Warzone and Vanguard: 11 big questions about the update and new map, Caldera


The much-anticipated debut of the new map brings with it a number of big questions about accompanying changes. The last time “Warzone” integrated a new Call of Duty game, “Black Ops Cold War,” things did not go smoothly. With that in mind, here’s what we’re most keen to discover about the new map and the accompanying updates.

Will cheaters still be able to ruin the game?

Easily the most pressing issue for “Warzone” players is whether a new kernel-level, anti-cheat software named Ricochet will finally vanquish the PC hackers and cheaters in the game. For more than a year, cheaters have utilized mods that give them impossibly accurate aim and allow them to see through walls as they hunt down unsuspecting players.

The new software is supposed to help prevent the use of such cheats, but players have been skeptical since a Twitter post claimed the software’s source code had been leaked. Those concerns are overblown, according to a spokesperson for series publisher Activision, who pointed to an Oct. 15 tweet from the official Call of Duty account. According to the company, the code was not leaked but rather purposefully distributed for testing purposes. The new anti-cheat measures also go beyond just the Ricochet software, and include pursuing third-party sites and vendors selling cheats and mods, the spokesperson said.

There’s another big question tied to Ricochet’s effectiveness: If the anti-cheat software does work, what will players blame their losses on then?

Will there be another DMR fiasco?

This transition figures to be smoother given that, unlike “Black Ops Cold War,” “Vanguard” runs on a newer version of the engine behind “Modern Warfare” and “Warzone.” Still, balancing World War II weapons that produce more recoil against those with modern upgrades like night vision and laser sights may not be the easiest feat. What weapons from “Vanguard” will end up being the most viable, and will anything be overpowered?

Will the nerfs finally rein in gun melees and Kali sticks?

One of the most vexing parts of recent metas, or how players predominantly play the game, has been the proliferation of melee kills. Of the nearly 100 or so weapons in “Warzone,” the most effective has been the butt of players’ pistols, which can knock out another player with three strikes. There is also a minor epidemic of troll players wielding two rattan Kali sticks that seem to grant them the speed of a mongoose that’s been mainlining methamphetamines. In a flash, they’re able to drop another player who’s unloading on them with an automatic rifle. It seems … less than believable.

“Warzone’s” developers wrote in a blog post that damage from both pistol blows and Kali sticks would be diminished with the new update. While that would be a welcome change for players, there could be a new threat in the melee department: “Vanguard’s” bayonet. When combined with the Reach perk, players have captured footage of themselves lancing foes from absurd distances. This will be something to watch for in “Warzone” after the update.

What about the other buffs and nerfs?

Most top-tier players in “Warzone” have been exclusively using the throwing knife in their loadouts, in part because it’s a fast way to dispatch downed foes and because you can retrieve your knife after you throw it, but also because explosives like grenades and C4 don’t do the damage you’d expect. That’s set to change with the Caldera update, according to the developers, with “most lethal equipment” getting a damage boost.

There will also be some improvements to tactical equipment like the Snapshot Grenade, Stim Shot and Decoy Grenade. The latter will distract and deal minor damage to nearby enemies, while the Snapshot will be effective in a wider area and the Stim will grant a temporary speed boost.

Perhaps most interesting to players will be a cutback to the Dead Silence perk, which previously erased the sound of your footsteps and also granted a movement boost. The developers said they’re tamping down the potency of the beloved field upgrade. What exactly will that mean, and will Dead Silence be as prevalent as it was in past “Warzone” metas?

How will dogfighting work?

The “Vanguard”-only version of the battle royale mode will incorporate World War II fighter planes into the mix. The addition of usable, armed aerial vehicles is a wrinkle we haven’t really seen in “Warzone” since the minigun-equipped helicopter was introduced, removed, reworked and removed again. (Remember the invisible man glitch?) So the big questions are how effective will human-controlled strafing runs be and whether the weapons of players on the ground, including antiaircraft batteries, will be able to hold up against harrying planes.

Flying in the “Vanguard” campaign was not enjoyable. In fact, our review by Launcher’s Mikhail Klimentov noted “the less said about the game’s flying mission, the better.” But now, it looks like flying will feature prominently in this particular mode of “Warzone,” so how will that go over? Planes were not a beloved addition when they were introduced to “Fortnite,” for example. One thing is certain, however: The first player to snipe a pilot out of the cockpit will absolutely be immortalized on Reddit.

