Looking back on the comments I made in my Hands On piece for Call of Duty: Warzone, which celebrates its one year anniversary today, is a strange experience. While I thought what Infinity Ward had to offer at the time was completely fine in its own right, I was concerned by its overt simplicity and the lack of focus on looting in the early game of each and every match. I then signed that piece off by claiming "this is not a Battle Royale offering we can see ourselves sticking with". Except, one year later, I'm still playing it — more than ever over the past couple of months, in fact. The game has already helped me get through one PlayStation 5 release window drought, and I'm sure it will once again in the future. What changed over the past 12 months to keep me coming back for more? Weirdly enough, not a lot. That core loop has stayed the same, but there's so much more surrounding it.
I've always been a fan of the Battle Royale genre, with the Blackout mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 kickstarting my obsession before Fortnite and Apex Legends also had their moments in my limelight. I love the tension that comes with whittling down the in-game player base to just one person or team — it's much more exciting than the usual Team Deathmatch options found in Call of Duty titles in my opinion. You could end someone's game in a matter of seconds while another team could do the exact same thing to you. Call of Duty: Warzone continued this forte with a couple of twists on the concept, but it wasn't anything that dramatically differently. It still isn't to this day either, to be fair.
What has me so enraptured with Call of Duty's take on things, then? It's tough to pinpoint one thing, to be honest. The outstanding gunplay is part and parcel of any product with the Activision branding on it, so I like to focus on the staggering amount of content that has been added in the year since launch. I almost always feel like there's something new for me to experience, whether that's through a new mode rotated in weekly or via the gigantic, free DLC drops that bring new guns and map updates into the equation. I'm actually at a point where I rarely play on the original Verdansk map nowadays, with the updated Rebirth Island satisfying my tastes since its exclusive Resurgence modes allow me to respawn after a short amount of time.
Then there's the weapon meta, which feels like a whole 'nother game in itself. Keeping up with what's hot right now is a challenge since so many guns have become viable following the death of the DMR 14, so much so that loadout variety is at an all-time high. That meant I had to say goodbye to the now outdated Kilo 141, but I've found a new home in the FFAR 1 and Mac-10 combination. That could all change in a week's time when a streamer stumbles upon a new meta, however, and that's the beauty of it all. It's almost as if the community creates its own content by shifting the idea of what's best in a new direction. Those guns and attachments were always there, of course, but they're given a whole new lease of life when someone strikes gold with the correct combination of gun extensions.
I have no grand revelation to share as Call of Duty: Warzone celebrates its first anniversary, other than that it's definitely worth trying out if you've ever had an inkling for the Battle Royale genre. It's my obsession nowadays whenever I have nothing else to play, with the fight to top the leaderboard over and over again fuelling me through countless evenings. I don't even have to pay any money to play either since Call of Duty: Warzone is free-to-play and I have little interest in the cosmetic items its Battle Passes have to offer. So, as I look back to my first impressions once more, at least I got one thing right a year ago. "Call of Duty: Warzone is more than likely going to do just fine for itself." It did better than that — it's now the standard for Battle Royale titles going forward. I'll raise a glass to that this fine evening.
Do you play much of Call of Duty: Warzone? How have you been enjoying the Battle Royale shooter? Share your thoughts in the comments below.