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Opinion

The top five Call of Duty Zombies maps in history

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World at War to Black Ops 4, these are the five best Call of Duty Zombies Maps.

From Nacht der Untoten to Zombies in Spaceland, over the past ten years players have been introduced to new features, new locales, and new characters. With the newest Zombies map, Dead of the Night, dropping this month for Black Ops 4 players, I thought it’d be appropriate to take a look at the past.

With more than 40 Zombies maps over eight games and three studios, there are a handful that stand the test of time and are regarded as the best. A couple of things go into consideration when coming up with these top maps, however the most important factors are replayability and fun.

A great map isn’t just great the first time you play it. A great map continues to be great the 100th, 300th, and 500th time you play it. In the same vein, a great map has to be fun to play. There are many maps that have amazing environments, exotic Wonder Weapons, and unique ideas, but if the map isn’t fun, those things are meaningless.

While fun is of course extremely subjective, I base the fun of a map on its ability to balance complexity and simplicity. Getting set up on a great map shouldn’t feel tedious, rather you should feel like you’re accomplishing something with each door-buy and buildable you craft.

That said, here are my top five Call of Duty Zombies maps (in no order):

Der Riese (The Giant)

(via callofduty.wikia.com)

The final DLC map in 2008’s Call of Duty World at War, Der Riese is the first map to fully embrace the Nazi Zombies vibe. Nacht der Untoten could’ve been a bunker anywhere and while Verruckt definitely had a spooky Nazi atmosphere, Der Riese leaned heavily into the sci-fi nature of the mode.

This map introduced players to both teleporters and the Pack-a-Punch machine, which would go on to become core features of every future map. Without teleporters (or some equivalent form of travel) large Zombies maps wouldn’t exist. And with no machine to upgrade your guns, high rounds would go by at half speed.

Der Riese has seen many iterations, its original form in World at War, an updated version in Black Ops 1 with different Mystery Box guns and Mule Kick, and most recently appearing as The Giant in Black Ops 3. However, since all three retain the same core layout, I bundled them into this spot on the list.

Kino der Toten

(via callofduty.wikia.com)

Kino der Toten is easily the best Call of Duty Zombies map to launch on-disc. The maps beauty lies in its simplicity. With only eight doors and a power switch, Kino manages to remain fun and engaging every time you jump in. Easy enough for new players to survive for a while with no prior knowledge, yet deep enough for hardcore fans to maximize their strategies for high rounds.

Whether you were rocking the new Thundergun or the classic Ray Gun, Kino der Toten served as the test bed for Black Ops 1’s new armory. Classics like the Galil and RPK sat alongside unique special weapons like the upgraded Ballistic Knife and Crossbow.

This is also the first map that doesn’t require any unlocking or DLC to play, which makes it sort of an introduction to the mode for most modern Zombies players.

Der Eisendrache

(via callofduty.wikia.com)

Der Eisendrache takes some of the best concepts and ideas from the maps before it and refines them to perfection. Right off the bat, you’re greeted with familiar animal heads, in this case dragons, that you need to feed. While in Mob of the Dead, feeding three wolf heads grants you the Hell’s Retriever, feeding the dragon heads in Der Eisendrache is just step one to crafting some of the greatest weapons in Zombies history – the Bows.

Although the base level bow, Wrath of the Ancients, is easy to get and not half bad, only when upgraded does this map truly start to shine. Following in Origins footsteps, Der Eisendrache has four unique, powerful, elemental Wonder Weapons that require some work to craft, but well worth the effort.

Colloquially known as the Storm, Ice, Void, and Fire bows, every player has their favorite, and even close friends often get into fights over who called which bow first. But it’s not only the weapons that make this map great.

The layout is gives enough breathing room for four players to comfortably form their own hordes of zombies, which still keeping everything relatively close in case someone goes down. This means that teams don’t get over run too early on, and that mistakes mid-game can be easily corrected and the match can continue. 

Ascension

(via callofduty.wikia.com)

With Black Ops 3 and Black Ops 4 sticking with the same perks they’ve had since launch, a DLC map bringing two new perks with it seems unimaginable. Yet that’s exactly what Ascension did. While Stamina-Up is still with us today and is a go-to for many players, fans had to say goodbye to PHD Flopper after Black Ops 1.

