Will Call of Duty’s battle royale make it to the first place?
Genre: Battle Royale
Developer: Infinity Ward
Release Date: March 10, 2020
Call of Duty: Warzone is the latest free to play instalment of one of the most famous FPS franchises. The game offers two modes: the classic Battle Royale, with just enough new features to make it feel fresh, and a Plunder mode, a cash grab mode that doesn’t use the Battle Royale rules (but more on this later).
Battle Royale, with some twists
Warzone’s battle royale mode is, at its core, rather classic: teams of three players confronting themselves in a shrinking map, trying to remain the last one alive, but there are a number of new features in this game. The first and most prominent one is the gulag: this is a separate map where players end the first time they get killed. The gulag hosts 1v1 matches in a tiny area that grant a second chance to the winner of the fight: a nice addition that saved me multiple games and mitigates the die-and-watch problem, where a dead player can’t do anything except watch his still alive teammates. The second feature new to the BR genre is the presence of loadouts: players can, in fact, create custom loadouts from the main menu of the game and then use them during matches, if they can find supply crates at least!
Loadouts are generally well-blended into the game, but getting your favourite one often means that loot doesn’t really matter anymore, since you already have your favourite weapons at your side. The game also features upgrades and killstreaks, which can be bought using money at buy stations.
Warzone also features a secondary game mode called Plunder. Here the battle royale rules are disabled and we can instead fight in the whole, non-shrinking map. The objective is to scavenge money in buildings and secure them, either via helicopter or cash balloons: the first team who reaches 1 million dollars wins the match. Here players do not loot weapons, but only ammunitions, as they enter the battlefield with their chosen loadout.
Plunder is less well-implemented than its counterpart and can result in frustration at times, especially when the cash dropout points are located at the top of skyscrapers with only one entrance, where one squad can set up defences and basically sit there the whole game.
Shooting, armour and other stuff
The shooting of Warzone is clearly taken from Modern Warfare and there’s really nothing more to say: it works and using the firearms in this game is rather satisfying. While recoil stays on the low-side, the shooting animations for each weapon are generally top-notch and the weapon feedback is great. Like in other Battle Royale games, Warzone has two kinds of health bars that need to be depleted for the player to be killed: the first one bar indicates the player health points and regenerates over time, while the second indicates armour points and can be regenerated by inserting up to three ballistic plates into your tactical vest, effectively doubling the player’s health. When damaging an opponent the game notifies you, with a little blue icon, when you break all of the enemy player’s armour: this is pretty useful because you then know that the player might retreat to replenish it or keep fighting with half its original health.
The map, called Verdansk, is fairly large and perfectly accommodates 150 players, while also having a good variety of places where players can drop. The division of it in distinct areas make it rather unnatural, but very functional and diverse.
Graphics and sound
Graphics are those of the latest Modern Warfare and are as stunning as they are in that game. While environments look good (but nothing more) weapons model and especially sights are really stunning: I can easily say that all the different sights of Warzone are among the best I’ve ever seen in a videogame. No joke. Especially since the game support the picture-in-picture mode for zoom sights with little to no problems on the framerate, something a lot of other games cannot say.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the sound compartment which, to put it lightly, is quite the mess. Between an almost non-existant sound directionality (footsteps often come from the wrong way) and incredibly loud sound effects, this is Warzone’s most fragile aspect at the moment. Surely something that should improved to highen the game’s overall quality.
Call of Duty: Warzone is one of the best battle royales on the market: its ability to offer fast gameplay and solid shooting while also delivering an enjoyable BR experience make it for a solid choice to whoever is searching a game in this category. For experienced players Warzone can instead offer some new features, but don’t expect this to be a totally different experience compared to similar game in the genre.