Call Of Duty’s Next Season Undoes What Warzone 2.0 Fans Hate

Season two for Call of Duty’s Modern Warfare II multiplayer and Warzone 2.0 arrives on February 15. An official blog from yesterday details the many changes we can expect for the game’s various modes, some of which ought to make fans of the original Warzone very, very happy people. Ya’ll didn’t just get your 1v1 gulags back, but there are also some key changes to loot you’ll want to pay attention to.

Season two will feature a number of quality of life adjustments to the UI, as well as improvements to audio across the game. Along with weapon balances (details on those are forthcoming), season two is sort of a throwback, seeing Warzone and MWII finally getting some adjustments that ought to feel very familiar to fans of the older games. The gulag, loadouts, backpacks, and more are all getting tweaked, some to a pretty substantial degree. Let’s get into it.

The gulag’s Jailer is out and flags are back in

Warzone 2.0 brought a bunch of changes that weren’t necessarily a hit with the community. The gulag’s 2v2 and Jailer mechanic, which spawned a bullet-sponge of an NPC in the middle of the gulag match, was likely high among them. While we have known that 2v2s are getting replaced by familiar 1v1 showdowns, folks ought to be happy to know that the Jailer is on his way out too. Now, just as it was in the first Warzone, the original overtime flag capture will determine who walks out alive. Capture the flag, and you’ll deploy back out onto the battlefield; if both players fail to capture the flag, then the person with the most health wins.

Season two will also see more guns in the gulag, with assault rifles, SMGs, LMGs, backed up by pistols as your secondary weapon. No shotguns though, so it’s sad days for fools like me.

Money, money, money (there’s more of it in Warzone’s next season!)

There are also some big changes coming to how loadouts, loot, and cash will work in the battle royale starting on February 15. Contracts will deal slightly less money, but to make up for it, you’ll find higher amounts of cash laying around the map, with minimums of $800 found in piles and $500 found in cash registers.

No more diggin’ through backpacks

In yet another reversal of unpopular mechanics, Warzone 2.0 is letting you loot fallen enemies the same as you did last time; instead of fishing through their backpacks, all loot will pop out of an enemy when looking through their stuff. Also, you won’t need to worry about medium and large backpacks anymore. Starting on February 15, all players will have access to a single backpack size.

The blog lays out that this is an effort to curb item hoarding as well; if you’ve at all played Warzone recently, you’ve surely ground your teeth into near dust when an enemy keeps self-resing due to having nine fucking revive kits.

Kotaku has reached out to Activision to clarify how this change affects carrying a third weapon in your backpack.

You get a three-plate vest, and you get a three-plate vest, and you get a three-plate vest!

Starting in season two, all players will start with a three-plate armor vest and you can say goodbye to the one and two-plate variants. While I think this is a good way to even the playing field, players equipped with three-plates are sometimes annoyingly difficult to take down, so we’ll see how this one plays out. Color me a touch skeptical on this one.

A sniper rifle is proped up on natural terrain, with spare bullets and magazines off to its side.

Image: Activision

OMG Warzone Loadouts won’t suck anymore

Few Warzone players were happy with how loadouts worked on launch. Thankfully we saw loadout grenades reappear a few weeks ago, but things are going to get a bit better.

No longer will you need to rely on curated perk packages. While the amount of perks available at the start of season two will be a little less than what we see in the main multiplayer for Modern Warfare II, you will finally be able to customize your perk package. Additional perks may be readded based on how this initial offering pans out.

And while you can still buy just your primary weapon from a buy station in season two (at a reduced cost too), loadout drop markers will also be more affordable. Matches will also see a second public event loadout drop.

All in all, loadouts will be a bit more customizable and you’ll have easier access to them. A win for sure.

Everything coming to DMZ (the game’s best mode)

I mean, this is really what you’re here for, right? Though still in beta, DMZ is getting some very welcome changes to those of us stuck on the get in/loot/get out loop. Here are the important ones:

  • The DMZ AI ought to be a bit more chill: AI spawn rate, enemy type, accuracy, and “much more” are all receiving adjustments.
  • Spawn points won’t feel as barren: There’s no word on whether distance from other player spawns will get some adjustment, but expect better loot nearby and closer proximity to valuable contracts.
  • Missions are getting nerfed: Get all your blow torches yet? DMZ’s funky missions will be adjusted to let people unlock their second insured slot a little bit quicker this time around.
  • We’re getting a new map: Joining Al Mazrah and Building 21, the blog update promises a third option with new map-specific missions to take on.

Kotaku has reached out to Activision for specifics on accessing the new map and whether it will require a key like Building 21 does. We’ve also asked for more clarity on how player spawn points are getting changed up.

A few other important changes include a complete refresh of all missions. Given that many missions often involve tedious item gathering, I suspect folks won’t be all too thrilled about exfiltrating from the map with a buncha gas cans, blow torches, or the very rare GPU all over again. Don’t freak out too much, as we’re expected to get some new missions as well.

The blog also promises fixes to game stability. Given that you lose all your shit when you die in DMZ, it ain’t a whole lot of fun when you crash to desktop. Crashes have remained a frequent problem throughout Call of Duty (especially on PC), and it’s uniquely frustrating when you lose your three-plate vest, large backpack, self-revive, and that M13B you just scored off a solo run on the Chemist.

There is no word of a workaround or “rejoin” function for players who’ve timed out or crashed and lost all their stuff, an often requested feature in the community right now. We just gotta hope the game is a bit more performant and stable come February 15.

Silhouttes of two soldiers stand in front of a sunsetting sky.

Image: Activision

No, they did not (completely) forget about traditional multiplayer

If you paid $70 for your traditional Modern Warfare II multiplayer modes, you might be feeling quite ignored. Well, season two won’t totally leave you without fish in your pocket when it arrives next month. Here are all the expected changes to regular multiplayer:

  • Advanced audio is coming back: You might’ve noticed that audio’s been a little off in MWII, and you’d be right. Season two will see the return of a more advanced audio occlusion system that should make sound queues more reliable.
  • Faster perks, baby! Bonus and ultimate perks will unlock much faster in season two.
  • Weapon balancing: there were no specific details, but expect some gun retuning across the board with season two.
  • HARDCORE: You can stop screaming into Twitter and Reddit about it. Hardcore, which features a limited HUD and friendly fire, is coming back to replace the Tier One multiplayer mode. Go have fun, you freaks.

