Call of Duty: Warzone Review | The good, the bad, the ugly

Our Call of Duty: Warzone review is here to provide initial impressions of the new Modern Warfare battle royale mode, which is out now on PCPS4, and Xbox One. At the time of writing, it’s still launch week, and so CoD: Warzone will have time to evolve and improve over the months that follow. Read on for the good, bad, and the ugly of this new free-to-play battle royale game for 2020.

Call of Duty: Warzone Review | The good

Call of Duty Warzone Review

The first great thing about Call of Duty: Warzone is the fact that it’s free-to-play. Across PC, PS4, and Xbox One, Warzone is free to download and play for as long as you want. What’s more, the game supports cross-play and cross-progression, meaning you can play with friends on other platforms, while having the flexibility of moving your account progress from system to system.

What’s also great about Call of Duty: Warzone is that it launched in a brilliantly polished state. Sure, there have been crashes and connection issues (more on that in “The Ugly”), but once you’re in a game, the experience is smooth and satisfying. When you consider the 150-player matches and sheer size of the map, it’s impressive that the game is holding up, even on base PS4 and Xbox One.

Speaking of the map, it’s populated with a host of fan-favorite locations. You can explore Broadcast, Scrapyard, Killhouse, and lots of other throwbacks. Navigation is made easy with a detailed map, lots of vehicles, and the ability to ping points of interest. This latter feature has been lifted from Apex Legends and works in the same way. It remains a genius mechanic.

Call of Duty Warzone Review

Helping to encourage exploration of the massive map are challenges that reward players with cash upon completion. Some challenges task players with moving to certain locations and holding a position, while others will encourage an attack on another squad. Successfully completing challenges will award big amounts of cash.

Cash is a big deal in Call of Duty: Warzone, especially in the Plunder variant. You can use it to buy armor, UAVs, airstrikes, and other helpful tools at Buy Stations.

It’s at these Buy Stations where the lives of dead teammates can be bought. For a price, you can bring a friend back for a second chance. The odds are against them, however, as they fall from the sky with no resources. They need to scavenge quickly to get back into the fight.

Call of Duty Warzone Review

Winning a fight in the Gulag is another way to earn a second life. When a player dies, they’ll be taken to the Gulag to fight in a 1v1. If the player wins the 1v1, they get to fall from the sky and try again. If they lose, then they are at the mercy of their teammates buying them back. This is a very cool mechanic that adds a unique twist to the usual battle royale formula.

Of course, avoiding death is best, and this is best accomplished by keeping the armor level topped up. The system is super simple, with players having to equip armor plates to protect their (regenerating) health bar.

Time-to-kill seems well-balanced to make weapons feel powerful, while still demanding a reasonably consistent aim to earn the kill.

Call of Duty: Warzone Review | The bad

Call of Duty Warzone Review

Despite Call of Duty: Warzone having a great introductory tutorial, which teaches the ropes of how to play battle royale, I still found myself being paired up with not-very-useful teammates. At launch, Trios is the only Warzone playlist available, with Duos and Solos coming later.

Making Trios even trickier to manage with strangers is the drop system. Dropping separately from a plane makes it very difficult to coordinate and land in the same location, even with markers. I feel like having a “Jumpmaster” mechanic, as seen in Apex Legends, would help here.

Also potentially controversial is the minimap, which shows enemy gunfire. It’s a little strange to see Infinity Ward remove gunfire from the minimap in Modern Warfare, only to then add it back in for the more hardcore Warzone. It seems a little backwards, honestly.

Gunshots appearing on the map will no doubt begin to discourage enemies from shooting, meaning slower games. With that said, while everyone has been learning the ropes, pacing has been fine, with a mad rush towards the end as the circle shrinks rapidly.

The variety of weapons and types of loot is also pretty lacking. You don’t get individual attachments and the same base-level weapons appear over and over again. Hopefully some more unique variants can be added soon.

Call of Duty: Warzone Review | The ugly

Call of Duty Warzone Review

The ugly parts of Call of Duty: Warzone are the times when the game is crashing or failing to connect. I get it, it’s a new free-to-play battle royale game, which is surely being hit with a ridiculous amount of traffic, but it’s still an issue that I’ve faced multiple times since launch.

One final “ugly” point that I have to mention is regarding loadout drops. These are so damn powerful. For $6,000, players can equip their own custom loadout from Multiplayer. This makes searching the map for loot pretty much pointless, as it’s easier to just grind out $6K and bring your own custom guns and perks to the fight.

I think this is going to make the meta unbearable when players realize just how powerful getting a loadout drop is. Infinity Ward needs to change how this works, either with a significant price increase or by making loadout drops a lot rarer.

Oh, and Warzone is monetized through a reasonably priced battle pass and the less reasonably priced store items. I’m okay with this, as it’s a free-to-play experience, but you may think otherwise.

More Call of Duty: Warzone Guides

Check out our list of Call of Duty: Warzone guides below: