Call of Duty Warzone is finally here! Infinity Ward has unleashed its free-to-play battle royale onto the world and there's a lot to wrap your head around. From the basics to some of the more intricate aspects to play, GamesRadar+ has tried to break down all of the essential Call of Duty Warzone gameplay features – and some of the smaller details, too – to help you get a better understanding of this massive new experience for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Call of Duty Warzone gameplay features
1. It's free-to-play
Call of Duty: Warzone launches for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and it's going to be free-to-play for all players. While existing Modern Warfare players will get some additional bonuses in the game, those of you without a copy of the latest Call of Duty installment can head straight to your favourite storefront and download Warzone, provided you have an internet connection and 83-103 GB free on your hard-drive.
2. It ties in with Modern Warfare
If you already own Modern Warfare, you'll be able to access Warzone from the main menu following a 18-22 GB patch. Modern Warfare and Warzone have unified progression, which means that all content – including all of your Battle Pass, Operators, Weapons (more on that later), and customisation options – will move seamlessly between the two games.
3. It's cross-platform too
Call of Duty: Warzone supports cross-platform play. That means you'll be able to play with your friends, regardless of what platform they are playing the game on. Given that Warzone is free-to-play, this should help build a really healthy community. And don't worry about going up against mouse-and-keyboard players while using a controller, Modern Warfare already supports cross-platform and is rarely impacted by the mix.
4. The map is huge
Warzone is going to take us down to Verdansk, a dense and expansive city that's sure to be larger than any single space developer Infinity Ward has engineered in the past. The Call of Duty: Warzone map features over 300 points of interest, multiple named zones, and a slew of distinct landmarks to help you and your teammates navigate the urban and rural areas with ease.
5. The buildings are all unique
Given how bloody massive Verdansk is, it might all seem a little daunting, right? Infinity Ward has gone to great lengths to make the map feel unique – each landmark and structure has been hand-crafted – but you needn't worry about watching every window. For buildings over seven stories tall, you'll only need to worry about enemies shooting down at you from the first floor and roof levels – this is also where loot will spawn inside.
6. Warzone supports 150 players
The reason Verdansk is so bloody massive is that Call of Duty Warzone is far larger in scope than many of its contemporaries. It does, in fact, support up to 150 players. That's the sort of chaotic energy that we're here for; an ambitious player count that ensures the type of high-energy, fast-paced action the series is known for.
7. Three-player squads
Call of Duty: Warzone is designed around three-player squads – there is no solo or duo playlists at launch. That said, you can drop into Verdansk on your lonesome if you really fancy a challenge. This means that you'll need to change your tactics on the move, constantly shifting your approach to any given area of the map, engagement, or firefight depending on how many players you're coming up against or how many you have behind you.
8. There's a Ping system
Following Apex Legends' lead, Call of Duty: Warzone features a ping system. It means that you'll still be able to communicate with your team-mates even if, like me, your natural instinct is to immediately hit 'Mute All' upon entering a lobby in Modern Warfare. The ping system lets you tag anything of interest on the map to your squad – from weapons to ammunition to enemies – with a simple hit of 'Up' on the D-Pad.
9. And a pre-game lobby too
While you're waiting for the lobby to fill to max capacity, you'll spawn in the pre-game area with a random area. Here you'll be able to run around, kill a few enemies, and get acquainted with the movement and firing mechanics – if you're brand new to Modern Warfare, this time in Warzone is invaluable! It's a great chance to wrap your head around the basics.
10. There are two game modes
Call of Duty: Warzone is launching with two game modes at launch: Battle Royale and Plunder. The former is your standard last man standing affair, with players fighting to survive while trying to escape a deadly, swiftly constricting circle of gas. Plunder has teams racing to collect the most Cash, stealing money from downed enemy players, and accumulating even more by completing in-match Contracts – this mode also lets players have unlimited respawns, their own loadouts, Killstreaks, and more.
11. Avoiding the gas is key
Unlike in Fortnite and Apex Legends, where it's possible to briefly survive being caught in the circle (or camp it as it closes), Call of Duty: Warzone's gas cloud is deadly. There are eight zones of closure throughout a standard 20 minute game, and it'll wipe out anybody caught in it pretty damned quickly. It means you always need to be on the move, and aware of when the zone is shrinking.
12. But you can find Gas Masks
There is a way to improve your survivability in the gas, but it's a rare find. Either found as a lootable object or purchased with Cash from Buy Stations (more on this later), you can find and equip a Gas Mask that will give you roughly 10 seconds of additional survivability in the cloud. It isn't much, but it will give you some much needed time to sprint to safety should you get caught unawares.
13. Warzone has vehicles
Given the size of the map, it should come as no surprise that Call of Duty: Warzone has vehicles littered around its map. There are five in total, and – critically – none of them come equipped with weapons, but you can fire from your seated position. The two-seater ATV, and the four-seater Tactical Rover, SUV, Helicopter, and Cargo Truck, all offer varying degrees of mobility, protection, and off-roading capabilities.