Players can also look forward to a once-per-month Twitter poll to determine which of the rotating mode playlists was most popular. This will be on Infinity Ward’s twitter account, so follow ‘em or something.

The fine print: All the other Warzone changes in season 2

Season two also has a number of other changes across the board. Just like in the traditional multiplayer modes, audio has been a major area of concern for the community. The upcoming seasonal update promises some improvements here, particularly for PC players.

It would seem that there was an error in how PCs were processing the audio pipeline in MWII. To address this, the game will now feature an option to force stereo output. PC players ought to check their in-game audio settings for this new option as well as your Windows audio settings for the best outcomes.

But there are many other quality of life updates to look forward to. These include the following, as listed in the official blog:

UI

A number of UI/UX updates are coming to Season 02 to improve overall flow of in-game menus. These updates include:

  • Improved navigation and organization of Camo menu
  • More polished Social tab, including improved channel swapping and player muting
  • New “My Bundles” screen
  • Quick equip items from Battlepass, My Bundles, and Store
  • Reticle previews in Store and Gunsmith
  • Improved clarity of attachment blocking logic in Gunsmith
  • And many more bug fixes

We’ve also recently introduced a fix that restored:

  • Instance speed of Recent Players in menu
  • Status refresh of Friends

Further details on these changes and more will appear in our Season 02 Patch Notes.

Experience

  • Improved After Action Report with audio
  • Play Again feature in Battle Royale
  • Bug fixes for inconsistencies between:
  • ChallengersBattle PassWeapon progression

Season two for Warzone 2.0 and Modern Warfare II’s multiplayer drops on February 15. And now that I can more directly get access to my kitted-out Victus sniper rifle, that three-plate vest of yours will only get you so far. You’re in my sights.

(Who am I kidding? I hide for the whole game).

Warzone Will Wipe DMZ Progress In Season 2, Dividing Players

Warzone 2.0’s DMZ extraction mode has been one of the most popular parts of the battle royale sequel, but a controversial upcoming change has some players wondering if they’ll stick around. Infinity Ward recently revealed that player progress will be wiped when Season 2 goes live next month, eliciting more than a few groans and head scratches from some of the mode’s biggest fans.

DMZ has players face off against both one another and mini-armies of AI-controlled opponents as they race to collect loot before successfully reaching the extraction point and escaping to safety. It basically takes many of the ideas that made Escape from Tarkov a hit and adapts them for the feel and player expectations of a Call of Duty game. While still technically in beta and not without its flaws, DMZ has been a huge success overall. However, with season 2 going live on February 15, players are now preparing to face the mode’s first official reset.

“All-new missions are coming to Season 02 including a refresh of your current Faction mission progress and an inventory (Contraband and Keys) reset,” the Call of Duty studio noted toward the end of yesterday’s patch notes preview. “We will be detailing all the need-to-know intel for DMZ ahead of Season 02 in an upcoming blog.”

Players were immediately split, both on the precise meaning of these changes as well as their merit. Longtime extraction mode players saw it as part and parcel of the subgenre. Others, coming from the battle royale and Call of Duty side of the shooter ecosystem, appeared to be both shocked and unenthused. This lead to similar conversations playing out between players.

“Why reset DMZ keys and contraband?” asked one player in the comments on Twitter. “So bad, I’m done playing DMZ. All the time I grinded was for nothing,” responded a second. A third weighed in, “Wipes are a part of almost every extraction shooter out there…it’s nothing new so don’t know why you expected DMZ to be different.”

While keys and contraband are already lost if you die during a round of DMZ before extraction, faction rank is something players grind out over the course of days and weeks. By completing specific in-match missions, they can increase their faction rank and unlock new rewards. The reset means that players who have yet to complete all current content before season 2 begins will lose out on being able to access those unlockables. It will also potentially force players to grind out tedious low-level faction quests all over again.

“Yea I don’t know why this is a thing, they should be building onto it and not resetting all my Tier 5 factions,” tweeted the Twitch streamer Marksman. “Doesn’t quite make sense, but I won’t be re-doing all the missions again, so prolly done with DMZ.”

In extraction shooters like Escape from Tarkov, players acquire all kinds of equipment and loot that sticks with them outside of individual matches. The result is that over a long enough period of time, some players will build up huge arsenals while others will be at a constant disadvantage. Occasional resets effectively wipe the slate clean and let everyone restart from an equal playing field.

Warzone 2’s DMZ mode, on the other hand, doesn’t greatly advantage longtime players over newcomers. Grinding faction rank will unlock extra gear slots, but isn’t the same as rolling into a match atop a small armory. It also seems that, while DMZ is still in beta, many players weren’t aware progress would be reset between seasons until now, leading to a mismatch in expectations, especially for players newer to the subgenre.

Of course, we don’t know exactly how all the changes heading into season 2 will pan out for DMZ. The patch notes themselves point to plenty of improvements. It’s possible the reset and new faction missions won’t feel that onerous in practice, either. Activision did not immediately respond to a request for comment to clarify the situation.

Update 1/31/23 2:28 p.m. ET: Infinity Ward wrote on Twitter today that players won’t have to grind for insured weapon slots again after Season 02’s reset. However, that still leaves open the question of whether players will have to complete old challenges again.

HBO Greenlights The Last Of Us Season Two

Ellie and Joel are seen standing in front of a desecrated city and looking into the camera.

Image: HBO

After only two episodes (the first of which you can watch for free), HBO has renewed post-apocalyptic survival show The Last of Us for a second season. News came out this morning that the adaptation of Joel and Ellie’s story will continue after it concludes its nine-episode run in March. Though there’s not much in the way of details about what form a second season will take, that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate.

The most natural assumption would be that a second season could follow the events of The Last of Us Part II as series director Neil Druckmann alluded to on Twitter alongside the announcement. The sequel focuses on an older version of Ellie after the murder of someone close to her sends her on a revenge tour through Seattle. However, because there are so many years between the story of the original game and its sequel, it would be reasonable to maybe wait a season or two before jumping right into that story and waiting for Bell Ramsey, the actor who plays Ellie, to be a little bit older.

