Four Things We Want From Call Of Duty: Warzone In Year Two
They say if you come at the king, you best not miss, and while battle royale juggernauts like Fortnite are still alive and well in 2021, Call of Duty: Warzone became one of the biggest games on the planet in its first year of release. With 85 million active players and hundreds of thousands of concurrent Twitch viewers, Activision’s free-to-play battle royale found incredible amounts of success in 2020. Whether it’s your parent’s title of choice to conflate with other shooters or your favorite streamer’s top game, the Activision franchise is always at the top of the sales charts and controls the gaming zeitgeist as few can. But as all of gaming’s greats know, it’s not enough to rest on your laurels. A game series has to continue to iterate in order to stay on the top of the sales charts. Here are four ways COD Warzone can iterate on its success and continue its dominance in year two.
Dropping Into New
Let’s get the easy one out of the way, shall we? Whether it’s PUBG, Apex, or Fortnite, all of the most successful battle royales have released new sprawling battlefields for their players to revel in. As much as I love Verdansk, outside of Downtown, it’s time for Activision’s battle royale to follow suit more extremely than Rebirth Island's release.
A fresh map would give Raven Software a chance to refresh the meta and allow players to feel the rush of running upon an unsuspecting squad in a new environment. When I skydive out of the plane at the beginning of a match in Verdansk, I know I’m going to Storage Town, Military Base, or one of the Promenades.
Let us explore an unfamiliar terrain and conquer a whole new world of Warzone. Achieving victory in Bog, Jungle, or one of the classic COD maps still missing from MW/Black Ops Cold War would be a way to lace nostalgia into a formula that is ripe for water-cooler moments. Additionally, the talented team at Activision would have the opportunity to swap out the rather drab browns and oranges of Verdansk for a more vibrant color palette. With a new map for players to get hyped around, Warzone would have no trouble amassing new hype levels and continuing its reign as one of the most popular games in the medium. Here’s hoping they’d also include an amazing in-game event like the Black Ops Cold War reveal.
Altering The Deal
Contracts were a revelation when the game was first released last year. Whether you targeted Bounties, Recon, or Scavenger missions, Warzone’s new system kept each jump into Verdansk feeling fresh and new. And while it’s still advantageous to collect these different contracts, as time’s gone on, I’ve found myself less motivated to hunt down these different wrinkles unless necessary. The risk/reward ratio doesn’t seem worth it at times. Why flag another team down with a Recon contract if it’s not guaranteed the payoff will be there?
As much as I love racking up the kills, I want to become champion, not die to a 15-year-old who knows I’m downstairs because I’m tracking him with a bounty. The Most Wanted contract was a step in the right direction to spice up the late game, but that’s because the reward of reviving downed teammates can make or break your endgame helicopter ride to victory. Warzone could greatly benefit from contracts that help players in the late game with guaranteed legendary weapons, killstreaks, or other perks that would make the risk that much more worth achieving victory at the end. You don’t want to go overboard and give players an AC-130, but balancing the risk/reward of the current contracts with a fresh set of challenges would keep me coming back for months to come.
Skins In The Game
Back in October of last year, Activision rolled out The Haunting of Verdansk event. On top of the bonkers zombie royale update and other fun changes to the map, players were introduced to a trick-or-treat style reward system that shouldn’t have gone away when November rolled around. Cosmetic rewards and gun blueprints were scattered across the spooky streets of Verdansk, and all players needed to track them down in each of their respective locations.
As someone who buys the occasional battle pass but doesn’t dabble in the money-draining dance of buying as many skins as possible, this system worked perfectly for me and had me locked into Warzone even in the busiest release season of the year. The trick or treat event rewarded players for simply playing the game, and while I don’t think that should be an everyday occurrence, I would love to see a seasonal or monthly approach to scattering rewards across the battlefield, similar to Overwatch’s approach to rewarding players with skins for winning games.
Single And Ready To Mingle
I may be in the minority a bit here, but I absolutely love Warzone’s addition of Rebirth Island. The close-quarters 40-player variation of the classic Warzone formula feels like the perfect change of pace when you’ve gone long stretches in the main game without much success. Pop in for a few matches, leave with a few top-five finishes, and life is good. Rebirth Island isn’t the first event playlist to be added to the multiplayer lobby, though. While the team at Activision does a good job of keeping the rotation going, it always feels frustrating is the constrained squad options.
Most times, the playlists will be limited to a certain number of players, featuring three or four teams. While I understand this is most likely there to keep wait times down and not overly segment the audience, it dissuades solo players from trying out the new modes if they’re like me and hate to lose. Warzone isn’t a game most people will be able to win in clutch situations, and it’s a bummer not to be able to fully enjoy the different mutations of the BR formula unless you have friends or are wanting to play with randos. Just like the normal battle royale playlist, I would love the ability to be able to pick my squad size during these events, even if it meant waiting in lobbies for a little longer at a time (I mean…I am an Overwatch fan after all).