What makes PHD Flopper so special in relation to Ascension, is that it’s a perk perfectly fit for the map. With all the high staircases and tall ledges, players were encouraged to dolphin dive off everything they could creating huge explosions. But that’s not all! PHD Flopper grants immunity to explosive damage therefore turning the Ray Gun into a fun get out of jail free card.

Getting to the map itself, a Soviet Cosmodrome provided a very fresh take on Zombies, with Space Monkeys, rocket ships, and lunar landers creating a coherent atmosphere. Camping spots are plentiful and weapon selection is superb.

Ascension is also the first map to include an easter egg main quest, setting the community on a rigorous hunt every time a new map is released.

Origins

(via callofduty.wikia.com)

Origins took us back. Way back. Not only did this map bring together the original crew for the first time in Black Ops 2, we were also introduced to a new, younger version of the gang. Seeing a spry Tank, Nikolai, Takeo, and Richtofen for the first time in the opening cutscene would’ve been enough, but then the Giant Robots showed up.

I still can’t think of a map that has a grander scale than Origins. Yes, there are maps that are bigger, but no other maps include three towering Giant Robots strolling across the map. Between that and the dig site that just keeps going down, this map is LARGE yet still accessible. Thanks to the portals underground and the Mark IV Tank, smart players can zip around this map pretty fast.

Giant Robots, Tanks, and a young crew doesn’t even scratch the amount of things Origins has to offer. Between the Maxis Drone, G-Strike grenades, Elemental Fists, and shield, this map set a precedent for future maps when it comes to buildables and secret weapons.

Lastly, there are the four Elemental Staffs and their upgrades. Tranzit and Die Rise both had their own buildable Wonder Weapons that couldn’t simply be found in the box, but these Staffs are so much more than buildables. They’re part of the map and its environment. Digging up parts, shooting things out of the sky, placing them in medieval statues of yourself, even collecting them from inside Giant Robots, all helped give the feeling that you were playing a part in the map rather than simply playing on the map itself.

Some notable maps that didn’t make the list include Mob of the Dead, Gorod Krovi, IX, and Die Rise, yet those are still fantastic maps and worthy of praise.

Do you agree with this list? What are your personal top five maps from any Call of Duty Zombies game? Let us know in the comments down below!

Opinion

Opinion: Call of Duty: Warzone desperately needs anti-cheat for its competitive future

Warzone’s successful competitive future is all in Activision’s hands.

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Call of Duty: Warzone is in desperate need of a proper, clarified anti-cheat system to prevent the influx of hackers as Activision looks to develop the game’s competitive future.

Call of Duty: Warzone launched to much fan fare in March 2020. It was the first free to play Call of Duty experience ever for consoles & PC. And that opened up the amount of players that could enter the Call of Duty world. There was no $60 barrier anymore to experience Call of Duty.

But with that, an influx of cheaters and hackers on the PC platform stormed into Call of Duty: Warzone. Since the game’s launch, there has been an extensive amount of hackers in Call of Duty: Warzone on the PC platform. And with cross play, those hackers infest the PlayStation and Xbox lobbies, too.

The biggest issue has been: Activision’s lack of a concrete plan to address the hacking situation. The company has issued a few statements in 2020 on how they combat hacking in Call of Duty: Warzone, but none of them have left fans with hope of a sustainable future for the title on PC.

It makes sense, in other ways, that Call of Duty is being infested with cheaters at a higher pace compared to other free to play Battle Royale games. Call of Duty is one of the biggest entertainment franchise available, and Warzone was the first chance that allowed everyone to play Call of Duty. There’s always been cheaters and hackers in Call of Duty MP. But that was on a more controllable scale with the game being $60 to play. With Warzone, the entry barrier is gone, and now hackers who could never hack in Call of Duty before, can do so now. And with Activision’s lack of aggressive action within the game itself, it welcomes more to the field.

But aggressive action from Activision is needed to counter cheaters and it’s needed ASAP.

Activision’s responses to cheaters in 2020

The first big stance Activision took on cheaters was a few weeks after launch, where the company announced that over 50,000 hackers and been banned and said “cheaters not welcome” in the Warzone world. Activision said they take cheating “very seriously” and would work hard to maintain “a level and fair playing field for everyone” as one of their “highest priorities.”

That did not change much. Hackers continued to flourish in the Warzone world on PC. And at the same time, Activision started to build up their vision for a competitive Warzone future. They started it with Live From Warzone series, which highlighted fan run tournaments and events for Warzone.

