Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II & Warzone 2.0 Season 2 impressions – “He’s one shot”

Most familiar with first person shooter lingo will get my tagline, but just in case, let me drop an explainer. “He’s one shot” refers to an enemy combatant that you’ve just lost a confrontation with, but with the caveat that he is one bullet away from demise. It’s a common call out, and unfortunately it means you’ve perished and there’s a chance your foe will escape. While it’s not detrimental, it’s a sucky situation.

Season 2 of Call of Duty has pulled up fully loaded, and even though it’s emptied the chamber, the famed franchise finds itself oh so close to the perfect drop. Even so, there are just enough issues for this one to still find itself on the wrong end of the health bar. That’s not to be all doom and gloom, however. There are a ton of positives to talk about this season, and if the teams at Activision can just find that final bullet over the lifetime of the title, they can break through.

Season 02 Launch Trailer | Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II & Warzone 2.0

Let’s begin with the disappointment. The two maps we received this go around are Museum, a beta map removed presumably for legal issues due its resemblance to a real world location, and Dome, a remake of the Modern Warfare 3 map. My and many of the community’s issues lie not with only getting two maps, but what these maps are. Museum was present in the game before launch, so it being paraded as new content feels disingenuous. Dome is yet another remake, but I’m more miffed that it’s one we received just last year in Vanguard via Radar, a WWII remake of Dome. If anyone liked this map, they don’t anymore. There’s some good news: a BRAND NEW map is coming in the mid-season “Reloaded” update, so there’s a chance things get better. But the fact that the community had to complain pretty heavily just to get here is unfortunate.

Museum is a large scale map and has a nice shine to it compared to most of the dingy settings Modern Warfare II has had. It has a decent flow to it, with just enough routes for submachine gun players to take in order to avoid the assault rifles. That’s the key to any of these kinds of maps, making sure everyone has a chance. Snipers can also be leveled up pretty easily on this one. The only thing I’m not fond of are the spawns. You’re often too removed from a fight to be able to regain control, and while long flanks are possible, you’re chancing upwards of a minute on it. Domination can come down to a single gunfight, because once you set up, it can be over just like that. It’s still a great map though, with a lot of nice detail and difference from most we’ve played on in the last few years.

Dome, however, is a different story. I think I’m done with it. It has the same layout you remember from Modern Warfare 3 and Vanguard. The only saving grace is that spawn trapping hasn’t seemed as rampant as it was in Vanguard, with Search and Destroy being impossible on offense in that game.

What I’m most annoyed by is the design, being ripped directly from the Warzone 2.0 map with some assets rearranged in order to cut off the rest of Al Mazrah, similar to Embassy. If getting a quick remake out was the answer, why couldn’t we have gotten High Rise? Or how about a real version of Terminal instead of the battle map variant? Especially considering Zaya Observatory is also in there as a battle map, which contains Dome. These weird choices are hurting 6v6 gameplay, and we’ve been enduring these awful map decisions since the beginning of Vanguard.

Speaking of battle maps, these feel very lackluster. Ever dropped onto Al Mazrah? If so, have you ever visited the Zaya Observatory or Al Malik International Airport? Well, you’ve been on the map. You can even see the assets of Al Mazrah in the background, with the out of bounds timer hitting if you try to go visit. Sure, it is extremely low resolution and it’s probably the earliest stage of loading of Al Mazrah, but it just reminds you that these are copy-paste maps for Ground War and Invasion, which is very depressing.

As for guns, they aren’t anything to write home about but they’re useful. The ISO Hemlock will be remembered by many Call of Duty fans from some of the other games, most recently Modern Warfare 2019. The insistence by Infinity Ward to continue to add what used to be SMGs to the assault rifle category confuses me. The ISO joins the AK-74u as ARs that I’ve at least known as SMGs. What’s more weird is the AR category dwarfs most others with eleven. I get that the game favors ARs, but swapping weapons around like this is odd to me.

That said, the ISO has a great feel to it like the 74u does, probably because it’s more SMG than AR. The movement is more free than most ARs, and even with a more limited range than its brethren, it still packs a punch. It also has very controllable recoil even without attachments, meaning you’ll be able to level it up quite easily from the start. Once you have those couple of great attachments, it’s almost broken, a weapon that can do almost anything in the right hands. The ISO had to be banned in Ranked Play because it was so versatile, proving its worth.

