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[News] Call Of Duty: Warzone 2 Review - Al Mazrah Shines

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Although Call of Duty: Warzone 2 introduces the new Al Mazrah map, it integrates both new and iconic locations together to serve as a crucible for the battle royale's big overhaul to a lot of core features and the introduction of Modern Warfare 2's mechanics and movement. The end result is mixed, with some of Warzone 2.0's new additions making the moment-to-moment action feel fresh, while updates to other classic Warzone features feel like a step back for the battle royale title.

Warzone 2's 150-player skirmishes of solo, duo, trio, and quad combatants are played out on the new Al Mazrah map. The fictional desert region in Western Asia does a great job of combining new Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer maps with several nostalgic locations that longtime Call of Duty fans will recognize. Your adventures in Al Mazrah will take you through Rust, Terminal, Highrise, Afghan, and Quarry from the original Modern Warfare 2, and every location--old or new--blends together to create a vibrant and beautiful environment.

In comparison to Modern Warfare's Verdansk map, Al Mazrah feels more diverse, with its mixture of arid desert, large bodies of water, tight cities, and exposed small towns. Water was very limited in the original Warzone because Modern Warfare lacked swimming mechanics, but the sequel brings over all the features and mechanics of Modern Warfare 2, which means that large bodies of water, boats and swimming are now added to the mix, and they're meaningful additions that give you fresh ways to take on fights in Warzone 2. Being able to dive away from a bad gunfight or use it for stealth to flank an opponent in particular adds a new kind of dynamism to engagements.

There's also a much better balance with how the map is designed. Although vast, Verdansk's Stadium and Caldera's Peak weighted the focus to those massive landmarks, making them choke points of sorts. Al Mazrah, however, doesn't have a similar focal point that's hard to traverse around like the aforementioned locations. Instead there's a great mix of environments with buildings for close-quarters action, but also a lot of open sight lines for sniping. Thankfully, the spacious areas don't leave you too vulnerable when passing through them, as there are plenty of large rocks and other things to use as cover, so rotating from point to point doesn't always feel like a struggle.

Vanguard's Caldera wasn't a very popular map, as it launched with tons of visibility issues and bugs. I haven't encountered any Caldera-like texture bugs or demon gun glitches on PS5 in Al Mazrah--the map is vibrant and doesn't seem to suffer from any glaring lighting or visibility issues. While I think it's going to be hard to top the nostalgia of the original Verdansk map, I do think Al Mazrah is a strong and well-balanced map for Warzone's sequel.

One of the major gameplay changes Warzone 2 introduces is a brand-new circle mechanic. Instead of one large circle, there are multiple "micro-circles" appearing at once. There can be up to three of these smaller circles active in any given match, but, eventually, these all merge back together for the final circle.

Although unconventional for the battle royale genre, this approach does add a bit more spice to the mid-game action of Warzone matches. On Verdansk or Caldera, matches could quickly turn into players camping, to wait out further circle collapses. Al Mazrah's micro-circles force players together into condensed locations earlier to offer you more engagements leading up to the final circle collapse. This simple change ensures matches feel engaging and like something is always happening.

While micro-circles are a smart and welcome change, the same can't be said of Warzone 2's revamped Gulag. Sadly, Al Mazrah comes with an overly-complex and much larger Gulag arena, which often puts your fate in someone else's hands. The Gulag is no longer a simple 1v1 arena and, instead, your first death will transport you to a multi-level arena where you fight in 2v2 matches while temporarily paired up with another random player. The original Gulag was an exciting way to give you a second chance, provided you had the skills to win a 1v1 fight. But this new 2v2 twist leaves your fate partially in a random player's hands. Although this Gulag does utilize the game's proximity chat feature, someone like me who sits in party chats with friends or squadmates will find themselves struggling to communicate with a temporary duo partner. And if they--or you--die, the odds of survival become much more grim for the surviving player.

There's also the addition of an AI opponent known as the Jailer,'' who lurks around the arena with a minigun. He'll drop into the fight if the match is taking too long, but defeat him and he'll drop a key that allows you and any other surviving players to exit the Gulag. This means you can choose to avoid him and fight your opponents as intended, or you can choose to fight the Jailer and hope for an alternate escape. However, the Jailer is a bullet sponge and it will likely take at least one other person to help you defeat him, which in turn can actually drag out the length of the matches. The risk versus reward proposition with this mechanic feels unbalanced right now.

Overall, Al Mazrah's home for second chances feels like it takes a few steps backwards. Out of all the changes that this sequel brings, this Gulag is one of the few I really hope gets some revisions.

Al Mazrah also features the addition of the new Stronghold and Black Site loot locations. At the end of the first circle collapse, Strongholds are activated on the map, and there are 77 random locations that the Strongholds can appear. However, there will only ever be three on the map at once. Strongholds are marked on the map as a large castle icon, and the first team to reach one must defuse a bomb there before a timer expires. Otherwise, the objective for the remaining Strongholds is to clear out a specific number of enemies. Completing these will reward you with items like your loadout, killstreaks, gas masks, and such.

You can go for an even greater challenge with Black Sites, which are basically an even more dangerous form of Strongholds. A Black Site is marked on the map with a skull icon and contains considerably tougher armored enemies, including a Juggernaut boss.

It's also an enticing place to conquer for the in-game loot you receive for use in the match itself. Tools like a minigun, durable gas mask, a loadout drop, Advanced UAV, or a permanent UAV to ping enemies in the area surrounding the Black Site can be critical to success. The UAV lasts until the area becomes lost to the circle collapse, which means it can turn this location into a major power point with all the high-end loot and intel it offers.

Strongholds and Black Sites are both a positive addition to Warzone. They are completely optional, but given how contested control of them can be, they serve as great locations for those who prefer a bit more action in their battle royale. These areas are tough to clear out with just the AI enemies, but you'll almost always find other human players there looking to either secure the items they offer or ambush you to capitalize on your efforts. Since their locations are randomized each match, they are a good way to keep players on their toes, too.

Looting feels more natural to the environment in Warzone 2. Cash can be looted from cash registers, while health supplies are found in places like first-aid kits in bathrooms and ambulances. It's much easier to find the item you need because you can look in specific places that make sense, instead of relying on the randomness of supply crates.

Warzone also adds a simplified backpack system that feels like a hybrid of Black Ops 4's Blackout battle royale and the original Warzone. You keep your typical Warzone loadout with a primary weapon, secondary, and tactical and lethal equipment, but now you have a backpack that allows you to carry extra items you couldn't tote around before. You start with a small pack that has six inventory slots, but you can loot or purchase a pack that has more.

At first, having a backpack to stow and pull items from seems like a hassle,because you can often find yourself hiding somewhere rummaging through your pack to drop or add items, feeling vulnerable in the process. However, it's actually really convenient to be able to carry more supplies. It's nice to know you can lug around an extra stack of armor plates for yourself or that one teammate who never loots well enough. However, this approach does pave the way for some potentially annoying situations too, such as having a backpack full of nothing but self-revives or a pack loaded with just UAVs or a specific killstreak. There are opportunities to spam certain items, if you're able to collect enough of them, and this could have a negative impact in late-game scenarios.

Link: https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/call-of-duty-warzone-2-review-al-mazrah-shines/1900-6418003/


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