The incorporation of customizable loadouts — including guns, grenades and perks — in Call of Duty: Warzone is one feature that differentiates the experience from the many other battle royale titles. In the game’s Weapons menu, players can edit their loadouts and fine-tune their chosen guns with attachments. During the game, these loadouts can be accessed via a buy station, or in loadout crates that drop from the sky all across the map.

But with literally thousands of potential loadout combinations, how do you find the best? After spending a little over 50 hours in the game, here are a few ideas to maximize your kit, starting with some general tips before identifying some specific loadouts with which we’ve had success.

Let’s begin with a simple, universal truth. The term “best” is relative. Rather than merely adopting a “best” loadout as recommended by a Google search, you’re better served looking at your own style of play and answering some key questions. While we’ll hit some personal recommendations later — with five, full possible loadouts — for the most part, the game’s balancing will make many options viable. It seems obvious, but one gun someone believes to be “the best” may just not be right for you. There are some guns that aren’t viable in the final circle, but the best gun to carry will simply be the best gun for you. Don’t try to force yourself to use a primary gun you don’t like if you’re no good with it.

Perks

Ghost or Overkill

You’ll quickly find that intel is a huge advantage in Warzone, and most top players will carry heartbeat sensors as their tactical selection and prioritize purchasing UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) at buy stations. Both of which will betray your position. If you want to counter those measures, you’ll want to run Ghost as your second perk, which hides your character from both of those devices. The biggest counterpoint is Overkill, which allows you to carry two primary weapons in your loadout.

The case for Ghost is pretty simple: You can find a second primary weapon either around the map or off a fallen enemy. You can only add perks via your loadout. If it’s me, I’m running Ghost.

The only other worthwhile secondary perk is Hardline, which gives players a 25 percent discount at buy stations on killstreaks, field upgrades and armor plates. That’s nice, but you can up your odds of finding killstreaks in loot boxes by using Kill Chain in your first perk slot. And while saving money on those other items is nice, my logic is simple: The longer you stay alive, the more cash you’ll grab. And the longer no one can see you, the longer you’ll stay alive.

One final note on Ghost: Make sure your teammates are running it as well. If you’re running three abreast and you’re the only one with Ghost, it’s not doing you much good since your mates will give away your position on UAVs and heartbeat sensors. If your teammates don’t want to run it, make sure you maintain some distance from them so you can still use it to your advantage.

Kill Chain or Cold Blooded

Another trend in the early meta has been the use of thermal scopes to spot players hiding inside windows or in the woods. You can counter that by running Cold Blooded. The other perks for this slot don’t seem to offer a substantial advantage. If you like to hover around the periphery of the ring, you could make a case for Double Time (sprint twice as long and move 30 percent faster while crouched), but the only other worthwhile option seems to be Kill Chain, which has the potential to be a huge money saver if you pull one or more killstreaks out of a supply crate.

The recommendation here is to run Cold Blooded if you plan to stay put for any period of time or prefer to snipe to help avoid detection. It pairs very nicely with Ghost in that regard.

What about Perk 3?

The third slot leaves the most room for personal style. If you like to push, you’d probably do well with Tracker, which will show foes’ recent footsteps. If you’re more inclined to survey an area and play stealthily, Spotter is probably the play, so you can see enemy equipment, mark it for your teammates and even hack it to use your enemy’s equipment against them. (If you’re playing with a regular squad, Tracker and Spotter complement each other well, if you can coordinate before dropping in.)

If you want something solid across the board, Battle Hardened will help mute effects from tactical grenades. Tune Up will allow you to revive fallen teammates 25 percent faster. However, it’s been my experience that I’m usually either on my own or exposed whenever I’m knocked, making it difficult for a revive in many cases. To that end, you’ll likely get the most consistent value out of Tracker or Spotter. If you do want to run Tune Up, definitely carry a smoke grenade to help obscure your revive attempt. (And also remember: a lot of snipers tend to use thermal scopes.)

Lethal grenades

Offense or defense?

Let’s start with the one obvious item to discount: The throwing knife. Personally, I love the throwing knife in multiplayer. In Warzone, it’s hit or miss, and by that I mean I have yet to connect on a throw. Ping issues may be part of the problem, especially with everyone locked inside streaming Netflix or playing online games right now. But unless you’re a top-tier player there’s better gear to utilize.