Conversely, a season that focuses on the years before the events of Part II would be feasible, and would let Ramsey play Ellie as she grows older, as well. It would be a shake-up in format compared to the game, as Part II does present these stories through flashbacks interspersed between present day segments. But changing up the structure of the story could let the show spend more time with characters and relationships Part II had to gloss over because of its time skip. So if HBO and Sony choose to not jump right into the sequel’s story, there’s a lot of gaps to fill in the time between both games.

HBO’s version of The Last of Us might also take a note from the games and play with perspective. The Last of Us Part II has two protagonists in Ellie and Abby, and shifts between the two at multiple points in the game to give the player different understandings of events. Fans are convinced they’ve sussed out who might be playing Abby in the show, and I found myself wondering about a second season of The Last of Us that was entirely about Abby and her perspective of the time we spend with Joel and Ellie in the first season. It would feel thematically appropriate and able to play with certain tensions and frictions players feel with the games for those watching the show to have to sit with a character who isn’t the one they’ve developed the attachment to, but I also wonder how HBO and Sony would play coy with the twists and turns of Abby’s story while also marketing prestige television to millions of people. I think it would be one of the more interesting routes the show could go, but I do think it would be a challenge to market, and Naughty Dog’s using misleading trailers and keeping Abby’s involvement a secret was one of the biggest sources of backlash at the time of Part II’s launch.

Whatever the show ends up doing, it’s unclear if the Last of Us games are going to continue past Part II, as Naughty Dog doesn’t seem interested in simply continuing the series for continuity’s sake, and would need a worthwhile story to make another game set in its post-apocalyptic universe.

Apex Legends Season 16 Will Finally Add Team Deathmatch

Apex Legends Season 16 will usher in a mode that players have been asking for since launch: Team Deathmatch. The highly anticipated game mode will drop on February 14 alongside Revelry, the newest season in the battle royale, and will focus on “enhancing the core experience,” says design director Evan Nikolich during a preview event.

“We’ve been hearing the community ask for this one for a while,” says game mode designer Marty Wong. Team Deathmatch in Apex Legends will look like TDM in any other game, really: a fast-paced 6v6 mode with no downs, just deaths and fast respawns. The first team to 30 kills wins the round, winning two rounds takes the game. At the beginning of the match, you’ll get a loadout selection similar to the one in the Control game mode: close-quarters, heavy, assault, specialist, and long range, with two weapons and a grenade in each loadout. You’ll be able to switch your Legend and loadout throughout the match, and pick up some weapons throughout the map.

But Apex Legends isn’t just adding Team Deathmatch—it’s removing another non-battle royale mode entirely. Arenas will disappear with Season 14, as the 3v3 mode wasn’t “hitting our goal of being a good place to practice the core combat loop of Apex,” explains Nikolich, who also suggests that it overlaps a bit too much with the BR experience. The idea behind Arenas and other non-BR modes is that, if you can get used to the game’s rotating weapon pool, its unique movement mechanics, and its roster of characters with their unique abilities, you’ll likely be able to translate your knowledge into the battle royale—rather than trying to drop into a BR match just to get rolled and eliminated within the first few minutes.

“Arenas was supposed to be our smaller slice of BR mode,” explains Wong. “What ended up being was, it was kind of a sweatier, more high-stakes mode. A lot of players would go into it feeling like they couldn’t make mistakes or couldn’t really experiment, they always had to play really hard. We’re hoping that TDM comes in and provides a place for players to die fast and feel comfortable making mistakes, hoping that gives Apex a lot more accessibility for new players.

Instead of Arenas, Apex Legends Season 16 will offer Team Deathmatch at the start, then bring in Mixtape, a rotating playlist of community favorite modes. Apex Legends Season 16 Revelry kicks off on February 14.

Overwatch 2’s Season 3 Event Turns Doomfist Into One Punch Man

Which anime studio will actually work on One Punch Man season 3 might still be up in the air, but what we know for damn sure is that the mega-popular anime is making its way to Overwatch 2.

Today the Overwatch team announced that its villain, Doomfist, is turning over a new heroic leaf—aesthetically at least—because he’s getting a new skin based on iconic One Punch Man protagonist Saitama. Overwatch 2 season three begins tomorrow, and the collaboration event will run from March 7 through April 6.

“Together we’ve created a collection of cosmetics from the beloved anime, including Saitama skin for Doomfist,” Blizzard wrote in a blog post. “We’ll reveal each item before they drop on March 7, with one being a Legendary skin that’s earnable via themed challenges.

The announcement makes a lot of sense when you consider the number of anime references already stuffed into the game. Chief among them is a Moira Neon Genesis Evangelion spray, Sombra’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure-esque ultimate, and a Baptiste Dragon Ball Z spray. Hell, prior to the new Doomfist Saitama skin, Blizzard’s punch-happy hero already had a spray that spoofed Saitama’s memed-to-death punch.

While Doomfist’s new skin does a serviceable job recreating the essence of OPM’s caped baldy, I can’t help but wonder what else could have been if Overwatch made OPM skins for heroes who had similar powers and personalities. So because nobody asked, I assembled a quick list of Overwatch characters Blizzard should’ve given their own One Punch Man skins.

Honorable mentions go to (deep breath) Tracer as Flashy Flash, Roadhog as Pig God (I mean c’mon), Reaper as Zombie Man, Ramattra as Metal Knight, Kiriko as Tatsumaki, Mercy as Fubuki, Moira as Psykos, and Hanzo as Atomic Samurai. I could go on, but…

Actually, I will. Fans of One Punch Man will observe that OPM X Overwatch 2 is very fertile crossover ground that lends itself to a ton of thematically interesting skin ideas. Here are a few that come to mind.


D.Va / Child Emperor

A side-by-side image comparison of Overwatch's D.Va and One Punch Man's Child Emperor.

Junk food-eating child prodigies.
Image: Blizzard / J.C. Staff / Madhouse / Shueisha / Viz Media / Kotaku

Should Overwatch decide to do another OPM collaboration, the easiest skin decision they could make would be giving their off-brand Dorito-eating gremlin, Hana Song, a Child Emperor skin. Much like D.Va, Child Emperor, as his name suggests, is a child prodigy within the OPM mythos thanks to his technical know-how with an array of gizmos at his disposal. Chief among them is his big-ass mecha, Brave Giant.

Zenyatta / Mumen Rider

A side-by-side image comparison of Overwatch's Zenyatta and One Punch Man's Mumen Rider.

