Leaks and buzz aside, Activision’s announcement of a free-to-play (F2P) Battle Royale (BR) addition to their annual Call of Duty franchise came as a shock to the gaming public. Activision giving something for free?? Call of Duty’s first attempt to piggyback off the success of other battle royale games like Fortnite and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), 2018’s Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode, was a huge success. It was just a matter of time before the powers that be at Activision green-lit this mode for the latest iteration of their massive first-person shooter franchise.
Despite being free, there’s no shortage of content in Warzone. This is as fleshed out as a battle royale experience can be. Below, you’ll find primers for Warzone’s many different features and gameplay elements, as well as tips and tricks to help you increase your kill/death ratio (K/D) and feel superior to your squadmates (be annoying about it. This isn’t the time to be humble). But first…
Prepare to wait
That’s ok, it’s not like you have anywhere to be, right? Downloading Warzone is a test of patience and bandwidth. Even for someone who already owns Modern Warfare, the 18-22GB download can be time-consuming. However, if you don’t own the full version of the game, expect to wait. With a download size anywhere between 83-101GB (time to clean up your hard drive!), you’ll have time to start….and finish a good book, learn the guitar, complete that oil painting you’ve been stuck on for years. My point is: be patient.
Before you enter the action
Great news! The game has downloaded and you’ve now grown a full beard. Still, for even the most diehard Call of Duty fan, entering Warzone can be a bit overwhelming. Between all your operative skins (cosmetic), gun attachments (more on that later), Battle Pass (a fixture in BR games) and more, you’ll have a lot of questions. Here’s what you need to know about the pre-game menus:
This is where you select your game mode. As of the time this article is being posted, there are 4 modes. This may change in future patches:
- Battle Royale: This is your standard mode. In teams of three (50 teams for a total player count of 150), you play on an ever-shrinking map and the last team standing wins.
- Battle Royale Solo: Introduced earlier this week, this mode is identical to the regular Battle Royale mode, save for one difference. Can you guess? I’ll wait. You nailed it. Instead of teams of three, you’re on your own.
- Plunder: A fun change of pace, the objective is to collect as much cash as you can. Dying is not the end of the game either. You can respawn (you will lose hard-earned cash as a result, mind you). Your goal is to deposit the money you collect and the first team to $1 million wins. There are two ways to deposit your money including ‘Cash Deposit Balloons’, which you can get from Supply Crates. The second is the ‘Cash Deposit Helipad’ (usable once your team reaches $300,000 in cash). Calling these in, however, puts a bullseye on your back, as every other player can see them on the map and use them. It turns your immediate area into a “who’s who” of people who want to shoot you in the face.
- Practice Modes: Use this mode to redo your Warzone orientation tutorial, or complete a Battle Royale Practice match with enemy bots (good for beginners or those who need to regain lost morale and confidence).
On this screen, you can also view your ‘daily’ or ‘current mission’ challenges. These are great ways to accumulate additional XP and additional cosmetics.
As the name implies, this screen is where you get to customize the fun stuff… Your guns! Under “Edit Loadout”, you can create specific loadouts for any combination of weapons/perks/gear you want. An important note: Regardless of whether you have unlocked a weapon or not (most are level-locked), you gain experience for any in-game weapon you find and use. For example, the AK-47 assault rifle is not available until you’ve reached level 53, but if you find one and use it in any game mode (including practice), all the experience you accumulate will be applied to it (good for adding scopes and other add-ons once you unlock it).
Other options under Weapons (Killstreak Select, Field Upgrades) do not apply to Warzone (i.e., they are used solely for other game modes).
Here, you choose the look of your in-game character. Remember that this is purely cosmetic and has no effect on gameplay. Many characters come with special challenges you can complete to change their appearance further.
Use this menu to select different Missions, Challenges, Identity, Rank Progression and Records. I refer to this section when Lording over my squadmates and bragging about my K/D. They enjoy this, and it strengthens our friendships.
The Battle Pass is a purchasable tier system for cosmetics and guns. For 1000 COD points (around $10 USD) you gain access to 100 tiers of unlockable cosmetic content. This can be anything from new operator skins to gun charms. Anyone not interested in spending real money can still receive over 20 levels for free. There will be a new Battle Pass released for each season, with all cosmetics staying account-locked and carrying over.
The store menu is where you can spend COD points on packages that include new operators, gun cosmetics, calling cards, and more.
Now let’s get into the actual meat of the game. You’ve gone through the menus, you’ve selected your operator skin, and you’ve even customized a loadout. It’s time for you to secure that W and call your confused aunt to brag about your exploits. She has no clue what you’re talking about, but it’s a global quarantine, and you miss the sound of a human voice that isn’t yelling expletives at you over a headset.
A fun change to the Battle Royale formula is Warzone’s use of the pre-game lobby. While waiting for other players to join, players are dropped all over the map with a random loadout of weapons. In previous games, this sort of lobby serves as nothing more than a diversion while waiting for the game to start. In Warzone, you gain valuable weapon experience for your kills, which is a terrific way to level up guns you don’t have access to yet. You may also discover a new gun to love. It’s like speed dating but with armaments!
