for everyone involved – except now they have Warzone Season 2 delayed two weeks to implement fixes.
Delays are a good thing. They give developers more time to work, test and optimize. In the case of Warzone, a delay is a clear sign to players that Raven is taking the myriad of complaints (which include console performance issues, invisible skins, and tons of bugs) seriously. The last Call of Duty blog post details planned fixes that will hopefully improve stability, gun meta, and overall gameplay. Hopefully this Warzone Season 2 delay turns out to be just what we need.
Warzone players are no stranger to the growing pains inherent in large-scale changes. It’s hard for a studio to fit one game’s weapons and playstyle into another, and Black Ops Cold War showed exactly how complicated a task can be. Nearly every Cold War weapon was overpowered, resulting in a dramatic shift in the meta that gave players who owned and played the standalone title a distinct advantage.
Weapons like the FFAR and AUG defined the meta from the moment they dropped in Warzone. At launch, many Cold War attachments didn’t work as intended, and the difference between Modern Warfare-era weapons (designed with Warzone on the horizon) and Cold War weapons was painfully obvious. It just didn’t feel right, and when it was introduced alongside invisible attack helicopters and bizarre glitches like an inability to shoot through windows, players were understandably irritated.
Raven Software has been constantly addressing these issues, patching the Attack Helicopter several times and making small balance updates on a regular basis. But without having ample opportunity to go in and overhaul all of Warzone (i.e. delaying a season update or taking it offline for a while), it took Raven until July 2021 to release sweeping Cold War weapon balance updates.
Warzone is a gigantic game with an equally gigantic playerbase, and Activision’s decision to integrate new Call of Duty titles with battle royale is undoubtedly a difficult task for the developers. This two-week delay of Warzone Season 2 may not be enough, but hopefully the developers can get to work on some of the most pressing issues.
Call the Vanguard
I wrote in December 2021 that Warzone Pacific had massive potential, but wasted it at launch. My attempts to play on Xbox Series S were met with partially rendered graphics and guns turning into polygon explosions. Trying to shoot players across the half-rendered tropical island encountered plenty of misfires, despite my crosshairs clearly trained on their heads. These issues persisted through the new year and beyond, so much so that I suggested you expect to play Warzone in 2022.
Popular esports player, FaZe Swagg pointed out more glaring issues on Twitter just a few days ago, saying “I’ve been playing Warzone Xbox man I feel really bad… my eyes were hurting and it’s barely optimized.” In one Swagg’s YouTube Video playing on Xbox, he is shocked by the difference in fidelity between PC and console. “Night and day,” he said several times, shaking his head. “It doesn’t look or feel optimized, I’ll be honest.” The visual fidelity will have to be corrected, because many console gamers (myself included) moved away from Warzone and towards other tighter shooters like Apex Legends and Halo Infinite.
Optimization issues aside, Warzone Pacific’s main issue is balance. Much like when Cold War integrated into Warzone, there is a clear delineation between Vanguard weapons and Modern Warfare/Cold War weapons. Vanguard’s weapons feel either overpowered or completely unnecessary, with very little middle ground to help offset these dichotomies. There are still reports of issues with hit registration, which makes the gun meta even more frustrating – if you find a loadout that works for you and then you can’t kill, it’s easy to understand why players may be looking to other games to fill their time.
Warzone Pacific needs work, and Raven is clearly aware of that. The delay announcement states that the team is taking this time to “provide updates, including gameplay optimizations, game balancing (including weapon and gear balancing), to fix game stability and bugs, and to ensure an overall level of polish to improve the experience for Vanguard, Warzone Pacific, Black Ops Cold War, and Modern Warfare players.”
As always, it’s important that this work be done with developers in mind, especially given how Raven Software’s QA testers recently went on strike due to layoffs and more recently created the first major North American video game syndicate. The newly formed union (called the Game Workers Alliance) recently released a statement that reads, “A collective bargaining agreement will give Raven QA employees a voice at work, improving the games they produce and strengthening the business.”
With Season 2 delayed, we can only hope Raven has given himself enough time to address Warzone’s most pressing issues, and that he’ll be able to do so without forcing employees to follow a new schedule – we all want games to be the best they can be, but never at the expense of those who make them. All in all, a delay of Warzone Season 2 is good for all parties involved, and hopefully I’ll be back on Xbox Series S when the season kicks off on February 14.
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