Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku
Call of Duty’s battle royale mode, Warzone, is back. Whether you’re a battle royale vet or not, there are a number of things that make this mode unique, even compared to CoD’s last go at the genre. Here are a good chunk of tips to keep yourself and your crew alive out there in Al Mazrah, the latest CoD battle royale map.
You don’t need to buy Modern Warfare II
Warzone 2.0 is a free to play game. That said, by design or by extension of poor design, the UI in this game often makes you think you need to buy the full Modern Warfare II for a cool $70. I’m here to tell you that you don’t, and here’s how to navigate this clusterfuck of a menu system to get it to stop badgering you for three twenties and a ten.
There are (basically) four ways to play
If you’re like me and have typically avoided battle royales because they’re a bit too one-note and sweaty, rest assured that Warzone 2.0 offers a few different ways to play. The different modes certainly help mix things up a bit to keep it all fresh.
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To start, there are standard Battle Royale Solos. I’m sure you know the drill with that one: It’s every soldier for themselves; ya gotta scavenge, survive, kill, rinse, and repeat.
Team modes, such as Duos, Quads, and Third-Person Trios (we’ll talk about “Unhinged” in just a sec) change up the BR experience from a lonely lethal trip to hell to one where players cover each other’s backs, plotting a course to victory.
Unhinged BR Trios, however, is arguably a different game unto itself. Using “Assimilation,” you can recruit enemies into your squad. This is somewhat available in the other modes with squads, but in duos and quads you can only ever fill your squad up to its starting max. In Unhinged mode, you can combine squads into a max of a six-person crew.
The pace and tone of the game is dramatically different because of this. In other squad modes, two teams spotting each other will devolve into a gunfight pretty quickly. Not here! Not only will you possibly hold your fire at first sight of an enemy to sus out whether they’re willing to join up and take on everyone else, but the hilarity of putting together a six-person crew to roll through buildings and towns is a very different and welcome spin on the old BR formula. Queue evil laughs. Here’s everything you need to know about teaming up with your foes.
That brings us to our fourth mode, the DMZ. Still in beta, I think it’s safe to say the rules are really yet to be written for this mode. But it’s pretty neat and you should check it out. The premise is quite simple: four squads of three players head out into Al Mazrah to loot, survive, and exfiltrate with the goods they found. It reminds me of a more streamlined, less punishing version of Escape From Tarkov. But don’t let your guard down, AI can be pretty tough, and other players pose a serious challenge. It can be a slightly less stressful mode than the full battle royale, however.
Not pictured: Me saying very unlady-like things.Gif: Activision / Kotaku
Headshots aren’t guaranteed one-hit kills (and the TTK can be quite high)
This one’s a double-edged sword. While I’m disappointed that the TTK of Warzone 2.0 feels a little higher than MWII’s full multiplayer, it also means you’re less likely to die (if you’ve got your wits about you, that is.)
Knowing that headshots aren’t guaranteed kills and that fully plated enemies will take several well-placed shots will change up how you move across the map. You’ll want to set up more aggressive ambush opportunities when you can. And unless you’re a crackshot with a great sniper rifle, it might be best to use that scope for reconnaissance first and combat second.
This may vary depending on your play style though. If you’re new, however, it’s something important to keep in mind.
Safe-cracking contracts are great to start out with
Open up that tac-map and you’ll see a ton of icons and other cool challenges to accomplish. The green walkie-talkie-lookin’ icons are contracts, and there are a few different ones.
In my experience, touching down near a safe-cracking contract (indicated by a safe dial icon on the green walkie talkie) and grabbing that as your first real objective in Warzone is a safer and more reliable way to earn loot and cash early on in the game.
Safe-cracking contracts ask you to bust open three nearby safes (with fucking bombs!). Not only will these safes spit out a bunch of loot, but clearing all three gives you a nice injection of cash you can use to buy a primary weapon from a Buy Station, or hang onto it to buy back fallen comrades. They’re also much safer (no pun intended) ways to start the match off. You’re not asked to hunt down anyone, or defend an area. Provided that you’re watching the circle closing in on you, you also have a generous amount of time to complete them. Splitting up (when it’s safe) will wrap the contract up even faster.
Cracking safes is the first item on my agenda every time I touch down.
Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku
Grab three-plate armor vests (and a larger backpack) as soon as you can
Remember the high TTK I warned you about? A three-plate armor vest will go a long long way to ensuring you’re not picked off unexpectedly. It’s one of the first things you should keep your eyes peeled for. They will appear randomly in loot caches, duffel bags, and other places where loot can be scored. Definitely stow an extra one in your backpack for your friends if you’re in a squad mode.
On that note, another key item to look out for is a larger backpack. Like the three-plate armor vests, these will be found randomly, but they will allow you to carry more stuff. Which, in a game mode that prioritizes survival and scavenging, can make a substantial difference in staying alive out there.
Pings in general can be a little hard to miss in this game. The color coding helps though.Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku
Call out teammate colors
If you’re in a squad, you’ll notice a different color assigned to each person in the lower left portion of the HUD. This is very handy if you have a teammate with a name you’re not sure how to pronounce (or perhaps don’t want to.) Saying “hey Green, let’s push up to the Buy Station. Blue fall back and cover us,” is quick, and it will match with the ping color each party member is using since it’s themed in the same way.
Call out POIs instead of pinging before jumping out of the plane
Warzone’s map and HUD can get very busy. And in the initial plane phase, friendly pings can be hard to spot, making coordinated drops tricky. Once you’re out of the plane, however, your pings will be themed to your specific color, which is a lot easier to spot.
I’ve found that calling out a specific region for your team to focus on before jumping and then pinging a specific location within that area to be a far more effective strat. It makes it clear to your team where you’d like to go, but it also makes changing course based on other enemy placement much easier.
Always be closing…the damn doors!Gif: Activision / Kotaku
Were you raised in a barn? Close the damn door behind you (and stop smashing windows!)
I get it. As a former disaffected, closeted trans youth, I reveled in smashing glass, arson, and property damage. It’s fun! But it’s also a great way to let someone know you’re camping out in a building in Warzone 2.0. Be respectful of the vast amount of empty buildings you and your squad mates are smashing through. And close doors behind you!
Try to avoid breaking glass when possible. Nothing says “SOMEONE’S IN HERE” like a shattered window. Same with open doors. As Sam Fisher said in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory: “I’ve seen more men killed in doorways than any other place combined.” An open door is the perfect place to get murdered in; and leaving it open just signals to every enemy: “oh hey, I’ve been through here” or “I’m in here.” Maybe you want to invite disaster like that, but I like staying alive to at least reach the top 10 in the match. If you do too, be a dear and shut the fucking door.
The AI isn’t fucking around
Warzone 2.0’s enemy AI (active in strongholds in battle royales, and large in number in DMZ) will kill you dead if you aren’t careful. This is no shooting gallery; while they may not have the tactics and response of a real player, they are more than capable of downing you.
Keep in mind that in the DMZ they are your primary antagonists. In battle royale modes, they’re defending Strongholds that give you access to a Black Site key and your loadout. They’re meant to be a challenge and their damage output is no joke. It’s not a bad idea to treat them as equal of a threat as a real player.
Start out with smaller supply runs in DMZ (also, don’t sleep on this mode)
Time will tell how popular DMZ gets with the CoD world, but there’s no denying that it’s an interesting mode that takes advantage of the very large map of Al Mazrah. Every time you die in this mode, though, you’ll lose everything you’re carrying; and if you die too often, you’ll be forced to enter without any weapons once you’ve lost them all.
For this reason, it’s a great idea to start out small in the DMZ. Aim to stock up on weapons and and other useful equipment. Nuclear Waste Material contracts are a solid way to spend your time and earn some cash to exfil with. Grab one or two of those, pick up some weapons from fallen enemies, and exfil early to stock up. You can always go back to take on the more challenging elements of this hybrid PVE/PVP mode when you’re better equipped.
Prioritize reconnaissance equipment
Warzone 2.0 will give you plenty of fun toys to kill your enemies with, but knowing where your opposition is before they’ve spotted you is essential to staying alive. Plan to stock up on a lot of Recon Drones, Tactical Cameras, and UAVs. These can be purchased at a Buy Station or found randomly out on the map. The Heartbeat Sensor is also great for getting a sense of who’s around.
Intelligence is just as important as lethality.
Turn your mini map rotation off
I expect opinions to diverge wildly on this one, but hear me out. In Warzone 2.0 you can choose to have your mini map rotate with you or stay fixed. I’m here to tell you to lock it down and set it to “Off” under “Mini Map Rotation.” You can find this setting in the “Interface” options. Why? It makes team callouts far easier—especially when you’re spectating.