Brittle-bone bois.
Image: Blizzard / Madhouse / Kotaku

Imma be honest, I mostly went with this choice because, much like Zenyattta, Mumen Rider’s bones might as well be made of glass any time he’s pitted against a big bad, but his determination to keep fighting the good fight is inspiring. Plus, Zeny would look cute floating around with a little green biker helmet atop his chrome dome. Arguably, Blizzard could’ve gone the route of giving Zenyatta a Saitama skin with how much force his kicks have.

Genji / Genos / Speed o’ Sound Sonic / Metal Bat / Sweet Mask

A side-by-side comparison of One Punch Man's Genos and Overwatch's Genji.

It just makes sense.
Image: Blizzard / Shueisha / Viz Media / Kotaku

In accordance with the Overwatch doctrine’s rule that Genji gets the “most goodest skins in the game,” I wager the annoying cybernetic ninja would get the skins for the coolest characters in OPM as well. Off the top, Genji, like Genos, is a cybernetically modified dude who often steals the limelight from other characters. Coincidentally, both characters often receive mechanical updates that can hinder or enhance their combat ability. Think of all those Geji nerfs, and you’ll know I’m right on this one.

Genji players deserve a skin that appeals to their already-inflated vanity, which is where the Sweet Mask skin suggestion comes into play. Genji also comes off as a cool guy, so giving him a pompadour and a baseball bat skin, à la Metal Bat, makes sense on a skin-design level. Because Genji is one of the fastest characters in Overwatch 2 and is a ninja, giving him a Speed-o’-Sound Sonic skin just makes sense. Plus, both disaster men’s speed often works to their detriment.

Soldier: 76 / Bang / Blast

A side-by-side comparison of One Punch Man's Bang and Blast and Overwatch's Soldier 76.

Zaddies, rise up.
Image: Blizzard / J.C. Staff / Shueisha / Viz Media / Kotaku

Soldier: 76 embodies strength, courage, and the will to fight on when the rest of the team has rage-quit or thrown a match. His helix rockets come in clutch as a one-tap kill to squishy heroes, he’s one of the few heroes who have the ability to run, and his ultimate can wipe out an entire team single-handedly. These are all qualities that point toward giving Jack Morrison OPM skins of the veteran hero Bang and the legendary sequestered hero, Blast. Morrison’s already sporting Bang’s silver-fox hairdo, so all Blizzard would have to do is give him a black shirt and call it a day. Plus, Blizzard can repurpose Morrison’s OG skin to have all the elaborate bells and whistles of Blast’s hero costume.

Reinhardt / Puri Puri Prisoner

A side-by-side comparison image of Overwatch's Reinhardt and One Punch Man's Puri Puri Princess.

Gods among men.
Image: Blizzard / Madhouse / Kotaku

Remember when you were down and out and a D.Va exploding mech was about to wreck you and your entire squad’s chances of winning? Who dropped their shield and charged the mech at a safe distance away from you at the cost of their own well-being? A Reinhardt player, that’s who. Just as Reinhardt is self-sacrificing and a mother hen to his lil heroes, so too is OPM’s Puri Puri Prisoner. Give Reinhardt his own magical girl transformation, cowards.

Brigette / Captain Mizuki

A side-by-side comparioson image of Overwatch's Brigitte and One Punch Man's Captain Mizuki.

Yusuke Murata and Blizzard’s body-type preferences are one and the same.
Image: Blizzard / Viz Media / Shueisha / Kotaku

All I’m saying is Overwatch should give Brigitte a rest from her skins not passing the bootlicker allegations and let her homegirl show off her muscles while she shield bashes and rallies the troops like OPM’s Captain Mizuki. They can even turn her mace into Mizuki’s baton for good measure.

Garo / Junkrat

A side-by-side image of Overwatch's Junkrat and One Punch Man's Garou.

Like looking in a mirror.
Image: Blizzard / J.C.Staff / Kotaku

They may not have emerged out of the same womb, but OPM’s Garo and Overwatch’s Junkrat might as well consider each other blood brothers for how much damage they can take and dish out. Even “defeating” these two in their respective mythos results in them getting even via Garo’s power-ups and Junkrat’s “you eliminated me while stepping on my bombs, idiot” ability. Junkrat’s already got the hair for a casual Garo cosplay. All he’ll need is an all-black suit, like my proposed Soldier 76 Bang skin. Easy peasy.


This concludes my Overwatch x One Punch Man what-if skins Ted Talk.

Everything You Should Know About Marvel Snap’s Quantum Season

Another four weeks has ticked by already, and Marvel Snap has entered its fifth season pass: Into The Quantum Realm. Timed to match this month’s release of the third Ant-Man movie, Quantumania, things are getting super-teeny, with the ironically enormous-headed M.O.D.O.K. taking center stage. Are you ready to fork over another ten bucks? Let’s take a look and see what’s on offer.

Into The Quantum Realm’s New Cards

Right, so despite the topic suggesting this season should be focused on Ant-Man, this really is MODOK’s moment. His is the new card introduced, and it’s already messing up the meta. Its ability is an On Reveal, and it discards your entire hand, which at first glance might sound like madness, but now think what the 5-cost, 8-power card can do if you’re playing it in a discard deck, not least when paired with Morbius. Use MODOK to discard, say, six cards from your hand, and that sees Morbius gain 12 points, on top of MODOK’s 8. Ouch.

That’s even ouchier if you also discarded, say, Swarm and Apocalypse, the former putting in two 0-cost versions of itself into your hand, the latter replacing itself with +4 power. Pull Hela on turn six and, good grief, every slot will be filled with your whole discarded hand. What I’m trying to say here is that MODOK is ridiculously OP, and I’ll bet my trousers it’s nerfed to at least 6-power by the next patch.

MODOK is one of four new cards being added over the next four weeks. The others are last month’s pay-for season pass inclusion, Zabu, then brand new cards Ghost, Stature, and Kang the Conqueror. Ghost will flip tables even further, a 1-cost card that’ll make you second to reveal every turn for the rest of the game. Stature is a 5-cost, 7-power card that looks like it might help the onslaught of MODOKs, reducing to 1-cost as soon as your opponent discards a card. Finally Kang is a 5-cost, 0-power card that will apparently allow you to look at what your opponent did that turn, then restart it like it never happened, but with Kang disappeared. Bonkers. All four are Series 5 cards.

