Call of Duty Warzone is a free to play battle royale from the obvious makers of Call of Duty Modern Warfare. Eagerly anticipated and rumored since the release of Call of Duty Modern Warfare, it finally released as a free to play title on March 10, 2020. In case you somehow don’t know what this is, battle royale is a type of game mode where you can enter the game with 150 players in a squad of 1, 2, 3, or 4 people. Choose a spot on the map to jump to, open up chests to find guns and money. Along the way you get chased into a smaller and smaller area by gas, which from this point forward I will call a circle, and follow each circle in. As the circle becomes smaller, it essentially shrinks the map until there are just a handful of people remaining to fight in the final circle. The last person or team standing is victorious.
Call of Duty Warzone introduces some very welcome innovations to the battle royale mode. In most battle royale games, when you die that is the end of your journey. You are stuck spectating a team mate. In Warzone, every player that dies gets one trip to the Gulag. It’s a small prison 1v1 level where you face another opponent who has also just died with a variety of weapons. Pistols, Assault Rifles, SMGs, Snipers, and even just bare fists. Whoever wins gets back into the game immediately. But if you die, it’s not the end!
Another new feature is the option to “buy back” your fallen squadmates. While players are spectating their teammates they are able to mark buy stations or other points of interest on the map. $4,000 of in game money allows you to purchase a fallen teammate back into the game. I can’t tell you how amazing this feature is. It provides hope not just for the spectating teammate but also to the person alive. OK, if I can just get a few more bucks I can get my teammates back.
There’s another feature that has been highly debated by players but it’s the introduction of a “loadout drop” Basically, if you play multiplayer you know you can set up unique classes with a variety of perks and customize your weapons. The loadout drop in Warzone allows you to obtain a custom class that has all of your customizations. This can either be purchased in game with $10,000 of in-game cash, or there are multiple free loadout drops throughout the game. The first loadout drop occurs with roughly 15 seconds remaining in the first circle close, the second arrives at the beginning of circle 5. But players should also beware, these free loadout drops are often popular and well traveled. You might get killed trying to get it.
One note about the previously mentioned loadout drops. Although Warzone is free to play, this game certainly pushes you in the direction of buying Modern Warfare. Multiplayer makes “leveling up” your preferred weapon of choice significantly easier so that you can customize the gun to your liking with all of the appropriate attachments. If you were to stay confined to leveling the gun in Warzone and that game alone it would take significantly longer to unlock all of the attachments for your weapon.
Call of Duty Warzone has another in game way to earn money and loot by completing Contracts. Scavenger contracts send you to multiple locations to open up loot crates, the final crate usually awards an armor satchel, gas mask, or highly sought after in game item. Bounty contracts mark a person on the map for you to go hunt and kill. As you close on the person the indicator on the radar grows smaller, and they also have a notification on their screen showing a threat level. Killing the individual awards you with money. Recon contracts send you to a close by area to “secure” an area similar to headquarters or domination. Once complete, it awards cash and loot but more important, it also shows you where the next circle will be. This is a very important strategic contract to use to plan ahead. Supply Run contracts send you to a far away buy station. Completing these missions grants a free buy back of a teammate or greatly reduced prices on other items in the buy station. Every teammate alive at the time of completion can take advantage of this. Lastly, Most Wanted contracts mark your exact location on the map for 3 minutes. Every movement will be seen by everyone. However, upon completion the contract not only awards money but it also brings back every single dead teammate. This is a great option for if you are a trio or quad team and are the last person alive.
Crossplay is also a welcome addition but also has its own shortcomings. Xbox, PC, and PS4 players can all play together seamlessly by partying up with their Activision IDs. In matchmaking scenarios the game is supposed to account for who is using a controller and who is playing with keyboard and mouse. Supposedly the game matches controller players with other controller players, etc. It’s well known that PC players using a keyboard and mouse have a distinct advantage so to be playing against someone that has a technical advantage is a problem in this mode. So while it is great to be able to cross boundaries and play with any player on any gaming device, it also comes with those issues which I have just discussed. It is important to note that PS4 users have the ability to turn crossplay off while Xbox and PC players are locked into it.
