The new Call of Duty: Warzone map, Caldera, has officially been out for two weeks after heavy amounts of lead-up and hype.
A welcome breath of fresh air from the stark grey tones of Verdansk, Caldera boasts vibrant colours, bringing both Roze skins and little rats into the light. Everyone was excited, and couldn’t wait to drop in.
However, after a couple of weeks of play, the community has been split 50/50 on the new map. Some love the way it looks, feels, and plays, while others do not. Many feel that the pacing of the map is too slow and that there is more exploring than fighting. The new map has some wins, but still a lot of losses that can hopefully be fixed by Raven Software. We want Caldera to give the same feelings that Verdansk did in the beginning.
Call of Duty Warzone: Caldera Map Review
The Warzone: Caldera Map
To begin, the map is beautiful.
It’s vibrant, contains a number of varied environments and terrain, and there aren’t a lot of dark corners to hide in. Rats will always try to find a hole to catch you off guard to ruin your game, but Caldera makes it a much greater challenge.
Despite there being a lot of trees, the new points of interest layouts are some of my favourites. Yes, they are all on the outskirts of the map, but that just changes how you strategize. In addition to this, despite there being a lot of walking and climbing, we finally have the ability to scale rocks and hills. Gone are the days of late-game situations where you’re stuck at the bottom of a hill and have to pray that you can out heal the person that appealed to the RNG gods and got the zone pull.
There are no more tall buildings where people can camp on the roof and hide, or buildings with multiple small rooms where someone can camp to catch you off guard. For the map itself, I give it a 7.8 – 8 / 10. I love it, most people I play with love it, and the change is for the better of the game.
Call of Duty: Warzone Caldera Map Gameplay
While the map itself is beautiful, the way it plays is where the criticism starts to flow in.
The first day on Caldera, for those that bought Vanguard, was met with a lot of bugs and frustrating gameplay. I play on XBOX One, so you know I’m already expecting the struggle (waiting on an upgraded graphics card), though some issues appeared to be universal.
Loading into the game is not only where the game begins, but also the issues. The animation going into the plane and seeing your squad is choppy and the audio cuts in and out. The audio issues continue as you fly over the map, trying to figure out which POI you are going to loot first.
Flying through the air, there are more audio issues along with buggy and laggy gameplay. When you jump out of the plane, everything appears to be fine until you cut your parachute. Then, the animation begins to go into slow motion, and you feel as though you’re going slower without a parachute compared to with a parachute. When you attempt to open your parachute again, there is a random delay making you question whether it is actually open.
Once you’re past the issues of flying through the air, you land on the ground and start looting.
Audio issues continue, you loot up, try to find some viable guns, and get enough cash to buy a loadout so you can go out and truly start wreaking havoc. And this is where the issue of game pacing has been changed for the worse. The loadout drop time has been altered so that you can’t purchase a loadout until the first free one has dropped.
At the first news of this, I thought it would be a great idea. Slow down the pace of the game, even the playing field for everyone, and the lobbies would hold up longer; but boy, was I ever wrong. The ground loot isn’t the greatest, and you struggle in gunfights early on. People believed that this was done to cater to the casual gamers, thinking that they would have a better chance to last longer in the game, get their load out, and continue the fight.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
Casual gamers love to feel comfortable while they play, and that means going to their favorite spots, collecting cash, buying their loadout and completing Recon contracts to find the final circle, and camping until the end game comes. However, they aren’t able to do this because the ground loot isn’t the greatest, they are getting destroyed by top players in the lobby, and they end up getting killed before the free loadout drops in the second circle.
With the new map, casual and lower-caliber players have to wait almost 2 minutes in order to feel comfortable with their own weapons. I thought I’d enjoy it, but it’s quite frustrating with the amount of cash being collected, popping UAVs, and not having your loadout to go running and gunning around the map. Not to mention, this is happening while the audio continues to cut in and out, even during key fights when you try to listen for enemy footsteps.
Despite other bugs and glitches throughout the map, there are some positives, believe it or not.
Dead Silence, stun grenades (to a degree), kali sticks, melee lunge for controller players, and heartbeat sensors have all been nerfed. Stopping Power rounds have been completely removed, the prices of UAV increased by $2,000, you get to come back with the weapons and equipment you used when you win your gulag, strafing mounting (not stuck in one spot), new contracts (Big Game Bounty: whoever has the most kills in the game has a bounty on them), and last but not least, the gas mask animation no longer handicaps you in a firefight.
In addition to these, the Vanguard mastery camos for weapons look amazing on Caldera, even better than they look on MP. There is an equal number of good and bad about this upgrade and the new map, but overall I’m still having fun fragging with the squad. Learning the new map and recoil patterns makes the experience that much better.
Caldera Map Weapons
The big bonus with the integration of the new guns from Vanguard into Warzone is that nothing is overly broken, unlike when Cold War guns were integrated.
There is a definite open meta right now, with a few guns that hit a little better than others, but nothing compared to the worst meta in Call of Duty history: the tactical rifle meta (also known as DMRZone). Despite the ground loot being absolute dog water, having a loadout with the Vanguard guns and right attachments isn’t overly powerful, and you can still use guns from Cold War and Modern Warfare while remaining competitive in Caldera.
The downside of the Vanguard weapons is the number of attachments and levels needed to unlock them. This trend appears to have gotten worse with each CoD released. It was level 55 max in Modern Warfare while Cold War was 72, though it didn’t take that long to fully level it up. In Vanguard, the max level is 70, but each gun has 10 attachments and the grind is slower than normal.
Some streamers and content creators have discovered that it can take a full 8 hours to get to the max level of a gun, but not everyone has the luxury of free time in order to do that, especially the casual fans. Once the guns are maxed, they are fun to play around with, mixing and matching 10 different attachments to create a viable gun for you.
Zombies this year is an overall L, so you don’t have the luxury of that game mode to level guns efficiently. If you have Vanguard, then leveling guns will be a journey and a half, but still doable. If you don’t have Vanguard, good luck.
Even though it sounds like I’m ragging on Caldera, and it sounds like I probably have low-key hate on for it, I don’t.
It’s Call of Duty, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that nothing will be perfect. Yes, they should have integrations and launches somewhat figured out and decent/near perfect by now, but it’s not just them (we’re looking at you, Battlefield 2042).
People assumed that the updated Modern Warfare engine within Vanguard would translate over to Caldera, but a gaming engine doesn’t mean mechanics, balances, or even features. Will we ever have a near-perfect game at launch for future Warzone maps? Probably not. Will they be able to fix everything wrong with Caldera right now? Probably not. But over time it will get fixed and give players less of a headache.
Right now Caldera isn’t a complete flop, will eventually get better, and we’re hopeful that the anti-cheat and future changes will make the game more bearable for both the casual and hardcore fans.
I know I’m having fun, and hopefully, you will too.
(And for the love of god, please add console FOV please.)