GBAtemp Recommends: Call of Duty: Warzone

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It’s hard not to be a little cynical about major game releases these days. In an industry so replete with trend chasers, with sequels churned out year after year to fulfill financial rather than creative goals, there’s perhaps no worse offender than Activision’s Call of Duty series. The king of mainstream online first-person shooters since 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, it’s had a remarkably long tenure at the top of the hill, partially due to a relentless release schedule—at least one sequel a year since the first game released in 2003—and an aggressive marketing campaign that at one time would scare competition away. Though it doesn’t have quite the total domination it once did (various EA franchises have taken sizeable chunks of its market share over the course of this generation), it still enjoys an assumed audience base that means it doesn’t have to change much. It’s made a few showy attempts at innovation over the years—employing big name actors for the campaign, shifting to a sci-fi setting, shifting back to the World War II setting the series established itself with—but there arguably hasn’t been a real innovation in the series since the introduction of the Nazi Zombies and Spec Ops game modes, in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Which is why people rolled their eyes so hard at the announcement of Call of Duty: Warzone, a free-to-play battle royale game released in March. Never mind the fact that Call of Duty had already tried a battle royale mode in Black Ops IIII, it was still a little embarrassing to see such a dominating force in the industry desperately follow the lead established by PUBG and Fortnite. Call of Duty had been treading water for years, so how could you expect it to bring anything fresh to the relatively new battle royale genre?

Warzone 1.jpg

Not having played a Call of Duty game since 2012’s Black Ops II, I was immediately surprised at how familiar everything felt. The visual style was exactly how I remembered it, the way the guns handled, the sounds—I felt like I was back in 2012. It’s worth acknowledging that Warzone is a part of Modern Warfare, 2019’s confusingly-titled Call of Duty entry, meant to be a revival of the Modern Warfare sub-series that first launched Call of Duty into the stratosphere. Described to me by people more knowledgeable of the series as a back-to-basics game after the last few titles pushed things to the extreme with overpowered, sci-fi-themed powerups, it’s not entirely surprising that everything here would be so familiar. But I really can’t emphasize enough just how familiar it was. Every perk, the guns, even minor attachments like the laser sights were all the same. These details aren’t as important as the game around it, so it’s not too big of an issue. Honestly, I even took some comfort in how much I was reminded of the series at its peak. If you’re a lapsed Call of Duty fan like me, Warzone is a great opportunity to revisit the series’ glory days without having to invest in the remasters of Modern Warfare 1 or 2.

While it’s full of familiar Call of Duty elements, it actually makes a few interesting, unique tweaks to the battle royale formula, which is perhaps the most un-Call of Duty thing it could have done. The basic setup here is the same as other battle royale games. You’ve got a large group of people on an island (150 here as opposed to the standard 100) and as the numbers dwindle people are herded together into one area by a storm that kills anyone left in it for more than a few seconds. Whereas in most battle royale games your objective is simply to last until the end, Warzone uses little sub-missions called Contracts to give some direction. Most battle royale games feature some kind of daily or weekly challenge that tie in to your overall level progression (Warzone features these as well), but Contracts directly impact your standing in the game. There’s three types of contract you can accept: Recon, which lets you see how the map will shrink moving forward; Scavenger, which directs you to three crates in your area to help you get loot; and Bounty, which reveals an enemy’s location on your map, but also gives that enemy an idea of how close you are to them. Each Contract also gives you cash upon completion, which you can spend at various Buy Stations scattered around the map. Buy Stations let you purchase armour, ammo, some tactical support items, and they even let you bring teammates back from the dead.

