Call of Duty: Warzone changes and streamlines its battle royale mechanics and turns it into a fun experience.
One of the more upfront differences Warzone features is its player count, which has been raised to 150 from the usual hundred you see from other battle royale games. With that many players to accommodate, the developer created Verdansk. The map is divided into five different sectors, each with their own set of buildings and structures.
"Having a total of 150 players along with a larger map potentially leads to longer, more exciting games that ramp up the action at a higher rate as they progress, due to the potentially larger cluster of people in the remaining playable area."
The 150 players are then divided into 50 squads of up to three players. Sadly, the developer hasn’t included a solo mode in the game at launch. Players can either be matched with random teammates or play solo but still go against squads of up to three people. This gives solo players a distinct disadvantage against full and/or organized squads. While it’s still very possible to win matches as a solo player, you’ll just have to play more intelligently to make up for the numbers disadvantage.
Having a total of 150 players along with a larger map potentially leads to longer, more exciting games that ramp up the action at a higher rate as they progress, due to the potentially larger cluster of people in the remaining playable area. The larger number of opposing squads also forces players to be more cautious when traversing the map as firefights between more than two squads become common, especially in the denser locations.
In the typical multiplayer mode, players are normally limited to using one primary weapon, such as rifles and SMGs, and one secondary weapon, which includes handguns and launchers, but in Warzone, players are able to equip whatever combination of primary or secondary weapons they choose, which expands the number of options and playstyles players are able to execute.
Warzone features quite a large variety of weapon drops, but many of them are base models with no attachments, while the more capable weapons are blueprint variants from the regular multiplayer mode, which all come with a predetermined number and selection of attachments. Warzone categorizes and identifies its weapons using colors on their nametags, signifying how many attachments the weapon has equipped.
"The streamlined approach to backpacks and armor gives players less to worry about when finding and collecting items, giving actual combat more time to take center-stage."
Base weapons with no attachments are white while the most souped up weapons are gold. The color-coding system is akin to that of Apex Legends but rather than being used for different levels of weapon attachments, it just shows how many attachments a weapon has equipped. Players are also able to equip one tactical equipment (such as flash or stun grenades), one lethal equipment (like frag grenades and C4), and one field upgrade (munitions box, recon drone, etc.).
While there’s no way to customize your weapon and its attachments in the middle of a match, you’ll be able to create customized weapons when you set up your loadouts. The drawback is that loadouts can only be used via Loadout Drops, which can be found on the map or purchased via the game’s Buy Stations, another new mechanic the game is introducing. Once you get a Loadout Drop and equip a loadout, you’ll be equipped with everything in it from weapons, perks, and equipment.
The game also doesn’t have a multi-tier backpack or armor system. Everyone will be able to carry the same amount of ammo and items and you are also limited to using only the same number and type of armor plates. Players will also be limited to carrying only up to five additional armor players. Squadmates will be able to help each other out though as they’ll be able to drop some or all of their extra plates or specific ammo type they’re carrying to give their teammate.
The streamlined approach to backpacks and armor gives players less to worry about when finding and collecting items, giving actual combat more time to take center-stage. The set maximum health and armor also presents a more even playing ground, making players rely more on their wits and skill rather than their luck in finding gear. It also enables players who may have fallen behind the chance to still catch up and win.
"The Gulag is an unusual but incredibly fun feature that gives players and squads another chance at getting back into the action and winning."
Warzone has also done away with the healing and bandage mechanic from other battle royale games, instead utilizing Call of Duty’s signature healing-over-time mechanic. Players now need only get away from combat and hide to begin healing their lost health. The mechanic is disabled while inside the gas though, so players will still take constant damage within it even when outside of combat. To avert this, players can equip gas masks that will prevent them from taking damage within the gas for a short period of time.
Dying in Warzone isn’t always instantly the end though because of one of the game’s most interesting new features, the Gulag. When you die for the first time in Warzone, you’ll be sent to the Gulag to fight a 1v1 match against another player. You’ll be equipped with the same weapons and equipment and whoever wins, either through killing or capturing the flag, will be respawned and parachuted to a random location in the map.
