With the launch of its third season, Call of Duty: Warzone has received perhaps its most significant weapon balance update yet.
In the patch notes, Raven detailed changes to many of the weapons in the battle royale, with significant nerfs and buffs. The impression I'm getting is Raven is trying to make Warzone's time-to-kill slightly longer, after a period in which players have felt the game to be too lethal.
The headline, though, is a significant nerf to the FFAR 1 assault rifle - one of the dominant weapons in the game. Here are the changes:
- Maximum damage decreased from 30 to 27
- Maximum damage range decreased by 15%
- Neck damage multiplier changed from 1.1 to 1
- Upper torso damage multiplier changed from 1.1 to 1
- ADS speed decreased slightly
Raven explained where it's coming from: "With high damage, rate of fire, and a competitive mag size, the FFAR 1 has enjoyed a lengthy reign of terror on the short-to-mid range engagement space. When a weapon is so ruthlessly efficient that it pushes the entirety of a weapon category out of viability, it needs to be addressed. The FFAR 1 will remain a respectable option following this change, but it should now be a playstyle preference rather than a loadout necessity."
Accompanying the nerf to the FFAR is a nerf to the Groza assault rifle:
- Recoil increased slightly
- ADS speed decreased slightly
- Upper torso damage multiplier changed from 1.3 to 1.1
"This change is more of a precaution," Raven explained. "We expect in the absence of the FFAR 1, that the Groza would rise to take its place. While there will always be a 'meta', we want the meta to exist in a TTK range that is a bit higher than where we are currently. In that regard, we believe the Groza was a bit of an outlier that, much like the FFAR 1, could have been detrimental to weapon diversity. Bringing the Groza down a notch should allow for some healthy competition in this weapon category."
Raven's useful explanations for its balance changes continue. The popular Mac-10 SMG has seen its maximum damage decreased by 1. "This is another precautionary change to promote diversity," Raven said.
"The Mac-10 is both popular and fun to use. Part of what makes the Mac-10 feel fair to play against is that its upside feels comparative to its downside. That is where player skill comes in. Knowing when and what weapon to swap to during an engagement is a facet of skill expression we want to highlight whenever possible. While this change only brings the Mac-10's Time to Kill up by about 10 per cent, we think this is a good place to start to encourage exploration in the SMG category."
Onto the devastating AUG and M16 tactical rifles, which have each seen a nerf:
Cold War Tactical Rifle Charlie (the AUG):
- Time between bursts increased by 33%
- Neck damage multiplier changed from 1.8 to 1.3
- Time between bursts increased by 10%
- Neck damage multiplier changed from 1.8 to 1.1
"The Cold War Tactical Rifle Charlie and the M16 were able to reach rates of fire that allowed the wielder to negate a requisite identity pillar of burst rifles - accuracy," Raven explained.
"With their extreme rates of fire and generous burst pattern, shots were not required to be well placed. You would inherit the high damage profile and range of burst rifles with minimal downside. With this change, and the change to Fire Rate barrels noted below, you will now need to aim deliberately if you intend to kill quickly.
"And... we are keeping a close eye on the AMAX. No king rules forever."
Raven has also significantly tweaked the values on attachments.
"We would like the diminution of weapon downside to be a build direction rather than a single attachment choice," the developer said.
"As it stands, we feel most attachments need to have their values addressed in some regard to achieve this. We are hoping to make some previously nonviable options less so in addition to widening overall build variety. This may include increasing upsides or downsides on existing attachments. We are also actively looking at how we can create more compelling choices within the confines of attachment categories - chiefly, muzzles like the Monolithic and Agency Suppressor."
There's a lot to like about this weapon balance update, and the hope is of course it results in a more diverse meta. Warzone has for a while now been dominated by a handful of weapons and their established builds. It will be great to see more variety out on the battlefield.
Speaking of the battlefield, loot that spawns across Verdansk has once again been updated. Loot now exclusively consists of Black Ops Cold War Weapons, including the new Swiss K31 Sniper Rifle and PPSh-41 SMG. Only legendary weapons will spawn as blueprints.
Last night, Warzone finally nuked Verdansk, and players are currently fighting in a nighttime version of Rebirth Island. The destruction of Verdansk part two kicks off tonight at 8pm UK time, and this is meant to lead into the new 1984 Verdansk map, which some players were able to access early.