Battle Royale has had a very interesting run as a new genre (or mode if you want to be pedantic). From the original DayZ mod, to PUBG, to Fortnite and Apex Legends, the game type is continuing to evolve. Regardless of your opinion on battle royale, there’s no debating the impact and success its had.
Personally, I love it. I’m a very competitive person and quite frankly, there are very few situations in gaming that make you sweat more than being in the final ring in a battle royale game. It’s a pulse pounding, exhilarating feeling that either ends in crushing reflection or utter elation. I have several hundred hours in these games with PUBG being my favorite to date. So after already putting over 30 hours into Warzone, how does it stack up? Very, very well. Let’s drop in.
First things first, Warzone is built upon Call of Duty Modern Warfare. While it is free to play and you don’t need to own Modern Warfare to play the game, it requires you to install the full title (and then simply locks out the rest of the game). This is significant as the gun mechanics and general feeling of Modern Warfare transfer over to Warzone. I feel that Modern Warfare is the best Call of Duty has felt in years and a significant upgrade over last year’s Black Ops 4. So in that vein, the foundation for Warzone is already solid.
What it also means however, is that Modern Warfare players have a small advantage over new Warzone only players. Knowing the weaponry and the strengths/weaknesses of each weapon is a critical component in the game. While not as significant as say PUBG, it can still mean the difference between life and death at any moment. But even more meaningful is that loadout drops occur during the match that allow players to pick up one of their custom Modern Warfare loadouts. For players that have unlocked the best weaponry and attachments through the standard multiplayer, this puts them at an immediate advantage of players who are simply scouring the map and trying to find better equipment.
While Apex Legends did an awful lot right and is an excellent game in its own right, one of my criticisms of it was the size of the map and player count. Having a smaller map and only 20 squads/60 total players led to engagements feeling similar very quickly. It’s one of the reasons I’ve preferred PUBG with its map variety and thankfully, it’s one of the many aspects Warzone gets right out of the gate.
While Warzone begins with just a single map, it is a massive play space with a great deal of variety. When combined with the 150 player lobbies, they create every single type of battle scenario including long distance sniping, vehicle play, close quarters combat, and everything in-between. Then when you factor in the equipment, weapon rarity, squad mechanics, and the gulag (more on that shortly), each game feels decidedly unique. That alone creates excitement and keeps you coming back match after match. And what’s most impressive is that despite the size of the map, the player count, and the title just having launched, the game runs at 60fps on consoles with nearly zero issues to report.
It’s also worth recognizing however, that Warzone takes a lot of the best ideas that Apex Legends introduced. Teammates can instantly ping locations, enemies, vehicles, and equipment. You are also able to pick up ammo, armor, and money without any button presses thus making the moment to moment action and squad coordination far more fluid. Weaponry meanwhile, takes on a rarity scale (the very familiar grey/green/blue/purple/orange) and contained within that scale are all of the attachments on each weapon so you never have to worry about picking them up or putting them on individually. Armor is handled in a similarly simplified way. You can have 3 armor plates equipped at once and can carry 5 in reserve. After taking damage, you replace them at any time simply by holding a single button.
Thus, there is far less item management in Warzone than a title like PUBG. You can carry two weapons of any type, your equipment, and your armor plates. That’s all. Even compared to Blackout, it’s a far simpler system. While that originally concerned me, I’ve come to truly enjoy it as again, it keeps you focused on the action rather than frequent item and menu management.
Currently, Warzone uses squads of three and while you can launch by yourself or in duos with a friend and not “fill” to three players, you will still be facing three player squads. According to Infinity Ward, this is only temporary as solo/duo queues, four player squads, and 200 player lobbies are on the way. As of this writing though, it’s a challenge for those that like to play solo or duos and thus I felt the need to call it out.
Squad play itself, is one of the best features of Warzone. Beyond the ping system and the standard revive mechanics, it is very quick and efficient to drop money and items for your teammates. Additionally, with the money system allowing for the purchase of items, equipment you buy such as UAVs will spot enemies for the entire squad. But most importantly, you can also buy your teammates back after they’ve died. This alone can change the outcome of each and every game. But before that, the first time you die you get a chance to come back to the battle on your own via the Gulag.
The Gulag is one of the most unique features of Warzone. The first time you die you are queued in the Gulag for a 1 on 1 battle with another opponent who has also died. It takes the mechanics from Gunfight in that you spawn with a random weapon and two pieces of equipment. You either kill your opponent or capture the flag in a very fast match (many last less than 10 seconds). If you win you drop back in. If you lose, you are dead and can only be brought back by squad mates at a cost. It’s that simple but it’s another very cool addition to the game.
Warzone gets an awful lot right immediately out of the gate. It’s a very impressive entry into the battle royale genre and it’s clear that Activision and Infinity Ward have a hit on their hands. At least in the short term, it has become not only my go to battle royale game, but my go to competitive game. Even as I write this, I’m itching to play it. I can’t wait to see how Infinity Ward continues to evolve the title in the coming months. I just hope they don’t scrap it all when Black Ops 5 releases later this year. For now, I’ll see you in the Warzone.