Impressions

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III & Warzone Season 2 impressions — “Keeping” up the pace

Call of Duty has been on a roll recently. I wrote an article about Sledgehammer nailing the live service element in Modern Warfare III and Warzone, and it’s easy to stand by that right now. Season 2 has arrived, and with it a bevy of new things, shiny things to engage with. There’s also been a ton of events, so much so it’s been hard to keep up with. Is so much extra COD too much COD? Is the quantity causing a dip in quality? After playing plenty of the new season, the answer is a resounding “NO”, and I want more of this please.

There is a ton to like here if you’re into 6v6 multiplayer. Starting with the maps, Vista, Departures, and Stash House have entered the chat. Stash House is the smallest of them all, a small lot with a very “open-concept” home in the middle. This resembles a Shipment style map, and it works wonderfully where others like Meat have failed. Somehow the spawns and lanes all make sense, with everything well spaced to allow you to use your preferred weapon and plenty of engagements to level it up.

Season 2 Multiplayer Maps | Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III

Vista has quickly become one of my favorite maps, and it’s probably the best new map we’ve had since Black Ops Cold War’s seasonal content. This is a tourist trap shopping district, with restaurants and shops abounding. It features the classic three lane design, with some bits of verticality that keep this map fresh as opposed to annoying. There’s a flow that the best maps have, and Vista has it in abundance. This is probably the closest we’ve been to Raid (Vista gives me that vibe and has some resemblances), which I think is the perfect map. Being able to run almost anything here is also great, whether flanking with a submachine gun across multiple great routes or posting up at different headies with an assault rifle.

Departures is a bit of a bigger map, and while some aren’t going to like the size, it actually works extremely well. This is because the spawns are well defined; you’re not having to hoof across the map every time you die. It’s a nice aesthetic change and isn’t even close to a reskin of Terminal, having its own distinct flow and feel and largely seeming evenly built for those who like to play Search and Destroy. Hardpoint also seems like it will play very well on this one, with some carefully designated hills that work with the flow. A lot of people are going to want Vista in Ranked Play, but I think Departures deserves a look as well.

Next up, the weapons. I assumed this was going to be a really mixed bag, as I didn’t care much for last season’s Ram-7 and both of the new ones are bullpup rifles as well. To my surprise, both are not only viable, but a lot of fun to use. The Ram-9 is the submachine gun variant of the Ram-7, but it feels like the feel of it works so much better in this form. It’s still bouncy, especially with horizontal recoil that can make you miss often, but as a submachine gun it makes a lot of sense because of up close engagements. The fire rate is also sublime, filling your opponent full of lead to make up for the lower damage rate. It’s a zapper, one you pull out when you plan an aggressive hit.

The BP-50 is the other gun, and I’m extremely happy with how viable it is. I’m not a fan of bullpup rifles largely because you need to hit a lot more shots with the lower damage rate, and most have a recoil that is hard to control. This is almost absent on the BP-50, not that it doesn’t exist, but that it’s easy to mitigate with the right attachments. Myself and friends had this thing shooting lasers, and accompanied with good range and the higher fire rate, you can make it work in a bunch of situations. It won’t be better in a long range heady fight versus an MCW, but it’ll have you moving around the map quicker and possibly even outgunning the MCW up close. Think the Groza from Black Ops Cold War in terms of build, a straight shooting gun with good mobility.

As for modes, Call of Duty doesn’t generally get a lot of updates in multiplayer, but I’m glad to see some experimentation. First up is Team Gun Game, which resembles the popular free-for-all mode but with the team twist. There’s also been a Snipers Only playlist. The best addition has been Hordepoint; Hardpoint, but with zombies coming into the mix. It’s a fun idea, and with the Walking Dead season theme, it makes sense to be there.

Speaking of Zombies, I’m really disappointed this go around. We talked about how amazingly fun the mode is in our review, and it’s a truly addictive experience. There isn’t a single piece of content available at the Season 2 launch, and what’s coming in the Reloaded update seems subpar. With the news that this mode has been handed to another studio, I’m really worried about its longevity even if I like the people behind it. Hopefully they get it figured out before it’s too late to save it.