On April 24, 2020, the next big step from Infinity Ward: hackers would be match-made in the same lobbies only forward. They also said the studio “increased resources” to help alleviate the cheater concerns.

And then, the worst statement of all time was released on July 24, 2020: Infinity Ward was kindly asking players to not use 3rd party software while playing Call of Duty: Warzone.

Please do not use unauthorized 3rd party software to mod or hack,” said an image statement from the studio, as shown below. They said listed out what items they believe to be considered hacking/cheating, and failed to lay out an progress on what they’re doing themselves to combat it.

Lastly, the final update we’ve received on the hacking issue with Warzone was in Sept. 2020. Infinity Ward said they had banned 200,000 accounts since the game’s launch.

But 200,000 it not even close to enough. There’s, according to Activision, over 90 million players who have played Call of Duty: Warzone. Only 200,000 accounts banned (that’s the last official number of banned accounts Activision has informed the public about).

Focused on the Wrong Thing

Now, we’ll give credit to Activision in some areas. The company has taken a legal path of action against many cheater makers that were designing cheats for Call of Duty: Warzone.

The company issued cease and desist orders to two cheat manufactures. The first one was CXCheats, which received a cease and desist in August 2020. Once they were threatened by Activision, the site removed all cheats related to Call of Duty: Warzone. And then in September, Activision filed another lawsuit against GatorCheats and even sent a representative to the owner’s house. GatorCheats removed all Warzone cheats from their site.

But the problem with the cease and desist orders is that there’s an infinite number of companies out there that can create and manufacture cheats for games. Just because you take down two through legal action, does not mean more will spawn up. Activision probably thinks that threatening a few will make many more stop, but that has not been the case. There’s also a wide variety of online forums where players share cheats they’ve created, and those never hit or show on an ‘official’ cheat manufacturer’s website.

The only real action Activision took on the public side, which was a major step for them, was being able to detect EngineOwning cheats in Warzone. EngineOwning updated their website in Sept. 2020 to state Warzone cheats were ‘now detected’ by Activision, and over 20,000 accounts got banned.

That’s what we need more of: focus on fixing the game itself, not trying to stop cheats from being made on the manufacture’s side. A comprehensive anti-cheat system is the best way for Activision to ensure that cheats cannot continue in Warzone.

There will always be hackers & cheaters in every game, but having an extensive anti-cheat software will be able to reduce the overall number of hackers and help promote and more enjoyable game environment.

For example, Riot Game’s VALORANT FPS title has an entire anti-cheat developed for it called Vanguard. Riot makes players install Vanguard anti-cheat in order to play VALORANT on their PC. While some players have been able to get by the software, this has stopped the game from being infested by hackers, even if it’s a free to play title.

Competitive Integrity

The situation with anti-cheat and hackers kicked into high gear on the competitive integrity side over the last several months. Many high profile content creators having been playing in Warzone competitions, some of which have prize pools thanks to Activision. And there’s always suspects of hacking occurring during these events, and Activision has yet to address that problem.

The most recent example was the $250,000 Twitch Rivals tournament for Warzone. This tournament was hosted in a private lobby, meaning all players were known and required to join into a specific server code. During the 5th match of the event, the game was stopped. There was suspects of hackers in the match.

Twitch had to remove teams from the match & ban them, and then had to continue the tournament.

This is the problem we face in Warzone: it’s a massively successful game for Activision, and truly has a bright future as a big force in the gaming industry. But why can’t Activision and Blizzard take the time to implement a proper, anti-cheat system to ensure competitive integrity. More importantly, why won’t they do it to just improve the overall quality of the game?

Fortnite has many tournaments and events, with over $20 million in prizing planned for 2021. They’ve solved a lot of the cheaters problem on their end with an anti-cheat system. Apex Legends’ has a ranked play mode that has an anti-cheat system in place to avoid these issues Warzone faces.

Popular content creators have been vocal about the lack of anti-cheat in Warzone for months.

NICKMERCS commented saying he won’t be playing in any Warzone tournaments until there’s an authentic anti-cheat system implemented to avoid controversial wins.

And recently, Dr. Disrespect also commented on the drama calling out Activision for lack of proper action to prevent the situation from happening.

Warzone most certainly continues to be a very popular free to play battle royale option for many fans out there.

Warzone’s Future

And Activision seems to be invested in its future too. Johanna Faries, VP & Head of Leagues at Activision Blizzard Esports, recently revealed the company has plans for Warzone to become part of the Call of Duty League.

