Call of Duty + Warzone’s Game-Changing Season 2: What’s Worth Knowing
Season two for the duality that is Warzone 2.0 and Modern Warfare II arrived yesterday and with it a variety of tweaks and changes. But which are the most important? Which ones do you need to know before deploying in your mode of choice? We’re gonna cover all of that here.
Call of Duty’s latest seasonal update arrived on February 15. With its sights set on reverting unpopular Warzone 2.0 decisions (such as messy inventory and backpack management, among others), plus welcome additions like new multiplayer maps and a new environment for battle royale and DMZ, there’s a good chunk of stuff in here on top of expected changes to weapon performance and game stability. (Though I crashed to desktop on my first season two DMZ deployment, for what it’s worth…). Let’s take a look at what’s in store for the second season of Modern Warfare II and Warzone 2.
Warzone 2.0 changes: The return of 1v1 gulags and more
The original Warzone back in 2020 allowed players a chance to get back on the battlefield after death by winning a quick skirmish against another departed soul in the “gulag.” Warzone 2.0 decided to change that up with a 2v2 showdown and AI challenge in the gulag. This wasn’t popular.
Season two of Warzone 2.0 switches back to 1v1 gulag matches, and the enemy AI known as the Jailer (who’d emerge halfway through the showdown) has been replaced with a standard flag control point that emerges if one player hasn’t eliminated the other in the alloted time.
The backpack and loot system, which remains mostly as it was in DMZ (we’ll talk about DMZ further down), has been changed in Warzone 2.0’s battle royale. No longer will you keep track of starting, medium, and large backpacks. It’s one size fits all now for everyone throughout the whole game. And, when you kill an enemy, their loot vomits out of them like a bad decision to go to Papa John’s after a bar crawl. This extends to loot caches (boxes and other containers where you’ll find weapons). No more mousing or toggling through a menu that pops up when you open a container (and no more fishing through killed-players’ packs).
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For the record, I think this change sucks. But this was how things more or less worked in Warzone 1.0. So WZ1 vets, rejoice!
Other changes include an overall boost to the in-game cash, meaning cash registers and piles of money you’ll find around the maps will have higher monetary value. Everyone also starts with three-plate vests, so hunting down those vests won’t waste any more of your time.
Another critical change has been an upgrade to movement. You can now slam open a door while plating (common parlance for replacing shattered armor); so when you’re fleeing from an “oh shit, oh shit, fuck me, oh shit” situation (those are tactical terms, btw), you can more easily get to cover by way of slamming through doors while re-equipping your armor. Also, there’s been a boost to speed across the board. (Tip: You can auto run on PC with the H key, or toggling it on in the menus for controller. Search the menu for “auto sprint”).
Finally, many folks will be happy to know that Buy Stations now have unlimited Loadout Drops, so you can more reliably and directly access your loadout.
New battle royale and DMZ map plus a mysterious crashed plane in Al Mazrah
One of the big highlights of season two is the introduction of Ashika Island, a new, smaller, battle royale and DMZ map populated with Shadow Company bots. The new map features “an ancient shipwreck and ruins, modern apartments and town center, a sprawling beach club, a bustling port, an organic farm, [and a] fortified castle.”
And with Ashika Island, Warzone 2.0 finally gets Resurgence: A solo, duo, trio, and quad-compatible game mode that features respawns. When a friendly dies, you’ll see a timer for their return. You can speed that timer up by scoring kills. The base countdown timer starts at a higher value the longer the match goes on. Redeploys don’t count against you. So you can win no matter how many times you respawned.
Season two DMZ updates
CoD’s new extraction game mode, DMZ, though still in Beta, has a number of changes and things to take note of. They include:
- A complete Faction Mission reset
- A new faction: Crown (exclusive to those who own Modern Warfare II)
- A refresh of your contraband weapons and keys
Faction missions can be accomplished on the original map, Al Mazrah, as well as Building 21, and the new Ashika Island.
Ashika Island will also see a new DMZ boss and weapons case: The Bombmaker. Residing in an unknown location somewhere on the island, killing him will net you a weapons case with exclusive rewards. (Remember: You’ll still need a successful exfil with said weapons case even after you slay the Bombmaker.)
There are no changes to weapons cases for Al Mazrah and Building 21. So don’t worry, ya’ll, you haven’t missed out on the last rewards with the season change. Also, your insured weapon slots are untouched.
Finally, in what feels like something I’d expect in Fallout, there’s a crashed plane added to Al Mazrah. I don’t want to spoil the surprise of what you’ll find when you get there (hint: it involves AI behavior we haven’t really seen in DMZ yet), but you can find the plane at the very top of coordinates D5.
