When Activision finally stepped up to get Call of Duty into the free-to-play space they certainly didn’t skimp on the effort because my impressions of what’s been achieved with Warzone are that it’s really, really good. Pulling from the recent Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot the game takes many of the best features of the Battle Royale (BR) genre and adds its own spin that makes for a really solid game. Note: I’m talking about the Plunder mode here that was part of this package as that is a very different experience to the BR mode… more like a race for cash with lots of guns!
Warzone‘s take on BR is this: 50 teams of three (150 players) jump into the map with a circle of gas closing the map down until there’s only one team left who escape and win. Sounds like every other game for sure, except for the bigger player count, but there’s plenty of twists that make it a different experience. Unlike the blue circle of PUBG the gas is pretty lethal from the outset unless you have a mask but even that only offers you limited protection. It’s really a circle you can only flee from… not one you can stay in to out position opponents. As a result that rush to the safe zone further increases the odds of player engagements.
The inventory system is simple and quick. There’s no stacking of inventory or encumbrance (like PUBG) to worry about; you have your guns, your armour and your items and that’s it. Better guns are colour coded and marked so you know when you’ve found a better weapon and swapping them is just a button press away. It’s handled a bit like Fortnite‘s inventory and Apex Legends‘ abilities and skills.
The biggest change has to be with how downed players and death is handled. Though Apex Legends (and later Fortnite) allow players to revive dead squad members it’s not at the level of what we have here as your team mates can come back in multiple ways. If they die they can also get one chance to get back into the game themselves via a one on one fight in the Gulag. It can be a monster of a challenge but being able to earn your own way back into the game is a great feeling. Lastly the surviving team members can buy your team back if they have the credits meaning a team is not done until the last man is done for good. You can even buy a self revive kit to bring yourself back too. As you can probably guess by now money plays a big role here in long term survival so so players wanting to camp a location may find it’s not going to work out well simply because they’ve not farmed enough resources on the map to keep themselves supplied. Finding supply crates and contracts, rewards for hunting players or meeting objectives, and building up your surplus funds means your team has a better chance of staying in the game longer. With shops scattered around the map there’s incentive to keep moving, making money and getting your hands on better gear.
Gunplay still feels like Call of Duty and that’s from someone who hasn’t played the last few iterations. For me it kind of fits between PUBG and Halo in terms of realistic versus fantasy weapons. They’re based on the real thing in looks but you’re given a better chance to hit something. That doesn’t necessarily mean the odds are in your favour though as you are going to be up against a great many Call of Duty veterans so the skill levels are going to be quite high which could be intimidating to some. The map is really impressive with a lot of detail and a level of verticality that really cool. Players can reuse their parachutes during the game so there’s no harm in jumping off a building if you need to leave quickly so visiting every square meter of the map is totally viable. No getting stuck in a tall building like in PUBG.
Microtransactions still play a role here as you’d expect but the main one to consider might be purchasing the game itself to get access to the campaign and multiplayer modes. Friends who are on that side of the fence have mentioned their loadouts (specific weapons and mods) including stuff that they’ve earned in regular multiplayer carry across from the main game which may increase your chances of finding a gear combination that works best for you. It’s not a massive advantage as you can’t access those loadouts until they drop during the course of a game but it might give you a much needed boost late in the game. It seems like a compromise between those who paid for the game and those running with the free version.
The developers don’t appear to be resting on their laurels when it comes to changing up the game. There’s already been improvements to scoring, a solo mode is out now and squad sizes may be getting an increase too. That’s a rate of change that gives Fortnite a fair run for its money. It’s only been a week from launch and I’m still impressed with what we have here. Like Apex Legends it’s a VERY confident release that shows the value of learning from the competition. And like the game it comes from it supports cross play from the start so the player base is already huge which is a massive bonus. Hard to know if my skills will improve enough to stand a chance but I’ll give it a fair go!
Call of Duty: Warzone is out now for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Played on an Xbox One X.