“There are [plans to bring Warzone to Call of Duty League], and we’re excited to announce those plans in the coming weeks and months. We’ve been closely monitoring the introduction and the wild popularity of Warzone since last spring. We did bring in Warzone-related content with our pros last season, but we’ve taken the off-season to think bigger about what a more structured investment could look like. There are really exciting things to come as early as this season.”

That’s great to hear. But if they want a CDL based around Warzone or integration of the title into an esports program to be successful, Call of Duty: Warzone desperately needs an anti-cheat system setup to ensure there’s competitive integrity and no disputes over the legitimacy of wins.

We hope Activision has plans — sooner, rather than later — to deliver on this.

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News

5 biggest problems with the PS5 launch in UK

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The PlayStation 5 launch in the UK was anything but smooth.

The highly-anticipated Sony PlayStation 5 finally became available at retailers in the US and Japan on November 12. Lockdown kept people from visiting stores but they were able to place their orders online, or simply have the console delivered to them if they pre-ordered.

Earlier this week, Amazon EU informed customers that the console would be available for purchase in limited stock at 12pm UK/1pm CEST on November 19. Now it has finally launched in the UK and throughout Europe but not without a hitch. There are reports of many different issues being faced regarding the availability of the console and delays in delivery.

This has led to gamers throwing blame with a massive online outcry over the many different problems with the console’s European release. Let’s go over each one.

Game delivery delays

Customers placed their pre-orders for the PlayStation 5 at the UK retailer, Game. Now, those dedicated players are facing disappointment as Game has announced delays in delivery of the consoles. They have attributed this to unexpectedly large demand along with the large size of the console. Game sent out the following email to customers:

It can be seen from the message that Game is placing the blame for this delay squarely on the courier firm Yodel. The latter has denied responsibility by stating “Yodel does not work directly with Game. Our client is GFS, a fulfillment business that works in partnership with Game.”

Yodel further clarified by saying “We have been consistently clear on the order volumes we are able to carry for them and it is deeply disappointing that Yodel’s name has been incorrectly used in an email to customers on the status of orders.”

Regardless of who’s to blame, there are rising tensions and Game is now trying to ease customers by letting them know that the “vast majority” of deliveries will be completed successfully and the remaining ones will arrive by tomorrow.

Their site has gone back up for PS5 re-orders since then.

Curry’s launch misfire

Currys PC World’s website had extremely large virtual queues that grew to 150,000 long. The original plan that the company excitedly announced was to start selling at 9 a.m today. However, this became complicated as some people were able to work around this system.

It turns out a large number of early customers were able to place orders much earlier than the announced release time. These customers stated that they were able to get their consoles as early as 5.30 a.m. This has left many of the customers who went by the set schedule without a PlayStation 5.

Curry has now canceled these orders and announced that they will not have any more consoles available for purchase today. Many of the affected are being refunded right away while others have to wait.

One now deleted tweet from Currys’ customer service account stated the following:

“Unfortunately due to an error on our site we were allowing customers to check out the PS5 before they went live at 9 a.m. Due to this, we have had to cancel orders and the funds will be released back to you. Please accept my apologies.”

Many customers will have to wait for their refund before they will be able to search for another place to purchase the PS5 from.

Amazon debacle

The delivery challenges are not just limited to Game and Currys PC World. Many other retail sites are facing technical issues that are keeping people from being able to order the PS5 through them. Sites like Amazon, Tesco, and John Lewis’s have reportedly not been functioning properly.

Customers have tried logging on to the sites to get their consoles only to find that the pages were failing to load. Some of the sites have been straight-up broken throughout the day when customers tried visiting them. This is unfortunate, as many of these people had placed their pre-orders as far back as September.

Currently the PS5 is out of stock at many of these retailers and it is not yet known when it will become available again.

Twitter complaints

The biggest outcry from all these issues is obviously coming from the people that have been most closely affected by all these problems. The paying customers who had made their pre-orders months ago have taken to Twitter to express their discontent with the way this day has gone.

Some have immediately focused their frustration at Yodel for the delays. They are also upset because quite a few of them received the message “We’re sorry but your parcel has been reported to us as missing. Please contact your sender for your next steps.”

Customers aren’t happy with the idea that Yodel may have been holding on to their console for a couple of hours only for it to have been possibly stolen by someone else.

