After a leaked commercial showing footage of Warzone's Verdansk map with a fresh coat of 1980s-themed paint appeared, many players were left wondering what had happened to the release of a brand-new map heavily rumoured to be set within the Ural Mountains.
Despite no official confirmation of the map making an appearance in the battle royale once Verdansk had met its nuclear demise, several leaks all but confirmed the presence of the Ural Mountains map complete with new points of interest and large bodies of water that players could actually utilise.
Verdansk has been the home of Warzone since the game launched back in March 2020 and the release of a brand-new map in a completely new setting could have injected a new lease of life into the battle royale which has been on the receiving end of negative feedback surrounding a lack of map changes and an imbalanced metagame.
As the end of the current Warzone map nears and players continue to express their concerns regarding Verdansk sticking around for some time to come, did Activision make the right call of completely scrapping the Ural Mountains map altogether?
According to several reports, Activision opted to scrap the Ural Mountains map due to development issues involving weapon balancing. It's no secret that Warzone has had its fair share of problems when it comes to creating a somewhat balanced metagame and if the release of a new map accentuated one of the main issues with the game, the publisher would know that it would be met with a barrage of negativity from the ever-vocal fan base.
Along with the inability to create a balanced playing field, developers were also said to be struggling with implementing a swimming mechanic into the battle royale in order to accommodate for the new map layout.
I think that scrapping the release of the map altogether is a great shame for Warzone and its players who were after something fresh after growing tired of a map that featured little to no changes in the space of a year. Halting its release for something more familiar is a damage limitation exercise from Activision, which won't want any more negative feedback hindering Warzone's popularity.
Sense Of Familiarity
As mentioned above, maintaining Verdansk as the epicentre of the Warzone universe is a sure-fire tactic to ensure no other game-breaking issues find their way into the battle royale with plenty of issues that have yet to be dealt with by Raven Software.
The trip back in time to the 1980s along with the additions of new points of interest (POI) is certainly different enough from the current iteration of the map, but an all-new setting complete with new POIs could well have elevated Warzone to even greater heights, consolidating its position as one of the best battle royale titles in the genre.
1980s Verdansk isn't the map change players were hoping for, but at least it's better than absolutely nothing. If the Ural Mountains map released with issues, the community would be quick to call for a return to Verdansk, so surely some change is better than no change at all?
Another factor that may have played into Activision's decision to abandon the Ural Mountains map could well revolve around the storyline currently taking place within the battle royale. Although it hasn't been mentioned since the start of Season 2, Soviet fugitive Stitch had managed to capture Adler and the last we heard was that he was making his way to Verdansk. Since then, the current storyline has gone silent but with Warzone heading to the 1980s, the likelihood of the new map reigniting the story is extremely high.
Other than the weapon arsenal being integrated, there have been very few references to Black Ops Cold War in Warzone and with a 1980s iteration of the current map appearing at the beginning of Season 3, the storyline now has an all-new setting to develop before Black Ops Cold War reaches its fourth season of post-launch content.
Implementing the Ural Mountains map into Warzone would have seen an all-new location with almost no tie-ins to the current storyline. What's the point of heading to the Ural Mountains when Adler is on his way to Verdansk? From a storyline perspective, 1980s Verdansk is the more logical move to make by Activison although it isn't the most popular one.
I think that the issues surrounding development were the main reason to why the publisher opted to scrap the Ural Mountains map in favour of a Verdansk variation. While it's disappointing that we may never see the map in action and it's not the news players wanted, some kind of new setting is certainly better than a second year of Verdansk as we know it.