Warzone 2 is exactly what Call of Duty needs, but it may come too late
The most logical solution.
Activision and Call of Duty are in rough shape right now. The publisher is in disarray amidst workplace misconduct and employee unionization efforts. The company’s leading game, Call of Duty: Warzone, is in shambles. Though it seems solutions are in the works to help improve conditions at the publisher, its development studios, and its flagship franchise. But is an unlikely sequel to the current live service game really what the franchise needs? At this point, it feels like the one thing Call of Duty desperately needs, but will it arrive in time to save the franchise?
What happened — On January 25, 2022, Jason Schreier of Bloomberg tweeted that Activision will, in fact, release at least the next three Call of Duty games on PlayStation — following the behemoth announcement last week that Microsoft has purchased publisher Activision. While this is huge news for Call of Duty fans on PlayStation, equally as important is the mention of Warzone 2.
According to Schreier, Activision will publish Warzone 2 in 2023, along with a mainline Call of Duty game that same year. Schreier calls the upcoming game “a new iteration of Call of Duty: Warzone.”
Following Schreier’s tweet, insider Tom Henderson backed him up on Twitter, saying Warzone 2 will be available for “current-gen and PC only ... No past weapon integrations,” adding that it will be “a completely new game for better hardware.”
It’s important to note that Activision has yet to officially announce any of this, though both sources have positive track records, so we’re inclined to believe the reports.
Why Activision is doing this — Warzone has had a myriad of sporadic issues since its March 2020 launch. Due to a number of reasons, including problematic workplace practices at Activision, poor treatment of QA team members, and a jumbled, unclear direction, Warzone has been in a messy state — more so in recent months following the Vanguard integration.
Perhaps due to the collective backlash, Activision may be trying to start anew with a sequel rather than fix a game plagued by problems. This next iteration of Warzone is said to only be available for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC, meaning it will hopefully look, run, and play better than the current version while still retaining the Warzone name — a name that has attracted over 100 million players.
The Inverse analysis — How can Activision start making a new Warzone game when the first one barely works as is? But that’s just it: There clearly isn’t much else that can be done to address the game’s major problems. It’s been a technical nightmare for quite some time, coupled with an overabundance of weapons, many of which are grossly imbalanced compared to others. There are also missing features on console, and a slew of bugs and glitches.
A fresh start with Warzone 2 could, at this point, be a better option rather than struggling to fix a game that’s starting to seem broken beyond repair. Based on the reports, the sequel will abandon all previous weapons from past iterations. With rumors that Call of Duty 2022 will be Modern Warfare 2, this could be the game that kicks off the new lifecycle of the battle royale, with Warzone 2 possibly launching in March 2023 on the three-year anniversary of the first iteration. This would mean we’d get a new map, perks, mechanics, and most importantly, fresh, modern weapons.
This could be an opportunity to refine the way weapons work, hopefully dialing it back to fewer, more meaningful options. As it stands, Warzone has around 120 primary weapons, but only a dozen or so are actually worth using. From a developmental standpoint, this is likely a massive undertaking, as Raven Software must attempt to balance and tweak so many weapons with each update, inadvertently breaking others in the process. Perhaps the grand design was always overly ambitious, and a more focused experience is exactly what Warzone needs?
Warzone 2 is also the perfect opportunity for a true current-gen experience. Even aside from bugs and performance, Warzone doesn’t look great. Textures are muddy. Console versions are objectively inferior to the PC iteration, at least from a technical point of view. Most egregiously, the console versions are missing a Field of View slider, a setting that allows you to zoom out to see more on-screen. Since cross-play is enabled in Warzone, console players are often at a disadvantage.
Major refreshes are common in live-service games. Look at games like Fortnite and Destiny 2 — both of which have evolved tremendously over the years. Oftentimes, live-service games launch in rough shape and then improve over time. Sure, Activision could continue building upon the current version of Warzone, but without shedding itself from the original DNA, things will likely always feel wonky.
So much of Warzone is still locked to the old formula, so the most logical solution is to start fresh, apply what has been learned over the past few years, and use the new consoles to support a much better version of Warzone.
The solution is Warzone 2, but will it be here soon enough?