The Grau. The Bruen. The DMR. The MAC-10. All, at some point in the last 12 months, have struck fear into the hearts of Call of Duty: Warzone players. While Warzone’s meta is arguably in its most stable and balanced form right now, the battle royale has seen countless weapons dominate the battlefields of Verdnask and Rebirth Island in its first year.
At times, the meta would be ruled by one single weapon, with its power so great you would struggle to come against someone who didn’t have it in their loadout. With dozens of patches and balance updates, as well as the introduction of Black Ops Cold Wars weapon pool, meta-defining weapons have come and gone. So to take you on a trip down memory lane, we’re looking back at some of the weapons that dominated the Warzone meta since its full release one year ago today.
All of the weapons you’re about to see have, at some point, ruled the roost. While some continue to be viable, top-tier weapons today, others have faded into obscurity.
So, let’s jump into a Warzone history lesson as we track the meta-defining guns from the past year.
As a quick clarifier here, there are a number of weapons that you won’t see on this list, despite being immensely strong. This is because they have been consistently used for most of Warzone’s life so far, rather than being meta for a set period of time.
The likes of the M4A1, the Kilo, the Kar98k, and the MP5 are all examples of this. All are generally considered top-tier guns, but it’s hard to say that they were ever particularly broken, overpowered, or the standout ‘best gun’ in the game.
From the moment Warzone launched, it was clear that shotguns would be absolutely nasty in the game. But no one could have foreseen just how broken the 725 double-barrel shotgun would be. The 725 had the ability to down a fully-armoured opponent in just a single shot for the first few weeks of the game, and it was a true nightmare to come up against.
While most shotguns were putting out damage numbers that were way too high, the 725 is the gun that epitomises that era of Warzone, and was the general example and scapegoat of the shotgun meta.
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It took Infinity Ward just 16 days to tune down shotgun damage, which admittedly saw 725 usage drop off slightly. For quite a while after though, it was still often used. Nowadays, we barely see the 725, and for that we’re glad as it brings back far too many nightmares of being wiped out in an instant.
.357 Magnum with Akimbo and Snake Shot rounds
The thought of writing this entry is making us a bit queasy to be honest, so we’ll make it quick – the .357 Magnum, when loaded up with Snake Shot rounds and the Akimbo perk, was completely busted.
Much like the terrifying 725 shotgun, the completely overpowered Snake Shot rounds turned the .357 into a lethal close-range weapon with an almost instant time to kill. With the addition of Akimbo, you could hip fire your way to a Warzone kill record without the need to aim.
Thankfully, a nerf to Snake Shot rounds in May 2020 made the guns far less viable, but as you’ll read later, the ability to dual wield weapons would come back to bite the studio.
For a brief period in the early months of Warzone, it seemed as if everybody was using a Grau as their main assault rifle. The rifle was initially only unlockable through the Battle Pass, but after becoming unlockable via challenges, it was being used by swathes of the player base.
Why was it so good? The main reason is its virtually nonexistent recoil. At almost any range, even when unmounted, the Grau did not move. It also had commendable damage numbers, plus impressive movement speed and ADS times for an AR. And that was just the base weapon. When loaded up with juicy attachments, it was best in class for a period of time.
A significant nerf to its damage output in the summer of 2020 saw the Grau’s usage slide. While today it’s still a decent gun to use, there are plenty of other options that beat it.
For the first few months of Warzone, LMGs didn’t really play that big a part in the meta. They were strong, sure, but most preferred a heavy-hitting AR with large ammo mag attachments.
Then came the Bruen, which was added as a new weapon that could be unlocked via a challenge. The Bruen actually lay dormant for a short while, before it was popularised by one of the biggest streamers on Twitch, Nick ‘NICKMERCS’ Kolcheff. Featuring as the star in one of the most famous NICKMERCS Warzone loadouts, everyone was soon scrambling to unlock the Bruen.
