Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 is making massive changes to loadouts

warzone 2.0
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)
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A week out from the release of Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0, we're finally starting to learn more about the biggest changes coming to the free-to-play battle royale. While the basic structure of Warzone is still intact—circles, gulags, buy stations—Infinity Ward is fiddling with all the details. Perhaps the most radical change concerns how players will acquire their custom loadouts mid-match.

The days of strolling up to a buy station and dropping $10K on a complete loadout are over. In Warzone 2.0, only the primary weapon from your loadouts can be directly purchased. The rest—perks, secondaries, and throwables—can be earned one of two ways: taking over Strongholds, Warzone's new AI-controlled map compounds, or capturing a loadout crate dropped randomly on the map.

warzone 2.0 season 1

(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Strongholds seem to be the quicker and more reliable method. As Activision's official Season 1 blog post (opens in new tab) explains, the first team to clear a stronghold of enemies will earn a complete loadout of their choosing, as well as a key to a Black Site, a more difficult AI compound housing high-tier loot. Subsequent teams can also earn loadouts by re-clearing compounds, but this requires killing a "specific number of defenders (AI or players)" and won't come with the snazzy Black Site key.

This is the first major change made to Warzone's meta-defining loadouts system since its release in 2020, and it could have a major effect on how future battle royale matches shake out. In the current system, it's common for every team that makes it past the first 15 minutes of a match to afford a custom loadout. I'm not sure the same will be true in Warzone 2.0.

Win more Warzone 2

warzone 2 battle pass explained

(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Warzone 2 loadouts: Best guns
Warzone 2 DMZ: New mode guide
Warzone 2 unhinged: Hectic BRs
Warzone 2 perks: Perk packages
Warzone 2 contracts: Turn it in
Warzone 2 cash: Make bank

It's notable that you'll still be able to drop cash on a custom primary weapon (the blog notes that this is a loadout's "primary benefit"), but perks are arguably the bigger deal. Most Warzone players I know highly value the Ghost perk that hides them from the constant threat of UAV scans. It's not clear if killstreaks will be as common a presence in 2.0, but if the loadout changes mean there are fewer players running around with the Ghost perk, you can bet UAVs will be even more popular than before.

You can read the full, exhaustive post (opens in new tab) to see everything coming in Season 1. I'm most curious about Warzone 2 DMZ, Warzone's new extraction shooter mode that Activision continues to be coy about. Today's post describes it as an open world mode in which players "have free rein to complete faction-based missions, take on additional side objectives, engage with enemy Operators or AI combatants, and search for valuable items, all while fighting to survive toward exfiltration."

Warzone 2.0 releases on November 16 alongside Modern Warfare 2's Season 1 update. 

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.