Call of Duty: Warzone is hardly a novel idea. Mashing one of the most recognized FPS titles together with the hottest trending genre isn't exactly a concept we weren't expecting, but it has been done before with Blackout.
However, Warzone has managed to prove that a game doesn't need to reinvent the wheel to rise to the top. In essence, it's got all the trappings of the battle royale games we know and like, but improves on the formula.
COD: Warzone takes a lot of ideas from other battle royale titles in its basic concepts. Built on the same engine as the Modern Warfare remake and sharing most assets, setting, weapons and mechanics, it feels like a DLC for that title. However, it is a standalone game that is free to play for everyone - even if you don't own Modern Warfare. This business model is very similar to the origins of the hyper-popular Fortnite: Battle Royale, which is a standalone spin-off of the paid survival game Fortnite.
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Upon release, Warzone featured three-player squads without a dedicated solo mode. One could opt not to fill up their team, but that put them at a significant disadvantage against full squads who worked together. This model, using teams of three, was also used by EA's Apex Legends, another free to play AAA battle royale game that is set in the Titanfall universe. Since launch, however, Activision has released a Solos mode for Warzone.
The map wouldn't feel out of place in the game that started all this, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. A generic, fictional post-soviet city, Verdansk has all kinds of landmarks that diversify the playing field.
You've got all the usual gritty realistic shooter level design staples - urban area, prison, airport, hospital, industrial area, another urban area, shopping mall, another industrial area and so on - plenty of great places to drop. As players dwindle during the fighting, the safe-zone shrinks as it does in other battle royale games too - this time it's poison gas.
However, this is definitely a Call of Duty game, through and through. The designs, atmosphere and gameplay mechanics make it immediately clear you are playing an installment in the popular series, with the iconic Killstreaks and Perks present to cement that fact. In the process of merging CoD with the battle royale genre, the developers have added some new and fresh ideas to the mix as well.
When you are fighting through the ruins of Verdansk, you or your teammates are bound to take a few bullets, and sometimes you'll go down. Teammates reviving one another isn't a new concept, however there are other ways players can return to the fight.
When you are eliminated, you are sent to the Gulag instead of being booted from the match. Here, you engage in short 1v1 duels with other eliminated players. If you win, you get to respawn. Even if you lose, it isn't the end of the line - when all else fails, your teammates can buy you back into the fight, at a cost.
Simply hunting down other players is further diversified with Contracts, which function as side-quests. Don't make the mistake of ignoring them though, as this is the best way to earn cash and gain loot. Plunder is a whole other game-mode entirely, where killing other players isn't the goal. Instead, you need to acquire as much cash as possible, and be the first to hit $1,000,000.
Call of Duty: Warzone is a much better attempt to add battle royale into the franchise's mix than Blackout was, and we're certain it will become as popular a staple of the genre as Fortnite and PUBG are.