- In a surprise move, a ‘Call of Duty’ game was released this week: ‘Call of Duty: Warzone.’
- The new game is a ‘Call of Duty’ take on the battle royale concept popularized by ‘Fortnite.’ Its twist: 150 players instead of 100.
- More than just an increase in player count, ‘Warzone’ is a unique, fascinating battle royale experience that’s clearly aimed at ‘Call of Duty’ fans.
- The game is available now, for free, on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Watch out, ‘Fortnite’ — the 10,000-pound gorilla that is ‘Call of Duty’ just got its own battle royale game.
On Tuesday, ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ arrived on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. It’s a 150-person, squad-based version of the battle royale game type popularized by ‘Fortnite’ and ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.’
The game is absolutely massive and — even more important — absolutely free. Here’s what it’s all about:
“Call of Duty: Warzone” is all about scale. From the enlarged player count to the massive map, everything about “Warzone” is huge.
There are certain precedents that are set in battle royale-style games at this point.
Leaping out of a flying vehicle always starts the match, randomized loot is always scattered around the world in varying quantity, and there’s always one condition for winning: survival.
Such is the case in “Warzone” as well, but on a much grander scale. There is far, far more loot simply because of the size of the map. The increase in player count — 150 players, up from the 100 in “Fortnite” — also requires a larger amount of gear to accommodate the larger pool of players.
But size is only meaningful if it’s used to some end, and it absolutely is in “Warzone.”
“Warzone” feels like a virtual war zone.
Despite the similarity in game structure, each of the big battle royale games has its own unique twist.
In “Fortnite,” you build stuff. In “PUBG,” every shot counts tremendously. In “Apex Legends,” there are unique characters with unique special abilities.
And in “Call of Duty: Warzone,” the unique twist is battles on a scale you’ve unlikely experienced before. Even on a massive map like the one in “Warzone,” 150 players means running into multiple teams engaged in multi-front fights on a near constant basis. There are ground and air vehicles. There are drones. It can be overwhelming, honestly.
“Warzone” requires players to think tactically about where they’re going, to watch every window for movement, and to take vehicles across long, barren stretches with little cover. Right off the bat, it has a very different tone from other Battle Royale games.
“Warzone” adds a brilliant new detail to the initial drop: The names of each area are superimposed above them, like word clouds.
How big is the “Warzone” map? So, so big. It’s essentially 20 different “Call of Duty” maps all sewn together into one absurdly large, dangerous quilt.
It feels much larger than any other battle royale game I’ve ever played, and each area is densely packed with buildings to explore.
The game’s creators made one brilliant tweak to the world of “Warzone” to help familiarize players with the map: Each region has its name overlaid from above as you look out at the world from the initial drop plane.
It’s a slick, smart way to easily visualize the map’s many regions.
In “Warzone,” when you die, you’re not really dead.
Just like in normal “Call of Duty” multiplayer, death can come quickly in “Warzone.” Thankfully, you’ve got at least one immediate chance to respawn: A one-on-one death match with another player in a tiny room.
If you win the fight, you’re thrust back into the bigger battle royale match. “Warzone” only lets players do this one time per match, but it’s a thrilling, smart way to turn failure into a gameplay opportunity.
It’s not the only twist “Warzone” adds to the battle royale genre.
Instead of a circle closing in, you’re running from an ever-encroaching wall of poisonous gas in “Warzone.”
In every battle royale game, the area of play slowly shrinks throughout each match. If you step outside of the safe area, your character’s health begins to drain until, eventually, being outside the safe zone kills you.
In “Warzone,” there’s a wall of poisonous gas. Step into the gas for more than a second or 2 and you’re toast — unless you have a gas mask, that is.
Putting on a gas mask allows you to survive in the poison for a limited time, but it also drastically limits your field of view.
“Warzone” is full of these types of little twists on the Battle Royale formula that make it feel like it can stand up to the existing competition.
“Warzone” adds an entirely new system to the concept of battle royale with Buy Stations.
While looting the massive world of “Warzone,” you may come upon wads of cash. You’ll also get some if you take out an opponent.
The cash rewards aren’t just for fun — they’re intended for use at Buy Stations all over the map. At Buy Stations, you can respawn a teammate if you have enough cash. You can call for extra supplies, or for air support from a UAV. They are, in short, a means of cashing in on your looting and shooting skills for something tangible to be used in the game.
If you’ve ever played and enjoyed a “Call of Duty” multiplayer game, “Warzone” is right up your alley.
The shooting in “Warzone” feels just as good as it does in the latest “Call of Duty” entry from last fall. The movement is exactly the type of movement that “CoD” players are used to, and the selection of guns will be similarly familiar.
In short, “Warzone” still looks and feels very much like a normal “Call of Duty” game.
So, if you’ve ever played and enjoyed a “Call of Duty” multiplayer game, you’re almost certain to enjoy the foundational aspects of “Warzone” — namely, the shooting and the character movement. To be tremendously reductive, “Warzone” feels like a much larger scale version of a team-based “Call of Duty” death match.
The foundational components of “Warzone” — a battle royale game steeped in the gameplay and visuals of “Call of Duty” — are solid, but where it diverges from those foundations are where it’s strongest. Fighting for your life against another person is so much fun that it’s almost worth being taken down on purpose. Realizing that the gas is coming and dropping everything to run away at full speed is harrowing every time, but makes the concept of a “circle” in the battle royale genre actually mean something.
These things that make “Warzone” stand out from the competition in a way that gives it potential staying power.
BONUS: Regardless of what platform you’re playing “Warzone” on, you can play with your friends on other platforms.
I got “Warzone” on PlayStation 4 and my buddy got it on Xbox One, and we were able to play together without an issue. It’s simply a measure of adding each other through Activision’s in-game system.
It can’t be overstated: This is incredible.
There are other games that do this, including “Fortnite,” and I probably shouldn’t continue to be as excited about this reality as I am. But it honestly blew me away that it was so easy to play a game across 2 directly competing video game platforms.
“Call of Duty: Warzone” is available for free on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Check out the launch trailer here:
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