Call Of Duty Modern Warfare has been performing well in the background for many months now. It was released on October 25th 2019 in fact and no matter what your thoughts on the Call Of Duty series this installment has smashed records right, left and centre. But here we won’t be talking about the base game of Modern Warfare, but instead focusing on the newly released mode, titled Call Of Duty: Warzone.
Probably one of the worst kept secrets in gaming history, Call Of Duty: Warzone emerged on March 10th 2020. The mode had been rumoured ever since Call Of Duty Modern Warfare hit the shelves even with no solid proof of it coming. Then all of a sudden three months later we started to see leaked images of a battle royale map, players discovering a map within the private lobbies of the base game and more. As we edged closer to March we started to see more concise proof that within Season Two we would potentially see Call Of Duty: Warzone, although both Activision and Infinity Ward had made no announcement whatsoever.
Various videos and leaks were published online but ripped down straight away and further leakers were at risk of being taken to court by Activision. The real indicators were a mode on the main section of Call Of Duty Modern Warfare menu being greyed out with a padlock with the title “Classified” which sent players into a frenzy of talking about when the Battle Royale would surface. Also within the season two trailer of Modern Warfare, we witnessed characters parachuting into what looked like Terminal from Modern Warfare 2. It was all very exciting yet frustrating as even though the leaks were leakier than a chocolate teapot, we still had no proper announcement from the developers or publishers.
Then on March 9th 2020 we saw YouTubers show off gameplay on their personal channels for the first time with a further confirmed announcement from Activision that Call Of Duty Warzone would launch the very next day. Being able to see this gameplay live in action made the 24 hour wait almost unbearable, as I just wanted to sink my teeth into the mode I had been expecting for months on end. Having exhausted my multiplayer experience of the main base game, I was so ready.
So Call Of Duty: Warzone surprised the world with the fact that it is entirely free to play for all players across Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC. Also, it is completely cross platform between the three platforms allowing all to engage with others if they weren’t on the same platform. This is a smart move by the team at Raven Studios and Activision and although albeit may leave slightly sour taste in the mouths of players who paid for Modern Warfare on day one, it gives players an opportunity to dive in at no expense. Blackout on Call Of Duty Black Ops 4 was a good start to Battle Royale for the series, but meant players had to purchase the full game in order to get a taste of the mode. With Warzone, this will populate the servers and ensure the scope and longevity of the title is achieved going forwards. And you have to ask why they do it this way and the answer is very simple. The revenue is obtained from players purchasing cosmetics and the battle pass every few months so they do not have to justify selling the entire title to make money.
So at the time of writing I’ve poured approximately twenty hours into Call Of Duty: Warzone on Xbox One. The premise is very simple and if you’ve played Battle Royale games before you’ll be right at home here. 150 players on Verdansk, which is a map comprised of a mish mash of several others and boy is it absolutely huge. You’ll see some classics mixed into the main map such as Terminal from Modern Warfare 2, Vacant from Call Of Duty 4 and Broadcast amongst others. These iconic maps are integrated so well into the main Warzone map you will recognise you’re there when you least expect it. When I heard that some of these locations would be making a comeback, I was a bit reluctant to accept that the maps would blend in quite as well as they have done. It brings back some epic memories of long sessions on these maps back when gaming started to become big.
At the time of writing, Trios is all that is available in the gametype selection, so this will allow you and two mates to buddy up and try and last until the final circle and hopefully take that chicken dinner home nice and hot. When you first start your journey in Warzone you will have to play through a short tutorial lasting no more than ten minutes. For veterans of the game this may seem like a chore, but for new players its essential that you soak in the mechanics of the gunplay and everything else around it.
If you’ve played Battle Royale type titles before you will spawn into a lobby area which is a random location of the map where you can run rampage and kill players and even gain experience and weapon unlocks for doing so. This was a nice touch as it gives players an opportunity to have a short practice with a variety of weapons and start working to unlocking more gear for your operators. Once you start the game you’ll be in an aircraft which will fly across the map which is when you’ll converse with your squad or maybe take their lead if they are randoms at which area you would like to land on in the map. The landscape is breathtaking and I can remember my first experience, I was ecstatic about how gigantic the map actually is.
What I instantly noticed was how the areas of the map had a title above them so that you didn’t always have to observe the map to know where it was you were going to land. So, for instance, if you wanted to aim to parachute into the prison area of the map you’ll see clearly and concisely that it is prison in block capital writing just by looking down from the aircraft. Then away you go as you parachute to your location of choice, what I liked about this part was how much control you had over the parachute. You could cut the parachute if you wanted to accelerate faster towards the ground or deploy it again to slow yourself down. Rotating on the analogue sticks appeared to negotiate the parachute so that you could land wherever you want with pinpoint accuracy. It really is something you have to experience yourself to really understand what I am talking about.
As you land on the ground you’ll be armed with nothing but a pistol to start off with and then your aim is to loot as many areas or buildings as you decide to kit up your character. You will find items scattered around at random such as shotguns, assault rifles and SMG’s along with armour plates amongst other items. Whilst you can stick with these items if you really want, it’s essential that you start looking for better loot as you move around the map. The weapons are specifically colour coded similar to the Fortnite mechanic in the way that the most common items are grey, then green, blue, purple and orange in order of rarity. Orange being the highest tier as a legendary weapon. These weapons can be specific blueprints with rare attachments and always fully equipped with scopes, grips and other gizmos. You are more likely to find these items in the various loot crates you’ll find dotted around inside buildings and in tricky to reach places such as the roof or a basement of a dwelling. You’ll know when one is close by, as you’ll hear a noise which I can only describe as similar to loud fridge. It actually becomes really fun to go through an entire area looting and seeing what you can find and dig out.
