Following the integration of Call of Duty Warzone with Black Ops Cold War back in December, it quickly became clear that the battle royale would never be the same again. Change begets change, after all, and the addition of new weapons, vehicles, killstreaks, and Operators was always going to expand the scope and scale of play. Until it didn't. Weirdly, it would appear that the opposite has occurred, and, on the eve of Warzone Season 3, it appears that Verdansk has reached a breaking point of sorts as a result.
Where Black Ops Cold War weapons were brought in to expand the depth of the loot pool, the competitive meta has only become less competitive, with the last two seasons of play dominated by two domineering loadout configurations. In March, a barren shipwreck appeared and missile silos opened up across Verdansk, although access to its subterranean network of subway stations and other hotly contested zones, like the stadium garage and six of the bunkers, was restricted. There may be more skins and Operators in Warzone than ever before, but I'd wager that you're more likely to run into the Rook Roze skin or Call of Duty League tracksuit than anything else a player could pull out of the game's vast closet of colorful costumes. While these examples may seem small in isolation, together they indicate that complacency is becoming endemic to Warzone.
Warzone has been growing at a steady clip, both figuratively and literally – the amount of content available is outrageous, as too is the install size – so why does it feel as if the scope of the game is shrinking? It's almost as if the startling variety of opportunity available across this sprawling, truly wondrous playground of carnage has gradually diminished over time. Warzone is arguably the best feeling battle royale on the market, but the abject stagnation displayed in Season 2 has made it clear that Warzone has become a live service in desperate need of revitalisation.
On April 22, new life will emerge from the ashes of Verdansk. It's been rumored that a Warzone nuke event will eradicate Verdansk. A nuclear strike on the social space that so many of us have called home during the pandemic has been authorized by the powers that be, designed to clear out complacency in the playerbase – oh, and the zombies that have been slowly (and somewhat underwhelmingly) touring the island, one point of interest at a time, throughout Season 2. A change of this scale isn't something I ever thought I would welcome, but the malaise washing over vocal corners of the community indicates that it's perhaps the only way for Warzone to not just move forward, but evolve.
It's time for big change
One reason I've been so vehemently opposed to the idea of a new map since the rumors began to circulate last year is that such a seismic shift can so often backfire. I know my interest in Apex Legends dropped off in the transition between King's Canyon and World's Edge in Season 3. The same happened with Fortnite, in spite of all of the evolutionary work that had occurred across the launch map in the months leading to the launch of Chapter 2.
If it sounds like what I want and what I like are diametrically opposed, that's because they are. I want wide-scale change in Verdansk, but I don't want Verdansk to go away. What can I say? I'm a complicated person... alright, I'm not, but I am the sort of person that craves change as much as they actively fear it. I'd long hoped that Raven would follow a similar path to Epic, which (ignoring the whole Zero Point collapsing Fortnite's map into a black hole thing for a second) heavily iterated on its existing space to great effect, changing the map's composition between battle pass seasons to keep the play feeling fresh and familiar.
It long appeared that Warzone would follow a similar route, although map changes have been small and largely ineffectual. While I believed that we'd see more cinematic in-game events, following the wildly impressive Black Ops Cold War 'know your history' reveal playlist, that just hasn't materialised, and the shambling roll out of zombies across the current iteration of Verdansk has been largely uneventful. So perhaps an entirely new map or, at the very least, a heavily altered '80s themed Verdansk, will be able to breathe new life into Warzone.
When you change a map, you change the fundamentals. Alter the use of light and shadow, and out goes the dominance of the Roze skin. Destroy the old points-of-interest, alter the composition of the spaces. Switch up the network of roads that pulls it all together, and the way of playing will change; as lines of sight, verticality, and lanes are altered, so too will the playstyles to conquer them. We've become too comfortable executing winning tactics in Verdansk, and it's time for the mission to change once and for all.
What are we hoping to see in this game changing refresh? You'll have to read our Call of Duty Warzone Season 3 wishlist to find out.
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