If you’re a defensive player that likes to snipe or hole up in a building, mines (either proximity or claymores) are the way to go. They can protect one of your exposed directions while you focus on another with your rifle.

If you’re an offensive, aggressive player, you’re probably looking at C4, Semtex, thermite or the frag, in that order.

Here’s the case for C4, despite its limited throwing distance: First, unless you stick someone with Semtex or thermite; it’s pretty rare to get a knock or kill against a fully armored player. C4 is the most powerful explosive you can throw, so you’re more likely to take down an enemy when you use it. You can also detonate it almost immediately, giving you a good tactical advantage if you toss it into a room before barging in … or if you’re caught in a close-quarters engagement and need to buy some time to reload.

What I like the best about C4 though is its effect on vehicles: It annihilates them. When so many players are using vehicles late in games (particularly in solos) this is the best possible countermeasure. If you’ve got a bad guy trying to run you down, toss it out in front of you and start back pedaling. When they charge you like a bull seeing red, blow 'em sky high.

Two more cheeky uses for it as an offensive weapon: For one, pull out the old Battlefield tactic and toss your C4 on the hood of your vehicle. Point it at another vehicle or cluster of enemies. Bail out before impact and detonate to blast them all. Another? Have a teammate put out a recon drone and toss the C4 on top. Now, not only can you locate your enemies, you can blow them up if you can get close enough.

Tactical grenades

The heartbeat sensor or the heartbeat sensor?

Until more players start running Ghost to counter it, the heartbeat sensor is, by far, the most overpowered piece of equipment in the game. Remember, knowledge is power in a tactical game like this. And knowing where enemies are is the best kind of knowledge.

Whether you want everyone in your squad to run one is a more debatable position. The decoy grenade and stim are of limited use. Likewise, the gas grenade isn’t that potent if you’re in an open area. The snapshot grenade can be quite useful to teams looking to push in terms of spotting potential indoor ambushes, but if someone’s running a heartbeat sensor you’re probably better off complementing it with a flash grenade (which I’d prioritize over a stun since if stunned foes were already scoping the door you’re coming through, they can still drop you pretty easily).

The smoke grenade has its uses too, especially if you’re trying to revive a fallen teammate in the open. But with so many people using thermal scopes, it feels like a bit of a waste.

Primary and secondary weapons

Again, you’ll find that you can quite capably run a large number of weapons in Warzone and thrive. But there seem to be some mods and guns that have been most effective in the game’s initial meta.

More bullets is mo’ better

Players, particularly those with full armor, tend to be a little bit bullet-spongy and reloading can be a killer in a pitched firefight. Whatever gun you run, pack in as many rounds as you can. I tend to prefer ARs with big mags, such as the 60-round M4 magazine or the 75-round AK-47 drum. With that many rounds available, you can put down multiple enemies without even reloading, which is a huge advantage. This also is the case for using a PP19 with an 84-round attachment (even if it is only 9mm) or the P90 and its baseline magazine of 50 rounds. Whatever gun you prefer though, check to see if you can increase your magazine’s capacity; there are attachments which enable you to do so.

Different bullets is even mo’ better

Whatever guns you chose for your two weapons, make sure they use different bullet types so you’re not pulling from the same limited ammo pool. And for the most part, that differentiation will allow you to engage successfully at different distances. The best balance I’ve found seems to be an AR and sniper rifle: You can’t hold as many SMG rounds in reserve as you can for ARs, and AR rounds tend to hit harder and at a greater distance. Even if you like to be aggressive and pursue close-quarters fights, you’re likely better off modding an AR (maybe using a shorter barrel or no stock).

Silence is golden

Muting your shots is a huge advantage since it won’t reveal your position on the mini-map. What’s more, using the monolithic silencer also increases your range. It’s a must-add on any sniper or long-range rifle, and a lot of top players even use it on an MP7.

Sniper is super

If you are good with a sniper rifle, you should run a sniper rifle. Why? Because you’re not likely to find a gun anywhere on the map that has the one-shot down/kill potential of a rifle you can add via your loadout.

If this is your route, favor the HDR over the AX-50. HDR rounds hit harder and you won’t have to be quite as precise at long ranges, and the HDR is the more accurate base gun on top of that.

