Sunday, May 29, 2022

Call of Duty Warzone - First Impressions

DICE released their latest Battlefield 2042 briefing. It was underwhelming and disappointing. They repeatedly insist that they are listening to feedback from the community, yet they continue to persist with the awful specialist system. To add insult to injury, there is only one map in the season 1 update. The only new content we are going to get until then are weapon skins (which are not that great to begin with).

Read more about it here -

DICE, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the problem with the specialist system was that they were too clean looking, and proceeded to add some smudges to their face.

This is someone's idea of improving specialists in Battlefield 2042

I am at loss for words here. Its sad to see a beloved series, a truly one of a kind franchise suffer this way due to the incompetence of the studio. I decided that I am going to take a break from Battlefield 2042. So what are my options? I could play an older Battlefield game, but I spent approximately 4200 hours in Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 1 combined. I want something new.

I started scouring for a new shooter. I know that Call of Duty Warzone is very popular. I played the beta of Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2019), and to me it felt like a bad budget clone of Battlefield 4.

I remember thinking there was a decent game underneath the obnoxious interface, the constant radio chatter, the kill streaks and every other bad decision the designers made to break immersion.

This was 3 years ago. Call of Duty has come a long way since then with the release of Warzone, which is a free to play title. So I decided to give it a try. I was prepared to have to play Battle Royale, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there are other modes as well. I am playing the large scale TDM to get a feel for the game, and I will jump in Battle Royale at some point. Maybe.

Technical Details

After an 80GB+ download, I started the game, and it did not like my ultra wide monitor. It launched at a 16:9 resolution and after attempting to install shaders (which it does when you start the game for the first time), it crashed. After a few times of doing this, I started the game, and left it for a while, and it successfully finished installing shaders.

At this point, I was able to customize the graphics settings. When I set the resolution to the native value of 3440x1440, the game would around move all the windows that I have open on my secondary displays. This happens every time I started the game. It was quite annoying. Do developers not realize that most PC gamers have more than one monitor? Its the current year, and its disappointing to see modern games still struggle to work right with a multi monitor setup. In addition to this, any change to the graphics settings would make the game window flicker, and all the other windows I have open would go on a little adventure. Some would disappear entirely, and I would have to use the Move option in Windows to bring them back into view.

The fix was easy enough. Running the game in borderless window mode solved all the problems. I was hesitant to run the game in this mode because Battlefield 2042 had performance issues when running in anything but fullscreen mode. I was impressed with number of graphics options in this game. There are so many ways to tweak the game, and if I had to guess, it will run fine on mid to lower end machines. At the highest settings, the framerates are quite good. I was getting anywhere between 115 - 120 FPS. I did not notice any drops in performance even when there was a lot going on.

The Interface

This game has by far the most obnoxious UI ever. There are almost no options to customize it. I cannot disable any pop ups. There is so much information on the screen at one point, I have no idea how anyone can make any sense out of it. What actionable information is the UI presenting to me, when the screen so cluttered? I have trouble identifying enemies when there is so much on-screen litter.

I was complaining endlessly about how the UI in BF2042 was not good (and I standby that), but in comparison, even at its worst, its not as bad as Warzone.

The awful banner...I could not find a way to disable it.

Everything about the UI is garish. The ads when the game is started, the in game UI and prompts, the music cues, the player never ends. Its an all out assault on the senses. The developers seemed to have never heard of the concept of subtlety. All this would be alleviated if they simply gave players the options to customize their experience. Something as basic as disabling in game messages is not available.

Even the audio is annoying. The menu music, the screams of Godzill and King Kong in the background, the irritating in game voice just never stops. Of course, its not as bad as Battlefield 2 can be at times.

If I paid full price for this game, I would be livid. I cannot play for more than a couple of rounds because of the overload. I have new found respect for those that I can play this game for hours on end. Maybe I am getting old? Sometimes, I get the feeling that I am in the minority when it comes to wanting a clean, minimalist UI. Often times, I see Battlefield videos where every single UI option is enabled with 100% opacity. I am so thankful that Battlefield allows UI customization.

What is the point of creating a beautiful game, if the UI is constantly distracting and breaking the immersion?

Closing Thoughts

Its not all terrible. Notwithstanding my objections with the game, there are certain things that Call of Duty is doing right. Weapon customization is fantastic. Battlefield can learn a thing or two from this.

There is definitely some fun to be had, but this is not a game that I can take seriously. While it is possible that I missing something here, and I am not getting how this game is supposed to be played. I will play this game until the Season 1 update for Battlefield 2042 is released. I will try to discover as much as I can, and see if there is something I am missing. That said, in an ideal world, I will never resort to installing a Call of Duty game, but the sheer incompetence of DICE made me have to look for another multiplayer shooter.

As much as I am disappointed with Battlefield 2042, I am glad it exists. I shudder to think of a world where Call of Duty is the only viable alternative for me.

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