It’s an unusual but incredibly fun feature that gives players and squads another chance at getting back into the action and winning. If your whole squad is wiped, it only takes one of you to succeed in the Gulag to get an opportunity to revive the entire squad, thanks to another mechanic that lets players come back to life in Warzone – the cash system and its aforementioned Buy Stations.
Apart from weapons, ammo, and equipment, the map is also strewn with cash that players can collect and use at several Buy Stations around Verdansk. Players will be able to purchase an assortment of items from Buy Stations, including armor plate bundles, munitions boxes, killstreaks, and most importantly, squad buybacks that resurrect your teammates. The Buy Stations makes collecting cash quite crucial to both surviving and gaining an advantage over your enemies.
"Apart from the battle royale mode, Warzone also has a Plunder game mode, which changes some significant things from the typical battle royale formula."
Players can also earn cash via the game’s contracts, which are missions you can find and take around the map. Contracts will either have you hunt a specific player, hold a specific location in the map, or find three select supply crates. While contracts do reward a large chunk of cash, two out of the three mission types are incredibly risky as they mean either intentionally getting into firefights or revealing your location.
As previously mentioned, the developer has also included Killstreaks in Warzone, but they have found a way to somehow balance them in this game mode. Rather than being able to choose Killstreaks and access them when you kill enough enemies in a row, Killstreaks are purchasable items from the Buy Stations and can only be used once. Players are also limited to carrying only one killstreak, so the advantage they provide in Warzone is quite fair and balanced.
Apart from the battle royale mode, Warzone also has a Plunder game mode, which changes some significant things from the typical battle royale formula. First off, respawns are infinite so you’ll be able to jump back into the fight to help your squad after a short respawn time. Secondly, given that you can’t completely wipe out other squads, the victory condition for the game mode is different as well.
Instead of being the last one standing, the squad that has collected and deposited the most cash wins the match. Once a squad has collected $1 million or when the 30-minute mark is reached, the match’s bonus round is triggered which automatically deposits all the money squads have on-hand and starts a two-minute timer, giving squads one last shot at collecting cash to win the game.
"Plunder is an interesting and fun game mode, especially for squads of friends, as the infinite respawns take away much of the pressure of staying alive and you aren’t necessarily forced to look for fights as there are other ways to collect cash."
Just like in the battle royale mode, cash can be collected around the map, from completing contracts, and killing other players. Dying means losing a large chunk of the cash you’re currently carrying. But players can deposit their cash at specific pick-up points in the map or by using a deposit balloon (?). While depositing your cash secures it from death and increases your chances of winning, it also means not having cash on-hand to purchase items during the match to beef up your squad.
While you don’t really have any reason to needlessly hoard cash in battle royale, as you’d usually want to spend it on squad buybacks and such, it becomes more difficult to use in Plunder. The mode forces you to think about and decide when it’s best to use some of your cash to purchase items to help you win without ending up overspending. So, balancing between depositing and holding onto your cash for spending becomes crucial.
Plunder is an interesting and fun game mode, especially for squads of friends, as the infinite respawns take away much of the pressure of staying alive and you aren’t necessarily forced to look for fights as there are other ways to collect cash. Solo players are at an even bigger disadvantage in this game mode though as it becomes increasingly difficult to deposit cash at pick-up points because of campers. You’ll end up having to rely on finding deposit balloons or keeping yourself alive for the entire match to be able to compete effectively as a solo player.
"Call of Duty: Warzone features an undeniably unique and interesting approach to the battle royale genre."
Call of Duty: Warzone features an undeniably unique and interesting approach to the battle royale genre. While it does lack a few features that would cater to more players, such as a solo mode, it definitely has a ton of potential and an already entertaining suite of features from its cash system to the incredibly fun Gulag.
This game was reviewed on PC.
Streamlined mechanics; Fun gameplay; The Gulag.
Not friendly to solo players.
Both Call of Duty and battle royale fans will definitely find Warzone to be a refreshing and interesting gameplay experience.