It is entirely possible that the consoles may not have been stolen and instead, this is just an error in the reports of available stock. However, at the moment we can’t say anything for sure.

Some of those who had pre-ordered from Game asked why they had paid an extra fee to have a Royal Mail delivery that has now been given to another courier firm. Other tweets complained about the delays from Amazon and others.

Some even took issue with the way Walmart handled the launch. There were reports that they had the console in their cart but were still unable to finish the purchase. Eventually, the retail store ended up canceling today’s PS5 orders due to supposed quantity limits.

Ampere gaming analyst Piers Harding-Rolls has stated:

“Clearly it is disappointing for consumers that have pre-ordered not to receive their console on launch day. The situation is exacerbated as there is no opportunity to buy on launch day at physical retail as in the past.”

“Whether you are impacted or not appears to come down to the retailer you pre-ordered with which indicates that this is a company-specific issue rather than a broader industry problem. The UK is not alone in this respect – some US retailers also had their challenges last week during the launches.”

Queued for download” bug

Those who were lucky enough to receive their PlayStation 5 in today’s chaos may end up confronting an entirely different problem. There is a bug that is preventing players from downloading digital games due to it getting permanently stuck at “queued for download.”

Many players have reported that when they download a PS5 version of a game, it will show up in the game library but not in any download queue. As a result, any attempts to download the games are proving unsuccessful once this bug has been encountered.

Sony has yet to address this strange problem and the only known way around it is to factory reset the entire console. You will lose any games you already own and then have to go through the process of downloading them again. This will be particularly frustrating when the games are heavy.

Although this is a problem that players in Europe will face today, it is not exclusive to the UK launch of the console. In fact, players have been reporting this since the PS5 first launched in North America and other regions on November 12.

In light of all this, the PlayStation 5 launch in UK and wider Europe has been very troublesome. Many players are left without consoles and wondering where to look next.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Opinion: Cold War’s new Scorestreak system needs adjusting

Black Ops Cold War’s new Scorestreak system has some teething problems, so here’s how Treyarch could address the issues.

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Black Ops Cold War introduced a new Scorestreak system but it isn’t without teething problems.

In the new Scorestreak system, Scorestreaks no longer reset on death. This means however many points you accumulate towards earning the next Scorestreak carries into the next life. To make earning high-end Scorestreaks more rewarding, points earned accumulate through killstreaks. The higher the streak, the more points you earn for each kill.

As this is a brand new system for Cold War, issues with the system have been making multiplayer lobbies a frustrating experience.

Here are the most prominent problems with the Scorestreak system, and how they could be addressed by Treyarch.

Earn Rate

Treyarch adjusted the earn rate of Scorestreaks between the beta and the full launch. Treyarch felt it was too easy to earn certain Scorestreaks and too difficult to earn others.

After these updates, most players earn their Scorestreaks at roughly the same time throughout a match.

There will be a point where the announcer calls ‘multiple enemy Spy Planes above’ as players all unlock the Spy Plane. Then there will be a portion of the game where Artillery and Cruise Missiles are spammed, and finally, in the end-game, several Attack Helicopters are called in.

Scorestreak earn rates need to be adjusted further. To keep games varied and Scorestreaks rewarding, they need to be more difficult to earn. Not being able to leave spawn due to a continuous barrage of Scorestreaks or earning an Attack Helicopter but having to wait in a queue of three to use it aren’t satisfying experiences.

There could also be a larger gap between points needed to earn Scorestreaks. For example, there are only 100 points between earning Artillery and the Cruise Missile. If you earn one, you’re likely to earn the other in the same kill. This leads to more Scorestreak spam.

Objective Score

The current Scorestreak system rewards getting kills much more than it rewards objective play. The points earned for kills drastically outweigh those for capturing flags or holding a hardpoint. Offensive or defensive kills do not increase your score enough to be worthwhile.

Low points earned for objective play is due to the score multipliers applied to killstreaks. As you rack up a high killstreak, the amount of points earned continues to increase. There is currently no such system for objective play.

To make objectives more rewarding, Treyarch could add score multipliers to objectives. The longer you hold a hardpoint for in a single life, the more score you should earn. The same goes for capturing and defending flags. Getting offensive and defensive kills should also add to score multipliers.

This way, earning Scorestreaks is a fair experience across all playstyles.

We know that Treyarch is aware of inconsistencies in the new Scorestreak system because of adjustments made between beta and launch. It’s possible that another overhaul is coming with Season 1 in December.

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