Warzone 2.jpg

Warzone’s attitude towards permadeath is one of its more interesting aspects. When battle royale games first hit it big, permadeath was, as you’d expect, an accepted part of the game, but that stance has softened over time. Reviving downed teammates became a staple—as it is in most team shooters—and most have a way to bring back dead teammates, like Fortnite’s Reboot Van. Warzone’s tactic is a little different though. The first time you die, you are sent to the Gulag, where you must face an opponent in a short one-on-one fight. If you win, you’re immediately returned to the battle; if you lose, or die again, you’ve got to wait for your team to scrounge together the cash to buy you back. It’s a great little mechanic that’s especially helpful in those early moments, when everyone first lands in a huddle and is scrambling to find a weapon. You’re a lot more likely to take the risk and try to kill someone with your starting pistol knowing you’ve potentially got a second life right around the corner, which can lead to some wonderfully triumphant feelings when it pays off. If it doesn’t, the blow is softened knowing your moment of glory might be waiting for you in the Gulag. Even the cash transactions that can bring you back carry some strategic weight to them, as the basics available at the Buy Station become nearly essential for the endgame. I’ve never prioritized securing equipment for myself over getting a friend back in the game, but I won’t pretend the thought hasn’t occurred to me when they’re having an off night.

Another interesting use for your cash is the Loadout Drop Marker. Like standard Call of Duty online, you can customize a loadout in the pre-game lobby, selecting your favourite weapons, equipment and perks to go in to battle with. You won’t spawn with it though; you’ll have to collect your loadout out of a crate that falls from the sky. You can either spend an obscene amount of money at a Buy Station to get a marker to call one right to you, or wait for it to happen naturally. These will typically fall in clusters of two or three, however, drawing other nearby teams to them as well, so the safer option is to buy one yourself. While you can unlock new weapons or add-ons for your loadout as you complete challenges, no one gun is objectively better than another, so it avoids the pitfall of the highest-ranked players decimating lower-ranked players with superior firepower. Plus, since you’re not guaranteed to get one every match, it maintains the luck-based looting spirit of battle royale games, while still rewarding you with guns and abilities you like if you’re able to make it far enough into the game.

Warzone 3.png

For most people, their biggest concern going into a free-to-play game is how it monetizes itself, and with Activision’s track record, it’s reasonable to be worried about how Warzone does it. Thankfully, it keeps things pretty respectful and within the realm of how most battle royales monetize, employing a cosmetics store and a battle pass. Contrasting with Fortnite again, I never felt nearly as much pressure to pay in here as I did there. Fortnite’s third-person camera angle and cartoony art style makes you want to personalize your character, and also means you can’t help but notice the cool stuff your enemies are wearing, turning every player into a walking billboard for the cosmetics store. Warzone employs the same brown-and-grey aesthetic Call of Duty has always had, so it’s hard to be able to distinguish any one player from another, let alone being able to tell if they purchased something from the store. The biggest cosmetic options come in the form of emotes and sprays, which I’ve hardly ever seen employed due to the grounded tone, and gun customizations, which aren’t too enticing since it only applies to your loadout weapons and aren’t that noticeable to begin with. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, as I do miss the sense of progression that came from Fortnite’s Battle Pass, but it’s a trade I’m willing to make as Warzone also doesn’t shove its storefront in your face nearly as often, or try to dazzle you with its flashy colours and presentation.

Perhaps the most obnoxious form its monetization takes is the way it tries to Trojan horse Call of Duty: Modern Warfare onto your system, and then act as an advertisement for it. Despite Warzone being available as a free download to everybody, you’re forced to download the entirety of Modern Warfare, which, as of writing, takes up a little over a hundred gigabytes. Given that recent updates have been upwards of twenty gigabytes themselves, this is an absolute space hog on a console’s stock storage. Its integration with Modern Warfare also means that the menu is littered with options that don’t apply to Warzone, which can be overwhelming and off-putting to newcomers. The main menu also has an option tucked away to bring you to a storefront to purchase the full game. It’s annoying, but for a free game it’s reasonable, and doesn’t feel predatory as it won’t remind you of its presence more than once beyond startup.

Warzone 4.jpg

Call of Duty: Warzone doesn’t innovate the battle royale genre, but it iterates on the formula enough to be worth playing, and uses enough familiar Call of Duty elements to recognizably feel like a part of the series. It’s basically exactly what you want out of a spinoff. Despite seeming on the surface like a cynical move to chase a popular trend, there appears to be some real thought put into this title, and shows that perhaps the Call of Duty name could revitalize itself as a critical darling were its developers allowed to play outside the box like this more often.