And FYI, you might wish to reset your backpack settings for DMZ. In my brief time so far in season two, my go-to “hybrid” mode (which alters the behavior of the menu when pulling up the backpack) doesn’t seem to work well. If you liked this mode and are freaking out over why you can’t select items when opening a loot cache, just set the backpack mode to normal for now.
Modern Warfare II: Ranked play, maps, game modes, and co-op
Modern Warfare II’s core multiplayer (which requires purchase of Modern Warfare II and features traditional FPS multiplayer modes like team deathmatch), has a few changes and new features, too.
Ranked play has arrived for those willing to prove themselves. Good performance will up your Skill Rating as well as Ranked Play Ranks (which go from one to 50). Ranked play will use Call of Duty League-approved rules which are fully documented in this thorough overview from Treyarch.
Modern Warfare II: season two’s new maps
Four new maps have also hit traditional multiplayer. Some feature familiar sights:
Dome is set on the battle royale map, Al Mazrah, as a small-medium battle area. Similarly, the larger multiplayer mode, Ground War, gets Zaya Observatory, another Al Mazrah-sourced environment that covers the science facility and surrounding cliffs. Vehicles will be in play here, but Infinity Ward describes this map as offering “critical choke points,” so you’re gonna want to be tactical when it comes to driving tanks or cars around.
There’s also another Al Mazrah site, Al Malik International, also known to DMZ as the airport deathtrap. The map has the full tarmac and terminal locations that have been home to many a BR and DMZ shootout.
Finally, Valderas Museum, a map which made its debut in the Modern Warfare II beta, is finally joining the game as an official map.
Four additional game modes at launch, three expected later in the season
Infected makes its return with season two. Here, players are split up into a team of survivors and infected. The infected start out with just one player who can “infect” the surviving team with survivors.
Perhaps one of my favorite party games, Gun Game, also arrives. Kills with guns (from firing, not melee) will reward you with a new gun to use, letting you move through a series of 18 different guns as you score kills. Melee kills knock your opponent down on that list of 18 weapons. The final weapon is the throwing knife; successfully take down someone with that and you’ll win the game.
Grind arrives at season two’s launch. Infinity Ward describes Grind as “Kill Confirmed with an added twist: enemy dog tags are stackable and must be banked at one of two fixed locations.” Banking several dog tags at once will boost your point gains.
And Hardcore mode arrives, which features multiple sub-modes and taxes players with “decreased health that cannot be replenished outside of Stim shots, as well as a limited HUD” has arrived. This mode aims for heightened realism, so if you’ve been getting bored with traditional multiplayer, this challenge is a serious step up.
Other multiplayer modes expected later in the season include:
- Drop Zone
- All or Nothing
- One in the Chamber
Modern Warfare II Co-op: new raid expected mid-season
During last season’s refresh, Call of Duty got its first raid! This narrative, shooting, and puzzle-based game mode is for three players who take on the role of classic CoD characters as they totally-don’t-commit-any-war-crimes in their “mission.”
Season two is expected to get another Raid somewhere around its halfway point. And like the first one, the overarching story stems from the ending of Modern Warfare II, so if you found the game’s single-player to be intriguing, the Raid continues the narrative.
Universal challenges and some sweet new guns
Season two has a whole quasi-samurai theme going on. The appropriately themed Path of the Ronin Challenges bring about seven trials for you to accomplish across Warzone and Modern Warfare II. These include:
- Integrity: Finish a Warzone match in the top 10, five times
- Honor: Restore Honor five times in Resurgence matches
- Sincerity: Complete five bounty contracts
- Compassion: Challenge details unlock on February 21
- Courage: Challenge details unlock on February 21
- Loyalty: Challenge details unlock on February 28
- Respect: Challenge details unlock on February 28
The Path of the Ronin challenges will run from now until March 14.
But let’s have a look at the new toys you can now shoot in the game. Some of these have unlock requirements, so you’ll want to pay attention to the deets.
Season two’s new water vehicle
Season two brings a new water vehicle: The Personal Watercraft. Based on the description and images, it looks like an aquatic alternative to the ATV, though it can only hold two players. Like the ATV, it barely has any protection from gunfire, but it makes up for that with increased speed. So, ha, try and stop me now as I’m looting the two crashed ships in the southern region of Al Mazrah.
For more traditional firearms, we have two new loud bangy things to fire. The ISO Hemlock Assault Rifle unlocks for free in the battle pass. This is an automatic rifle that takes 5.56 ammo and .300 BLK bullets. The KV Broadside Shotgun also unlocks for free in the season two battle pass. This is a 12-gauge shotgun I’m going to hope doesn’t suck like the rest of the game’s shotguns.
