Call of Duty: Warzone has received scrutiny since release for two factors in particular: SBMM and hacking. Now, professional streamers like Vikkstar and Drift0r are decrying how infuriating those intertwined issues have become.
Skill-based matchmaking is a part of every competitive game, but the secretive manner in which it’s enforced in Call of Duty — as this year’s iteration lacks a true ranked mode — has annoyed players in both multiplayer and Warzone. Given the nature of hacking in CoD, which can often be hard to recognize, high-level players like Vikkstar have grown frustrated with an unchecked predicament.
Warzone just caused me to have a meltdown on stream. I cannot play this game anymore. I don't mean that it isn't fun or good or I don't like it, but rather I cannot participate in the core aspects of the game. Every lobby is filled with hackers & actual gods. I might have to quit
— Drift0r (@Drift0r) July 16, 2020
Popular streamer Drift0r decried the state of Warzone, as his experience in higher level lobbies forced a “meltdown on stream” and consideration of quitting the game entirely following deaths at the hands of a litany of both premier, sweaty players and hackers.
Hacks in CoD range from the obvious wall hacks and aimbots to more incognito methods, like the Cronus Anti-Recoil Mod, which employs the Cronus Max to subtly improve things like gun recoil in a method similar to “strike packs.” This latter issue is what spurred Vikkstar to reply to Drift0r and lament the state of top lobbies.
Perhaps one of the worst parts, is never knowing if you got killed by hacker or not. Questioning whether you misplayed, or never had a chance anyway. Not wanting to use the excuse of calling hacks, despite it being so so prevalent.
— Vikkstar ★ (@Vikkstar123) July 16, 2020
“Perhaps one of the worst parts is never knowing if you got killed by [a] hacker or not.” As noted by Vikkstar, the prevalence of hackers makes the game a muddy experience. Top players can learn from being outplayed by talented players, but not from being subjected to unfair advantages.
In lobbies where both are prevalent, the situation becomes increasingly uncomfortable as streamers don’t want to needlessly cry foul or subject their viewers to constantly spectating their murderers to analyze the possibility of hacking.
Infinity Ward has laid out multiple ban waves against presumed hackers, but those have sometimes wrongly banned innocent players while failing to curb widespread hacking. In a stream with “good day” and “positive vibes” in the title, Drift0r’s unrelenting subjugation to good players and possible hackers caused him to reflect upon his 1.77 K/D and express that he is “very actually mad at this, like not just a little bit mad, not just a little bit flustered.”
The problem compounds SBMM and hacking prevalence, as players are smacked with the cold hand of inferiority once their statistics have improved enough to reach sweaty lobbies. Countless players have complained about each issue separately, but both work in conjunction to tilt streamers once they hit SBMM’s higher levels.
In concurrent games like Overwatch or even Apex Legends, these issues are resolved by developer attention to hacking and the existence of different modes for casual and competitive players: Quick Play and Ranked. In ranked play, your skill tiers are delineated clearly so players know what they’re getting themselves into.
Call of Duty’s hacking issues are harder to contain than Overwatch’s console scene, for example, as the latter doesn’t have cross-play or as large a playerbase. Still, Warzone’s most popular players understandably want more resources devoted to the hacking problem and more clarity surrounding SBMM.