Every 60 days or so, a new “season” of content is released in the form of a Battlepass. Initially this costs about $10 for you to buy it. However, if you complete the entire season you will have earned enough Call of Duty points to purchase the next season. So on and so forth if you don’t ever want to pay for it again you don’t have to. The seasons introduce loads of new content, from operators to weapons to new game modes. Warzone has been making minor changes and tweaks to the Verdansk map as time goes on. They have added a moving train and opened up Stadium and other buildings in the game to keep things fresh and exciting. I will say though, as time goes on they really need to add another map. There are a ton of operator skins that are awarded with each battle pass and why would I ever wear a snow white camo without a snow map? There is rumors of a nightfall variation of this map on the horizon but it still doesn’t change the actual landscape.
I will note two huge problems with the game, one is a detriment to gameplay the other is to your hard drive. HACKERS. Hackers are very prevalent in the game and there have been many recorded examples of people using aimbots and sniping from across the map by simply pulling up their scope and killing people with a stock marksman rifle. Even some of the streamers and “pro” gamers have been caught cheating with these things as well. They have recently started doing waves of banning hackers but it’s unlikely they will ever be able to fully control it. The following video was not created by me but just know that hackers are very prevalent and that you’ve likely been robbed of some wins by them, either knowingly or unknowingly.
Secondly, the file size for this game is MASSIVE, depending on what you’re playing on the file size is 150 to 200 GB. Players without an external hard drive and finding it difficult to manage the other games they play with this game taking up such a large chunk of space. And it truly shouldn’t be that big. Microsoft Flight Simulator is roughly 200 GB and you’re downloading the entire world to fly in (yes I’m aware that they stream assets but that’s beside the point). They have made strides to reduce the game size and the size of their updates but it’s still a very large download never the less.
Patches have also been known to be quite large and also problematic at the same time. With every patch / update, it seems that something else gets messed up. There was a gamebreaking glitch on PC that turned the on screen weapon into a giant black object which completely obscured not only the players screen, but even opponents could see it as well! Currently I’m dealing with a problem with the heartbeat sensor that has been present for over a month. When you first use the item it glitches the game and freezes for several seconds, an obvious problem in a game where you can die in that time frame. If you are prepared to stick with Warzone you must also learn to live with the problems that something arise with each patch. **As I was writing this review there was a patch that eliminated all vehicles because of a game breaking glitch! As of this writing they are still not re-implemented into the game. This is a huge deal because they are a very important mode of transportation and greatly limits the ability to land and strategize outside of the gas circle, as well as makes supply run contracts a waste.**
Joining up with friends and the social menu overall remains problematic. Crossplay makes it significantly harder to find the people you’ve played with because of the long and unique Activision IDs, especially if you are used to jumping with random players. I had a friend take a screenshot of the persons name while they were playing and at the end of the day was still unable to find that person. Since I play on Xbox I can clearly see my friends list and who is playing the game, but in game shows me that nobody is online. Overall this is a minor issue that doesn’t directly impact gameplay, but should be considered if you don’t have a steady group of people to play with.
At the end of the day though, this game is all about one thing and it is WINNING. It’s extremely difficult to describe the feeling of winning but I’m going to attempt it anyways. Most people are not professionals or streamers so a victory is a rare occurrence. I consider myself to be a decent player at best and I’ve only won 13 times but every time is a complete triumph with me launching out of my chair celebrating. Ironically the games that get away are just as memorable and that’s what’s so good about this game. It never plays the same and it consistently leaves you with moments that replay in your head as you try to figure out how to do better next time or what could have been done differently. That’s what makes battle royale so unique and that’s what makes them so rewarding as well.
My personal belief is that despite all of the problems specifically with hackers and patches, that it’s still incredibly fun to play. At times, the issues become rage quit inducing and tons of people have stopped playing this game for various reasons. I have a friend currently that I’m trying to convince to stay in the game. With the amount of money this game is making, there is no reason for server issues and the inability to fix issues within the game, sometimes created by the developers themselves.
Call of Duty Warzone has been a huge success for Activision, reportedly earning the company in upwards of $2.4 million per day! As a free to play title, it has a massive player base that buys battle passes, gun blueprints, and operator skins. With that type of revenue and its upcoming confirmed tie-in to Cold War, it’s going to be around for a long while despite it’s countless issues. Hopefully as time goes on they will add another new map and continue refining and perfecting their formula. It’s free to play so give it a shot, you have nothing to lose and lots of fun to gain!
*This review was written during Season 5 of Warzone*