Season two also brings two other neat weapons to the sandbox. First up is the Dual Kodachis Melee Weapon, which, like the other two weapons just listed, will unlock for free in the new battle pass. These are two mini-katana-like melee weapons with which to slice up your foes.
Finally, an exciting new weapon is expected to arrive sometime during the launch window of season two, but you’ll have to work for it (or pay real money). Guys, it’s a fucking Crossbow. Slotting into the marksman rifle category, this is a silent, bolt-firing weapon with sights, recoverable ammunition, and that won’t set off trophy systems (the field upgrade which cancels out enemy grenades).
But here’s the deal, aside from a purchasable store bundle, you’ll need to complete the Path of the Ronin Event challenges to earn the Crossbow. As mentioned above, these are seven themed challenges you can accomplish in any mode across Modern Warfare II or Warzone 2.0 (that includes DMZ).
There’s also another marksman rifle, the Tempus Torrent, expected at some point mid-season.
New operator and a boost to Prestige levels
Along with season two’s samurai theme, the operator Ronin arrives for those who own the season two battle pass.
If you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber, however, you get some other neat exclusive stuff. These are expected to arrive on February 22:
- Samurai-themed skin for operator Hiro “Oni” Watanabe (will arrive mid-season)
- Oni Carver SMG Blueprint
- Oni Slasher Assault Rifle Blueprint
- Yoroi weapon charm
- Crimson Oni animated calling card
- Golden Dragonfly sticker
- Grinning Oni emblem
Every weapon change coming with season two
It’s time to take stock of your favorite guns, as a number of rifles are seeing some changes to performance. For the full bullet-point list, see the official patch notes, but here are a couple of notable changes to popular guns.
- Fennec 45
– Decreased damage overall
– Decreased headshot damage
– Added minimum damage against armor
– Small reduction to ADS movement speed
– Reduced mid- and long-range damage
– Reduced damage ranges
– Small increase to ADS time
– Increased damage at mid-range
– Increased upper torso damage
- Kastov 762
– Small damage reduction
– Added additional long range damage falloff
So, should you buy the new Call of Duty battle pass?
A new season is here and Call of Duty wants your money for its new battle pass. But is it a good deal? Well let’s break it down, but first, a quick vocab lesson if this is gibberish to you:
- Call of Duty Points (CP): Premium currency you pay real money for
- Battle Pass Tokens: Tokens you earn through play and use to unlock items in the battle pass
The battle pass is laid out over a map with branching paths and nodes. Each node features five items each for you to claim with earned Battle Pass Tokens.
The season two battle pass runs until April 11, 2023 and costs 1100 CP ($10 USD). An enhanced Battle Pass Bundle is available for 2400 CP ($20 USD). The bundle includes 20 battle pass tokens for you to skip ahead in the pass.
Note: when you go to the purchase page for the battle pass, it will take you to the more expensive option first. The cheaper version (which doesn’t include the extra battle pass tokens) is selected on the left-hand side of the screen.
If you play CoD regularly (and by regularly I mean multiple times per week, almost every week), you should be able to get through the battle pass in a reasonable amount of time. If you’re strapped for time and find the items in the battle pass worthwhile, you might want to consider the bundle. Fortunately you can see everything available in the battle pass just by clicking on various nodes in the map without making a single purchase.
Given that the battle pass has more than just cosmetics by way of neat weapon blueprints to add to your arsenal, 10 bucks isn’t too shabby of a bargain for unlocks you’ll earn over the course of the next 50 or so days. That said, if you bought the first battle pass and were frugal with the CP you earned from finishing it, you don’t even need to spend any money to get season two’s pass.
As with the first one, playing the game earns you Battle Pass Tokens to spend in the multi-pronged battle pass, unlocking various zones for new skins, weapon blueprints, XP boosts, and other cosmetics in addition to Call of Duty Points (CP). Completing the battle pass will net you 1400 CP to put toward anything in the CoD store, and that includes future season passes.
If you completed season one’s battle pass, and didn’t buy anything in the store last season, you should already have 1400 CP. If you saved your CP, the cost of the battle pass is covered by what you earned last season. Keep this in mind and consider saving your points as you could end up going for many seasons without spending a dime.
Like the previous season, season two will reward you with another 1400 CP over its course (provided you complete the battle pass). So if you like CoD, but like saving money just as much, hang on to your CP!
With so many different game modes packed into Call of Duty these days, we can expect an exhaustive list of changes with each season update. The latest changes to Warzone ought to satisfy the veterans from the first game. And if there are any substantial changes to the weapon meta as a result of the various tuning changes, we’ll be sure to document them in our best loadouts list.