If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – Infinity Ward learned this lesson the hard way, scrapping Warzone 2’s latest innovations to revitalize the game in Season 2.
The decline has been quite frightening. Warzone 2 reached a peak of 488,897 concurrent players on November 20, and just 17 days later, the concurrent player count plummeted to 217,328, accounting for a 56% loss in users.
Content creators grew tired of the underperforming title, and community members threatened to jump ship. A staggering loss of players served as a much-needed wake-up call for the developers of this battle royale sequel.
Activision took action by delaying Warzone 2’s second season until February 15. The decision forced Infinity Ward and the other studios back to the drawing board to re-evaluate a new path forward. In what must have been a tough pill to swallow, the development team chalked up their innovations as a failure, concluding the only way forward is backward.
Warzone 2 going back to basics in Season 2
On January 25, Raven Software released a lengthy blog post detailing significant changes coming to Warzone 2. The developers scrapped major WZ2 features, moving the game closer to WZ1. This gutsy admission of defeat is just what the game needed.
For all of its flaws, the original Warzone experience became a polished title. Raven Software took over as the sole developer during Call of Duty: Cold War and slowly molded it into something fans appreciated. By the end of Caldera, numerous quality-of-life updates and additions put the battle royale in a good position.
Warzone 2 was built from the ground up on a new engine. An unfortunate byproduct of the move wiped clean much of WZ1’s quality of life improvements. The 2v2 Gulag, backpack system, and a new perk system unnecessarily rewrote a successful formula.
Why Warzone’s 2v2 Gulag failed
WZ1 struck gold with the Gulag. After dying, players had the opportunity to earn a second life in a 1v1 fight instead of just twiddling their thumbs while watching teammates. Gulag matches were tense, action-packed, and rewarding.
The Gulag set Warzone apart from other battle royale titles, but the feature took a step back in the sequel. Warzone 2 changed it from 1v1 to 2v2 and added an AI enemy halfway through the round. Players could use the new proximity chat feature to talk with their teammates or cooperate with the opposing team to take down the AI enemy, respawning everyone.
Much of the community disliked putting their lives in the hands of a random player, and in some instances, the teammate left before a match started. A 2v2 Gulag felt more like a gimmick promoting proximity chat than a noteworthy innovation.
Infinity Ward heard the complaints loud and clear and confirmed the Gulag is returning to a 1v1 format in Season 2.
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Warzone 2’s self res and killstreak epidemic
Warzone 2 attempted to streamline looting by adding a backpack system. Players could find medium or large backpacks and organize their inventory like in other battle royale games. Unfortunately, the system didn’t transition well in Warzone.
Players abused backpacks by filling them to the brim with self-revives and killstreaks. This made end-of-game circles a nightmare, constantly avoiding air strikes or killing enemies multiple times. And incessantly searching through chests and backpacks to find an item you were looking for bogged down gameplay.
The developers announced medium and large backpacks are being removed in Season 2 to cut down on players hoarding items. And when a player opens a chest or kills an enemy, loot scatters on the floor, like in WZ1.
Warzone 2’s broken perk system
Last but certainly not least, Warzone 2’s new perk system was an unmitigated disaster. The Battle royale sequel took away players’ freedom to edit perks and forced users to choose between preset packages.
A game-breaking glitch prevented Ultimate perks from working correctly, and some players reported they could edit perks. The Birdseye perk also unintentionally gives players live updates on an enemy location. A hotfix resolved the Ultimate perk issues, and the Birdseye glitch is listed on the developer Trello Board.
Season 2 gives players the ability to edit perks again. The developers are also reducing the pool of available options, possibly removing overpowered perks.
All eyes turn to Warzone Season 2
When Season 2 begins on February 15, community members will be ready with either pitchforks or flowers. The developers have certainly put the game in a good position to succeed, based on the changes announced, but it is still very much a gamble.
It’s never easy to look in the mirror and accept you made a mistake.
Infinity Ward deserves credit for trying to evolve Warzone and even more credit for admitting it was wrong when the innovations failed to resonate with community members.
There is nothing more satisfying as a player than having your voice heard. Warzone 2 still has a long way to go in restoring the trust of a frustrated community, but Infinity Ward has surely made the right decision to empower its player base.