Call of Duty:
Warzone launched in March 2020 and has seen over 75 million players since then, making it one of the most successful battle royale games to date. Since launch, it has gotten multiple seasons of content, bringing its community new weapons, contracts, and things to do around the large open world of Verdansk.
Before you can jump into the latest last-man-standing shooter, you’ll have to fight through a hefty update for the game, even if you’re an existing player. It’s comically smaller for current players at 15GB to 20GB, depending on whether you’re playing on PC, PS4, or Xbox One, but the download size is no laughing matter for those who haven’t already played Modern Warfare. Prepare yourself for a giant download between 80GB and 100GB. We’ll see you online tomorrow (or next week)!
Once you’re in, there’s quite a bit to learn. Warzone includes the best aspects of other popular battle royale games, but with some unique twists and a Call of Duty spin on the genre. In this guide, we’re going to walk you through some essential tips and tricks to ensure you hit the battlefield running and can keep up with the competition.
What is Call of Duty: Warzone?
Warzone is a section of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare that consists of three semi-open-world modes — Battle Royale, Mini Royale, and Plunder — that are available for free, with or without the main title. It runs on the same engine as Modern Warfare, features the same controls, and even gives you the option to use your precious loadouts from the base game.
Call of Duty’s new take on the rapidly successful battle royale genre isn’t all that different to something like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. It’s a some-verus-many scenario, but it’s ever so slightly less realistic. Players can be brought back from the dead, and you can buy ammo and other perks from buy boxes scattered across the land, taking popular elements from Fortnite and Apex Legends.
Fifty squads of three players drop into a massive map stitched together with some classic Call of Duty locales. Once you and your squad mark a position on the map, it’s time to vault out of the plane and do your best to parachute down and land somewhere safe. You load up on equipment littered on the floor and get to hunting down your fellow man. The aim is simple — be the last squad standing.
This is a condensed version of Battle Royale. Instead of 150 players, this mode features half of that, and the matches go by much quicker. The basic strategies are the same as in the main mode, but keep in mind that it’s a much faster-paced mode than you might be used to. From what we’ve seen, players seem to be more reckless in this mode, taking higher risks than if they were playing the traditional Battle Royale. This is great for those who like to play it safe, as you can take advantage of their recklessness.
Plunder takes place on a smaller section of the same map with a few less players. Less tense and more casual in nature, the race is on to bank the most amount of cash before the lengthy timer runs dry. Money is earned through missions and drops, and defeated players pony up their hard-earned dough to drop back in after a defeat. Top earners are marked on the map, and the massive bank chopper gives other players the opportunity to intercept and steal cash drops. It’s a riot and a good training ground for the more deadly battle royale chase.
Now that the basics are out of the way, it’s time to dive into the less obvious methods of being crowned the victor. There’s no sure fire way to guarantee victory, but if you follow these tips, you should be better off. Warzone does factor in skill, but there’s a lot of luck involved, and even the best players get caught in sticky situations. Nonetheless, here are some essential tips for being the last person (or team) standing in Warzone.
Familiarize yourself with the weapons
This one might sound glaringly obvious, but it’s something that needs to be said. Familiarizing yourself with the weapons you’ll find in Warzone is one of the most important aspects of the whole operation. Not knowing your FN Scar 17 from your FAL can easily cost you a fight — and one fight is all that separates you from getting booted back to the main menu.
There is an insane number of guns in Modern Warfare, and they’re all in Warzone, too. Find which weapon best suits your style and learn how each handles and operates. Getting the drop on another player is no good if you pull the trigger expecting a barrage of bullets only to take one potshot and get blasted down. Don’t go thinking a semi-auto assault rifle is a full-auto, or that a bolt-action sniper is a semi. Trust us, it doesn’t feel good to lose a fight because you didn’t understand your weapon.
You can absolutely pick this all up as you go. After all, it’s a matter of learning from your own mistakes. But those mistakes will cost your whole squad a match, so do them a preemptive favor and spend a bit of time learning how each gun operates in the main menu.
Which are the best Warzone guns, you ask? It’s down to personal preference for the most part, but some do stand out. Hybrid fire-mode assault rifles like the SCAR can adapt to many situations, with the trusty MP5 making close-range encounters trivial. If you’re after sniping, the EBR-14 (with a scope) and AX-50 are great options.
