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Call of Duty: Warzone’s sniper nerf is a much-needed change

Over the past few months, Call of Duty: Warzone has undergone a substantial number of changes — most of which implement much-needed quality-of-life improvements. For instance, the dreaded gas mask animation will no longer interrupt your final moments of a given match, and the Ghost perk has finally been nerfed. As part of April 2022’s Season 3 update, Raven Software has nerfed many of the game’s best snipers, eliminating the ability to achieve one-hit headshot eliminations within certain distances.

While this change might seem odd at first, it’s certainly a welcome addition. It not only adds more viable weapons into the mix, but also decreases your chance of being downed with no time to react. The new changes are actually a bit more complicated than you might expect, but it’s excellent news for Warzone overall.

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Ahead of the curve

Sometimes I do a snipe good in Warzone. Loving this Season 3 update!

— Joseph Yaden (@JosephYaden) April 27, 2022

Previously, lightweight snipers like the Kar98k, SP-R 208, and Swiss K31 dominated the Warzone meta, allowing players to quickly scope in and pull off a one-hit kill to the head. Sure, it takes plenty of skill to pull this off, but given how it allows you to instantly take out your opponents in one shot, it leaves anyone on the other end at a disadvantage. All it took was one well-timed shot to immediately bring someone down, which was difficult to counter, especially since these snipers offer fast aim down sights (ADS) speeds.

Following the Season 3 update, many top-tier snipers only achieve one-hit eliminations within certain ranges, allowing heavier rifles to shine without completely destroying the viability of weapons like the Kar98k, SP-R, or Swiss.

Chart of all max damage ranges for snipers in Warzone.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Courtesy of Call of Duty YouTuber JGOD, the chart above shows the new one-hit-kill potentials for the game’s top snipers, with each column representing 10 meters. For instance, the Modern Warfare Kar98k can now achieve a one-hit kill within 52 meters or so. For engagements past that range, it now takes an additional headshot to down a player. Likewise, the Pelington 703 can now achieve a one-hit kill only within 70 meters, though this is considerably better than most other fast-paced snipers in the game.

Here’s a breakdown of the max damage ranges for the snipers based on JGOD’s chart.

Weapon Max damage range Shots to kill within max damage range
Kar98k (Modern Warfare) 52 meters One
SP-R 208 45 meters One
Pelington 703 70 meters One
Swiss K31 45 meters One
Type 99 55 meters One
Kar98k (Vanguard) 47 meters One
LW3 – Tundra 45 meters One
HDR Infinite One
AX-50 Infinite One
ZRG 20mm Infinite One
3-Line Rifle Infinite One
Gorenko Anti-Tank Rifle Infinite One
Rytec AMR 98 meters Two
Dragunov 35 meters Three
M82 75 meters Two

You’ll notice a handful of heavier snipers haven’t received a nerf. These are rifles like the HDR, AX-50, and ZRG 20mm. This is a huge deal, as it finally gives players a reason to use these weapons, which were previously outclassed by the likes of the Kar98k and Swiss. From a balancing perspective, this makes much more sense, offering plenty of pros and cons across a multitude of options. It stands to reason that a bulky sniper like the HDR deals more damage than a lightweight rifle like the SP-R 208. This balancing change has been a long time coming, pushing the meta to become more diverse and varied.

The beauty of this update is that it doesn’t mean the lightweight snipers are obsolete. If you’re within the max damage range, you can still pull off one-hit kills — it’ll just be harder to do so. For those who enjoy playing on Rebirth Island, a smaller map that is more conducive to closer-range engagements, you’ll find the Kar98k, Swiss, and SP-R to still be totally viable. Meanwhile, those playing on Caldera will still be able to secure long-range eliminations with heavier snipers, making it a win-win for many players.

A new sniper meta

Solider holding ZRG in Warzone.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Now that the sniper meta has changed substantially, you’ll likely need to revisit your custom loadouts to replace them with different rifles as of Season 3. The standout sniper is now the ZRG 20mm, a Cold War rifle that still features relatively decent ADS speeds, high bullet velocity, clean-looking optics, and the ability to kill an enemy with one hit at any range. Despite this, the ZRG doesn’t feel overpowered, as it’s a lower mobility weapon that has a small ammo capacity of six rounds. Still, this sniper feels balanced against the Kar98k and Swiss since it’s slower, yet more powerful.

Aside from that, the Pelington 703 stands out as a fair middle-ground weapon that’s able to eliminate enemies in one shot at up to 70 meters. On Caldera, this might not be as effective, but considering it can be customized to offer competitive ADS speeds, the Pelington works well on Rebirth Island now.

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Joseph Yaden
Joseph Yaden is a freelance journalist who covers Nintendo, shooters, and horror games. He mostly covers game guides for…
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