14. You always have a parachute
There's a surprising amount of verticality in Verdansk, from mountain ranges to a variety of towering buildings. Thankfully, you always have the option of whipping out a parachute should you need to. Interestingly, you can cut your parachute at any time – fall briefly – and let another chute fly, which is great for covering large areas quickly, but it does leave you open to enemy fire.
15. You drop in with a weapon
Given the player count and the map size, Infinity Ward doesn't want you dropping in without a way of defending yourself. That's why you'll land in Verdansk with a side-arm. While a pistol might not seem like much, in the right hands it can be absolutely deadly. At the very least, it'll tide you over until you find a better weapon out in the field.
16. Warzone plays like Modern Warfare
In Warzone, movement and gunplay is based on Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare. That means that the time-to-kill is short, movement is heavy, but slick, and you can still take advantage of new additions to the series such as mounting your weapon on cover to dampen recoil and the ability to reload while aiming-down-sights.
17. But there are some changes
One major difference with the core Modern Warfare multiplayer play, however, is that weapons come with different stats in Warzone. While the fundamentals are the same – when it comes to recoil, bullet drop, for example – you'll notice some changes. For example, headshot damage has been increased, particularly with Sniper Rifles which are a one shot on the head. Given the scope and scale of Warzone versus the more intimate play offered in Modern Warfare, this is an understandable shift.
18. Your health regenerates
When it comes to survival in Call of Duty: Warzone, you'll need to keep a careful eye on your health. Every player spawns in with 100 health in both the Battle Royale and Plunder game modes, and this automatically generates once you're free of incoming fire – much like it would in a traditional round of Call of Duty multiplayer.
19. Armor boosts your health
Call of Duty: Warzone is introducing something called Armor to play, giving you a little more protection and increasing your survivability. Unlike your health, Armor doesn't regenerate and must be equipped. You can equip three Armor pieces at any one time, the equivalent of 50 health per piece, which can be found in the map and even shared between team mates.
20. And you can carry extra Armor
As Armor can be looted from dead bodies, found in chests, and shared between team-mates, it's always worth keeping a few extra on hand to help you out in a tight spot. While you can only have three Armor pieces equipped, you can actually carry two pieces in reserve (so, five total).
21. The mini-map is back
One of the most controversial decisions made in the development of Modern Warfare were the changes made to the multiplayer mini-map. Thankfully, Warzone is bringing back the old-school threat detection system. Now, if you fire your weapon in the vicinity of another player, you'll pop up as a red dot on their mini-map. You'll also appear as a red dot on the compass that adorns the top of the HUD.
22. Loot is like it is in Fortnite
If you've played Fortnite, you'll immediately feel at home with the loot system. Weapons and Armor are scattered around the map, but you'll also find chests of various rarities. These make an audible twinkle sound, so you – and any enemies in your immediate vicinity – will know if one is close or initially out of sight.
23. There's limited inventory management
There is no major inventory or backpack management in Call of Duty: Warzone. This is a pure Call of Duty experience; weapons are swapped between two slots, Field Upgrades can be equipped and replaced easily, Armor equippedwith an on-screen button prompt, and dropping items for squad consumption is as easy as holding down on the D-Pad. Aside from pulling up the map, there is no reason to pull your attention away from the action on screen.
24, You can't find attachments on the ground
You won't be able to find Weapon Attachments on the ground to be equipped. In fact, the only way to collect attachments is order in your customised Loadout (more on this later) or to find rare weapons. Common weapons are completely stripped, while Green rarity weapons come with one attachment and Gold rarity come with five. These are random attachments, there is no way to pick and choose once in game.
25. There are in-game challenges
Call of Duty: Warzone is an undoubtedly fast and unforgiving take on Battle Royale, but attempting to become the last man standing isn't the only thing to be mindful of. Warzone is introducing something called Contracts, which are essentially in-match challenges that your squad can activate one at a time to earn Cash and special-rewards, such as the ability to see the new circle collapse before its location is broadcasted to the entire lobby.
26. Scavenger Contracts
The Scavenger Contract will see a small yellow magnifying glass be attributed to your mini-map and compass, denoting that there is a supply box in your local vicinity that needs to be located and opened. You'll have a small window of time to complete this objective and you need to open three of them for your squad to be given a cash reward.
27. Recon Contracts
In Warzone, Recon Contracts will see your squad attempting to secure one specific location in a small window of time. Enemy squads will be notified of the zone – you'll also have the closing gas to worry about – and you'll need to effectively play a small game of Domination amongst the chaos. Think of it like the stress involved in the tie-breaker in a game of Modern Warfare's Gunfight.
28. Assassination Contracts
The most dangerous of the in-match challenges, Assassination Contracts let you directly take on another squad or player. A cross-hair will appear on your mini-map and compass, leading you to the (near)precise location of your target – take them out, earn a bunch of cash. On the flip side, of course, you can also be Hunted – the HUD gains a threat level, denoting how much danger you're in – adding in a whole new layer to survival.
29. Field Upgrades don't recharge
Unlike in traditional Modern Warfare multiplayer, you can't earn Field Upgrades. They don't regenerate; Instead you'll potentially find them out in the world as objects to be acquired as loot or purchased through Buy Stations with Cash. These include items such as Munitions Box, Trophy System, EMP Drones, Stopping Power, and Dead Silence. Of course, utilising these Field Upgrades with skill could be the differences between a win and a loss.
