The latest Call of Duty from Infinity Ward shipped without an answer to Black Ops 4’s Blackout, but it has since been supplemented by Warzone–a completely standalone battle royale built off of the backbone of Modern Warfare. Not only is it a smarter way to ensure it’s not tied to each annual release in the series, but Warzone gives the series its own identity within the competitive genre.
It might not be apparent at first, though, especially when you take into consideration how much Warzone borrows from other popular battle royale games. It incorporates a ping system similar to the one in Apex Legends, letting you tag enemy positions, points of interest, and loot for teammates at the press of a button (albeit mapped to a button that’s harder to reach quickly, mitigating some of its convenience). It plays out on a massive map akin to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, where large swathes of open land are ripe for snipers while dense suburbs make for exhilarating and chaotic close-quarters skirmishes. And like the ones in Fortnite, color-coded chests overflowing with loot are easy to hunt down when you are within earshot of their signature emanating jingle.
None of these competitors are defined solely by the elements Warzone borrows from them, and Warzone isn’t defined by the sum of their parts. Instead, Warzone uses them to establish a solid foundation for its own distinct elements. It starts with a larger player count than the aforementioned battle royale games, with Warzone currently supporting up to 150 players per match, with modes for three-person squads or solo play. Having so many players active at once keeps you constantly on alert, but also increases the odds that you’ll at least have some action (and likely a handful of kills) each match. This makes even some of the least successful drops feel worthwhile–even if your entire match lasts only a handful of minutes, you’ll likely get some valuable time in with some weapons, better preparing you for another fight in the next match.