The choicest weapons

Again, there really is no “best” gun. That said, certain guns seem to work better than others. With that in mind, you’d probably do well to incorporate some combination of the following weapons when building your loadout:

ARs: M4A1, RAM-7, Grau 5.56, Oden, AK-47

The key traits here are accuracy and stopping power. The M4 is the most versatile gun in the game and should be a mainstay of your loadouts as you learn the game. The RAM-7 hits harder at the cost of some accuracy, but can be configured well as a harder-hitting SMG. The Grau is similar to the M4 and can be doctored to excel both in close quarters and over longer range. The AK and the Oden both pack a wallop, but you need to modify for recoil (heavy barrel, muzzle attachments, foregrip) to keep them accurate. The Oden also shoots much slower. If you’re good at handling recoil and are typically accurate with your shots, the latter two are probably more reward than risk. Less skilled players should probably skew toward the first three though.

SMGs: AUG, MP7, P90, PP19, MP5

You’re going to want an SMG that can spit fire fast, which is something all of these guns can do. But that speed will also drain your magazines, so be sure to upgrade your ammunition to the largest mags you can. You’ll pay a stiffer price if you run out of ammo in a close quarters gunfight than from the (very) slight decrease in mobility.

You’ll see a lot of these modded with longer barrels and, particularly, monolithic suppressors to extend their range. If you want to run one of these as your primary though, you’d do well to run the Overkill perk and bring along a marksman or sniper rifle to allow you to fight from a distance.

LMGs: PKM, Holger

If you want to be a run-and-gunner, using an LMG will drive you insane, so just don’t. If you like laying traps for stragglers trying to make it into the circle late or weaving through the streets of the downtown district, the PKM can be an absolute laser. The Holger, modded with ultralight barrel, can provide an option a little closer to an AR with it’s robust, standard 60-round magazine. Still, if you prize mobility, go with a non-LMG option.

Marksman: MK2, Kar98k, EBR

The first two rifles are good for quick-scoping, and the Kar in particular packs a punch with one-shot headshot dropping power. It’s a harder weapon to use though, so newcomers may want to look elsewhere.

You can pop shots faster with the highly accurate MK2, and while it may take 2-3 shots to down a foe, you can probably get all three shots off in under 3 seconds. The EBR shoots faster than either of these guns, and sometimes can be equally lethal, but there’s been enough weirdness in how hard shots are landing with it to make me prefer the other two rifles. Plus, recoil and accuracy issues over distance make it hard for its semiautomatic firing speed to be an advantage.

Sniper: HDR, AX-50

Both of these are one-shot knocks to the head, but the HDR is more accurate and more powerful. The APX-50 is faster firing, though honestly, you’re not quick-firing either of these rigs. I prefer just making the HDR as lethal as possible, knowing that if I’m going to use it, I’m going to be staying put for a little while.

Handguns: .357 Magnum, Desert Eagle

For the most part, handguns are desperation weapons in this game. The only reason they’re even appearing here is for players who want to run Ghost instead of Overkill as their second perk. Even then, you’re likely best off dropping the handgun for an SMG or AR as soon as possible. The Magnum and the “Deagle” are both heavy-hitting weapons, though. If you’re close enough to use one, two or three shots may be all you need to put down even a well-armored enemy — if your aim is good.

Launchers: RPG, JOKR, PILA

Running a launcher will also allow you to use Ghost as your second perk, and with so many people using vehicles as a weapon right now, they’re a great deterrent.

If you’re good with your aim, the RPG is the best of the bunch and the most versatile. Vehicles and foot soldiers alike will fall to a well-placed rocket. The JOKR is a massive platform that will slow you down for sure. But it is also has the potential to give you a team-wipe as a fire and forget weapon. The PILA is a compromise. Best against helicopters (though they can spoof its missiles with flares) its free fire mode makes it effective on ground targets as well. If you do want to run a launcher, you should probably also run Amped as your third perk to decrease reload speeds.

Melee: None

Realistically, you’re never going to get close enough to use it unless you sneak up on someone. And if you can get that close, you can just use your finishing move on them.

Don’t be tempted by the riot shield. Even if it soaks up bullets, its limitations (you can’t fire while using it and it doesn’t cover your front when sprinting) make it a wasted weapon.

Five great loadout options

Given the general parameters we’ve laid out, here are five full loadouts we think could be a good starting point for your experimenting. Again, these are suggestions, not gospel, so please feel free to tinker and let us know what you find.

