For a long time, I never really liked the battle royale game mode. There was some things about that mode that put me off in various ways. Over the years I’ve tried some of the notable ones, and even some of the off-shoots. Most of them were enjoyable for a pinch, but then I’d drop off of them for some reason or another. But then another battle royale game came out recently. And for some reason, this is the one that got me.
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I honestly found 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare entertaining, yet rote. While I didn’t play the campaign, I did play the multiplayer beta before launch, and while I was having a blast like before, it just felt like I’ve been here before. To me, it seems like Infinity Ward has given up creatively, with this current effort trying to recapture that lightning in a bottle that they did with the original Modern Warfare.
There were still attachments, perks and killstreaks, many of the same game modes, even maps I’ve seen in past entries started cropping up. It seemed the biggest innovation the game had at the time was basically ripping off Battlefield’s long-standing Conquest mode. Yet despite the game being fairly derivative, it was still fun to play.
At this point, Call of Duty as a franchise has been a glimmer of nostalgia more than something I get incredibly hyped for. To me, Modern Warfare 3 was when it started going downhill, what with its busted multiplayer and ham-fisted conclusion of a campaign mode. I was so disappointed with it that I advised people shouldn’t play it way back when I played it on a Steam free weekend in 2012.
The only Call of Duty game I played with regularity after that was, surprisingly, WWII. All the others might as well just exist in my mind, something where I play the campaign once, play through some of the multiplayer for a while, then move on to something else that catches my interest.
In late March, Activision announced something I was worried they were gonna repeat: They were adding battle royale mode in Modern Warfare. I figured that with multiplayer, singleplayer and a zombies mode being in every yearly installment, that trying to make a yearly battle royale mode was the easiest way to kill battle royale’s popularity faster than something new taking its place. After all, this is Activision, a company that clearly sticks to what works until it stops making money.
I was not really interested, until they announced the surprise: Warzone was free to play for anyone, Modern Warfare was not required to play. Now they’ve caught my interest, as I wasn’t really interested in spending more than $20 on a Call of Duty game in 2020. So I tried it, and somehow… it all clicked. After playing several battle royale games, I found the one that worked for me.
Warzone really doesn’t need much explanation if you’re familiar with other battle royale modes. You drop as a squad of 3-4 or play on your own and try to be the last one standing. Search buildings and areas for armor, weapons, grenades and some of the Call of Duty hallmarks like killstreaks and the new field upgrades. Kill, try not to die yourself, seems simple. So you’re probably wondering what makes this different from the others you’ve played. Well, it’s complicated.
There’s a few ideas that Warzone uses that were popular in other battle royale games and makes them work surprisingly well. Stuff like pinging items like in Apex Legends, A money system for buying things like in Radical Heights and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Allowing players to do bonus missions to get money and tactical advantages like in CS:GO. It still has the traditional “muck about in a random part of the map before go time” thing all the other battle royales do, but actually involves combat like a traditional deathmatch mode, which is pretty neat.
But there’s one thing that Warzone does that I haven’t seen others do: Give you a second chance.
Getting knocked out the first time sends you to a gulag, where you do a one on one fight with another player for freedom. It works a lot like the Gunfight multiplayer mode, but with only one round. Frag the enemy, you’re parachuted back into the warzone to try again. Get fragged yourself, then you’re out for good.