30. Collect Cash
In Warzone, Cash rules everything around you. You'll find it on the map, in supply boxes, and will be rewarded for downing and killing enemies – Cash is the currency that makes your life a little easier on Verdansk. Cash can be used for everything from purchasing killstreaks and rare items at Buy Stations, to even letting you call in a redeployment for a downed teammate.
31. Spend Cash at Buy Stations
To get a little more in-depth with the Buy Stations, these are special boxes spread out across Verdansk that you can spot on your mini-map with a Shopping Cart icon. Squad Buyback costs $4500, while equipment such as Armor Plate bundles, Gas Masks, and Self-Revive Kits cost $1500, $3000, and $4500. There is also Killstreaks and an item called a Loadout Drop Marker, but we'll get there in a second.
32. Killstreaks are here
Yes, Call of Duty Warzone features Killstreaks. In what will no doubt be one of the most controversial decisions Infinity Ward has made here, Killstreaks do feature in the finely-balanced chaos of Battle Royale, though they aren't attributed to, you know, getting kills or score. Instead, Killstreaks are super rare pickups on the map – each player can carry one at a time – but can also be purchased at Buy Stations. Just three are in the game at launch: Cluster Strikes ($3000), Precision Airstrikes ($3500), and UAVs ($4000).
33. Bring your loadout and perks into the game
Here's where it gets really interesting. Warzone will give you the opportunity to bring your very own Loadouts from Modern Warfare multiplayer into Warzone – this includes your customised weapons with specific attachments, and it's the only way to get Perks too! Word to the wise: Create a few classes with the Overkill Perk, giving you the option of holding two Primary weapons – you're welcome.
34. New players can create them too
Haven't played Modern Warfare? That's no problem! Brand new players will still be able to create-a-class out in the menus, giving you the opportunity to claim your own personalised loadouts. Again, this is just a fun way of letting you roam around Verdansk with your favourite weapons and attachments, you'll still need to approach each encounter with care.
35. You'll need to acquire your personal loadout
To get your hands on your loadout, you'll need to enter into a high-risk, high-reward situation. The mini-map will denote where your personal care-package is going to land, but it will land amongst crates of rival players. It means you should expect a fight to get your hands on your favourite weapons. You can also purchase a Loadout Drop Marker from a Buy Station, but at $6000 it's going to be difficult to afford without completing Contracts.
36. There are multiple ways to respawn
Call of Duty: Warzone is interesting in that it gives players two distinct ways to respawn once they are down and out. The first is for squads to earn the prerequisite cash to buy redeployments, the second is far more interesting: downed players can fight for another chance of survival in The Gulag. We'll cover that in a second, but both are fantastic tools Infinity Ward is using to help curb players disconnecting as soon as it goes a little south.
37. Into the Gulag
Alright, so upon your first elimination you will be claimed as a "Prisoner of the Warzone" and thrown into the Gulag. Here, you'll have one opportunity to earn your freedom and a redeployment. You'll face off against a rival, also eliminated player, in a 1v1 – think Gunfight mode on Modern Warfare's Gulag map. If you die, you're out and waiting for your squad to buy redeployment; if you win, you're sent back into the AC-130 to parachute down again, though you'll be without any weapons or Armor.
38. Team-mates can help in the Gulag
If any of your squad mates should fall alongside you while fighting in Verdansk, they will spawn alongside you in the Gulag. In fact, they will actually spawn up in the rafters, watching and offering words of encouragement as you engage in the 1v1 battle. The added communication is sure to help, as too is the ability to throw rocks to try and stun their enemy.
39. The Gulag does shut down eventually
Once you reach a certain point in a round, the Gulag closes its doors on Verdansk. This is to stop too many late game respawns, while simultaneously encouraging players to be aggressive from the outset. Once the Gulag shuts down, the only way to respawn or to bring any of your squad back to life is to purchase redeployment from a Buy Back station.
40. Say goodbye to Victory Royale
First there was Chicken Dinner, then there was Victory Royale… now, it's Get Some! If you come out on top in a game of Warzone, the phrase "Get Some" will flash across the screen before a pretty cool animation plays, showing your squad climbing aboard a helicopter and flying off in victory while an in-memoriam lists all dead players on the side of the screen. It's a nice touch.
41. The map is full of secrets
As a little bonus, you might be interested to learn that the map is full of secrets. Players are already beginning to report that you'll be able to find echoes of most of the multiplayer and spec-ops maps as part of the patchwork of Verdansk, while there's plenty of easter eggs – and even a race track! – to be found as well.
42. Aggressive play is rewarded
While it is possible to camp areas, laying C4 and Claymores with deadly precision, the key to Warzone's design is in its push towards aggressive play. The more aggressive you get, the more cash you'll earn, and the better rewards you'll be able to pursue and get your hands on. Warzone is designed to be a strong reflection of the ethos of Call of Duty's core play, and that means that movement and mastery over your weapons is going to be key to obtaining victory.