The Runner

Primary: Aug (407 mm extended barrel, 5mW laser, FORGE TAC CQB comb, ranger foregrip, 5.56 NATO 60-round drum)

Secondary: MK2 (FSS 20.0″ factory barrel, Solozero NVG enhanced thermal optic, FSS Mk 2 sport comb stock, stippled grip tape)

Lethal: C4

Tactical: Heartbeat sensor

Perks: Coldblooded, Overkill, Tracker

What you get here is a primary that hits like an AR with the mobility of an SMG. Bonus: it still uses SMG/pistol ammo, so you could run this with an AR as well. (The laser will help with hipfire on the move, but if you prefer to aim down the sights you can replace it for a reflex or holo scope.)

The MK2 is the most mobile rifle among all marksmen/snipers and this one has been optimized for range and mobility. You won’t headshot anyone across the map but you’ll be able to go toe-to-toe with anyone not toting a heavier, longer-range sniper rifle.

The C4 isn’t a hard and fast choice, but it will help against any harassing vehicles.

The Gunner

Primary: M4 (FSS 12.4 Predator barrel, PBX Holo 7 sight, M-16 stock, 60-round mags, ranger foregrip)

Secondary: HDR (Monolithic suppressor, 26.9″ HDR Pro barrel, variable zoom scope, FTAC Champion stock, 9-round magazines)

Lethal: C4

Tactical: Heartbeat sensor

Perks: Killchain, Overkill, Tracker

This is probably my favorite loadout and makes you a lethal machine anywhere on the map. You won’t be running as fast with the massive sniper on your back, but if you can move smartly inside the ring and find good perches (elevated areas, rooftops, high-rise windows) you will be able to one-shot anyone who pops their head out while you’re looking down the scope. And the way the HDR is tricked out, bullet drop is almost zero.

The M4 is the most versatile gun in the game and this configuration allows you to have a built-in silencer with enough bullets to take down multiple bad guys in short order.

The Sniper

Primary: HDR (Monolithic suppressor, 26.9″ HDR Pro barrel, variable zoom scope, FTAC Champion stock, 9-round magazines)

Secondary: .357 Magnum (Compensator muzzle, .357 long barrel, Cronen LP945 mini reflex optic, lightweight trigger, snake shot ammunition)

Lethal: Proximity mine (outdoor); Claymore (indoor)

Tactical: Flash grenade

Perks: Coldblooded, Ghost, Spotter

The lightning bolt that is the HDR is still the star here (same mods as above) but this loadout is for sneakier types that want to stay hidden from UAVs and heartbeat sensors. The .357 is likely best dropped for the first blue-or-better SMG or AR you see, but it’ll keep aggressors from getting too close.

If you plan to drop the handgun immediately, you should probably stick with the heartbeat sensor instead of the flash grenade, but the latter will help slow an onrushing foe so you can get your magnum squared up for some decisive shots.

The Mad Bomber

Primary: M4 (FSS 12.4 Predator barrel, PBX Holo 7 sight, M-16 stock, 60-round mags, grenade launcher)

Secondary: JOKR

Lethal: C4

Tactical: Heartbeat sensor

Perks: Killchain, Overkill, Tracker

This one is specifically build to be a vehicle killer. Get run down enough times and sometimes you just need to give some pain back to them. The grenade launcher — which uses rockets — isn’t the noob-tube that would instakill anyone on foot in old versions of CoD multiplayer, but it’ll mess 'em up pretty good if they’re in a vehicle, where two shots will take it down altogether.

The JOKR just adds to your options. Again, you won’t be too mobile, but if the cavalcade of vehicles starts coming your way, you’ll be ready.

The Supporter

Primary: Holger (XRK ultralight barrel, Corp combat holo sight, stippled rear grip tape, Merc foregrip, FMJ perk)

Secondary: RPG

Lethal: Proximity mines

Tactical: Heartbeat sensor

Perks: Killchain, Overkill, Tracker

I’d steer clear of this if you aren’t running with a strong communicating squad. But if you are, having a player with these assets can be a big help in a firefight. The Holger, modded for better movement, can put down a heavy spray of suppressing fire while your teammates move into more advantageous positions and/or close for a kill. If enemies are barricaded inside, the RPG can soften them up, in addition to warding off vehicles. The mines can guard your rear if you and your mates are setting up an ambush somewhere.

Got your own recommendations? Let’s hear them below.

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