The next weapon isn’t nearly as overpowered, especially at the start. The KV Broadside shotgun may be annoying with an up-close one shot kill radius, but it’s nearly useless at any range other than point blank. I worked with it for a while and found myself needing three shots at times to get a kill at medium range. Shotguns should be like this, but when you have guns like the Bryson that can knock a guy out in one shot at medium range, it’s clear something needs a nerf. I even equipped the battle pass variant with a full kit of attachments, and it didn’t do much to help its case. The KV can be useful, but it largely disappears behind the better shotguns in your arsenal. If it helps it at all, I like the sights okay, given it’s from the Kastovia (AK) platform.

For modes, we had a lot come in the update, with Infected, Gun Game, and Grind joining the fray. It’s nothing you haven’t played before, and you probably know how each one of these works. Even so, having these modes present is awesome. All of these mix up the experience, and Gun Game specifically is a favorite of mine. It’s really arcadey, and there’s nothing like a bunch of friends in a private lobby trying to get to the last weapon. Adding old, unpopular maps to Modern Warfare II may be a no-no, but these modes are a big win.

We can’t close out talking about this season of Call of Duty without discussing one of the best things to arrive: Ranked Play. This is the playground that will sap every fiber of your being with its intensity, and it… is… AWESOME. With multiple ranks to achieve in both SR rating and overall ranking, along with rewards and leaderboards, this is the most complete version of the mode to launch since its inception. They’ve also been quick to react with pro player GAs (gentlemen’s agreements), and the map pool, weaponry, and equipment largely match what you’ll use in the CDL. I wish there was more that I could say, just go play it yourself. It’s a ton of fun with friends, even if some rounds will make you want to pull your hair out. My only feedback to Treyarch is that the matchmaking still needs tweaking; I shouldn’t be playing my fifth game of Ranked against Platinum and Gold players.

When it comes to Warzone 2.0 however, it’s pretty obvious this has been the focus. With Raven coming back in to spearhead things, a lot has changed. Gone is starting with two plate armor vests and having to find a three plate, gone is the 2v2 gulag, gone are bigger backpacks that allowed people to go crazy storing killstreaks, armor, and self revives. As silly as it sounds, things are back to classic Warzone in a lot of ways, and the community is pretty thrilled. I didn’t mind some of the changes as much, but I also don’t think it hurts going back to how things were. Sometimes you make a change and it doesn’t work, so being willing to switch things around is admirable.

Resurgence Returns on New Map Ashika Island | Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0

The biggest change this season is Ashika Island. We finally have our small map back, and Resurgence to boot. Ashika Island is made by High Moon Studios, the team behind Fortunes Keep from the Caldera “era” and it shows. This is the best of Warzone, with a creative Samurai-themed island that is small, yet bursting with fun locales. Running across an open field is nearly nonexistent; you’ll have plenty of spots to play your life and make the best rotation from. It’s not all easy, the hills and steep ridges make certain places either harder to reach or easier to hold, but it’s a great mix to keep things interesting.

While I love all of the different locales, the underground waterways are the most fun to utilize. A good high ground position is not to be ignored (at least if you believe Obi-Wan), but sometimes heading below the surface can give you an advantage. There were similar areas on Fortunes Keep, so it makes sense High Moon would bring this over. Verticality to a map can be more than ground level and up, and playing the mole is often a good idea.

It’s also refreshing that the high ground isn’t as overwhelming on Ashika Island. The castle is up against a large hill, so it’s not necessarily the best position, and for the most part there doesn’t seem to be a god-tier spot. Even the circles don’t always play nice, with one of our first ending at the floating gas station in the water below the beach club. This pushes you to make better rotations and pick the right weaponry, which flips what you’d be doing on Al Mazrah on its head.

Resurgence is why Ashika works so well though. This is essentially a mini-royale, with fewer players, less map space, and less time. Because of all of this, matches run at a faster pace, leading to more engagements. It’s almost like Team Deathmatch in a Warzone lobby. Part of that is because of a Resurgence timer, with the opportunity to respawn in the sky as opposed to a gulag if your teammates can survive until you’re back. Something that seems to be new is your buddies being able to get kills and other things to knock a few seconds off of your timer. It’s a great system, and even though I like the gulag, it allows you to take a few more chances in a game type that doesn’t always allow that.

As for everyone stopping by wondering why we haven’t really covered DMZ, there’s not a lot to see here. Your missions have been reset, your contraband switched up, and Ashika Island is available. There is a new mission set to complete, but it’s going to take me a second to get to that. I assume it’s not much different than the previous ones, just with a few new objectives, so check out our DMZ review to see what to expect in this mode. One thing’s for certain, DMZ is one of the best things to happen to Call of Duty in some time.

Lead Video Game Editor | [email protected]

David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.

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