Marvel

Into The Quantum Realm’s New Locations

Four new locations will be featured over the season, and three of them are doozies. At the time of writing, the most frequently appearing location is The Sacred Timeline, for which the first to fill it with four cards will receive a copy of their opening hand!

Alongside it we’re getting Quantum Tunnel, which acts like the Lockjaw card, swapping out any card you play here for another in your deck.

Camp Lehigh will add a random 3-cost card to players’ hands, while Quantum Realm has any card played there have its base power set to 2.

Three new variants for Marvel Snap: Invisible Woman, Spectrum and Hulk.

Three of the new variants being added this season.
Image: Second Dinner

Into The Quantum Realm’s Season Pass

No interesting changes here, sadly, making that $10 ever-harder to part with. The free version still comes with plenty of Credits, Boosters, and Gold, and a new card back.

Pay out, and you’ll get more of the same, a bunch of cosmetic variants, and most crucially, that MODOK card a month ahead of everyone else being able to pull it. And neither, still, rewards players with Tokens. Dammit. It just doesn’t strike me as good value, and yet like a big idiot I’ve paid for it for the fifth season in a row.

At the same time, the game’s store has added a Mister Negative bundle, which for a ridiculous 8,000 Gold (approximately $100!!!) will give you 3,000 Tokens, 6,000 Credits, 155 Mister Negative Boosters, a variant and avatar of the same, and the wildly incongruous title, “Be My Valentine.” What a world.

There we are. Marvel Snap continues to provide us with that batshit combination of a stellar game with brilliant new cards and locations that mix up how everyone’s playing, and absolutely unfathomable prices for scant, entirely unnecessary extras. That’s something we spoke to creator Ben Brode about last month, alongside everything else we could think of regarding one of Kotaku’s favorite games.

Call of Duty + Warzone’s Big Season 2: What’s Worth Knowing

Season two for the duality that is Warzone 2.0 and Modern Warfare II arrived yesterday and with it a variety of tweaks and changes. But which are the most important? Which ones do you need to know before deploying in your mode of choice? We’re gonna cover all of that here.

Call of Duty’s latest seasonal update arrived on February 15. With its sights set on reverting unpopular Warzone 2.0 decisions (such as messy inventory and backpack management, among others), plus welcome additions like new multiplayer maps and a new environment for battle royale and DMZ, there’s a good chunk of stuff in here on top of expected changes to weapon performance and game stability. (Though I crashed to desktop on my first season two DMZ deployment, for what it’s worth…). Let’s take a look at what’s in store for the second season of Modern Warfare II and Warzone 2.

Warzone 2.0 changes: The return of 1v1 gulags and more

The original Warzone back in 2020 allowed players a chance to get back on the battlefield after death by winning a quick skirmish against another departed soul in the “gulag.” Warzone 2.0 decided to change that up with a 2v2 showdown and AI challenge in the gulag. This wasn’t popular.

Season two of Warzone 2.0 switches back to 1v1 gulag matches, and the enemy AI known as the Jailer (who’d emerge halfway through the showdown) has been replaced with a standard flag control point that emerges if one player hasn’t eliminated the other in the alloted time.

The backpack and loot system, which remains mostly as it was in DMZ (we’ll talk about DMZ further down), has been changed in Warzone 2.0’s battle royale. No longer will you keep track of starting, medium, and large backpacks. It’s one size fits all now for everyone throughout the whole game. And, when you kill an enemy, their loot vomits out of them like a bad decision to go to Papa John’s after a bar crawl. This extends to loot caches (boxes and other containers where you’ll find weapons). No more mousing or toggling through a menu that pops up when you open a container (and no more fishing through killed-players’ packs).

Oh, how I love needing to look all over the ground at individual items instead of selecting them from a simple menu.
Gif: Activision / Kotaku

For the record, I think this change sucks. But this was how things more or less worked in Warzone 1.0. So WZ1 vets, rejoice!

Other changes include an overall boost to the in-game cash, meaning cash registers and piles of money you’ll find around the maps will have higher monetary value. Everyone also starts with three-plate vests, so hunting down those vests won’t waste any more of your time.

Another critical change has been an upgrade to movement. You can now slam open a door while plating (common parlance for replacing shattered armor); so when you’re fleeing from an “oh shit, oh shit, fuck me, oh shit” situation (those are tactical terms, btw), you can more easily get to cover by way of slamming through doors while re-equipping your armor. Also, there’s been a boost to speed across the board. (Tip: You can auto run on PC with the H key, or toggling it on in the menus for controller. Search the menu for “auto sprint”).

Finally, many folks will be happy to know that Buy Stations now have unlimited Loadout Drops, so you can more reliably and directly access your loadout.

Promotional art for Call of Duty shows soldiers fighting and parachuting onto a new island.

Image: Activision / Kotaku

New battle royale and DMZ map plus a mysterious crashed plane in Al Mazrah

One of the big highlights of season two is the introduction of Ashika Island, a new, smaller, battle royale and DMZ map populated with Shadow Company bots. The new map features “an ancient shipwreck and ruins, modern apartments and town center, a sprawling beach club, a bustling port, an organic farm, [and a] fortified castle.”

And with Ashika Island, Warzone 2.0 finally gets Resurgence: A solo, duo, trio, and quad-compatible game mode that features respawns. When a friendly dies, you’ll see a timer for their return. You can speed that timer up by scoring kills. The base countdown timer starts at a higher value the longer the match goes on. Redeploys don’t count against you. So you can win no matter how many times you respawned.

Season two DMZ updates

CoD’s new extraction game mode, DMZ, though still in Beta, has a number of changes and things to take note of. They include:

  • A complete Faction Mission reset
  • A new faction: Crown (exclusive to those who own Modern Warfare II)
  • A refresh of your contraband weapons and keys

Faction missions can be accomplished on the original map, Al Mazrah, as well as Building 21, and the new Ashika Island.

Ashika Island will also see a new DMZ boss and weapons case: The Bombmaker. Residing in an unknown location somewhere on the island, killing him will net you a weapons case with exclusive rewards. (Remember: You’ll still need a successful exfil with said weapons case even after you slay the Bombmaker.)

There are no changes to weapons cases for Al Mazrah and Building 21. So don’t worry, ya’ll, you haven’t missed out on the last rewards with the season change. Also, your insured weapon slots are untouched.