Yes, Warzone 2.0 has, like MWII, a very handy compass with specific directional numbers for you to find your way and shout precise locations out to teammates. But by locking your map, the top of the map is true north. That means you can call out “Buy Station west,” “ammo supply North” as it naturally lays on the map.
In the same settings, you can also choose to have the map display as a square or circle.
Turning off rotation might not be for everyone, but at least give it a solid try.
Playing close to the circle is a viable strategy, but watch your six!
That’s what they say in the militaries, right? “Watch your six?” Code, it seems, for watching your back, it’s sound wisdom in a battle royale, especially if you’re hugging the closing circle’s edge. And, honestly, you totally should play that way when you can. That said, you’re likely not the only player to be doing that, so, ya know, keep your head on a swivel for enemies who are moving further into the map as well.
Playing close to the circle gives you something to time your movements to. It also means that when you’re closing into the final few moments in the game, you’ll have eyes on what’s going on in the center. Again, other people will likely be playing this strat too, so don’t let anyone sneak up on ya.
Claymores and proximity mines are a girl’s best friend
Take it from someone who’s clocked countless hours in Rainbow Six: Siege. The more noise an enemy can make when nearing your camping spot, the sooner you’ll know when and where they are. Set up claymores and proximity mines near a door (I hope you closed it behind you…) or by a window, just out of sight so the asshole who smashes a perfectly good window has a nice explosive surprise.
Explosives like these can easily kill someone sneaking up on your campsite. But in the event the enemy still lives, nothing says SOMEONE’S HERE like an explosion.
Resist the urge to hunt other players. Survival is the name of the game
I know, I know. Your KD is so big and so important. Guys tell me that all the time. But look, while I’m not going to tell you to not go out and kill people in a battle royale, the truth is you can win this game mode by prioritizing your life more than you prioritize your trigger finger. If you focus on gathering supplies and finding smart opportunities to jump the opposition, you’ll survive much, much longer.
Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku
Always Be Pinging
Every shooter has a damn ping system these days (thanks, Apex Legends. No, really, thanks!). Warzone’s, like others, has the option to point and ping, highlighting where you want to go or your enemy if you ping them (and the distance is quite generous on this too). Pinging is as simple as hitting the middle mouse button (or alt) on mouse and keyboard, or up on a d-pad.
If you hold the ping button, however, you’ll get a set of different contexts. Choose these as seem necessary. This same menu also lets you invite or request to join enemy squads.
Use your infinite parachute to clear ground fast
If you jump off something with enough elevation, you can deploy your chute. This is a great way to bail out of some bullshit or get some more distance from the circle. That said, you can’t use your weapon when gliding, so use this with caution. The speed can really work to your advantage if you plan your movements right.
Also, if you’re trying to flee a bad situation and want to get to a neighboring building quickly, you can shoot out a window and parachute in there if you’re accurate and quick. But remember, you should only be breaking glass in case of an emergency.
You can ping from the map too!Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku
Plan your movements several steps ahead
This is likely good BR advice in general, but try to avoid aimlessly wandering around the map. Have a plan. Open your tac-map with caps lock (or M) on keyboard and select on controller. Take note of what locations and objectives are nearby. Knowing where you intend to go is key to keeping your attention sharp, and you can always bail on the plan if shit hits the fan.
Keep proximity chat on!
I’m a woman with a sometimes boomy voice. Gaming spaces are hardly a place I’d like to be heard. But, hey, proximity chat in this game is a damn gem. Having it on will let you hear folks before you see them (Yeah, I hear you talking about your dinner plans. That restaurant you’re going to sucks, btw). It’s also an opportunity to toy with their heads. It can also be really fucking hilarious. I mean, just look at this bullshit!
Maybe there’s a god after all!
Stay in the air for a bit. It will give you time for…extracurricular activities
Not every fast-paced shooter gives you enough time for a toke or two (or a shot!) Take the time to get high while you’re high. Let the other squares down there kill each other so you can drop down in a wonderfully happy mood to just take their shit.
And on that note…
Just hide until the end and find a cheap way to kill the last person
God is dead. Do what you want.
Look. If I wanted a real competition, I’d play a sportsball. I’m certainly not looking to be competent in anything (and by the end of a match I’m far too high anyway).
I’m playing to avoid the gulag, not get kills. High kill counts are for losers and try-hards. If that upsets you, you can cry about it as I fly away in the chopper in the closing scene.
Be cheap. Revel in trash. Take pride in being a slacker; life’s too short to play things straight.