HIGH Blood Money is one of the best modes in any Call of Duty game.

LOW one shot kills.

WTF going to the gulag has never been this enjoyable.

Some might think the Battle Royale genre is a stale one, but it always seems to find a way to keep things fresh. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds set the template for modern BR games, but Fortnite took the idea and turned it into a mass market success. Then Apex Legends found a new twist with its emphasis on three-man teams, hero abilities, and a pinging system which let players communicate without mics.

In my opinion, few Royales compared to 2018’s Blackout, part of Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII. Arguably the greatest the genre had to offer, it used CoD’s intuitive and fast-paced shooting style and amped it up into 100-player deathmatches. Thankfully, we finally have a proper follow-up with Call of Duty: Warzone.

Call of Duty: Warzone is a free-to-play add-on to last year’s Modern Warfare, though it can be enjoyed as a separate standalone download. It’s also cross-play, meaning players on different platforms can play together. On the surface, Warzone is structurally similar to Blackout and other BR titles — players are dropped into a large map in teams of three (or by themselves) and have to survive against 99 other players. They have to contend with enemies and a gas cloud slowly moving in that causes the map to shrink while condensing players together. During a match, weapons with different levels of rarity, armor, grenades and health items can all be found. This is all par for the Battle Royale course, but Warzone brings its own twists.

There are two modes in Warzone, the aforementioned “Battle Royale” and the newly introduced “Blood Money.” In “Battle Royale”, one main difference is an emphasis on cash pickups. As players die or chests are looted, money they drop can be used to buy various resources at pay stations – things like armor, ammo and Call of Duty killstreaks – temporary items like missles, attack choppers and more that help leverage a fight to the player’s advantage.

Another big change is the way this mode handles respawning. After dying, players are taken to “the gulag” – it’s an arena where two players fight each other to get back into the game. These shootouts are tense, and the thrill of victory here never gets old. However, if a player loses this one-on-one match, they can be bought back from death by any teammates. Warzone’s BR mode also differentiates itself from others with objectives. Scattered across the map are mission markers that can be picked up, each with different things to accomplish. These range from things like finding weapon cases to activating a bounty on a random player. These objectives add an entirely new layer to the usual BR flow, and in my view, this is something that should be implemented in other titles.

The other mode available in Warzone is “Blood Money”, formerly known as “Plunder”. Similar to a traditional Team Deathmatch mode, players drop to the map in teams of three (or by themselves) and are tasked with collecting the most money by the end of the match.

Cash in “Blood Money” is found the same way it is in “Battle Royale” mode — by killing enemies, looting boxes and completing objectives. This is easily my favorite mode, as it’s a bit more forgiving since players are able to respawn in a different place or with a different loadout after a cash penalty. Cash can be transported to a helicopter to avoid a loss if the player gets killed, though that alerts other players on the map – trying to bank dollars at a helipad and slowly loading the money while staying on guard for incoming enemies is a rush.

As a free-to-play title, questions about microtransactions or a pay-to-win structure might be on some player’s minds, but the monetization aspect never feels intrusive. Warzone offers a battle pass that can be bought with in-game currency or real money, and this pass offers cosmetic rewards for playing well during each season. It’s pricey, but the game can be enjoyed without ever having to spend money and there are plenty of free cosmetic items to earn.

While Warzone might be releasing in a space crowded with other Battle Royales, this new entry into the genre shakes the formula up in brave new ways and provides one of the best multiplayer experiences in recent memory — it’s debatably the new gold standard for Battle Royale.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

— CJ Salcedo

Disclosures: This game is developed by Infinity Ward and Raven Software and published by Activision. It is currently available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. This copy was obtained via free download and was reviewed on PS4. Approximately 20 hours of play was spent in multiplayer modes. There is no single-player component.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes and Use of Drugs. The game is a military shooter, where players are killing each other with a wide-variety of realistic weapons. Blood splatters as players get shot or hit with throwing knives, and some weapons can cause dismemberment. There is an option to turn this off in the settings. It should be noted that this is an online-only game, so player interaction and what can be heard over a mic can vary. This title is recommended for older teens and adults. 

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are present in the options menu.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: Playing the game without sound provided a bit of a challenge, as enemy whereabouts are not known unless they are firing their weapons or players pick up some form of tracking devices such as UAVs. The subtitles provided only account for a few announcements, such as the number of enemies left, Killstreaks being used and banter in the pre-game lobby. The announcer will occasionally announce if an enemy is in the vicinity, but it’s not that reliable. Subtitles cannot be resized or changed in any way. Overall, this game is not accessible

Remappable Controls: No, the controls are not remappable, though it does feature thirteen different presets to fit the needs of different players.

Cj Salcedo
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