Call of Duty: Warzone is a new free-to-play Battle Royale set in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare universe. Fans have known this was coming for a while now with the Modern Warfare Season 2 update introducing a locked game mode in the title menu. Infinity Ward posted an official trailer earlier this week with a release date the very next day, March 10th. Owners of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare got a four hour window of exclusivity at launch.
New players do not need to own the full version of Modern Warfare to download Warzone. They will, however, have a significantly larger download file than owners of the base game at 83 – 101 GB. Owners of Modern Warfare can download Warzone at 18 – 22 GB.
Let’s dive into what makes Warzone standout from the rest of the Battle Royale genre.
Battle Royale and Plunder
Call of Duty: Warzone launches with two separate modes for players to partake: Battle Royale and Plunder. Both modes allow up to three players to queue for a match. Players who are queuing solo or with a team of two can choose to have the extra slots filled. However, even if you queue solo you will still be facing squads of three once in the match.
The basis of Battle Royale is exactly what players have come to expect from the genre: a certain number of players (in this case 150) parachute onto a massive map and fight to be the last alive as an ever encroaching ring of doom closes in on them. Warzone takes that formula and injects it perfectly into the fast-paced combat that Call of Duty is known for.
In Plunder, players fight to horde the most cash by looting, killing other players, or completing contracts. Players can bank their cash by calling in a helicopter to extract it or using a Cash Deposit Balloon that can be found by looting or purchased at a Buy Station. Banked cash cannot be stolen by other players.
Buy Stations are available in both game modes. They allow players to spend in-game currency earned through looting, killing other players, and completing contracts. They contain various items meant to aid the progress of the player’s squad. Items include kill streaks, armor, self-revive kits, loadout drop markers, and redeployment of dead squad members. They can be identified on the mini-map by a shopping cart icon.
Warzone’s setting is Verdansk, which players of Modern Warfare will be familiar. It boasts over 300 points of interest ranging from high-intensity, close-quarter urban settings where players are forced to deal with snipers shooting down on them from rooftops while traversing the tight-kit corridors of an office building, to sprawling rural landscapes that are any sniper’s fantasy.
Teamwork is vital in these settings. Players who end up separated from their squad will find themselves waiting to be revived through one of Warzone’s new respawn mechanics.
Get Back in the Fight
This is where Warzone truly shines, as well as falls flat. There are two ways in which players can return to their squad and the match: have their squad buy their way back in at any Buy Station, or survive the gulag and win your right to re-enter the match.
The Gulag (only in Battle Royale) is a brand new mechanic specific to Warzone. It pits two recently deceased players against each other in a fight for redeployment. The winner is immediately redeployed in the vicinity of their squad. The loser must wait for their team to buy their way back into the match.
Players only get one chance in the Gulag per match. Any death thereafter will simply place the player in spectator mode of their squad.
The Gulag is an incredible addition to the game that makes for some very intense encounters. However, it also adds to the one serious flaw in the game at this point: respawns.
Between every other player returning to the match via the Gulag (that’s 75 automatic player respawns every match) and the abundance of money players can amass simply by traversing the map, I found myself in the final circles on numerous occasions with 20 – 30+ teams still in the fight.
That makes things extremely hectic near the end of each match, to the point where you’re not dying from a squad that bested you, but from the countless players still parachuting into the match all around you. This can get very frustrating, very quickly.
Warzone has an abundance of loot crates throughout the map, containing everything from armor to legendary weapons. One thing Infinity Ward has done is take the loot tier system from other games in the genre: gray for common, green for uncommon, blue for rare, purple for epic, and orange for legendary.
Each tier comes with different attachments for the gun. For example, I can find a common M13 that has no attachments, or a rare M13 that boasts a sight and a barrel mod. This drives the incentive for players to explore and find the best loot, at least in the early moments of the match.
Players can purchase loadout drop markers from Buy Stations that drop in a care package filled with the player’s own custom loadouts they can set up in the pre-game lobby. This is both a blessing and a curse.
It’s a blessing to the player because now they have exactly the loadout they want with all the attachments they choose for their guns. Want to run a dual primary loadout with full kitted sniper and assault rifle? Create your loadout and call in a loadout drop.
It’s a curse in that players are no longer given any incentive to continue to hunt for those epic and legendary guns. They have exactly the guns that they want, set up exactly how they want them.
Not only is there an abundance of cash (which players can pool together), but there are also map loadout drops that are quite frequent in every area. It never feels like much of an accomplishment to get a loadout drop because it’s relatively easy to hit a map drop or call one in fairly early every game.
To help combat the sheer size of the map, Call of Duty: Warzone adds a good selection of vehicles for traversal. Vehicles can be damaged by players and depleting the health bar causes an explosion and kills everyone inside.
The five different vehicles are as follows:
- ATV – Can only seat two people and offers minimal protection, but is very good off-road and very fast.
- Tactical Rover – Quite fast and good at off-roading like the ATV, but similarly offers minimal protection. Can seat up to four players.
- SUV – Slower than the ATV and Rover, but offers good protection. Seats four and isn’t as capable off-road.
- Cargo Truck – The slowest of the bunch, but offers maximum protection. Can hold players in the back as well as equipment. Very poor off-road.
- Helicopter – Good protection, extremely mobile, and seats up to four.
Contracts are in-game missions that players can complete to earn extra cash, as well as rewards like loot or being able to see where the next circle will land. They can be identified on the mini-map by a magnifying glass icon.
Contracts take the form of Scavenger Contracts: open a series of supply boxes for loot and cash, Recon Contracts: secure area X for a certain amount of time to earn rewards, and Bounty Contracts: hunt down player X and kill them for rewards.
Contracts add some depth to the game so that every match isn’t simply drop, loot, die, repeat. Players now have objective they can work toward that can benefit them further along in the round.
Call of Duty: Warzone is not perfect. However, it takes existing concepts of the genre and expands upon them, adding its own twist to make the game intense and satisfying for all players. The gameplay loop is rewarding, even if it can get a little hectic toward the end of the round with the amount of respawns currently common in the game.
An added bonus is that the Battle Pass for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare carries over into Warzone. Battle Pass, progression experience, and weapon experience advance no matter which game you are playing.
If you’re a fan of both Call of Duty and the Battle Royale genre, then Warzone checks all the boxes that matter. It’s going to be interesting to see what Infinity Ward adds to or changes in the game moving forward. Take a look at Clutch’s top 5 drop zones.