Call Of Duty Warzone 2 Review by 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 action 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 action royale title.

Warzone 2’s 150-player skirmishes of solo, duo, trio, and quad actionants 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 ons in Warzone 2. Being able to dive away from a bad gu 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 goneing 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 action 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 player camping, to wait out further circle collapses. Al Mazrah’s micro-circles force player 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 place, which often puts your fate in someone else’s hands. The Gulag is no longer a simple 1v1 place and, instead, your first will transport you to a multi-level place where you 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. 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 place with a minigun. He’ll drop into the if the match is taking too long, but defeat him and he’ll drop a key that allows you and any other surviving player to exit the Gulag. This means you can choose to avoid him and your opponents as intended, or you can choose to 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 versus reward proposition with this mechanic feels unbalanced right now.

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