I hope you enjoyed this edition of GBAtemp Recommends. If you'd like to see more, leave your feedback in the thread below or check out our previous articles.



TAGS: [GAME=/game/call-of-duty-modern-warfare.119177]Call of Duty: Modern Warfare[/GAME]
 

Goku1992A

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I tried getting the game but they wanted 100gb in space for it... I didn't have the space unfortunately but I think it is like all the other COD games
 

McBing

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Not the biggest COD or BR Fan, but with a decent Crew this Game ist really fun for me!

First COD I touched since MW2.

I get all the hate against the size its really insane, Had to Reinstall once because it crashed after some Seconds ingame without Error and I Had to wait 2 days because the Download Speed was so damn Low...
 

Scarlet

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I have read numerous reviews of this game all saying its a stinking pile of you know what. Did Activision pay the temp for this review?? ??
because it's impossible for a person to like a game without being a paid shill?

i mean, it's not even as though the general opinion of the game is bad, its worst score on Metacritic is 70 and it's a similar story over on OpenCritic.

that being said I somewhat agree with other people. the game seems interesting, and my friend was actively trying to get me to play with him because he was really enjoying it, but with a base 500 GB PS4, it just isn't possible. good to know my friend wasn't just chatting shit tho lol
 

shaunj66

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I have read numerous reviews of this game all saying its a stinking pile of you know what. Did Activision pay the temp for this review?? ??
Humans aren't a hivemind. People are allowed to have different opinions.

Player count says 50 million so this game must be doing something right.
 

Chary

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I don’t like FPS games. I especially don’t like CoD, but having watched someone else play, it was kinda fun. There’s all sortsa crazy stuff like shooting down a helicopter and some money mode I think? It’s weirdly fun to watch, to me.

Which is why I think it’s a shame people just see the title and go “ewww CoD” as if people just have knee jerk reactions to things and don’t give games a fair chance. Developers can surprise you.

I have read numerous reviews of this game all saying its a stinking pile of you know what. Did Activision pay the temp for this review?? ??
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Silent_Gunner

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I don’t like FPS games. I especially don’t like CoD, but having watched someone else play, it was kinda fun. There’s all sortsa crazy stuff like shooting down a helicopter and some money mode I think? It’s weirdly fun to watch, to me.

Which is why I think it’s a shame people just see the title and go “ewww CoD” as if people just have knee jerk reactions to things and don’t give games a fair chance. Developers can surprise you.


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I'm mostly just busting the dude's balls. Still, it's a little late for anything COD to captivate my attention these days considering how much I have on my backlog that isn't the same game I played since the 360 era.

It also helps that I don't plan on getting a mainstream console anytime soon after trading in my PS4 Slim for a massive discount on the Mariko Switch to replace my old one. It was actually a pretty sweet deal at GameStop last year, all things considered!

PS - COMPRESS YOUR SHIT, DEVS! MOST PEOPLE PLAYING COD DON'T WANT .WAV QUALITY SOUND AND WOULD LIKE TO HAVE OTHER GAMES ON THEIR SYSTEM WITHOUT HAVING TO RESORT TO EXTERNAL SSDS!
 
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BlastedGuy9905

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It's a good game, but the technical issues are so fucking annoying that I contemplated never playing it again. It spiked my CPU usage to 100%, even at low as fuck graphics settings, and it was unplayable (mouse had a weird stuttery delay thing), until I got Process Lasso (really good software in general, you should get it), and I disabled the Geforce Experience overlay. Only then did it become playable for me.

Aside from the technical issues, like I said, it's a really fun game, and if you can somehow get the space required to install it, you should definitely give it a go.
 
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leon315

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Long time overwatch player, and a royal fornite hater. But this game even makes me change the idea about BR genre. This game is far superior than PUBG, a very fast paced team based shooter, really enjoyedable and far less toxic than Overwatch.
Highly recommended.
 
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leon315

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Currently my favourite game, it's a blast with 3 friends.
YEP, that's right, forgot to mention Crossplay! when you have friends who play on PS4 or X1, they can finally join the party and have fun together along pc players! the game itself comes with keyboard+mouse support for consoles as well.
 
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