Raven is trying to raise Call of Duty: Warzone's skill ceiling
"We ask that you consider these changes not as targeted attacks..."
Call of Duty: Warzone developer Raven has said it is close to a "balance homeostasis", where most weapon options are "at the very least viable" - leaving it to focus on raising the skill ceiling of the game.
The developer shared its balance change philosophy as part of the patch notes for a Warzone update that went live this week.
Raven spoke openly about the difficulty it faces making sweeping changes to the Warzone meta, as popular guns are inevitably affected.
"There are millions of you, and when we reduce the effectiveness of a weapon, we are bound to make a change to someone's favourite gun," Raven said.
"As players of this game ourselves, it pains us just as much. However, we remain torn. We are the custodians of this game - we make it for you. In the same light, we are charged with maintaining the health and integrity of the game. In some instances, this requires us to reduce the effectiveness of some universally cherished weapons. When we make a change like this, our intent is the promotion of diversity. We believe what makes a game truly engaging is choice. When we diminish that choice, we take away the agency to play the game your way. This can happen when a weapon becomes so effective that simply not utilising it puts you at a disadvantage."
Despite this, Raven reckons most options are currently viable, but it still needs to address Warzone's "time to kill".
TTK is one of the most discussed aspects of the battle royale, with some calling for it to be tweaked to take longer to kill an enemy.
Today's balance changes are part of Raven's effort to raise TTK, the developer said, "or at least the individual skill required to reach extreme ones."
"We ask that you consider these changes not as targeted attacks, but rather as part of a larger initiative to raise the skill ceiling.
"We want to give you the runway and the platform to show us your epic plays and proudest moments. We hope that journey of mastery brings you as much enjoyment as it does us."
Onto the changes. The CR-56 AMAX assault rifle has been nerfed (minimum damage decreased from 32 to 31). Here's Raven on the change:
"With a great damage profile, locational multipliers, and manageable recoil, the CR-56 AMAX was able to reliably reach extreme TTKs at long-range. This change reduces its fastest minimum damage TTK by about 17 percent in addition to its slowest minimum damage TTK by an additional shot. Its fastest maximum damage TTK however, remains intact - which is a risk we feel is equal to the reward considering how unforgiving its rate of fire is and how many other weapons it has to contest with in the mid-range engagement space. The CR-56 AMAX is just a tad more dominant than we would like it to be and with this change, our aim is to widen the selection of viable long-range assault rifles."
The FARA 83 assault rifle has also been nerfed, with its headshot multiplier decreased from 1.5 to 1.35, and its base ADS move speed decreased by seven percent.
Here's Raven again:
"When combined with a mobility-based stock, the FARA 83 was capable of reaching exceedingly fast ADS firing speeds. We like how the FARA 83 plays, but it is a bit too versatile currently. As part of our efforts to increase the overall Time to Kill, we are reducing the FARA 83's fastest TTK by 16.6 percent to compensate for its generous rate of fire and recoil control."
The dreaded Streetsweeper shotgun has also been slapped with a nerf, with its base hip spread increased, its recoil slightly increased, and its ADS speed reduced slightly.
"While shotguns tend to have limited viability outside of early game, we find the Streetsweeper is a tad too effective given its rate of fire and ammo capacity when compared to other weapons of its class," Rave said. "This change will decrease its lethal range slightly, punish inaccurate sustained fire, and give a little more time to react."
On the Streetsweeper, it's been pulled from ground loot and supply boxes - a change called for by the Warzone community. The Hauer 77 replaces it.
"The Streetsweeper's wide availability fostered a dynamic where passive play was incentivised and rewarded," Raven explained. "We do not think this type of play is particularly compelling for either party when players do not have the necessary tools in the early-game to effectively counter it."
Elsewhere, the Bullfrog SMG has been nerfed, and the PPSh-41 buffed.
Attachments have also seen significant changes, such as a buff to the Combat Recon barrel.
"As we continue to assess the place of Cold War snipers within Warzone, we realise there is much work to be done," Raven said.
"In addition to improving the overall efficacy of these weapons and attachments, we will also be taking a close look at their optics. This includes addressing attachment pros where there are few, if any, use cases. In specific... we may see a Cold War equivalent to an immensely popular Modern Warfare sniper attachment very soon."
Raven has also taken a look at attachments that were being used to increase the mobility of assault rifles to SMG levels.
"It is crucial to maintain an engagement space where each weapon type can excel, lest we risk guns becoming analogous. In that regard, some weapon types were able to elude mobility as a core weakness given the right attachments," Raven said.
"We believe this is in part why assault rifles have been able to assume the role of submachine guns. While it is a priority for us to maintain and embrace gameplay differences between Modern Warfare and Cold War guns, we felt movement speed modifiers in their current state would undermine gameplay integrity and overall weapon diversity if left unchecked. These stocks are still a solid choice, even with such a substantial reduction - which we believe speaks to just how strong they were."
And finally, Raven addressed concern from some that it only makes changes to Cold War weapons. "In the future, we fully intend on taking a closer look at some of the Modern Warfare weapons that have been struggling."