I like to think I'm not easily impressed by in-game cosmetics. If I'm going to drop some real money on a virtual goodie, it has to be neat enough that I can tell my partner how much I spent on it without feeling embarrassed. That strategy has served me well for years, but sometimes an item is just too unique or bizarre to pass up on. Fellow virtual gun connoisseurs, I give you: the Call of Duty: Warzone tape deck gun.
It's a gun. It's a tape deck. It's a ridiculous vanity piece that I, for some reason, decided I needed.
But it's also super cool, right? The Retro Renegade pack is one of Call of Duty: Warzone/Cold War's first "Mastercraft" bundles, CoD's name for its highest-tier ultra cosmetics. The snazzy paint job is cool and all, but it's the custom inspect animation that earns its ultra rating. While inspecting the weapon, your character pops open a hidden cassette cartridge on the barrel and flips over the embedded tape. Then you're treated to a few seconds of Call of Duty music that sounds convincingly like it's spewing out of a crummy '80s speaker. The bundle also includes a similar skin (without a tape deck) for the FFAR assault rifle, a gun sticker, charm, calling card, boat skin, watch, and car horn. All of this for $20 (or 2400 COD Points).
Honestly, I only bought the bundle for the tape-decked-out KSP 45 SMG, so I might as well have paid $20 for a single gun skin. Did I get ripped off? Your answer will vary based on the ecosystem you're used to in the games you play. If you mostly play Warzone, League of Legends, Destiny 2, or Fortnite, $20 is near the ceiling of what can pay for its rarest goodies. But delve into the depths of Valorant and you'll find bundles approaching $100 that its players are seemingly fine with (you see them in matches all the time). And don't even get me started on Valve's free-flowing item market that allows rare CS:GO and Dota 2 skins to bloat into the thousands. For me, $20 is right on the line between "happy I bought it" and "regretting it a little more every time I think about it."
I deserved that.
The gun's not bad either. The KSP had eluded me until now and I didn't expect to adapt to its forced burst fire so quickly. I even managed to pop off in a few Plunder rounds with nothing but the tape deck. It's certainly not a top-tier meta pick, but what's the fun in running around with the same four guns that everybody else is using? I want the MAC-10 main I just outplayed to hear the dulcet tones of my tape deck as I walk away from their corpse. I also tried out the KSP in a few Cold War matches, but the frantic pace and haphazard respawns meant my attempts to flip on the tape deck mid-round usually got me killed.
Unfortunately, I can't say the Retro Renegade passed the partner test. It's safe to say she would not have spent $20 on this thing, no matter how much she digs the look of it. She is a dedicated Overwatch player who always resists the urge to buy seasonal loot boxes, so I should have expected as much.
To be fair to CoD, I've paid similar prices for cosmetics I like a lot less. I wish Rainbow Six Siege's $15 Elite bundles (of which I own many) added as much flair as the Walkman gun. They do come with custom victory animations that play if you're the MVP, but it's harder to show off in the middle of a round. The closest examples are Sledge's L Detachment skin that transforms his sledgehammer into a wrecking ball on a stick (it's sick as hell) and IQ's Reunification set that coincidentally swaps her electronics scanner for a Walkman (no music, sadly).
As hesitant as I am to admit it, I think I have expensive taste in service games. It's not about donning an extravagant status symbol or anything dumb like that. I gravitate toward cosmetics that meaningfully transform the item beyond a coat of paint. The Retro Renegade does that in spades, I just wish inventive skins like this were less of a rarity in FPSes. I want to be having as good of a time as all those Fortnite players turning their pickaxes into laser swords and gliders into whole-ass cars. For now, I'm content with my overpriced(?) tape player with a trigger.