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Call of Duty: Warzone Pacific is too complicated for its own good

Even before the Call of Duty: Vanguard integration, Warzone was notorious for being complex. It had over 100 weapons to choose from, each with 50+ attachments, along with a slew of perks, and gameplay mechanics that were tricky to master.

Now, Vanguard weapons have been folded into Warzone as part of the integration, bringing the total number of firearms to a staggering 163, most of which have 70 attachments (and 10 slots to assign them). It also introduces a new map called Caldera, replacing the nearly two-year-old Verdansk, but with its fair share of bugs and performance issues.

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The result is a complicated mess that shows potential, while constantly getting in its own way.

Everything in moderation

Soldiers from the Warzone Pacific update.

The promise of so much content is — on the surface — appealing, especially since it’s all free. More, more, more! But even as a dedicated player, I found myself overwhelmed with the amount of content, particularly with regards to its weapons. In the game’s current state, most of the community is still working on leveling up the new Vanguard weapons, and the process is painfully slow.

A weapon’s performance goes hand-in-hand with its attachments, and of course, most of the best ones are locked to the end of a gun’s leveling path. In other words, you’re forced to reach max level with a weapon so you have a higher chance of winning firefights against opponents. Sure, skill is the most important factor, but you’ll be at a disadvantage if you don’t have the right attachments applied to your weapon.

It’s a process that is nearly impossible to keep up with unless you have dozens of hours each week to spend leveling up your weapons.

Unfortunately, the complexity doesn’t stop there. It’s not enough to simply have all the attachments for a weapon unlocked. Knowing which ones to use also poses a problem, as the in-game stats are usually mediocre at best, and aren’t indicative of what an attachment can do. For instance, certain magazine attachments boost damage but decrease fire rate. The in-game stats for this attachment simply show that it boosts damage, but since it doesn’t give you any indication of time to kill (TTK), a player might be misled into picking this magazine type even though it kills slower.

Beyond that, there isn’t an effective way to compare two weapons, making it tough to know which one is better. What ultimately ends up happening is that you’ll use what you think is best, only to discover there’s an entirely different setup you should have been using the entire time. Then Raven Software will release a patch that nerfs it — though don’t expect detailed or accurate patch notes to describe what changes were made. From there, it’s up to hard-working YouTubers like True Game Data or JGOD to manually test everything tied to an update — which is becoming increasingly taxing since there are so many weapons and attachments. Spoilers: Most of the time, there are other hidden changes that weren’t mentioned in the patch notes.

It’s a terrible cycle that involves spending hours grinding weapon attachments, then an update nerfs the gun you spent so much time working on, and you have to repeat the cycle. It’s a process that is nearly impossible to keep up with unless you have dozens of hours each week to spend leveling up your weapons. To the casual player, this isn’t feasible. And even for dedicated players, the weapon leveling is so slow that it’s still near-impossible to stay up to date with the current meta.

When you combine the sheer number of weapons and attachments, the vague patch notes (and in-game stats), and the slow weapon leveling, it’s easy to see why players would be turned off.

It works well until it doesn’t

Promotional art for Warzone Pacific.

On top of all the weapon woes, the Warzone Pacific update has serious performance issues across all platforms, but even more so on PlayStation. Most egregiously, assets and textures fail to load in, which can severely impact the outcome of a match. Oftentimes, entire buildings are invisible, yet their collision boxes are still present, meaning you have to guess how to navigate through them. This is bad enough on its own, but sometimes the assets and textures might load in first for an enemy player, leaving you at a major disadvantage for that particular engagement. If their building happened to load in first, good luck winning that gunfight.

The same thing happens with weapon models, which is even worse. When you pick up a weapon, it’s almost always invisible for several seconds, even though you can still use it. Since there’s no weapon (and thus, no sights), it’s extremely difficult to aim after you pick one up. If you just so happen to pick up a weapon and an enemy is around the corner, you’re going to lose the gunfight. It’s an absurd concept that will undoubtedly get ironed out soon, but the patch can’t come soon enough.