The LMG boasted all the perks of others in its class, but with the right attachments to make the best Bruen Warzone loadout possible, it could double up as a substitute for any AR on the game, all while boasting an enormous magazine.
It took two nerfs in August 2020 to knock this thing off the top of Warzone’s meta, and even today it’s still a pretty decent pick. But for a while, nothing at medium to long range could save you from a hail of Bruen bullets.
R9-0 Shotgun with Dragon’s Breath Rounds
Affectionately dubbed the “doof doof”, the R9-0 has established itself as the best shotgun Warzone has to offer right now. Its quick fire-rate and decent bullet spread saw its usage shoot up alongside other quick-firing shotguns like the Origin.
It’s still one of the best Warzone guns, but for a while it was arguably the most broken weapon in the game thanks to the Dragon’s Breath Rounds attachment. These incendiary rounds would not only deal regular shotgun pellet damage, but also deal tick damage by setting opponents on fire, much like a Thermite Grenade would.
This meant that even if you managed to escape after being smashed by an R9-0 round, you would likely still be downed in a blaze of flames and curse words.
You still see a few miscreants running about with a Dragon’s Breath R9-0 these days, but after a nerf to the rounds that may or may not have happened, it has begun to steadily drop away in usage.
Diamatti with Dual Wield
After the nightmare that was Akimbo .357s a few months previous, many were hoping there would never be such a ridiculously overpowered secondary ever again.
However, with the integration of Black Ops Cold War into Warzone, the Dual Wield Diamatti burst pistol was soon giving players flashbacks. This three-round burst weapon is an effective sidearm in both multiplayer and Warzone, but it was made completely overpowered with its Dual Wield attachment. Donning two of these lethal secondaries meant that players were often picking a Ghost loadout, with no need to run Overkill for a second powerful primary weapon.
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As part of a massive December 2020 balancing update for the new Cold War guns (which we’ll see more of shortly) Raven Software nerfed the Dual Wield Diammati into the ground by increasing hip-fire spread and decreasing damage range.
There may be some recency bias here, but the general consensus among players is that the pre-nerf DMR 14 is the most overpowered, meta-dominating gun in Call of Duty: Warzone history. Tactical rifles, in general, came into the game extremely strong, and still are to this day. But the best DMR Warzone loadout around was simply unstoppable.
With a large magazine, quick fire rate, deadly accuracy, and crazy headshot multiplier, the DMR was obliterating teams quicker than you can say: ‘they’ve got to be hacking.’ This completely broken gun was nerfed along with the Diamattis in December last year, but needed further attention after that to get it in a somewhat balanced state.
Along with its tactical rifle cousins like the AUG and the M16, the DMR is still widely used and very powerful. However, for a time, the sound of DMR fire was the only noise you’d hear echoing around Verdansk.
Hands down the best SMG Warzone has to offer, the MAC-10 quickly became a must-have for any Warzone loadout. In its first few days, the Gallantry variant of the MAC-10, which was not only available in the Season One Battle Pass but also floor loot in Warzone, was actually stronger than the already powerful base weapon thanks to a bug increasing some stats.
The Gallantry MAC-10 – and any other custom build of the gun – ran riot in Warzone, and is still the number one pick for close-range engagements. It has been nerfed slightly since it was released, but it definitely deserves a spot on this list as the most meta-defining gun in Warzone right now.
During the period where the DMR was also broken, pro players, and streamers using a MAC-10/DMR loadout combination broke several Warzone kill records, proving just how crazy both guns were at slaying.
Despite fixes to the Gallantry variant and a general nerf, the MAC-10 is still the most used SMG in Warzone, according to WZ Ranked.
So, that’s our brief history of the most overpowered Warzone guns that have defined the game’s meta over the last year. While there are plenty of strong weapons that have been staples of any loadout for some time, these completely broken guns are renowned for wreaking havoc in Verdansk for limited amounts of time.
With weapons constantly being added, it’s only a matter of time before we find our next completely busted gun.