Landing Spot Recommendations
Like most Battle Royale games, you start on a plane overlooking a huge map. This can be intimidating — but don’t worry! A circle will appear on your map that shows the area where the first wave of (deadly) gas will appear. The red timer in the upper left of your screen counts down to when the gas will start closing in. With that in mind, the landing recommendations are as follows:
- Land somewhere just outside the circle. Players tend to land inside the circle to avoid the gas, but this writer recommends landing somewhere just outside where there is a vehicle on hand. There tends to be less foot traffic, which gives you the chance to stock up on weapons and gear before you enter the circle with plenty of time to spare.
- “I have the high ground Anakin.” The current meta in Warzone is this: You’re at a distinct advantage if you have the high ground. Much like Tilted Towers in Fortnite, Warzone’s Downtown area is a rabbit warren of high rises and assorted buildings. Teams that can get to the rooftops with scoped weapons get their pick of the litter when it comes to sniping those poor souls at ground level.
- Ride the lightning (or in this case, the poisonous gas). Unlike Blackout in Black Ops 4, the gas in Warzone hits hard and fast. That being said, a helpful tactic is to keep the enclosing gas close to your back while you move to the next safe zone. The gas is a powerful ally who covers your six better than any squadmate.
Unlike Battle Royale games of the past, Warzone introduces a fun new wrinkle called the Gulag. Whether you’re playing in teams or solo, you will die. That much I know. The only certainties in life are that the sun will rise tomorrow, taxes and death (in-game and IRL). Consider the Gulag your second chance. Every player that dies is sent to a small arena and pitted against another recently deceased player in a one-on-one showdown. Randomized (but matching) weapons and grenades are given to each player and you win either by killing your opponent or claiming the flag in the middle of the map without dying. The winning player is immediately returned to the game, while the losing player has to wait to be revived by a teammate (more on that later) or start a new game (if playing solo).
Cash and Buy Stations
Another change compared to Black Ops 4 Blackout is the introduction of cash pickups and buy stations. Cash is your lifeline to victory. Unlike real life, cash in Warzone is lying around everywhere, available to the first person who runs over it. Buy Stations are littered across the map (marked by a shopping cart icon) and these stations give you access to all sorts of goodies including:
- Armor Plate Bundle – $1500
- Shield Turret – $2000
- Cluster Strike – $3000
- Gas Mask – $3000
- Precision Airstrike – $3500
- UAV – $4000
- Self-Revive Kit – $4500
- Squad Buyback – $4500 per teammate
- Munitions Box – $5000
- Loadout Drop Marker – $6000
While a lot of these have been staples in previous COD games for years, there are a few worth examining in greater detail:
Self-Revive Kits are a great (and self-explanatory) asset to have. Imagine you are on top of a rooftop and a rival sniper just fed you a hearty bullet breakfast. Downed and dejected, you lie in wait for squadmates who will never reach you… But! Just pop your self-revive kit and you’re back in the action. Now duck. He won’t miss twice.
Squad Buybacks are the lifeblood of the 3v3 squad format. You just died. To make matters worse, you lost in the Gulag. For $4500, a squadmate can buy you back in at a Buy Station, resurrecting you and bringing you parachuting from the sky like an angel of death (remember to pop that chute, or you’ll be a crater-shaped angel of death).
Remember those loadouts I mentioned earlier? Loadout Drop Markers give you and your squad access to your favorite loadouts for $6000. This is extremely valuable because you get access to guns you’re comfortable with (and have attachments for), as well as your pre-selected perks and grenades. I cannot stress the importance of getting your loadout equipped in a match.
Contracts are visible on the minimap and are available to all players. These are timed challenges that reward entire teams’ with much-needed cash. There are three kinds of contracts:
- Recon (Flag icon). Secure a specific location on the map.
- Scavenger (Magnifying glass icon). Scavenge a series of three armament cases.
- Bounty (Flag icon). Find and kill a specific target (a large radius will appear on the map to give you a more specific idea of the target’s location.)
And finally, I will share a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up during my time with the game:
- Armor up! Along with guns, cash and other various pickups, you will come across armor plates. Your health auto-regenerates, but armor doesn’t so make sure you find plates and keep your armor up. Each player has a max of three armor plates they can apply at a time along with five plates they can keep stored for future use. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve had to remind a teammate to armor up, I’d have several nickels.
- Sharing is caring. Warzone is a lot like Kindergarten. Sharing is extremely important and potty mouths are not appreciated. You can share ammo, armor plates or cash with a teammate in need. One tip is to pool funds between two squadmates to resurrect one who died.
- Have fun! Above all else, try to remember this is a game and you shouldn’t take things too seriously. Happy hunting 🙂
Not sure what loadout to use? Click here for a good loadout for beginners!