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Call of Duty: Warzone 2 Review Posted by Noah Smith on 11/24/22 BR Warzone 2 made a huge leap in size and ambition, but was held back by a rough launch.

Call of Duty: Warzone 2 Review Posted by Noah Smith on 11/24/22 BR Warzone 2 made a huge leap in size and ambition, but was held back by a rough launch.

For what feels like the first time in years, Call of Duty is innovating again. Even bogged down by a sketchy launch and saddled with a painfully clunky UI, Call of Duty: Warzone 2 is still a huge step up from its predecessor.

A battle royale game is only as good as its map, and Al Mazrah is one of the best I’ve ever played. A jewel of the Islamic Golden Age, the fictional Syria-like state has been slumped by internal strife and foreign interference. The flashy, modern business district contrasts with the mosques and bazaars, creating a map with more life than its predecessors, Verdansk and Caldera.

Al-Mazrah has been carved up not only by foreign capital but also by climate change, leaving behind a network of man-made waterways that can be easily traversed by boat. The map is dotted with strongholds inhabited by vicious AI mobs. These encounters are tough but predictable, serving as a nice warm-up in the early and mid-game, making the Warzone 2 structure feel less like a strict battle royale and more like an MMO PvP zone.

The art design is a welcome return to simplicity, and Warzone 2’s cohesive visual identity hasn’t been overwhelmed by flashy cosmetics and zany operator skins. Even though the Season 1 Battle Pass rewards looked like overdesigned airsoft guns, at least there was a theme, not a hodgepodge of styles. MW2’s top-notch approximate lineup of royalty-free guns blends well with the Near War aesthetic, even if some of the ultra-tactical guns feel out of place. Visually, Warzone 2 is a major improvement over the bloated Warzone 1.0.

(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

The sound design also remains incredible thanks to some clever mixing and layering. Firing a 7.62mm round from an RPD at a passing vehicle is even better when you hear the crunch of ceramic armor plates shattering. It feels great to be able to identify the pops and pops of nearby gunfire as bullets belonging to a particular caliber. In the meta in favor of the AK-74u, it saved me from getting melted in CQC a few times.

Warzone 2’s cohesive visual identity hasn’t been overwhelmed by flashy cosmetics and ridiculous operator skins.

The Gulag system underwent major reforms. It’s now a hall filled with prisoners and pitted against them in a 2v2 deathmatch in a large arena littered with weapon pickups. If the match drags on for too long, Jailer, a minigun-wielding juggernaut, will go down and speed things up. Being able to rely on teammates was a welcome change from Warzone 1.0’s sweaty 1v1s, and the chance for both teams to team up and hunt down the Jailer in their quest for freedom gave Warzone’s unique gulag system even more depth.

Al Mazrah’s vast size and treacherous terrain are perfect for ambushers lurking everywhere.

Vehicles are now critical to traversing these hazardous areas. One of my favorite new features is the ability to transition from the car seat to the roof with the press of a button, a change that feels like Infinity Ward acknowledging how cool it is to move freely in the back of a truck or on the hood of a car while they’re in motion. It was fun to chase with another squad and see soldiers climb out of windows in a desperate attempt to quickly target another driver from the roof.

(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Another great addition is proximity voice chat, which means a fourteen-year-old with a big mouth will no way Got your help again. Every game so far has been better with its addition(opens in new tab)–hearing nearby sounds always resulted in frantic boos or rampant war cries from my team. Remember the OG MW2 lobby? Warzone 2 is less toxic, but just as fun.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all smooth sailing: erratic performance, extreme stuttering when dropping at the start of the game, and frustratingly inconsistent hit detection made Al Mazrah’s best moments abysmal. While the stuttering issues have been corrected with a last-minute update, it remains to be seen if Infinity Ward can avoid the technical pitfalls Warzone 1.0 keeps falling into. For what it’s worth, in my brief time playing Warzone 2, I didn’t see any suspicious kill footage that made me wonder if my attacker was cheating.

Ultimately, I’m curious to see how Warzone 2’s battle royale suite stacks up against the Tarkov-like DMZ mode. Our final Call of Duty Warzone 2 review is out next week, but in the meantime check back for more Warzone 2 coverage.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is esports.com.tn's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.