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'Warzone' ADS nerf explained: 3 reasons the update is so controversial

'Warzone' ADS nerf explained: 3 reasons the update is so controversial

Ever since the Call of Duty: Vanguard integration in 2021, the free-to-play battle royale Warzone has been in rough shape. It’s packed with bugs, weapon glitches, and other major problems that have alienated players. Even though developer Raven Software is currently working on fixes, the company faced backlash after revealing an upcoming nerf to aim down sights (ADS) speeds in attempts to increase overall time to kill (TTK). While it may sound like a minor tweak at face value, this kind of adjustment fundamentally undermines the core gameplay.

What happened — On January 8, 2022, Raven Software tweeted that base ADS speeds across all weapons will be reduced to increase the general TTK in Warzone. When compared to other battle royale games, Warzone has a tremendously fast TTK, making it hard for players to react when being shot in-game.

“We will be decreasing base ADS speeds across all titles,” Raven wrote. “This will increase time to kill slightly as ADS times should be considered when calculating practical TTK values.”

Raven confirmed an upcoming nerf to all ADS speeds is in the works.Activision, Raven Software

The company did not reveal when this change will take place, nor did it clarify the extent of the adjustment. But based on the statement, we can expect every weapon in the game to have a slower ADS time following this update.

Why Raven Software is doing this — The main reason for this change is to appeal to more players. Having a slower TTK gives every player more time to react, therefore making it easier to return fire even if an opponent begins dishing out damage first. In other terms, a slower TTK means that you won’t die as quickly. If you look at titles like Fortnite or Apex Legends, it takes a much longer time to eliminate a player, which makes sense when you only have one life — and team-based revives are much more of a hassle.

3 issues that could arise

A nerf to ADS speeds will negatively impact the game. Activision

While the notion of a slower TTK isn’t inherently bad, there are issues with slowing down a weapon’s ADS time to get to that point. Here’s what could happen if this change does, in fact, take place.

1. Hip-fire will become more prominent

Warzone players are savvy and will do what they can to come out on top. If this ADS nerf goes through, players will then build weapons to prioritize hip-fire, circumventing the need to aim down sights. Inevitably, the meta will shift to stable close-range weapons, and there’ll be a new emphasis on mobility and obscuring enemy vision and radar.

While hip-fire builds won’t necessarily help at mid to long-range, close-quarters battles will be back to what they were before, and then Raven will be back at square one with its TTK problem. The players who are still aiming down sights up-close will be decimated by those using weapons that emphasize hip-fire accuracy.

2. Movement will slow down to a crawl

Gameplay will slow down tremendously if this change goes through. Activision

Another potential issue that could stem from this change is that it will encourage players to remain aimed down sights, with less of an incentive to run around the map.

“Decreasing the ADS speeds will only encourage camping more and moving less,” Modern Warzone explained, “It will also make the game feel much less fast-paced, which I don’t think is what we want.” Camping refers to locking down a single position, a practice that is already common (and annoying) in most shooters. Squads will likely take up sniper perches with one or two players covering the immediate vicinity with one or two others remain aimed down their sights.

Given the one-life nature of the battle royale, players are already discouraged from moving around. You’re far more vulnerable when out in the open. This change will likely make it worse, penalizing those who actively like to move around the map quickly.

3. Gunfights will feel sluggish and less snappy

Not only will the overall pacing of matches slow down, but individual encounters will become more sluggish if this change takes place. Part of the Call of Duty DNA is its fast-paced, fluid movement and gunfights. An increased ADS time means that players will have to slow down every aspect of how they approach an encounter.

Even now, it’s frustrating when you try to aim down sights with a slower assault rifle, which often feels like it takes an eternity to fully scope in. Heavier LMGs in particular will probably see the brunt of this major nerf. While the upcoming ADS nerf will theoretically level the playing field, the terrible feeling of slower weapons will still be present — or even get worse.

What could Raven Software do instead?

Simply giving players more health will mitigate the TTK issues. Activision

As noted by many prominent Warzone content creators, the solution is simple: Give players more health. Currently, your health is maxed out at 250 HP (with full armor equipped), but in 2021, a temporary mode called Iron Trials was added, which granted players an additional 150 HP, bringing the total to 400 HP.

Mirroring this formula is the way to go. Increasing the health pool would still keep the fast-paced gameplay intact, while not forcing players to hip-fire, or rewarding those who camp in one spot for the duration of a match.

Popular Warzone YouTuber IceManIsaac succinctly explains it:

You don't have to perfectly fine-tune every single gun when a larger health pool gives players more time to react/outplay. It helps to solve/mitigate their weapon balancing problem.

At this point, you can be assured that Raven Software is certainly reading the comments, but it’s unclear if the team will change course with the upcoming ADS nerf.