Call of Duty: Warzone represents the venerable franchise dipping its toes into the Battle Royale genre. The result is a game that synthesizes many elements from games like Fortnite and Apex Legends while adding a few fun tricks to the bag. Ultimately, Call of Duty: Warzone is worth playing for hardcore fans of both battle royale games in general and CoD in particular, though it’s not likely to win over any genre skeptics.
A Familiar Formula
The essential formula of CoD: Warzone is one we have seen plenty of times. You and up to 149 other players are dropped into a giant warzone. From here, you play solo or as part of a squad to gather gear, eliminate other players, and emerge victorious.
Fortnite players will find the general setup very familiar, and they’ll appreciate things like color-coded loot drops. Apex Legends players, meanwhile, will appreciate that Warzone uses a similar ping system.
So, what does Warzone add to this familiar formula? Larger matches and a focus on cash over looting.
A Different Kind of ‘Pay to Win’
Money is the most important part of victory in CoD: Warzone. No, we’re not talking about microtransactions. Instead, we’re talking cash within the game that you can earn by killing, stealing, or even successfully completing objectives.
You can take your money over to buy stations throughout the map. Such stations allow you to purchase familiar perks like weapons and airstrikes. The “Cadillac” of purchases is the full loadout, which is a special drop letting you and your teammates instantly equip their favorite perks and loadouts.
All of this creates a subtle change to the normal battle royale formula. Instead of blindly searching for weapons and gear (which are scattered throughout the map), you are often better off earning money and pooling team funds to get that juicy full loadout drop.
It feels weird at first, but the end result is that you spend more time shooting than scavenging. And that’s a good thing.
Arguably, the biggest hallmark of a battle royale game is permanent death. Unlike games such as Halo, this genre doesn’t let you repeatedly charge in. Instead, you have to make each spawn count and be just as good at surviving as you are at killing.
CoD: Warzone tweaks this formula in a couple of meaningful ways. Teammates can always spend money at a buy station in order to revive you. Alternately, you can fight your way back from the dead!
When you first die, you end up in the Gulag and must fight someone else who has fallen. If you win, you actually come back to life (albeit without your gear). If you lose in the Gulag, your only hope is teammate revival.
If you haven’t already picked up on this, Call of Duty: Warzone is one of the most newbie-friendly battle royale games around.
Many players who get frustrated by this genre are mostly annoyed at the need to hide and scavenge gear. By focusing more on gathering money and purchasing weapons, this game helps shooting fans focus on what they are good at.
And the ability to come back to life after dying is very generous. It also adds to the tension as well, with fallen players always having a chance of revival from their teammates.
Throw in the fact that it’s free to play and this is the perfect game to get your buddies hooked on this genre.
Bigger Really Is Better
If your battle royale experience is limited to Fortnite, CoD: Warzone may blow you away. While Fortnite is limited to 100 players, Warzone has a whopping 150!
That number can be intimidating at first. However, it really does improve the gameplay experience. You’re far likelier to run into other players and get a few kills before you get gunned down.
If you spend most of your battle royale experience dying and waiting for the next match, you might agree that “bigger is better” in this case!
It’s worth taking a moment to talk about the Warzone map (named Verdansk). With games like this, much of your enjoyment (or lack thereof) comes from how enjoyable the map is.
Fortunately, Warzone’s map is top-notch. It easily accommodates the 150 players, providing many locations and opportunities for epic firefights. The map may lack the manic creativity of a more cartoony game like Fortnite, but the whole thing is grounded in grim realism and clever design.
If you’re a fan of the franchise, you’ll see plenty of memorable locations throughout the map. That’s a nice little Easter egg that more thoroughly connects this game to the well-known franchise.
Loot Some Plunder (Or Not)
So far, we have focused entirely on Warzone’s battle royale mode. It does, however, have a different mode for your enjoyment called Plunder.
As modes go, Plunder is a mixed bag. In this mode, survival is no longer your primary goal. Instead, you are trying to loot as much as you can in three-man teams and bringing it to helicopter drop zones. And you can respawn as much as you want to in this mode — no Gulag battles or buy station revivals necessary.
Overall, it’s a neat idea with poor execution. Matches feel unnecessarily long (up to 30 minutes), and the sprawling map is wasted because everyone ends up skirmishing in the same general area.
So, is Call of Duty: Warzone worth playing? Certainly! It’s free to play, so you have nothing to lose. And it’s a good-looking game with fun variety and a growing playerbase.
However, it’s not going to magically convert someone who hates the battle royale genre or the CoD franchise. If that sounds like you, skip this one entirely.