A visual bug in Call of Duty: Warzone.

But the visual issues don’t stop there. Sometimes entire pieces of land, trees, or textures for large assets simply don’t load in, making everything look unfinished — a far cry from the look you’d expect from gaming’s most popular military shooter. My least favorite visual bug happens when the texture for certain weapons expands across the majority of the screen, blocking the entire field of view.

Imagine spending all your time to level up the current meta weapon, only to get eliminated because you couldn’t see an enemy right in front of you due to a visual bug. It’s a frustrating occurrence that happens more often than you’d expect.

A spark of hope

Soldier shooting in Call of Duty: Warzone.

The most notable Warzone Pacific feature aside from new weapons is Caldera, the game’s first new large-scale map since Verdansk. Aside from the thematic change to a WWII time period, the map itself is much more vibrant than Verdansk, with more saturated colors that pop. This, from a purely aesthetic point of view, is a welcome change that keeps things fresh. But beyond looking better, it’s easier to see enemies since they don’t blend into their backgrounds as much as they did on Verdansk.

Caldera is distinct because it leans more into nature than Verdansk, with lots of forest areas, rivers, mountains, and hills to explore. Despite this, there are many wide-open spaces in between points of interest (POIs) that make it difficult to cross if you’re in an enemy’s sights, with few objects to take cover behind. This can make rotations tricky, but given how large the map is, and the fact that players tend to get eliminated quickly now, running into enemy gatekeepers as you run across open fields isn’t as likely as before.

Warzone Pacific also comes with new features such as vehicles, the most notable being planes. They take a fair bit of skill to pilot effectively, but a player who learns the mechanics will be able to dominate the competition. Though, you can completely skip using planes and still perform well on foot.

The other major change comes to the way Loadout Drops work. Previously, you and your team simply had to come up with $10,000 to buy a Loadout Drop right away, incentivizing players to loot and complete contracts efficiently. Now, players can only purchase Loadout Drops at the end of the first circle, changing the flow of the match significantly. This means players have to excel with floor loot until they can obtain their own custom weapons, but it also means you’ll have more time to earn cash. Since players have more time to loot and can get away with simply collecting their custom weapons from the free Loadout Drop, it’s common to have tens of thousands of dollars on hand after the first circle, which makes it easier to prepare for the later stages of a match. This also means it’s more practical to buy eliminated teammates back, allowing a decent team to stay alive for longer.

There’s a lot to love with Warzone Pacific, but given Activision’s history, it’s unlikely the free-to-play battle royale will be in the best shape it can be, at least any time soon.

This Loadout change is a controversial one, as it has alienated many players, especially ones who were efficient at looting and earning cash as quickly as possible. This does level the playing field in a way, allowing more players to gather their custom weapons at the same time. In Verdansk, it was common to simply have bad luck from the get-go, as players struggled to find enough cash to quickly grab their Loadout. You’d frequently run into other players who all had their custom weapons early on, only to lose the gunfight since you were using floor loot.

Thankfully, floor loot in Warzone Pacific is much better than before (for the most part), so it’s practical to survive without your custom Loadout. Ultimately, the Loadout change is one that might not sit well with veterans, but casual players will likely enjoy it.

Warzone‘s Pacific update is massive. It folds in three game’s worth of weapons, a brand new WWII theme and map, and new features that seem appealing, at least at first glance. But its overwhelming amount of weapons is its biggest flaw, pushing away even frequent players who simply want to keep up with the meta. The myriad of visual bugs, inaccurate weapon stats, and vague patch notes are enough to push even veteran players away.

There’s a lot to love with Warzone Pacific, but given Activision’s history (and the current turmoil within the company), it’s unlikely the free-to-play battle royale will be in the best shape it can be, at least any time soon.

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