Warzone 2 has exposed the lies at the heart of battle royale. Common complaints have been ripped from the pages of Reddit and are now communicated in real-time, as players stalk the sprawling terrain of Al Mazrah looking for exfiltration and in defiance of proximity chat. I’ve heard it all, from the boys who cry hacker to the blaming of each missed shot on server lag. However it’s those that direct their squads to sure demise – on a false promise that an opponent is “one shot” after a brief battle – who stay my favorite. Warzone 2 gives every one in all us the proper to reply to such indiscriminate lies, and loudly exposing a falsehood on an open comms line, before opening fire for a squad wipe, is probably the most satisfying maneuver that you can pull off in multiplayer proper now.

The implementation of proximity chat into an internet first-individual shooter is hardly uncharted territory, but it’s one of many many smaller-scale additions which assist to breathe new life into Call of Duty’s battle royale. The results are remarkable – Warzone 2 is remarkable, even as changes to fundamentals like loadouts and looting prove to be divisive for an already embattled community. Infinity Ward has succeeded in making the traversal of more and more hostile territories exciting again, regardless of whether or not you are fresh meat for the grinder or have already committed hundreds of hours to repeating the circuitous cycle of dying, rebirth, and occasional victory across Verdansk and Caldera.

Despite the technical improvements that underpin Warzone 2 – a very ambitious playspace, aquatic combat, an overhaul of weapon ballistics and handling – Infinity Ward has, in a way, returned to the basics of battle royale. The experimentation inherent in hybrid experiences like Resurgence, and goal-based modes like Plunder, which helped to define the unique Warzone are out.

And so 150 players drop onto a single, sprawling map with little more than a pistol. Solitary survival is interspersed with frenetic firefights at random intervals, as backpacks fill with loose ammunition and equipment. And when the final expletive is cast across demise comms, one combatant is exfiltrated from a small, circular enviornment – victorious, with a tale to inform to anybody who will listen.

Warzone 2 is defined by the stories it means that you can generate, and the way well you possibly can navigate the wide areas between a round’s most memorable moments – defiance within the face of loss of life; racing towards a closing gas circle; the quiet isolation of looting the sunken Sawah Village. Adrenaline-raising battles are more rare in Warzone 2, unless your squad is insistent on hot-dropping over the city of Al Mazrah’s high-rises. Because of the scale of the map, you are likely to see fewer enemies while exploring, and when you do encounter one, there is very little margin for error as soon as a trigger is pulled.

That is largely because of Warzone 2 embracing (and expanding upon) the core Modern Warfare 2 platform. Key mechanical improvements, progression systems, and overindulgences are shared between the two. Shared, and undoubtedly heightened in the fight to survive Al Mazrah – from the wicked time-to-kill and steadier movement speed, to the more convoluted approach toward weapon customization and loadout retrieval. Warzone 2 is a slower, more considered experience than its predecessor, with fight pacing among the many most severely impacted areas of play.

To understand why, you first have to have a real grasp of Al Mazrah. The Warzone 2 map is essentially the most spectacular (and largest) ever created for Call of Duty; densely detailed and smartly sectioned, with territories that make fine use of dense urban sprawls, sparse open ground, and undulating terrain that may act as makeshift cover in a pinch – the glimmer of a shimmering scope ever-current on each horizon. What’s incredible is that Al Mazrah doesn’t really feel like a patchwork, at the same time as it has you moving across original areas and old favorite multiplayer maps (Showdown and Shipment from MW; Afgan, Terminal, and Quarry from MW2; MW3’s Dome and even Neuville, from the original Call of Duty).

Visibility and detail is obvious, distance between POIs is palpable, and the dimensions of risk shifts cleanly as you move between areas. Al Mazrah is a cleaner map than Caldera, and more balanced than Verdansk. Nevertheless, rotating between positions is slower. The viability of tactical sprint has been reduced, your turning circle is wider, and weapon handling is heavier than it has ever been in Warzone. Engagements have modified as a result.

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