Call of Duty: Warzone is arguably the most significant entry in the series since the original Modern Warfare. While it’s not the first attempt at a battle royale the series has made, it is a proper foray into the free-to-play waters that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago for Activision’s favourite child. However, that’s not the reason that now 10 months after release, comparisons to Infinity Ward’s classic feel apt. Instead, this is the first time since Call of Duty 4 that COD feels like it’s leading the conversation rather than reacting to it.
That’s thanks to a combination of smart design, strong weapon feel, and timing. Warzone may have initially seemed full of unnecessary additions to the battle royale formula, such as buy stations, loadout drops, and a Gulag where you fight for your chance to head back into the game, but each adds a layer of strategy while simplifying battle royale’s convoluted inventories. On top of that, Verdansk has proven to be a strong map that caters to cautious rooftop snipers and shotgun aficionados alike. Combine that with the aggressive, kinetic feel of Modern Warfare’s gunplay, and it’s easy to see why it became a lockdown favourite.
When PC Gamer first reviewed Warzone, Morgan gave it 82%, praising the game’s simplified systems, dense map, and fast firefights, while noting that the game’s meta might be too shallow to keep interest in the long run. While we’ve had plenty of time to get used to Gulag, Warzone’s substantial updates have kept fans (mostly) happy and lobbies full.
So, how is Call of Duty: Warzone right now?
While Warzone maintained its strong start throughout last year, the integration of Black Ops Cold War content has seen the first real teething issues crop up. The introduction of over 30 guns from Treyarch’s shooter brought balancing issues with them, while a cavalcade of major glitches often spoiled the fun. Warzone’s worst exploits are ones that repeatedly crop up after previous fixes, like the infinite stim glitch that allows players to survive in the gas by infinitely healing, or another that gives players literal invisibility.
On the fringes, Warzone continues to be plagued by cheaters. Despite a huge ban wave in September, Activision can’t seem to get a sturdy grip on the wallhacks and aimbots that can completely ruin a match’s integrity. It’s clear that Warzone needs a proper anti-cheat system and better reporting tools.
However, there’s still plenty of fun to be had in Warzone. Season One saw the introduction of Rebirth Island, which ramped up the intensity with a smaller map and a lower player count, alongside the Resurgence mode that allowed you to respawn as long as a teammate was still standing. Infinity Ward and Raven have done a good job rotating in different modes and tweaking the main Verdansk map to keep Warzone feeling as fresh as it did last March.
!PSA! The attack helicopter has been temporarily removed from both #Warzone maps – Verdansk and Rebirth Island. The vehicle will return once the related issues have been fixed. The normal helicopter will remain available.December 17, 2020
What’s been happening recently?
- The launch of Black Ops – Cold War saw content from Treyarch’s game become integrated into Warzone. This led to a raft of new guns, character skins, and even a new map in Rebirth Island, which is a throwback to the Black Ops 4 Blackout map Alcatraz. On top of that, the battle pass brought some ’80s flare, with skins for Black Ops Cold War characters, as well as new War Tracks that included Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up.
- The introduction of Season One also saw Raven Software seemingly take over main development duties from Infinity Ward. On December 17, Raven started to tweet updates regarding the game’s state, and in a sign of things to come, it was related to a glitch that required an entire vehicle to be removed.
- The DMR, MAC-10, and dual pistols have become unavoidable both in-game and in the community, as the Black Ops Cold War weapons dominated the meta for a whole month. If you’ve died recently in Warzone, it’s almost certainly because you’ve been picked off by one of those three weapons. People were even calling for a DMR nerf in real life.
When’s the next big update happening?
As far as we can tell, the next season of Warzone should start in February 2021.
With the Season One battle pass due to finish on February 24, it seems almost certain that the Season 2 update and battle pass will launch around then as well. Whenever Warzone has delayed the start of a new season, it hasn’t been for long. But what will the new season bring? Activision has been tight-lipped on that so far, but a few rumours suggest that another map is coming, with leaker ModernWarzone claiming that a new BR map made up of Fireteam locations stitched together is on the way. Considering that the Intel missions in Warzone recently wrapped up its Verdansk storyline with a secret cutscene seeing Price & Co. seemingly leaving the city, it would make sense lore-wise for a new map to be introduced.
Are the players happy?
Season One of Cold War has definitely not been the most warmly received update by the community. And yes, I know I’ve mentioned DMRgate before, but this reddit post gives you a good feel for what the more vocal members of the community made of it. Having said that, Resurgence Rebirth Island did seem to go down broadly well until it was rotated out with little notice. Having played nigh-on every day with the same set of friends, our enthusiasm hasn’t dwindled massively, even if the tweaks have more prominently affected our experiences in the recent season.
Has the DMR nerf actually worked this time?
Seemingly so. Looks like the FFAR is back on the menu, boys.
Warzone’s future, according to Activision
Speaking to Metro around the launch of Black Ops – Cold War, Treyarch lead designer Tony Flame suggested that we can expect Warzone to integrate into all upcoming Call of Duty games. He said: “You’ll have new shared themes, seasons, events and they’ll all carry over between games. So with the new Black Ops Cold War game that’s also fully integrated into Warzone, you’re getting a massive amount of new features and ways to play Call Of Duty this season and into the future.”
That sure sounds like Activision sees long legs for Warzone. The game’s recent rebranding on Battle.net that swallowed up Modern Warfare certainly suggests that its a major priority for the publisher. In the same way that Fortnite has become a vehicle for brand partnerships and live events, Warzone is Activision’s all-in-one platform for everything Call of Duty.
Warzone’s future, according to us
Warzone’s recent wobbles haven’t been enough to derail what has been 2020’s most buzzed-about battle royale. Considering that every season so far has managed to introduce new areas, weapons, and modes without diluting what made the game so engaging to begin with means that even the DMR woes haven’t been catastrophic.
With DLSS support on the way as well, Warzone should soon be a smoother experience on PC. However, Season 2 could be pivotal to its long term fortunes. Another launch with staggeringly overpowered weapons and game-breaking glitches could test fans’ patience past a breaking point. On the other hand, a brand new map could see Warzone get its biggest shake-up since launch. Players may need a clean break with the Modern Warfare era and the grumbles that have emerged in recent weeks. Either way, February is going to be one hell of a month for Call of Duty.