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]
 

AmandaRose

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I'm not assuming anything. You said the game's trash because you read reviews that say so. By your own admission this is not an opinion you formed yourself, it's acquired.
Saying I have read reviews of something does not indicate either way if I have or haven't played something now does it.
 

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Saying I have read reviews of something does not indicate either way if I have or haven't played something now does it.
If you had played it, you wouldn't have mentioned the reviews at all - you would have first-hand experience of either liking or disliking it. I'm not sure why you're covering for yourself, it doesn't really matter if you did or not, I'm just pointing out that I caught you slippin'. B-)
 
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AmandaRose

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If you had played it, you wouldn't have mentioned the reviews at all - you would have first-hand experience of either liking or disliking it. I'm not sure why you're covering for yourself, it doesn't really matter if you did or not, I'm just pointing out that I caught you slippin'. B-)
I'm not sure why a site staff member is trying to provoke me in a situation that was already cleared up with my previous apology but there you go. You do your thing and I will do mine and lets get this thread back on track please :)
 

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I'm not sure why a site staff member is trying to provoke me in a situation that was already cleared up with my previous apology but there you go. You do your thing and I will do mine and lets get this thread back on track please :)

tbf this thread has mostly been squabbling so far so this is pretty on track.

/jk let’s let the argument end there
 

AmandaRose

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tbf this thread has mostly been squabbling so far so this is pretty on track.

/jk let’s let the argument end there
Once again I am sorry that I seem to have stirred up a shit load of drama in your review. Please don't hate me for it :)
 
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Foxi4

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I'm not sure why a site staff member is trying to provoke me in a situation that was already cleared up with my previous apology but there you go. You do your thing and I will do mine and lets get this thread back on track please :)
tbf this thread has mostly been squabbling so far so this is pretty on track.

/jk let’s let the argument end there
Not really an argument, just playful teasing. :lol: There's this weird preconception that anything released by Activision, particularly anything from the COD brand, must necessarily be samey and boring, and I don't like that mindset, so I poke fun at it - no harm, no foul. I personally haven't enjoyed a COD game since... Probably since the Wii, to be honest. BlackOps 3 was straight sewer, Advanced Warfare was just boring, and I've skipped all the other ones since. The new Modern Warfare looks like a breath of fresh air, and after having tried Warzone I can safely say that I'm interested in the full game, it's definitely a come-back of sorts. Still far from perfect, and in terms of BR I still fancy Apex Legends a bit more, but it's very enjoyable.
 

AmandaRose

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Not really an argument, just playful teasing. :lol: There's this weird preconception that anything released by Activision, particularly anything from the COD brand, must necessarily be samey and boring, and I don't like that mindset, so I poke fun at it - no harm, no foul. I personally haven't enjoyed a COD game since... Probably since the Wii, to be honest. BlackOps 3 was straight sewer, Advanced Warfare was just boring, and I've skipped all the other ones since. The new Modern Warfare looks like a breath of fresh air, and after having tried Warzone I can safely say that I'm interested in the full game, it's definitely a come-back of sorts. Still far from perfect, and in terms of BR I still fancy Apex Legends a bit more, but it's very enjoyable.
Hey wait a minute you criticise me for bitching about a game I haven't played then say you haven't played the lates CODs because they are all samey. Whats the word I'm looking for hypo no hippy no I have it. Its HYPOCRITE lol (I'm joking obviously)
 

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Hey wait a minute you criticise me for bitching about a game I haven't played then say you haven't played the lates CODs because they are all samey. Whats the word I'm looking for hypo no hippy no I have it. Its HYPOCRITE lol (I'm joking obviously)
That's correct, I didn't play them on the basis of a series of blunders. :P I don't really have an opinion on Ghosts, IW, WWII and Blops 4 since I've never played them, but I haven't heard anything good about them either. From what I did hear some of them are good for Zombies, and WWII is currently free on PSPlus, so I'll give that one a shot.
 
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SuperDan

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It was fun for a while.. The download size getting bigger and bigger just got on my nerves & that's the reason why I deleted it... On my PC... Where as = Hunt Showdown = is a much smaller download size around 25 gigs & has been my favorite Online game this month.. I'm proper hooked on it... You guys should do a review on that instead....
 

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Once again I am sorry that I seem to have stirred up a shit load of drama in your review. Please don't hate me for it :)

Don’t worry about it, I’ve had worse. This was nothing.

It was fun for a while.. The download size getting bigger and bigger just got on my nerves & that's the reason why I deleted it... On my PC... Where as = Hunt Showdown = is a much smaller download size around 25 gigs & has been my favorite Online game this month.. I'm proper hooked on it... You guys should do a review on that instead....

We did!
 

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The game isn't bad at all. I like it myself, and if you like Call of Duty outside Zombies and you like Battle Royale games then definitely give it a shot. To all the people talking shit who haven't even installed the game, a FREE game maybe try it first?
 

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I like Warzone. I had stopped caring for CoD once they introduced zombies in their series but their battle royal is a good time killer.

I do however preferBprefer for it's team oriented strategic multiplayer system. But CoD is fun for what it is, a no commitment free-for-all trigger happy multiplayer platform. And sometimes I just need to shoot stuff.
 
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