Finally, in what feels like something I’d expect in Fallout, there’s a crashed plane added to Al Mazrah. I don’t want to spoil the surprise of what you’ll find when you get there (hint: it involves AI behavior we haven’t really seen in DMZ yet), but you can find the plane at the very top of coordinates D5.

A screenshot in Call of Duty shows a map of an island with specific locations, mission objectives, and more.

This is where you’ll find the mysterious new plane.
Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku

And FYI, you might wish to reset your backpack settings for DMZ. In my brief time so far in season two, my go-to “hybrid” mode (which alters the behavior of the menu when pulling up the backpack) doesn’t seem to work well. If you liked this mode and are freaking out over why you can’t select items when opening a loot cache, just set the backpack mode to normal for now.

Modern Warfare II: Ranked play, maps, game modes, and co-op

Modern Warfare II’s core multiplayer (which requires purchase of Modern Warfare II and features traditional FPS multiplayer modes like team deathmatch), has a few changes and new features, too.

Ranked play has arrived for those willing to prove themselves. Good performance will up your Skill Rating as well as Ranked Play Ranks (which go from one to 50). Ranked play will use Call of Duty League-approved rules which are fully documented in this thorough overview from Treyarch.

Modern Warfare II: season two’s new maps

Four new maps have also hit traditional multiplayer. Some feature familiar sights:

Dome is set on the battle royale map, Al Mazrah, as a small-medium battle area. Similarly, the larger multiplayer mode, Ground War, gets Zaya Observatory, another Al Mazrah-sourced environment that covers the science facility and surrounding cliffs. Vehicles will be in play here, but Infinity Ward describes this map as offering “critical choke points,” so you’re gonna want to be tactical when it comes to driving tanks or cars around.

There’s also another Al Mazrah site, Al Malik International, also known to DMZ as the airport deathtrap. The map has the full tarmac and terminal locations that have been home to many a BR and DMZ shootout.

Finally, Valderas Museum, a map which made its debut in the Modern Warfare II beta, is finally joining the game as an official map.

Four additional game modes at launch, three expected later in the season

Infected makes its return with season two. Here, players are split up into a team of survivors and infected. The infected start out with just one player who can “infect” the surviving team with survivors.

Perhaps one of my favorite party games, Gun Game, also arrives. Kills with guns (from firing, not melee) will reward you with a new gun to use, letting you move through a series of 18 different guns as you score kills. Melee kills knock your opponent down on that list of 18 weapons. The final weapon is the throwing knife; successfully take down someone with that and you’ll win the game.

Grind arrives at season two’s launch. Infinity Ward describes Grind as “Kill Confirmed with an added twist: enemy dog tags are stackable and must be banked at one of two fixed locations.” Banking several dog tags at once will boost your point gains.

And Hardcore mode arrives, which features multiple sub-modes and taxes players with “decreased health that cannot be replenished outside of Stim shots, as well as a limited HUD” has arrived. This mode aims for heightened realism, so if you’ve been getting bored with traditional multiplayer, this challenge is a serious step up.

Other multiplayer modes expected later in the season include:

  • Drop Zone
  • All or Nothing
  • One in the Chamber

Modern Warfare II Co-op: new raid expected mid-season

During last season’s refresh, Call of Duty got its first raid! This narrative, shooting, and puzzle-based game mode is for three players who take on the role of classic CoD characters as they totally-don’t-commit-any-war-crimes in their “mission.”

Season two is expected to get another Raid somewhere around its halfway point. And like the first one, the overarching story stems from the ending of Modern Warfare II, so if you found the game’s single-player to be intriguing, the Raid continues the narrative.

Universal challenges and some sweet new guns

Season two has a whole quasi-samurai theme going on. The appropriately themed Path of the Ronin Challenges bring about seven trials for you to accomplish across Warzone and Modern Warfare II. These include:

  • Integrity: Finish a Warzone match in the top 10, five times
  • Honor: Restore Honor five times in Resurgence matches
  • Sincerity: Complete five bounty contracts
  • Compassion: Challenge details unlock on February 21
  • Courage: Challenge details unlock on February 21
  • Loyalty: Challenge details unlock on February 28
  • Respect: Challenge details unlock on February 28

The Path of the Ronin challenges will run from now until March 14.

But let’s have a look at the new toys you can now shoot in the game. Some of these have unlock requirements, so you’ll want to pay attention to the deets.

Season two’s new water vehicle

Season two brings a new water vehicle: The Personal Watercraft. Based on the description and images, it looks like an aquatic alternative to the ATV, though it can only hold two players. Like the ATV, it barely has any protection from gunfire, but it makes up for that with increased speed. So, ha, try and stop me now as I’m looting the two crashed ships in the southern region of Al Mazrah.

New guns!

For more traditional firearms, we have two new loud bangy things to fire. The ISO Hemlock Assault Rifle unlocks for free in the battle pass. This is an automatic rifle that takes 5.56 ammo and .300 BLK bullets. The KV Broadside Shotgun also unlocks for free in the season two battle pass. This is a 12-gauge shotgun I’m going to hope doesn’t suck like the rest of the game’s shotguns.

Season two also brings two other neat weapons to the sandbox. First up is the Dual Kodachis Melee Weapon, which, like the other two weapons just listed, will unlock for free in the new battle pass. These are two mini-katana-like melee weapons with which to slice up your foes.

Finally, an exciting new weapon is expected to arrive sometime during the launch window of season two, but you’ll have to work for it (or pay real money). Guys, it’s a fucking Crossbow. Slotting into the marksman rifle category, this is a

The First Pokémon Season Without Ash Gets First Real Trailer

Friede is seen descending on the scene on a Charizard's back with the night sky in the background.

Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Man, Ash and Pikachu are really leaving the Pokémon anime pretty soon, huh? With every farewell episode that airs in Japan and every new piece of information on the new animated series that comes out, the departure of the show’s long-time protagonists feels more and more real. If you were having a hard time visualizing that, The Pokémon Company has released some early footage of the new season, which will star new protagonists Liko and Roy.

The Official Pokémon YouTube channel

Much of the new trailer is made up of character art for Liko, Roy, Friede, and Captain Pikachu, but there is a bit of footage of Liko choosing her Sprigatito partner, making friends at her school, and getting ready to battle a Ceruledge. There’s also a sick shot of Friede descending onto the scene on the back of a Charizard. As sad as it is to say goodbye to Ash and Pikachu, I’m feeling optimistic about this new cast. The first episode, which will be an hour-long special, is set to air in Japan on April 14.

