Today marks the one-year anniversary of Call of Duty: Warzone. Over the last 12 months, Warzone has grown to be one of the lead battle royale games on PC and console, and a tentpole title for Activision.
As we’ve reached the first anniversary of Warzone, we couldn’t think of a better time to look back at everything Activision, Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Raven Software have done to make Warzone such a success. While innovating on the genre in minor and major ways, Warzone has become a hugely successful property, and a gaming phenomenon. According to analysts, Modern Warfare and Warzone became the highest-earning premium game of 2020, generating almost $1.93 billion in revenue. And yet, there is still room for improvement.
We’ll highlight what’s worked for Warzone in its first year and what we’d like to see improved on as we head into Year Two.
Continuous new content
The rampant success of Warzone has ensured that it has a place as an ongoing title in Activision’s catalogue. The game has reached more than 80 million players, thanks to its accessible free-to-play model. To keep players coming back and maintain a high revenue stream, the combined efforts of Activision’s studios continued to support Warzone with new content.
Each season of Warzone introduced a new Battle Pass, which is a huge incentive to keep playing. Speaking as someone who has been playing Warzone since day one, there has been no shortage of blueprints for specialized guns and small cosmetic changes to Operators unlocked through the battlepass. The introduction of a Battle Pass is nothing new, but Warzone’s treatment has been fairly balanced and provided some great rewards over the year.
The largest pool of additional content came from the integration of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. In the lead-up to the game’s November release, the community was unsure of the extent the game would play into Warzone. Upon Black Ops‘ launch, Warzone was given a breadth of new weapons. This added a new dimension to loadouts and blew up the game’s meta.
Although the main crux of Warzone has been its 150 player battle royale mode, the game has been the home to countless other modes. Of course, the mainstay counterpart to battle royale has been the Plunder mode. Divided into two rotating sub-modes (Plunder proper and Blood Money), Plunder is a more laid-back experience.
On top of that, Warzone has introduced varying experimental twists on its core battle royale. In the past, this has included Buy Back, where defeated players automatically return if they had enough money on them. Additional limited-timed modes included Armored Royale and the Halloween-inspired Zombie Royale mode included in The Haunting of Verdansk event. Currently, the new Exfiltration mode is in rotation during Black Ops Cold War’s Season 2.
Of course, a lot of these modes were one and done. Perhaps due to popularity or viability in the studios’ vision, many never returned. That said, it’s always been a treat to see the alternative modes the developers came up with over the months. It will be interesting to see what ends up returning to the fold during Year Two and what new concepts are inducted.
Warzone has succeeded in being a platform for rock-solid FPS combat and competitive plays. Though, it shouldn’t be understated that Warzone and more significantly the map of Verdansk, has been telling an on-going story leading up to a significant event.
Players who have been around since the early days will fondly remember the big Bunker 11 Easter egg hunt to obtain a secret MP7 blueprint. This was also our first look at what Warzone may be setting up: a nuclear bomb event.
Within Bunker 11 laid a nuke within an inaccessible room. This spun countless theories that Verdansk’s days were numbered. That may have been true. Though, it’s been reported that the introduction of a new map was delayed due to the pandemic.
The Black Ops Cold War integration added Rebirth Island. This acted as a secondary map, and since November has been prominently featured on Warzone’s playlist. It’s been a nice change of pace, especially when the total player count was boosted to 100.
With the delivery of a proper new open map put on the backburner, the smaller changes to the map had to tie players over. Overall, the changes on the Verdansk map were slightly underwhelming. Over the course of 12 months, we saw the introduction of two major points of interest, being the inside of Stadium and the latest Shipwreck.
Other than that, minor elements were added. The introduction of the Train was novel at first but didn’t add all that much to the game’s dynamics. The subway system was mostly forgettable, especially since the latest season removed the subway entirely. Even the more minute changes like the new nuke silos or the underground area added to their Airport field are nice, but aren’t entirely groundbreaking.
Perhaps this is an area Warzone can improve on leading into the second year. Granted, hurdles in development need to be properly addressed and ironed out beforehand. Year two could see more substantive map changes if that’s the developers’ vision for the future of the game.
Reaching the anniversary of Warzone, we must highlight the game’s pain points. While the game has a sturdy foundation with unparalleled mechanics, there’s a lot of room to improve. One of the most notable and valid criticisms is the support of anti-hack and cheat measures.
Hackers and cheaters using aimbots and other tools to win have plagued Warzone since the beginning. In February, Raven Software announced that it has banned 60,000 cheaters and promises more to come. While the first wave had significant numbers, it came after nearly 11 months after the game’s launch.
Even as we reach the Warzone anniversary, the general toxicity of the community needs to still be addressed. Racial, sexist, and otherwise unpleasant remarks can be heard not only through the death comms, but by random teammates as well.
Of course, this problem is not unique to Warzone, and you can always report terrible players, but I thoroughly believe it needs to be a focus for the developers. Games like Apex Legends have done a great deal to reduce the need for voice comms altogether, and there are other measures for Warzone to explore. Creating a positive space for the community will only allow the game to thrive in the future.
Quality of life
A large quality of life concern revolves around Warzone’s install size. The size of the battle royale game alone has been meme’d for ages. Numerous updates have added so much bloat to the space the game takes up on our PCs and consoles. Add in the fact that many Warzone players cross over and play Modern Warfare and Black Ops Cold War, the collective size of Call of Duty games is well over the 500GB allotment on a base PlayStation 4. Thankfully, there is a file management system. Players can parse through the many pieces of content and delete what’s not being used.
Glitches are another area that needs to be properly assessed moving forward. There have been countless game-breaking glitches that have been exploited over the months. This includes, but is not limited to, the recent Stim glitch, the spiked-gun texture glitch, and the invisibility glitch. Thankfully, the developers have been able to patch many out accordingly. Some are still active, though, including the glitched Superstore, where an exceeding amount of cash spawns.
It’s hard to imagine that we’re already met with the first anniversary of Warzone. It will be exciting to see how the second year of Warzone shakes up and how the game will continue to evolve. With another Call of Duty title expected this fall, more beefy integrations are expected to land on the platform.