Black Ops Cold War dev explains how they decide weapon buffs & nerfs - Dexerto
Call of Duty

Black Ops Cold War dev explains how they decide weapon buffs & nerfs

Published: 22/Nov/2020 14:09

by Joe Craven


Tony Flame, Lead Game Designer at Treyarch, has revealed the process that goes into balancing weapons in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, revealing how TTK is the key indicator of a weapon needing a buff or nerf. 

Despite Black Ops Cold War being less than a fortnight old, Treyarch have already been hard at work balancing the weapons, scorestreaks and more.

First to be nerfed was the MP5 SMG, which established itself as an early favorite among competitive and casual players. Then came the November 20 update which gave significant nerfs to the FFAR 1, AUG and M16, as well as adjusting many of the game’s scorestreaks.


MP5 in Black Ops Cold War Gunsmith
The MP5 was the first weapon in BOCW to receive a nerf.

While Treyarch have hinted that the M82 sniper rifle will be next to receive a significant buff, November 21 saw Lead Game Designer Tony Flame explain just how they identify the weapons that require specific adjustment.

“A little insight into the core of “Buff” or “Nerf” decisions,” he said. “Time-To-Kill (TTK) is king, it’s paramount to preserve the best TTK experience across weapons over time. When a weapon far exceeds that baseline, we must nerf it to respect the TTK, and likewise buff to get it there.”

In short, the majority of Treyarch’s weapon balancing is based on how fast a weapon can eliminate someone in core game modes.


Of course there is more to balancing weapons than TTK, but Flame’s explanation clearly shows how that is the most important factor when deciding whether to strengthen or weaken a weapon.

The next course of action for Treyarch is deciding how to buff or nerf a weapon. For example, should the handling or reload be adjusted or should its damage profile be targeted?

It goes to show just how difficult effective weapon balancing is, and how much data analysis and thought goes into it on Treyarch’s behalf. Hopefully it pays off over the remainder of Black Ops Cold War’s life cycle.