Right now, the anime is wrapping up a series of farewell episodes dedicated to Ash and Pikachu’s 25-year journey, with the duo visiting old friends from throughout their adventures. The final episode will air in Japan on March 24, and will feature a heart-to-heart between Ash and his original rival Gary.

Unfortunately, it may be some time before American fans get to see this episode in English, as Pokémon is wrapped up in a licensing deal with Netflix that releases episodes in waves, rather than as they’re airing in Japan.

As such, it’s unlikely we will see the English dub of Liko and Roy’s debut any time soon, as the Netflix rollout will still be several episodes behind the Japanese broadcast by the time it airs next month. It does mean you have plenty of time to watch Ash and Pikachu’s previous adventures, if you can deal with the fact that the series’ 25-year run is divided between multiple streaming apps.

The Last Of Us Season Two: Everything We Know

It’s like it’s 2013 all over again. After the conclusion of The Last of Us’ first season, we’re all stuck, yet again, debating the morality of Joel’s tough decision at the end of both the original video game and the recent TV adaptation. And we’re also left with anticipation over season two and what elements of the game’s sequel, The Last of Us Part II, will make the cut on HBO. So let’s dig into what’s been said by the TV creatives who are in charge of what’s being lauded as the greatest video game adaptation of all time to get a sense of what to expect in the future.

Ending with unresolved affect, the bloody and morally uncertain end of The Last of Us is famous for sparking speculation over its many possible implications. And with a second season confirmed to follow at some point in the future, both newcomers to this world and veterans of its equally violent and emotional (if not moreso) sequel, The Last of Us Part II, will harbor many questions.

Given how closely the TV show adapted and preserved critical elements from the first game, many likely expect the second season to dive into its sequel with the same vigorous approach. Not an unreasonable assumption. Let’s dig into what the show’s creators have already shared about the expected sophomore season and discuss what’s likely in store as the show continues. I shall endeavor to do so without spoiling a drop of what happens in Part II, so if you’re averse to spoilers, read on worry free (but do exercise caution around the various links).

Bella Ramsey: Season two will ‘probably’ land ‘at the end of 2024, early 2025’

If you were holding your breath for season two, stop: You’ll pass out. According to Ellie’s actor, Bella Ramsey, the next season is a ways off. Speaking to The Independent, Ramsey said:

It will be a while. I think we’ll probably shoot at the end of this year, beginning of next. So it’ll probably be the end of 2024, early 2025.

I’ll remind you that this is speculation. Granted, it’s speculation from someone who knows more than we do, but making art is a tough business. There’s no telling how long it will take, especially as series co-creator Neil Druckmann has said that there will likely be a variety of changes, many of which the production has only just started to start considering at best.

When was season two of The Last of Us confirmed?

After the early success of the first season, Ellie’s actor, Bella Ramsey, teased that a season two was possible if spirits remained favorable over the rest of the show. But it wasn’t until January 27 that HBO made season two official in a tweet.

And without skipping a beat, the games’ and show’s co-creator, Neil Druckmann, contributed to speculation over what material season two would cover with just over a dozen characters, tweeting: “Part II —> HBO.”

So if there was any doubt, yes, there very much is a season two on the way, and, yes, it’s going to focus on Part II. But given the scale of Part II, what can we expect from this next season? Are they going to do the whole thing?

Joel looks over at Ellie as they talk.

Screenshot: HBO / Kotaku

Season two will kick off the adaptation of The Last of Us Part II, but expect changes and multiple seasons

Given Druckmann’s tweet, and how closely the first season stuck to the original game, it almost seems like a given that season two will just jump headfirst into the harrowing events of the second game. And given the events of the first season, which cover all of the events of the first game and its expansion DLC in nine episodes, you’d be forgiven for assuming the show will aim to cover as much, if not all, of the second game in its second season. But if you’ve played Part II,, you know that a direct adaptation is going to be a bit of a creative challenge.

Debuting on PlayStation 4 in 2020, The Last of Us Part II introduced a number of new characters, heightened levels of emotional stakes, and very thorough explorations of each character’s history. It gave so much context for what happened and to whom that the game was basically two full games in one. (Which you shouldn’t try to cram in a weekend. Ask me how I know.)

Craig Mazin, the show’s co-writer and creator, is well aware of this fact. To tackle the much-larger Part II, Mazin has said that fans ought to expect “multiple seasons” moving forward. Speaking with GQ, Mazin described adapting the sequel as “a daunting task,” and one that won’t come without some changes:

I think we know what we’re doing on this one. I’m not saying that in [a] snarky way, I’m saying that in a hopeful way. There are going to be things that are different, and there are things that are going to be identical. There are things that are going to be added and enriched. There are some things that are going to be flipped.

If the “different” sentiment has you nervous, Mazin and Druckmann also shared some of their collaborative process, which meditates on intentional choices and “subtleties,” not change for change’s sake. About working on the show, Mazin said:

I wouldn’t say that there were any main disagreements [over changes]. It wasn’t like for three weeks I was like “Ellie should be a boy.” These things are always tiny. “Should she say this word or this word?” All the subtleties are where Neil [Druckmann] and I invest a lot of our effort and attention, because that’s where we find beauty.

Joel takes aim.

Screenshot: HBO / Kotaku

Mazin on season two: ‘I have so much anxiety myself about doing a good job on this.’

Speaking with Gizmodo, it’s clear that Mazin isn’t taking changes to the story of Part II lightly. “There’s this constant drumbeat of anxiety,” Mazin said. “If you’re anxious about something, I’m probably anxious about it. Which means we’re talking about it and thinking about it.” He described the potential changes as being reminiscent of the kinds of adaptive choices we’ve seen in the first season:

It will be different. Just as this season was different, sometimes it will be different radically, and sometimes it will be barely different at all. But it’s going to be different and it will be it’s own thing. It won’t be exactly like the game. It will be the show that Neil [Druckmann] and I want to make.

It seems like the creative aspirations of season two are in the right place: There will be multiple seasons to accommodate Part II’s length, with deliberate, respectful changes to match the needs of television drama.