On the Warzone front, we’ve also had some awesome additions, both in a Ranked mode and new map. Fortunes Keep has returned, which is in my opinion one of the best Resurgence maps done in Warzone. After playing it for a little while, it still is, and has some fun alterations. There’s a secret lab underneath the island (hopefully the start of whatever they’re doing to bring Zombies here), and an earthquake has opened it all up, changing the map slightly. There are new areas around the middle, and between that and some other good tweaks (the Keep has smashed stairs which keep people from camping the two front towers), things have never been better. The base design was already fantastic, with a smaller scale and some really fun points of interest, so I’m hooked again.

I also like the random Zombie power ups. There are things like Max Ammo, but also Undead Sight which gives you some thermal vision to spot players, and a fire sale one that allows you to access the specials at the buy stations during its timer. Beyond that, you can also get your hands on Wonder Weapons like the Ray Gun, which are quite limited to make sure they aren’t unfair. It’s cool ideas like these that keep Warzone fresh, and I hope they continue on this track.

That leads us into Ranked. This is a lot different than what people expected, mainly in that we’ve received a Ranked mode in Resurgence before regular Warzone. The rules are a bit different: You get SR for your kills and finishes, but you also use that SR to buy your way back into the match. Here is the example used by the Call of Duty Blog-

SR Death Fees: Beginning at Silver I, Death Fees become active in matches. They are designed to highlight specific survival by a single player within a squad. A Death Fee deducts a small amount of SR each time you die in a match. Resurgence allows for multiple deaths per match, but a skilled Ranked Player’s focus on each match should be to place high, with high kills and low deaths.

Protect your life and play to win in Ranked Play Resurgence! Note you cannot lose more SR than your match Deployment Fee:

Example 1: A Player has a –100 Deployment Fee and a –15 Death Fee. They are at –100 (as they haven’t scored any Kills or Assists yet) and die. No Death Fee is deducted.

Example 2: A Player has a –100 Deployment Fee and a –15 Death Fee. They are currently at –90 SR (as they’ve added +10 to their points), but then they die. A Death Fee is applied but only a portion; they lose –10 SR and are back at their starting Deployment Fee.

Essentially, this is how they’re making you gauge your choice on respawning or not to keep things fair. Otherwise, people would just hide until the endgame. This is a cool design choice and it’s nice to see the Resurgence mode getting some love. While Ranked will arrive in regular Warzone later, building it around Fortunes Keep and the eventual return of Rebirth Island makes a lot of sense.

All sectors of Call of Duty are still nailing the live service element as well. Whether you boot into multiplayer, Zombies, or Warzone, the events feel like they matter and give you another reason to grind. I’ve been really impressed with the Weekly challenges specifically, offering aftermarket parts (attachments that can completely overhaul a weapon); rewards that are worth putting effort into. Beyond that, there was a Year of the Dragon skin, we have a Cryptid one with a blueprint right now, and a Walking Dead one this week. These, along with a Horde Hunt event that has a really cool skin for doing Zombie related things (playing Hordepoint, Zombies, or Warzone and gathering bones and skulls that appear), make for almost too much to do. It’s awesome to see.

The battle pass and available bundles are also pretty sweet. One of my favorite weapon blueprints ever are the ones in the Spare Ribs bundle, translucent guns with bones inside them. There’s also an immaculate John Doe skin in the BlackCell battle pass, a golden skeleton with purple aether gas dripping from him, and also has reactive elements the more kills you get. While it’s mainly that one aesthetic for all of the operators, it’s a cool one, and I hope they continue to experiment in the way they have. In all, a great season of purchasable content with even more ahead.

Overall, Season 2 might be the best Call of Duty season we’ve had since Black Ops Cold War. Just about everything here has been a great addition. I’m saddened that Zombies has been so neglected, but here’s to next season being its big return… even though you’d think a Walking Dead themed season would feature more of the undead. If Modern Warfare III and Warzone can keep on this blistering pace, a frustrating beginning of the cycle will be a distant memory. So far, they’ve delivered.

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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