As DMZ transitions out of beta, the Call of Duty community expressed profound dissatisfaction with the new additions.
Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 just entered its third season, with a brand new battle pass, and plenty of cool-looking stuff in the shop. But there’s a bit of a problem—actually, it’s kind of a big problem. Some of that cool-looking stuff is currently under fire by fans of Warzone 2.0’s DMZ mode, who are concerned that the premium skins included grant unfair, game-breaking bonuses. Worse, leaks of skins that have yet to be added appear to turn DMZ into a virtual pay-to-win game.
DMZ arrived with Warzone 2.0 back in November of 2022. Currently still in “beta,” most expected there to be some bumps in the road as Activision worked out the kinks for its more approachable take on the growing extraction shooter genre. Seasons one and two saw various ups and downs, with tweaks to bot difficulty, spawn location, and loot availability. But one of the latest editions comes in the form of “DMZ bonus effects” attached to premium cosmetics. Right now, some of these premium skins contain arguably unfair permanent boosts to inventory capacity, while other upgrades revealed via datamine suggest that future premium skins will offer even greater advantages. It has many players concerned that DMZ will end up deeply favoring those who spend the most money in the shop. And it’s hard to argue that the sentiment is wrong.
Kotaku has reached out to Activision for comment but did not receive a reply as of press time.
Premium skins create an uneven playing field in DMZ
Currently, anxiety over the Bomb Squad cosmetic pack, which adds a medium backpack when you launch into a round of DMZ, is proving to be controversial. Let’s break down why this is a crappy thing.
As an extraction shooter, DMZ is about preserving your momentum through each consecutive match. Play smart, get good loot, and hang on to it for subsequent rounds to do better in each match. Die, and you lose everything. That loss is the great equalizer of the mode; it’s what you’re fighting to prevent in each gun battle.
Some of the loot is what you’d expect from Call of Duty: guns, grenades, various tactical gear, etc. But DMZ also has backpacks of three sizes: small, medium, and large. Finding a larger backpack means you can carry more gear. After dying (or starting from a new account), your backpack is reduced to the starting size: Small. Dying and getting reset back to scratch is a part of DMZ’s loop. It’s where we all go back to when we screw up or hit a streak of bad luck.
Like Dark Souls, ya just gotta accept that you’re gonna die and lose your stuff eventually. But at least we all get reset back to the same place together, right?
Sadly that’s no longer the case. Right now, the Bomb Squad premium cosmetic bundle, which costs 1,200 CoD points (you’d have to at least buy the $20 pack of 2,000 CP to afford this), is offering players a free medium backpack at the start. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do the math here: Spend money in the shop, and you can always be reset after death to a better place than those who don’t.
While it is true that a player’s arsenal of weaponry, which can include randomly generated weapons found in the map, or their own custom weapons designed in the gunsmith, does make a difference in who’s more likely to win in a shootout, what makes it all fair in DMZ is that you have more than likely earned your good gear through playing the game, be that by chance or smart playing. You can also lose those guns, armor, and better backpacks (though custom weapons go into a cooldown period which can be reduced by doing well in subsequent matches).
The new Bomb Squad skin, however, grants a permanent, free leg up to its owner: letting them acquire more loot and thus always outpacing someone who hasn’t purchased said skin. Upon death, they’ll always come back better equipped.
Perhaps increased inventory space might be forgivable if this was the only sore spot of this new season of Warzone. Some datamining, however, suggests that this is gonna get even uglier.
Datamines suggest that the pay-to-win scenario in DMZ gonna get even worse
File this one under FUBAR stats, folks. In at least one case, a future premium skin, Thorns Out, will actually give you a free UAV on deployment.
UAVs are seriously effective tactical equipment in Call of Duty: Pop one and enemies, players or bots, will light up on your map. PvP in DMZ is often a game of cat and mouse. It’s what makes the mode so exciting. Yes, you can acquire a UAV as loot in the game, but you have to put in time and effort (or get lucky) to acquire one. Now, it looks like some will just be able to spend money to get a new skin and always be guaranteed a UAV.
Other possible premium skin bonuses include a free two-plate armor vest on deployment (starting from scratch only gives you one plate).
The DMZ community, understandably, is not happy about this. Warzone 2.0 in general has had a bit of a rough time, with diminishing player numbers and frustrations over changes to how the game felt in the first iteration. Inserting literal opportunities for folks to buy their way into greater power in a niche mode like DMZ probably isn’t the best way to keep folks eager to continue playing.