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Welcome to Warzone, the new massive combat arena within Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare®, free for everyone.

Publisher:  Activision
Reviewed on: PS4 Pro
Also available for:
Xbox One, PC

Developer: Infinity Ward

Call of Duty: Warzone is a Free-To-Play extension of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, as such we are reviewing it on its own merits.

This is a review in progress and the score presented here may or may not change in our final review.

I played a lot of Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII’s Blackout mode, the first foray into the battle royale genre for the long-running FPS champion. In fact, I played 600 games of Blackout. Disappointingly, I don’t see myself putting anywhere near close to that amount of time into Warzone.

Blackout was obviously inspired by PUBG at the time of development and developer Treyarch managed to craft a well-polished version of the basic battle royale experience that simply looked and played better than the competition at the time. With Warzone, developer Infinity Ward has had the time to create a true Call of Duty experience through-and-through that includes more players, more map, kill streaks galore, perks, load-outs and even a version of  2v2 gun mode from the core Modern Warfare package is in this. If all of that sounds like a lot – it’s because it can be. 

Warzone only has one queue-up at the moment and that’s trios, although duos are said to be on the way and then hopefully solos and quads to follow. As of writing in trios there are 150 players split into 50 teams and you drop out of a plane onto a huge map. It can feel like too many players as you begin the game but I believe upping it to 200 would achieve the hectic fast-paced nature Infinity Ward wants from the game and they have the map space to accommodate it as long as the player base is around. 

The Drop - imaged captured by author

The Drop – imaged captured by author

From above a lot of the locations on the sprawling Verdansk map look very similar, especially the town sections in the central area of the map. Each section has a lot to explore however, even if its spray of cement nearly everywhere. Buildings don’t feel or look the same – a problem Blackout did have with a lot of its building. Each building here will contain multiple entries and exits from above and below and usual house several random drops of weapons, items, cash and a crate to open. 

The helicopter locations currently seem to be some of the highly contested drop points much like in Blackout which means landing at The Dam is going to usually be a big fight, but you’ll have an escape if you make it through all the bullets. 

When landing you’ll be surprised to discover that you’ll always have a pistol by your side along with armour, which means getting into firefights quickly is going to happen more often than looting. There’s nothing special to chase inside building by looting either as your pistol is more than powerful enough to take an enemy down with a few well-placed shots, and there’s no armour stronger than the one you start with. Getting a deployable cover, or a silent running perk quickly isn’t likely to make the biggest difference in the first several minutes of the game, so unlike other battle royale games, just fight an enemy if you see them straight away unless you really need that Dragunov Sniper to hit anything for some reason. 

Your armour has three plates that’ll protect you for 50hp each and you can find armour plates in loot-boxes and other locations which you use to repair those slots. That’s a total of 250 health with full HP and armour to protect. When you’re shooting at an enemy you’ll hear a crack and see a blue marker when you pop their last piece of armour and another sound and a white marker when you down them. 

Inside loot-boxes — which let off a sort of buzzing noise to give away their location — you’ll also find weapons with different rarities, but you won’t find any weapon attachments. To get weapon attachments and access to your perks and killstreaks attached to the loadouts you’ve had set-up in the core Modern Warfare experience you’ll have to find a buy-station where you can call down a box that’ll let you change to said loadouts. However, of course, calling one in is a huge red flag to any enemies in the area. 

Buy Station - imaged captured by author

Buy Station – imaged captured by author

Buying access to one of these drops and an assortment of other things including killstreak items like UAV’s means finding money. You’ll find cash sitting on the ground in random locations, inside crates, on dead bodies and by completing objectives around the map — I’ll get to that in a moment.

Picking up ammo and guns has been streamlined. Ammo will automatically go to your inventory as you walk over it, and guns lay in front of you to simply be swapped to or picked up. You won’t touch an inventory menu unless you’re dropping ammo or cash for a teammate.

If you die you’ll head to the GULAG first as a Prisoner of Warfare. Here you’ll wait your turn watching another duke it out before it’s your turn to play and it’s the same rules as the gunfight in the main game: one gun; first one down loses. If you win you’ll get a free-respawn and head back into the fight, dropping somewhere from above your allies. If you lose the only way to come back if for them to pay for your return, which is a whopping $4500, and makes finding and using cash wisely support import. You can dump it all into a killstreak, but lose out on reviving a teammate shortly there-after. At one point I had to pay to bring a teammate back twice within a minute and as far as I’m concerned they should be glad I’m a huge team player. Beware however as at the halfway point the GULAG shuts down, so even if you’re good enough to not get downed until later in the game you miss your chance at a free revive.

Respect to your opponent in the 1 v 1 - imaged captured by author

Respect to your opponent in the 1 v 1 – imaged captured by author

The best way to get cash is by completing one of three objectives on the map which you can initiate by heading to an icon on your map. One will have you searching for several crates to secure, another is capturing and holding a certain position and the third is simply manhunt for a particular target. The last way can actually net the other squad money if you fail to complete the mission. All of these keep you with something to do for the first half of the match as you build up either a cash pool for the late game or simply reviving downed enemies. 

The second half of the game is a rush as the circle (in Warzone it’s a poisonous gas) starts moving in at a rapid pace. And the gas will kill you rather quickly if you get stuck behind it for too long. You can find gas masks in crates that will soak up a limited amount of damage while behind the line, but you can’t carry more than one so there’s no way to prepare for a huge fight behind the poison. 

As you approach the end of the match things pick up to a hectic pace as teams go from a large map of what is usually tight team fights to a rush for the next safe space and fighting on the run. Campers able to predict the final location of the circle are already happy to set-up with their snipers, but grenade spam or killstreak spam counters that. What counters killstreak spam, I’m not sure. 

The second half of the match feels much more exciting as it requires squads to group up and start making moves across the map. The final circle feels intense as all battle royals do and its a nice touch that as the winning team is whisked away to safety aborad a helicopter, usernames brazen with pride for those still spectating, a list of ‘those that have fallen’ plays down the screen like credits listing all 147 other players in the game. 

The poisnous gas surrounds you in the final moments of a match- imaged captured by author

The poisnous gas surrounds you in the final moments of a match- imaged captured by author

On top of the battle royale mode, there is another mode included with Warzone called Plunder. In it you work with your squad to collect cash from crates, completing objectives and taking down other teams. The winner is crowned at reaching $1 million and to help you not lose all your cash when you die you can call down a helicopter at certain locations to dump your money into a safehouse. If you die you’ll lose some and respawn from above after twenty seconds. It’s a very long game mode at the moment as it seems the player base is treating it like a huge deathmatch and not focusing on the objectives and I can easily say it’s an odd addition to the Warzone package. It’s using the same map as the battle royale, but with fewer players, and constant respawns. 

Infinity Ward has done everything to strip their version of the battle royale down to the bare minimum and keep the Call of Duty action fans love at the centre of the package here. There’s no inventory management, no bags to find, no health pickups to worry about other than the armour plates and there’s the chance to respawn several times over in one match. It picks up pace in the second half of the match, but the first feels oddly slow-paced, especially for those coming over from the speed of Respawn’s Apex Legends, the last big battle royale release. The map also is void of any character and charm. Even Blackout had several key locations I could still name now that made up the map and each stood out from one another.