Warzone 2 and the impossibility of making everyone happy

So there’s Warzone 2.0 – I have to say, having not played Call of Duty’s Battle Royale in a while, I’m quite enjoying this sequel. As a Hunt Showdown player and still grieving Hazard Zone fan, I even enjoy playing the new DMZ mode. My joy is actually only limited by the fact that I find few players who communicate to a degree that would suffice for this game.

You still have to listen to them regularly, because push-to-talk is still a foreign word for most people, almost always barking at something that really gets on your nerves. Somewhere in the background a television is on, a dog squeaks that urgently needs to go out, or someone is clearing dishes. You even hear arguments occasionally. The only thing that helps is muting, which is actually not the point. Not in this game. So I’m primarily surprised that Activision hasn’t introduced a mandatory tutorial or something like that for a long time, or a better voice chat cleanup. But that’s a topic for another day I guess. Most of them play in fixed groups anyway, on their own Discord.

It’s cool when 150 players start yelling into the microphone at the same time and the game thinks that’s okay. Even better: the rear end of the pilot looks like a cute baby seal. A realization that cannot be unseen again.

That’s by no means the only thing that’s surprising about Warzone 2.0. What bothers me most is the general reception of the game by its fan base. Could it be that everyone plays it, but most hate it – or at least pretend to? In general, you only hear positive things about the new map. Al Mazrah is consistently perceived as an increase after Caldera. Otherwise, however, I have the feeling that very few have really gotten through that this is a sequel that wants to be played fundamentally differently. A plausible misunderstanding, after all, Warzone is a service game and they usually don’t change too much with the version numbers.

Warzone 2.0 breaks with this approach quite thoroughly. Sure, objectively there is a lot to complain about with the title. It’s bugged, reconnects to running games are still wishful thinking, many changes to the HUD are simply worse in a way that can’t be argued away. In addition, the ping system is still underdeveloped, the gulag would be much more exciting without the gun requirement and prison guards with miniguns and the new loot inventory is suboptimal. But that’s all work in progress. The basic problem for many seems simply that it’s a different game. A slower, more tactical shooter with a shorter time-to-kill where overly aggressive bunny-hopping and corner-skimming causes more problems than it solves.

From time to time the map still seems a little too big, but circle tweaks and mission distribution should change that.

A lot of people aren’t happy about that, and as much as I understand that – after all, we already have a PUBG (although Warzone 2.0 is a long way from it) – I’m one of those who are generally happy about the new direction. Because there’s a lot to like about Warzone 2.0: Once you get the hang of backpack management, DMZ, in which you complete missions against players and AI and then extract, is a nice change of pace with regularly very intense moments. The third-person mode is implemented better than expected and the general flow on the new map is enviable. I love the need to balance your field gear for different types of missions, share money for specific upgrades, take cover at supply stations, and generally be a little more strategic about the map.

So far I also have the feeling that camping is just as little dominant as the hummingbird-with-ADHD tactic. Once you slow down to the new pace, Warzone somehow feels right to me – once I’ve found reasonable teammates. And because not everyone sees it that way and angry or disappointed people vent their displeasure more quickly on the Internet, the user ratings are of course mostly negative. And there’s a lot that’s far from good about Warzone 2. But it’s so rare that something new is tried on this scale that I’m happy to give the developers a little more leeway.

More tricky than keeping two small children together in the zoo: the game with randomly cobbled players.

After all, there are now more and more posts on Reddit that defend the game and advocate opening up to the new way of playing and the fresh modes. It is probably part of the nature of such large entertainment projects that they can never please everyone – and the larger they are, the more intense the community’s thinking about rights. I’m not sure where the journey is going for Warzone 2 – and especially if they are doing themselves any favors by reviving Warzone 1 as a separate game, Warzone Caldera, I have my doubts. More options for the fanbase are never bad, they say, but overly petrified clinging to the veteran is, in my view, the opposite of what Warzone 2 could represent: an opportunity for evolution towards a more flexible, welcoming Warzone.

Then again, if a separately canned Warzone 1 is the price of keeping the professional “It was better back then” crybabies out, so be it.

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