The battle royale genre has old and venerable origins. Whether it’s survival experiences like DayZ and Rust or old-school multiplayer FPS experiments like the PS3’s MAG, battle royale is a genre with a history. You could even trace the origins of battle royale all the way back to “last man standing” multiplayer modes in games like Counter-Strike or Halo. However battle royale came to be, it’s an indisputable fact that the genre is here to stay, with games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds proving perennially popular.
There’s a new kid on the block, though, and it’s looking to challenge those old stalwarts for their crowns. Enter Call of Duty: Warzone, billed by its creators as “a new, massive combat experience” that supports up to 150 players per game. While the developers and publishers have had some wobbles when it comes to keeping their community happy, for the most part it’s generally agreed that Call of Duty: Warzone is a pretty solid entry into the battle royale genre. The question on everyone’s lips remains thus: can Warzone really challenge Fortnite and PUBG for battle royale dominance?
There are a number of reasons why we think this could well happen. First is that Call of Duty is unmistakably a more world-renowned name than either Fortnite or PUBG; despite a lot of brand-building from both Epic Games and the PUBG Corporation, the Call of Duty brand is respected by gamers because it’s been building itself up for over fifteen years. As such, anyone who’s yet to check out a battle royale game and wants to know where to start is arguably more likely to head straight for Warzone simply because of name recognition.
One of the most important aspects of any battle royale game is its esports potential. If you’re looking to take part in esports as a consumer, you want to know that the game you’re betting on is both enjoyable to watch and potentially lucrative for you. Warzone arguably involves more skill than either Fortnite or PUBG, so you know that when you place bets, there’s a greater degree of predictability to the results. Betting on Call of Duty on Esportsbetting.gg, for example, will get you more consistent results because Warzone is a more consistent game.
Of course, it’s not just the infrastructure around Warzone that makes it a more attractive prospect than both Fortnite and PUBG. Infinity Ward has taken the lessons of design that both of those games have imparted on board, creating a more responsive and intuitive battle royale game in the process. There are a number of small game design choices and quirks that set Call of Duty: Warzone apart from its stablemates. All of these design choices mean you’re more likely to stick with Warzone for a long time. The retention rate on PUBG and Fortnite has proven to be fine, but we think Warzone’s will be better.
One of the biggest innovations that means players will stick around in Warzone longer than in the other battle royale games is the addition of its Gulag mode. Rather than simply leaving respawning up to the whims of fate (or, indeed, not including it at all), Warzone asks you to take part in a 1v1 game mode called the Gulag. While you’re waiting for your turn to battle in the Gulag, you’ll be able to subtly influence matches by throwing rocks at the opposition or by chatting to your team to help them. Gulag introduces skill to respawning and is all the more welcome for it.
Another way in which Warzone differentiates itself from its competition is with the introduction of Contracts. These missions will reward you and your squad with cash and potentially advantageous extras if you complete them. You might be asked to assassinate a certain player, upload data at a point on the map, or scavenge some supply boxes. There’s even a chance you could put a bounty on yourself for a reward! Whatever you’re tasked with doing, if you’re lucky enough to find one of these points, your squad will earn rewards for completing them. This adds an element of unpredictability, but it also means Warzone isn’t just about finding other squads and dispatching them.
Naturally, this being a Call of Duty game, you’ll also have access to Killstreaks as the game goes on. Unlike other CoD games, you won’t earn Killstreaks by accumulating kills. Instead, they’re available at Buy Stations and you can trade your hard-earned cash for them. You might also be able to discover them in loot boxes scattered around the map, so keep your eye out. Killstreak bonuses could be anything from shielded turrets to airstrikes, so it’s important to make sure you prioritise them along with your squad. They could mean the difference between victory and defeat!
These are just some of the ways Call of Duty: Warzone differentiates itself from the pack and stands out from a design perspective. Will they help Infinity Ward and Activision conquer the battle royale space? It’s hard to say at this early stage. Warzone is still in its relative infancy, whereas Fortnite and PUBG have had a few years to perfect their craft and master their respective game styles. There’s definitely a niche for a first-person battle royale with no real hero shooter elements to speak of, so it may well be that Warzone takes its place alongside Fortnite and PUBG without knocking them out of orbit. Only time will tell. Until then, you can check out Warzone right now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.