Warzone 2.0

Gaming

One gameplay mechanic could ruin Warzone 2.0 for everyone

A major step back for the series.

Activision

Now that Activision has lifted the curtain on Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0, we have a far better understanding of what to expect from the sequel. The new game features a number of interesting changes — such as vehicle improvements, split gas circles, and the Al Mazrah map. But the sequel is also littered with baffling design decisions, the most egregious of which is the inclusion of AI bots. While bots will certainly have their place in the Escape from Tarkov-style DMZ mode, including them in a battle royale could ruin the experience for most players.

AI bots are baked into the fundamental gameplay loop of Warzone 2.0, so it’s doubtful Activision will remove them from the game entirely. Early footage from streamers suggests these AI bots are littered throughout the map. They often spawn inside buildings, heightening the action — at a cost.

Enemy bots often stand around, offering little challenge even to casual players.Activision

For starters, frequent players won’t feel any satisfaction from eliminating an enemy bot, especially since they pose no threat whatsoever. If you run into one, they just stand there and occasionally take pop shots at you, but even casual players should have no problems taking them down. Part of Warzone’s appeal is going on a tear, eliminating as many players as possible. Bots don’t add anything in this regard.

AI bots also drop items when defeated, like armor plates and ammo. But these items are found around the map anyway, so there isn’t much of a reason to prioritize taking out AI enemies. The bots also interfere with the UAV killstreak, as they appear on the map as red dots, just as enemy players do. Because of this, it’s often unclear which red dots represent real players and which ones are tied to AI. This can severely impact the way players engage with their opponents, leading to frustrating situations.

You will get shot in the back while focusing on enemy AI.Activision

The biggest issue with AI bots is players getting shot in the back. An enemy bot might take a few shots at you, but if you fire back, a real enemy player could easily swoop in and take you out while your back is turned. This is amplified even further if you fire an unsuppressed weapon, which reveals your location on the minimap. So in a weird way, you’re better off not engaging with these AI-controlled foes at all.

We foresee a slew of issues with third-party engagements. Imagine lasting until the very end of a match after finding lots of powerful gear and weapons, only to get taken out by a real player as you defend yourself from a weak AI bot.

The Stronghold, another new feature for Warzone 2.0, requires you to infiltrate and eliminate AI-controlled bases to earn a free loadout weapon from the store. Since loadout weapons are so expensive, players are encouraged to complete these Stronghold objectives. However, enemy players will likely come in, take you out from behind, and mop up any remaining AI eliminations, letting you do all the dirty work for them. It’s an obviously terrible design decision that will force even experts to play less aggressively, hurting the flow of a match.

These issues carry over to the new Gulag, which also incorporates AI bots. The new Gulag stage is much larger and more intricate than before, but Activision has padded the arena with AI bots that have an enormous health pool. They don’t deal much damage, but instead serve as nothing more than a distraction from the real players. Once again, you’ll likely get taken out while firing at the AI tanks around the stage. This is unnecessary and interrupts the flow of a Gulag match.

Overall, it’s easy to see the appeal of adding AI bots to Warzone 2.0, enhancing the action while giving casual players more to do. The problem is that these bots are implemented in a way that’s counterintuitive to the premise of a battle royale game. It’s already hard enough to survive against real players.

Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 launches on November 16, 2022.

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