Forget Verdansk nostalgia, Al Mazrah is Warzone’s best map ever
Warzone fans have been calling for the return of Verdansk from the moment it was removed from the game, but many are looking back at the map with rose-tinted glasses. Warzone 2’s Al Mazrah map is simply a better, more well-designed map, and there are plenty of reasons why.
Whether you consider this a hot-take or not is up to you, but after several weeks of invading the shores of Warzone 2’s Al Mazrah in a bid to outlast 150 other people in heated combat, Al Mazrah triumphs over Verdansk.
That’s not to say that Verdansk wasn’t amazing in its own right, but its popularity likely was more to do with being a product of its time and the circumstances surrounding it more than the map itself.
Whereas Al Mazrah is just a normal release standing on its own two feet with a plethora of outstanding features, and all things considered, it’s the best CoD battle royale map. Let’s get into why.
Warzone nostalgia is always going to be a thing
2020’s Call of Duty: Warzone was released at one of the most confusing and jaw-dropping times in recent human history, and it resulted in a large portion of the world having to be confined to their homes in a bid for safety.
This meant that gamers and streamers had even more time to fill and ended up doing so by dropping into Verdansk. With its new BR elements such as pre-made loadouts and the Gulag, Warzone vaulted ahead of Fortnite and Apex to arguably became the top dog in the genre.
Activision already had the experience of making a battle royale thanks to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode, but even as a free-to-play entry, Warzone’s fictional city of Verdansk felt very far gone from what Blackout was. It got rid of water and concentrated on creating several unique areas within one map.
The early gameplay stylings went down a treat, but the gameplay shouldn’t necessarily have a bearing on the actual map design as a whole, and if it does, let’s not forget that Verdansk was partial to very restrictive, dominating metas, and its final few months being destroyed by cheaters.
People will argue that Al Mazrah’s great feedback may be the product of recency bias. However, Verdansk still suffers from nostalgia bias from an era that will, hopefully, never be repeated during our lifetime.
Al Mazrah has a perfect balance in Warzone 2
If we’re being honest, Verdansk had a lot of dead space and always benefitted those with the aerial advantage – something that was easy to obtain thanks to Downtown, Promenade East and West, Train Station, and various other locations.
Al Mazrah’s verticality feels consigned mostly to Observatory and Al Mazrah City, but overall there’s less of a height presence throughout the map. Too often you could be sniped from above in Warzone 1, but it feels a lot more infrequent in the sequel – especially with nerfed Sniper Rifles.
Back on the subject of Water and it really has been a breath of fresh air in Warzone 2. In addition to a fascinating POI like Sawah Village which is half underwater, it adds a whole layer of depth to the gameplay.
Need to escape from a foe? Dive into the water and try and get as deep as you can. Need to jump or land quickly and can’t afford the time it takes to use your chute? Cannonball into the water. Can you see an enemy up ahead that you could sneak up on? You already guessed it.
Verdansk would kill you if you so much as dipped your small toe into the water whereas Al Mazrah actively encourages it. This is ideal as it extends your options and the ways in which you can experience and enjoy Warzone 2.
The devs also made a point to make Al Mazrah a lot more dense than Verdansk, and especially Caldera. There were often times that you knew defeat was inevitable because you had to trudge half a mile through barren land, whereas Al Mazrah’s more populated map mixes up the game’s action a bit more.
Warzone 2 looks gorgeous and distinctive
A huge problem that Verdansk suffered from for the longest time was that the sun was blinding and the color was quite dark and murky. On the other hand, Al Mazrah feels popping wherever you go and looks unbelievably stunning.
It’s been a breath of fresh air compared to the texture issues that plagued Caldera’s first weeks and its array of colors and varied locales makes everywhere you go feel unique.
Big points also need to go to the POIs themselves as they edge help Al Mazrah to stand tall over Verdansk. There will always be a special place for Train Station, Superstore, Hospital, Stadium, and Downtown, but no one really remembers the top part of the map.
In Al Mazrah, it’s got some classic locations from Quarry to Showdown to Highrise, the major popular destinations are spaced out, and you’ve got intriguing spots to land like Fortress due to the water aspect.
There are going to be OG Warzone fans who will always prefer Verdansk no matter what, and that’s fine. But make no mistake, Al Mazrah deserves a lot of credit, especially after the apathy for Caldera towards the end.
Time will tell on Al Mazrah’s legacy and where it will stand in the grand scheme of CoD, and even BR as a whole. But Al Mazrah is pound-for-pound the most satisfying Warzone map to date.
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Image Credit: Activision