The current Call of Duty: Warzone situation feels like déjà vu. Just like when Black Ops Cold War integrated with (and subsequently broke) Warzone back in April 2021, the battle royale is currently marred by its recent Call of Duty: Vanguard integration. As it did back then, developer Raven Software has had to take extreme steps to ensure the game remains playable and fair for all involved – except now they've delayed Warzone Season 2 by two weeks in order to implement fixes.
Delays are a good thing. They give developers more time to work, playtest, and optimize. In the case of Warzone, a delay is a clear sign to players that Raven is taking the myriad complaints (which include performance issues on console, invisible skins, and tons of bugs) seriously. The latest Call of Duty blog post (opens in new tab) details planned fixes that will hopefully improve stability, the gun meta, and gameplay overall. Hopefully this Warzone Season 2 delay will prove to be exactly what's needed.
Warzone players are no strangers to the growing pains inherent to large-scale changes. It's challenging for a studio to integrate one game's weapons and gameplay style into another, and Black Ops Cold War showed exactly how complicated a task that can be. Nearly every Cold War weapon was overpowered, which resulted in a dramatic shift in the meta that gave a clear advantage to players who owned and played the standalone title.
Weapons like the FFAR and AUG defined the meta from the moment they dropped in Warzone. At launch, many of the 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 were painfully obvious. It just didn't feel right, and when introduced alongside invisible attack helicopters and bizarre glitches like an inability to shoot through windows, players were rightfully peeved.
Raven Software consistently attacked these problems, patching the attack helicopter several times and making small balance updates regularly. But without ample opportunity to go in and overhaul all of Warzone (i.e. by delaying a season update or taking it offline for a bit), it took Raven until July 2021 to issue sweeping balance updates for the Cold War weapons.
Warzone is a gigantic game with an equally gigantic player base, and Activision's decision to integrate newly released Call of Duty titles with the battle royale is undoubtedly a tough task for developers. This two-week Warzone Season 2 delay may not be enough time, but hopefully the developers can get to work on some of the more pressing issues.
Call in the Vanguard
I wrote back in December 2021 that Warzone Pacific had massive potential, but was squandering it at launch. My attempts to play on Xbox Series S were met with partially rendered graphics and guns glitching into polygon explosions. Trying to shoot at players across the half-rendered tropical island were met with a lot of misses, despite my reticle clearly trained on their head. These issues persisted through the new year and beyond, so much so that I suggested you wait to play Warzone in 2022.
Popular esports player, FaZe Swagg pointed out (opens in new tab) more glaring issues on Twitter just days ago, saying "I played Warzone Xbox, man I truly feel bad…my eyes were hurting and it's barely optimized." In a YouTube video of Swagg (opens in new tab) playing on Xbox, he's shocked at the difference in fidelity between PC and console. "Night and day," he says a few times, shaking his head. "This doesn't look or feel optimized, I'm gonna be honest." The visual fidelity will need to be fixed, as many console players (opens in new tab) (myself included) have drifted away from Warzone and towards other, tighter shooters like Apex Legends and Halo Infinite.
Optimization issues aside, the main problem with Warzone Pacific is balance. Just like when Cold War integrated with Warzone, there's a clear delineation between Vanguard weapons and the Modern Warfare/Cold War weapons. Vanguard's weapons either feel too overpowered or they're completely useless, with very little middle ground to help offset these dichotomies. There are still reports of issues with hit registration, as well, which makes the gun meta even more frustrating – if you figure out a loadout that works for you and then can't get any kills, it's easy to understand why players may be looking towards other games to fill their time.
Warzone Pacific needs work, and Raven is clearly aware of that. The delay announcement states the team is taking that time to "deliver updates, including optimizations to gameplay, game balancing (including weapon and equipment balancing), to fix game stability and bugs, and to ensure an overall level of polish to improve the experience for players across Vanguard, Warzone Pacific, Black Ops Cold War, and Modern Warfare."
As ever, it's important that this work is done with the developers in mind, especially considering how QA testers at Raven Software recently went on strike due to layoffs and more recently established the first major North American video game union. The newly formed union (called the Game Workers Alliance) recently issued a statement that reads: "A collective bargaining agreement will give Raven QA employees a voice at work, improving the games they produce and making the company stronger."
With the delay of Season 2, we can only hope that Raven has allocated itself enough time to address the most pressing issues in Warzone, and that it'll be able to do so without requiring employees to crunch through a new schedule – we all want games to be the best they can be, but never at the expense of the people who make them. All in all, a Warzone Season 2 delay is a good thing for all parties involved, and hopefully I'll be dropping back in on Xbox Series S when the season kicks off on February 14.
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