The last two seasons have felt strong in some areas, yet weak in others. Combine that with a general frustration with the way Modern Warfare II and Warzone play, and it’s made for some rough press. Warzone is finally rounding into shape, and with Beenox finally back on the scene with Vondel (a new Resurgence map), things may be getting better. 6v6 may still be flat, but with a fantastic Ranked system that gets better with every update, even that side may be on the up and up.
Let me explain by breaking down Season 4. I don’t usually start with Ranked Play, but I have to commend Treyarch and the teams behind it. It has constantly been on the upswing, and if Ricochet can be implemented better, it will be the definitive ranked system in FPS’ games. My matches always feel fair, and they’ve done a great job with restrictions. I’d like some better and newer maps, but that’s a conversation for another day and not their responsibility. Ranked works, and that’s what matters.
Given my new maps quip, I should probably jump into those. There are two new 6v6 ones in this update, although they aren’t at all viable for Ranked Play. These consist of two Warzone locations, Showdown (a remake from COD4 that’s also an area in Al Mazrah), and Kunstenaar District (from the new Vondel map). Showdown is a close-quarters, boxy map that reminds me of a bigger Shipment with some verticality. I don’t feel like it works well for anything beyond a brawl map, but it’s nice to have a map around that works for leveling up your weapons, especially SMGs with some tight spaces. There are also long enough sightlines for long-range weaponry, so you’re good to go either way.
Kunstenaar District has plenty to love about it in terms of environment, with the cobblestone streets of Amsterdam proving to be a worthy muse. It’s a bit weird in play though, with an uphill slope at the halfway point of the map. I don’t know that any of it puts a team at a particular disadvantage – there are three lanes and some cut-through spots – but there are several “high ground” power positions that are tough to break, especially if someone has a trophy or portable cover down. That said, it’s a solid map, with plenty of ways to play it even if it is a bit of a longer design.
The Gunfight maps, Penthouse and Mercado, add to an already fantastic mode. Penthouse seems to be a skyscraper from the final story mission, but is simply a by-the-numbers map of what it’s named after. You’ll bust through multiple rooms, and even have a pool to swim through for extra rotation. It’s a different feel than what the rest of the game offers, and I appreciate the change of pace.
Mercado is based on the Mercado Las Almas map, but an indoor market section you’d assume is from the city. I like the environment, with a neat theme going for it, but it feels almost too cluttered. With a bunch of booths, a balcony, and the roofs of said booths being easily accessible, this is “COD timing” the map. There are just too many angles to cover, and it’s easy to cheese a team on Mercado.
So, the battle maps. There are two here, the Mawizeh Marshlands and Ahkdar Village from Al Mazrah. However, due to my extreme dislike of the modes behind battle maps, I haven’t played them. Most of these are exactly the same, you spawn, run towards whatever objective is up, and get sniped a few steps in. The battle map idea has run its course in my opinion, and is bogging down the rest of the game. I may present this in a more full featured article, but Call of Duty is trying to be everything to everyone, and it’s not working at all here.
The weaponry you can earn in this Season is also a bit of a mixed bag, maybe not for everyone, but at least for me as I’ve certainly been killed by plenty of variations. You’ll be getting the ISO 45, a submachine gun from the ISO Hemlock family, and the Tempus Razorback assault rifle from the same family as the Tempus Torrent. Both of these have drawbacks, although they can be fixed with some modification.
In my opinion, the ISO 45 is not as good as the one I remember from Modern Warfare 2019. This one, without any additional attachments, has an uncontrollable recoil, bouncing all over the place with an especially heavy horizontal recoil. I can usually control tough vertical recoil, but the 45’s is nearly unpredictable. This, combined with iron sights that get in the way of your screen, combine for a rough outing. The damage rate and range is also low, meaning you’ll need to be close quarters to get the best out of it. Yes, an SMG is going to skew to close-quarters combat, but there are so many better options at your disposal. It does seem to be the most useful in Warzone, so I’ll give it a pass.
As for the Tempus Razorback, it’s similar, with sucky iron sights and high vertical recoil. This one is at least controllable, but it’s an AR that almost functions better as an SMG. Maybe I’m wrong, but until you stick a few attachments on it you’ll be missing plenty of shots, and the damage rate and range are just not enough for it to be viable in the AR space. It could just be that we’re at the end of the cycle, but guns like the ISO Hemlock and FJX Imperium have come in and made an impact. With these two, I’m having trouble finding good builds online for multiplayer. They just don’t move the needle, and that’s frustrating.
Moving into Warzone, which is now just Warzone, no 2.0 attached, Vondel is definitely the crown jewel of this season. This is Beenox’s return to the scene, and while I’m sure they were involved in other ways, they’ve crafted an immaculate, smaller Resurgence map to add to the arsenal. Vondel takes after Amsterdam (we mentioned that about Kunstenaar District, a location on the map), and it’s just a vibe. All of the locations stand out, from the oddly shaped Exhibit to a freakin’ medieval castle. Rotating through the areas is simple, with lots of alleyways and cut-throughs that allow you to maneuver how you want, alongside some stellar verticality.
Water even comes into play, with tons of canals that make sense on the map. Because of this, there is an influx of watercraft and even a new amphibious vehicle to pilot. I also love the built-in transportation on the map, with boats just cruising around and a slower tram that just adds to the chaos. There was a moment where I was respawning in and my team was in a bad spot, so I just dropped in on the boat, where a nice orange crate had plenty of valuable contraband for me to fry a few players with. It’s all well thought out additions, and I appreciate the extra detail.
Overall, this might be the best small map we’ve seen in Warzone. Vondel has a lot of heart and soul, is pretty to look at, and isn’t just a rehash of what we’ve seen before. In fact, there aren’t any locations on the map pulled from previous iterations of Call of Duty, and if they are it’s very loose. There are plenty of gun metas that work here too; ground loot is very viable and there’s plenty to find in the many crevices of Vondel.
I would speak to DMZ, but I haven’t had the time to jump back in. So far the main draw has been new factions of missions, and with the extra paid items have rubbed me the wrong way. I may return eventually, but for now I’m holding off. Vondel may be what pulls me back in though.
Lastly, we can’t get out of here without talking about the battle pass, both BlackCell and the regular. First off, the teams behind the cosmetics are certainly upping their game. The amount of cool tracers and animated gun and operator skins has been awesome. That said, BlackCell and the battle pass don’t seem to have as much of the best of it. I like some of it, especially BlackCell’s iO operator, but this special skin swaps between black and white color schemes which makes you an easy target. Animated skins are cool, but this one will leave you at a disadvantage.
Besides that, there aren’t a lot of “must haves” in the battle pass. It’s a bit lacking, with its value mainly being in the COD points. There’s at least a chance that the cool stuff is mostly in purchasable bundles, like the Crash Team Rumble bundle. At least it’s worth the money.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and Warzone Season 4 brought in reinforcements and it paid off, to the tune of a phenomenal Resurgence map. What’s around it may not breathe much extra life into the game, but just the presence of Vondel makes this a winner of an update. If the midseason brings a great 6v6 map in Vondel Waterfront and the new shotgun hits, it’ll add some extra oomph that brings this one home. We’re one and a half seasons away from whatever’s next for Call of Duty, so let’s enjoy this while we can.
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.