You will also find cash littered around these locations and there is a reason for having cash on your person and you’ll want to keep picking up as much dollar as you can. These funds can be used at buy stations to purchase items such as additional armour, a self revive kit if you’re downed by an enemy, UAV’s, airstrikes, cluster strikes and more. Essentially having money is your key to additional perks. However if you have played the multiplayer section of the game as much as I have you will want to take note of one specific item and that is the loadout crate. Purchasing one of these will allow you to call in a crate of your very own where you’ll be able to select one of your multiplayer loadout slots. This includes a primary and secondary weapon along with your grenade selections and suchlike. I found it really useful to carry the heartbeat sensor to ensure that I could see people coming within close proximity to me. Last but not least you’ll be able to save some cash to bring back a fallen friendly if they are killed off. It is important to be wise with the cash you use and later into the game you will want to think about saving cash to bring back friendly players.
Graphically I found it to be absolutely stunning for a map of this size with so many players in one server. It genuinely felt no different to playing a standard multiplayer map on Call Of Duty Modern Warfare. The mechanics are exactly the same and everything runs smoothly and flawlessly in terms of gunplay, looting and other controls. I did experience some hiccups and frame drops along the way along with short bursts of lag. It was hard to criticise this so early on in the life of Warzone as the servers would have been at absolute peak and getting hammered, so it is easy to let go of some minor frustrations. The sound effects are absolutely superb, hearing all the enemy gunfire in the distance, explosions, airstrikes and helicopters buzzing overhead all enhanced the experience. You just can’t fault any aspect of how the world functions they have absolutely nailed this. Considering there was no public BETA or intense testing of this to my knowledge they have truly excelled in comparison to last years instalment of Blackout.
If I had to pick a frustration out here it would be how unforgiving the gas is when you find yourself outside the circle when it closes in. You will want to make sure you are within very close proximity of the edge of the circle as it will wipe you out in less than thirty seconds even with a gas mask equipped with is apparently intended to prolong your life in the gas. The gas mask however only added maybe an extra ten seconds to my life before my health was being eaten at an alarming rate. I do think in the early stages of the game this could be a bit weaker and allow players at least some time to emerge from the clouds of yellow toxic fumes.
One surprising element to me was how well the vehicles handled. We rarely see vehicles in Call Of Duty titles. Some appeared in Call Of Duty 3, Call Of Duty World at War and more recently on last years Battle Royale effort which was Blackout. They have always sadly handled painfully, always felt heavy and rigid with no flexibility in terms of how they handled. Vehicles in Warzone handle beautifully and you feel like you have complete control over the ground vehicles to the point where if you hit a tree you’ll quickly reverse and be back where you need to be. Helicopters are very easy to master and fly even for the most amateur of player.
So going back to the gameplay itself, it is genuinely the first Battle Royale title I have ever played where I felt like I was looking over my shoulder the entire time. Nowhere felt truly safe on this monster of a map and that is the effect you surely want in a Battle Royale title. This feeling encouraged me to communicate more than I normally would and if I was playing with randoms, I found a lot more people engaging with others. It was truly refreshing to witness and made me smile inside, it felt like gamers were going back to the days of no party chat and just getting along.
There’s a couple more things to tick off that I haven’t mentioned which is what happens if you die. On your first death within the first five movements of the circle which is clearly indicated by a number on the HUD, you’ll have an opportunity to try and come back into the world. You’ll be placed in what I can describe as a medieval castle where you will go 1 vs 1 against another fallen enemy often with only a pistol or shotgun on your possession. There are two ways in which to win this battle, one being kill the enemy or catch the middle flag when the timer expires. You have only fifteen seconds to negotiate this duel, so it really is a case of quick reactions and sometimes sheer luck. The amazing part of all this was if one of your team mates was dead along with you, he could see your duel and call out commands as to where the enemy is, as you are placed on a balcony until it’s that person’s duel. You can also attempt to throw rocks at the enemy in order to stun them. Win this battle and you’ll parachute back into the world, the good news is that you’re back in the game, the bad news being that you’re only armed with a pistol again and the cycle resumes once more.
The last thing to mention was contracts dotted around the map, these are pickups which allow you to do missions on the move along with your squad. At the time of writing there is recon, bounty and scavenger. Recon allows you to capture a certain marked area, if you’re successful you’ll be able to see where the next circle will be. Scavenger asks you to loot three marked crates within close vicinity of where you are, this gains you cash rewards and also some decent loot. Bounty hunter marks an area where an enemy is gathered, kill this enemy and you get a large cash reward, be wary though as he could have his team mates close by. These were a great addition but can be quite a chore and only found myself ticking them off to gain the extra cash.
All in all though Warzone completes the Call Of Duty Modern Warfare experience with probably the best Battle Royale experience I have ever partaken in and I have played them all to death. Considering it’s the opening week and more is to come, I am excited to see what longevity is here. Will they add to the map? Will they bring out more maps? Will the add more modes? Who knows and that is what will keep me playing, this and the fact that my progression flawlessly works between every mode within the game. At the time of finishing this review they have just added a Solo playlist which will please the single players out there. If you haven’t played this yet, you absolutely need to. I guarantee, if you enjoy shooters you will be sucked in and with it being free to play you have absolutely nothing to lose. I think Raven Studios, Infinity Ward and Activision collectively can all pat themselves on the back for the best Call Of Duty title of the generation.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Call of Duty: Warzone Review
Gameplay - 10/10
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Replay Value - 10/10
A vast open world with so many options, so many players and so many gunfights. The opportunities and fun here is endless!
- The mechanics match the multiplayer modes.
- The world is enormous.
- Endless suspense and fun.
- Being outside the circle is very unforgiving.
- Playing with randoms can get tedious.
- I wish I had endless time to play!