The Last of Us won’t be an ‘open-ended, ongoing drama’

While the news of multiple seasons seems to make sense when you consider the massive scale of Part II, it also runs the risk of reminding us of other, once-great, but now well-past-their-welcome zombie dramas that just…won’t…die. To that end, Mazin has been clear that while there will be more seasons, he and Druckmann are aiming for meaningful doses of storytelling, not marathons of endless anguish and suffering.

Speaking to TheWrap back in early February, Mazin said that the show’s production is “committed to not making The Last of Us an open-ended, ongoing drama.” He continued:

We’re here to tell the story and we’re here to reach an end. The end helps us understand why we’re doing anything and the fact that there is an end that is baked in and definite means that the things you watch and experience as a viewer matter […] We will take up as much time as we need to finish telling the story the way we want to tell it best.

This is likely music to many fans’ ears. One of the key strengths of The Last of Us is that, while we’re likely to have divergent opinions about the morality portrayed on-screen, deliberate, focused storytelling with a clear beginning and end is what makes the games so impactful.

But if you were hoping for more specifics, like who’s likely to be cast and who might return, we only know a few concrete specifics on that front, and have a few open-ended speculations.

Ellie looks off camera in shock.

Screenshot: HBO / Kotaku

Bella Ramsey will return as Ellie

Ellie is about 14 years old in the first game. The second game shows her a few years later as a young adult. It’s not uncommon for shows and films to use different actors to cover age gaps, so naturally some might wonder if Bella Ramsey will return as Ellie.

This one’s easy. Speaking at a press conference recently, Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin said, in regard to the second season, that they “are making it with Bella [Ramsey].” Druckmann added:

We are extremely lucky to have Bella in the stuff you saw throughout this entire season. The only way we would ever reconsider recasting Bella is if she said, “I don’t want to work with you guys anymore.” Even then, we’re not sure we would grant her that, we might still force her to come back. [Laughs]

So there you have it: concrete confirmation that Bella Ramsey will play Ellie in season two.

A child infected climbs over a car seat.

Screenshot: HBO / Kotaku

Season two will have more infected, and maybe some more accurate geography

HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us scaled back a bit on the action. At least one iconic scene from the game (which sees Joel suspended, upside down, and firing desperately at charging infected) wasn’t included.

On that front, Mazin has said that while the show aimed to focus on “the power of relationships” and sought “to find significance within moments of action,” the next season will feature more infected. But if you’re like me, a weirdo who minored in geography, well, you might be hoping that season two will try and pick locations that are a bit more accurate to where the story goes.

Back in January, horror writer Stephen King expressed skepticism at was allegedly a river bank not too far from an east-coast American city:

Craig Mazin didn’t disagree, saying that during the show’s first season, there was a sense that “every now and then you get a little bit of an ‘Oh, it’s Canada,’ when we don’t want it to be Canada.” While he didn’t share any specifics about how that little, harmless snag might get remedied, it’s safe to say that the production is well aware of the challenge in accurately portraying locales on-screen.


With the smoke from Joel’s gunshots barely having cleared following Sunday’s season finale, it will likely be a while before the show’s creators share further details about season two of The Last of Us. Right now, however, season two looks to be the start of a multi-season approach that aims to make the most of Part II’s heavy emotional beats and heightened action, and will continue with the same actors who brought these characters so memorably to life.

The Last of Us Season 2 Promo Starts Hype Train On Buff Abby

With the finale of The Last of Us’ excellent TV adaptation behind us, we’re once again stuck in that space of moral uncertainty. But even for those of us who have played The Last of Us’ game sequel and are more than familiar with its emotionally intense ups and downs, it’s hard not to get excited over what’s to come. While season two is still a ways away, that hasn’t stopped series co-creator Neil Druckmann from teasing us all with some awesome art that dates back to the promotion of the second game in 2020.

The choice to use this art is clear: After speculation over who is likely to play the sequel’s alternate protagonist, Abby, there’s been a loud and clear call for the actor to reflect the character’s signature ripped muscles. It appears that Druckmann has, at least, heard that call.

Read More: The Last Of Us Season 2 Better Make Abby Ripped, God Dammit

When The Last of Us was originally released in 2013 for the PlayStation 3, its morally ambiguous ending at the time meant that, should there be a sequel, virtually anything could happen. For many who watched the conclusion for the first time just a mere two weeks ago, that feeling is likely to be alive and well once more. Neil Druckmann, co-creator of the original game and TV adaptation, has added fuel to your fiery speculation with a lovely image from artist Kevin Tong that was used to promote the game’s sequel back in the 2010s. If you’ve played the sequel, then you know exactly what’s going on here, if not, well, strap in for the day you find out just what that’s all about.

Whose arm is that?

Last night, Druckmann tweeted out a reminder that, given season one’s finale on March 12, there’d be no episode on Sunday night, March 19. Teasing that “season [two] is already on its way!” he ended the tweet with “endure and survive!” and a picture of a notably “jacked forearm,” as one tweet reply put it, driving a hammer into a burning car, with dark, fittingly northwestern evergreen trees in the background.

While the art might have you thinking it’s promoting season two of the show, and isn’t entirely wrong spiritually, the genesis of it lies with artist Kevin Tong, who produced it and a matching mirror image one in coordination with Naughty Dog to promote the game’s sequel.

The mirror image switchblade (hmm, who would own such a thing?) image had first poked up around 2016, with a tweet from Tong celebrating #OutbreakDay2016.

After a variation on that very poster, and following the announcement of The Last of Us: Part II, the image Druckmann tweeted out this past Sunday appeared in 2017, showing that very muscular arm.

Killer The Last of Us posters aren’t the only game-inspired art Kevin Tong has produced. Previously, he produced art in coordination with Legendary Pictures for the Warcraft film, featuring posters for both the Horde and Alliance.

He’s also created art in the Halo universe, featuring a pretty sweet illustration of Captain James Cutter, easily one of the best Halo characters that sadly never gets much screen time outside of the two tie-in RTS Halo Wars games. Similar to The Last of Us images, narratively opposing sides face off in mirror images, with the Banished leader, Atriox, looming over his army.

Since the official announcement of season two, speculation over who might be or should be cast as Abby has been all over the internet, with fans of the show and the games pouring over Neil Druckmann’s social media activity to get a sense of who he might be eyeing for the role. One thing is clear: Fans want a buff Abby; if Druckmann’s tweet is anything to go by, they just might get their wish.

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