What mysteries will the map hold?

Part of the fun of the first version of Verdansk was discovering all its secrets, from exploring the bowels of the Gulag to trying to open the mysterious bunkers. What secrets are in store for Caldera?

The developers hinted at a few of these in their rundown of the island’s points of interest. In that blog post, they nodded to something built inside the volcano’s magma chamber, as well as “redacting” two descriptions about something that seems to be located in the Phosphate Mines zone. There’s also a reference to discovering the secrets of the Clear Water Lagoon, “including the remains of Capt. Butcher’s plane,” whatever that means.

When will the volcano blow?

Admittedly, this is pure speculation, but “Warzone,” like “Fortnite,” evolves its maps over the course of a year. Sometimes those changes have been accompanied by catastrophic events. The entry in the blog for the Peak area notes a “magma chamber” and “its slumber.” To me, this is the equivalent of showing a gun in Act 1 of a play. By Act 3, the gun is going to go off. If the devs are showing us a magma chamber and mentioning “its slumber” in the first act on Caldera, you have to wonder if it’s going to wake up, right? And if so, when?

How much of the map will be destroyable?

One of the biggest additions with “Vanguard” has been the introduction of destructible environments. So how much of the map will feature the same types of wooden and glass surfaces players have been shredding in “Vanguard’s” multiplayer mode?

On one hand, having, say, the River Village area littered with huts that can be shredded by machine gun fire could be pretty fun and present a challenge for campers players who like to stay in one defensible position for most of a round. On the other, if it’s overdone, it could reduce the amount of viable cover players can find and increase the number of LMGs and launchers in players’ loadouts as they spray ammo at structures instead of taking aim directly at foes.

Will the Peak be unreachable when it matters most?

While Verdansk’s dam made for an awesome set piece on the map, it was initially also a nightmare for players stuck at the bottom while the circle starts closing in. In short, there were no ways to ascend if you weren’t approaching from the sides. This changed in later updates, and the dam was removed entirely with the “Black Ops Cold War” map change. However, the game engine — for whatever reason — still sometimes prevents players climbing up sloped, hip-high embankments and continues to be a source of frustration.

From what we’ve seen of the various images made public, the Peak area looks to dominate the island and features a lot of the same terrain found on Verdansk’s craggy ranges, which may make late-game pushes problematic if these same issues are present when “Warzone” moves over to Caldera.

How will water factor into the meta?

One of the most notable changes when “Warzone” launched was that every player was like the Wicked Witch of the West and touching water meant insta-death. Now at least, players will be able to get their feet wet in shallow pools and streams, which also will allow them to throw off pursuers using the Tracker perk, which highlights your recent footsteps. Drop to a knee in water, and you won’t show up on thermal scopes either. It will be interesting to see how players make use of these features during map rotations.

How will non-‘Vanguard’ owners fare?

After “Black Ops Cold War” merged with “Warzone,” a number of its weapons became prominent in the meta, most spectacularly the MAC-10 and the DMR. It stands to reason the same will happen with “Vanguard’s” guns, to which you can append up to 10 attachments. But players who haven’t been ranking up their guns in “Vanguard’s” multiplayer may have a handicap when it comes to constructing their loadouts.

The update has a few interesting notes that could counter that disadvantage — to a degree. Loadouts can no longer be purchased until after the first loadout event, which is typically at the closing of the first circle. Because of this, fast-moving teams won’t be able to simply snatch up cash and immediately get their preferred weapons by buying a loadout drop early on. That means all players will need to rely on the lottery of ground loot at the beginning of rounds, thus putting everyone on a more even footing.

There’s also a mysterious reference to “weapon crates” in the blog that can appear around the island and “contain the coveted [Redacted] Weapon Blueprints seen in Verdansk, and armaments extracted from the meta-forward galaxy brains of the studios’ Gunsmith gurus.” At a minimum, snagging those weapons will almost certainly help during a round, but will those blueprints also be added to players’ arsenals moving forward a la “Warzone’s” contraband contracts?


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