How Call of Duty’s Second Battle Royale Attempt can Impact the Genre

Back in 2018, the biggest announcement to arise out of that year’s Call of Duty unveiling was easily the absence of the franchise’s signature campaign mode in that year’s release. Instead, Black Ops 4 introduced the battle royale genre to the ever-popular FPS series, as Blackout saw up to 100 players face off in solos, duos and squads across the biggest Call of Duty arena at the time of its launch. Featuring vehicles and gadgets that, alongside the larger-scale player count and map, made for a truly unique experience that expanded the scope of Call of Duty, Blackout was a welcome addition that saw several substantial updates in the months after its launch. While the battle royale genre still remained strong in 2019, Infinity Ward brought back the single player campaign with Modern Warfare, and although the Ground War multiplayer mode featured several elements of Blackout including vehicles and a higher than normal player count, the latest Call of Duty has stepped away from the one life survival mode since its release back in November. Rumors and leaks about Modern Warfare’s own battle royale mode, potentially called Warzone, however, have been popping up frequently over the past few weeks, most notably after a tease in the introductory cinematic for the second season of multiplayer content. If a large-scale multiplayer mode is truly on the way, here are several takeaways Infinity Ward can learn from Treyarch’s Blackout to make it the premiere Call of Duty battle royale experience.


Classic Maps

With sixteen mainline entries on the market in just as many years, longtime fans have dozens of multiplayer maps to choose from as their all-time favorites, with many of them originating from the Modern Warfare and Black Ops sub-series. The Blackout map was comprised of many of the small-scale battlefields that debuted in the first three Black Ops games, including iconic areas like Nuketown and Hydro Dam, providing seasoned Call of Duty fans with a welcome dose of nostalgia and a slight edge thanks to familiar layouts. This design choice offered a distinct advantage for Call of Duty’s implementation of a battle royale mode over its competitors, and it would see a welcome return if it was once again featured in Warzone, as Infinity Ward has already brought back several classic Modern Warfare maps in the traditional multiplayer mode. From Terminal to Underground to Killhouse, there are plenty of exciting possibilities for the new battle royale to bank on the strategic level designs of past Modern Warfare games.

No Gimmicks

With the Zombies horde mode being such an identifiable part of the history of Black Ops, it made sense for Treyarch to attempt to integrate them into their battle royale mode. Over on the eastern side of the map, the haunted Asylum was home to plenty of valuable loot, along with numerous members of the undead. While the concept sounded promising as a key distinction from its competitors, they were also largely ignorable and rarely factored into the more exciting and memorable moments of a traditional game as it winded down to its high-stakes conclusion. As Warzone underwent its own development, the team at Infinity Ward may have considered their own zombie-like alternatives, as Modern Warfare’s tertiary Spec Ops mode often featured more grounded gameplay that borrowed from campaign missions. But the solid gunplay and game-changing variables like vehicles and gadgets already create a fundamentally different gameplay experience from the three other modes available, and the Call of Duty name and fanbase will do plenty to advocate for the bright spots of Warzone without any unnecessary distractions.


Free-to-Play

Since PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds kicked off the recent battle royale trend, many of the noteworthy successes have been free-to-play releases, with Fortnite and Apex Legends rising to the top with their low barrier of entry playing a large role in their reigns. As a result of Call of Duty’s dominating presence, the prices often remain at their standard level even in the months after launch, so those that are solely interested in checking out one aspect of the FPS can find it tough to justify shelling out the full $60. On top of this, the promise of yet another new Call of Duty at the year’s end makes it tough for more casual fans to know which title is the right one to purchase, unlike the aforementioned games that serve as the one and only true way to experience them. If Activision truly wants a Call of Duty battle royale to succeed in the current market, they need to put all their resources into one true rendition of the genre, and what better way to do that than with a battle royale created by the franchise’s original developer that is freely available for all to check out. Since 2019’s Modern Warfare still featured three fully fleshed-out modes, current owners wouldn’t feel like they are missing out on a key part of the experience, while new players can jump right in and experience Call of Duty at its largest scale. This separation would allow Warzone to continue to receive new updates and have its own passionate fanbase, while Activision can continue to justify fully-priced annual entries that have their own set of FPS experiences that will keep the franchise primed for success in the years to come.