Initially released on March 10th, Call of Duty Warzone is Activision’s battle royale response to the mega success of Fortnite. As several other games like Apex Legends and PlayeUnknown’s Battlegrounds have released as well, the battle royale marketplace has been the place for the most opportunities for growth. Although Activision has taken its time in producing their version of the incredibly popular game mode, they’ve done it right.
Rather than forcing players to buy and download the full version of the game that it’s attached to, 2019’s Modern Warfare, Warzone can be downloaded independently, without requiring any payment whatsoever. This opens the game up to a much broader audience than would have otherwise played.
In accordance with the rules Sony and Microsoft have put forth with regards to their online multiplayer, any game that doesn’t require an initial purchase doesn’t require the company’s online subscription payment to play online. This means that you don’t have to pay to play Warzone online like you would have to when playing the full release of Modern Warfare in 2019.
Further broadening the player base of an already hugely popular franchise will cause an enormous explosion of attention towards a gaming franchise that has, for a few years, been known to be sort of falling behind. In recent years, the Call of Duty franchise has been criticized for failing to innovate with each iteration of its games. There’s something to be said about not fixing something if it isn’t broken, but years without substantial changes will start to set a game back. Despite its strong core player base and consistently impressive sales, each new game has somewhat missed the mark in the area that it dominated more than any other game: online multiplayer. With games like Fornite, Rainbow Six Siege, and Apex Legends dominating the mindshare of gaming enthusiasts, Call of Duty has been somewhat left behind.
But with that said, Warzone certainly has a place in the market of battle royales. Combining the unique game type with the rapid gameplay that Call of Duty is known for is a recipe for a fresh take on battle royales. The game also includes a clever revival system for players who die in the larger battle. The mechanic pits two recently fallen players in a one on one match in a tight space. The encounter won’t last more than 30 seconds but the winner gets to go back into the real match.
That’s not to say that this is a guarantee for success. Activision will struggle with combining fast-paced gameplay with a huge map and 150 concurrent players. Games that involve 10 minutes of setup only to end in a couple of strikes from an automatic rifle from an enemy that wasn’t visible are extraordinarily frustrating. The difference between this and games like Apex and Fortnite is the length of gunfights. Battles between teams tend to last up to three minutes rather than up to 45 seconds. In battle royales, this metric is key. In games that require more preparation than action, the action needs to be worthwhile.
With that said, Warzone is a fantastic new addition to the battle royale landscape and it shows the pedigree that Activision is able to inject into the market. While the gameplay may not be for everyone and the pacing could probably use some work, it satisfies a certain subset of gamers. Not only that, but it shows that Activision is still able to adapt to a changing landscape of online FPS games, rather than forcing a more antiquated model.