Get those loadouts sorted
You might think that by Warzone being new, everyone starts off on the same foot. You’re wrong. Both Warzone modes allow players to bring their typical multiplayer loadouts from the base game into the fray. In Battle Royale, you can pick one of these up by coming across a loadout box, while in Plunder, you start with your preferred loadout each and every time you drop in.
So, what’s the big deal? Well, the guns, perks, and attachments you can slot into your loadout are locked behind level gates. You don’t have access to everything right off the bat. But those of us who’ve been grinding away since Modern Warfare launched last year have some very fancy weapons and daunting attachments. Are newcomers at a disadvantage? Sort of. These weapons are still “Player” ranked as opposed to the rare, epic, or legendary equipment anyone can pull out of a cache in the field, but starting out with a scope or optical sight is better than staring down iron.
We highly recommend you come packing with silenced weapons, Heartbeat Sensors, and perks to keep the enemy from spotting you like Ghost and Cold-Blooded. In addition, having some sort of weapon that includes large magazine sizes (like a 60-round assault rifle or light machine gun) will ensure you don’t run out of ammo as often. Though, it also pays to have a sniper on hand to pull off those long-range shots. There are no “bad” weapons, but you should choose ones you’re experienced with — and the more versatile, the better.
We go into greater detail about the best loadouts here, but suffice it to say you will do better with a loadout that is great in all situations — not just one. For us, we like using a silenced Grau 5.56, which is one of the most accurate weapons in the game. Add a 60-round mag, silencer, and other attachments to improve stability, and you’ve got yourself a beast of an assault rifle that can take out enemies from long and short range.
Since the days of the original Modern Warfare, the idea of using sounds of player footsteps to our advantage has been a big selling point for companies trying to peddle “gaming” headphones onto people who don’t know any better. Of course, using audial cues to track just about anything is a very real and basic practice that has been a thing in gaming far longer than the previous console generation. Still, it’s a massive part of the game, and one you can tweak in the sound settings.
Sitting right at the top of the Modern Warfare sound settings menu is a drop-down box. Here, you can quickly switch between sound mix presets to fine-tune the game’s audio to your own listening preference and equipment. Expand the option and you’ll see a more detailed look at the frequencies you’re working with.
If you’re using something like the Home Theater option on your $20 cans, you’re probably botching your ability to pinpoint precious enemy movements. Listen to the music change as you flick between settings, and find the one that has a good mix of highs and lows. You want clear highs to hear bullets fly by your head and lows to hear footsteps and engine roars. On our end, we actually turned the game’s music off completely, because it gets really distracting when trying to listen for other players.
Bring the rocket launchers
There’s a lot to cover when it comes to the weapons you’ll use in Battle Royale. After all, what are you going to do without them? This one can be a bit controversial, but it’s a move we’ve personally had a lot of success with — and that is to bring a rocket launcher with you.
Modern Warfare has a few different launchers to choose from — the PILA, Strala-P, JOKR, and RPG-7. Most of us are familiar with the RPG-7: It’s long and looks funny but packs a serious punch. It’s not the one we’re recommending here, though. The Battle Royale map is huge, and when you’re on the run from the enclosing circle of deadly gas, a vehicle can sometimes be your only option. The thing is, people are either very lazy or incredibly impatient. They want to get out of the field and into combat as quickly as possible.
You’ll see people driving vehicles at all times in a match, so if you’ve foregone a secondary weapon in favor of a launcher like the PILA, you can do the whole “fire and forget” job to almost always wipe out an entire team in a flat second. The payload pays off.
Take note of bullet trails
Here’s another that might sound patronizingly obvious, but it’s a minor detail that can sometimes skip the mind when there are a dozen or so other things to focus on in a match. While audio cues can alert us to nearby threats, visual cues can fill in the blanks.
Bullets travel a good distance, and they’re not small enough to be completely invisible to the naked eye. You can use the bullet trails to get a good idea of your enemy’s position. Not only that, but you can also gauge the whereabouts of their target.
Before you go running in, note that if you’re seeing a bullet fly from one side of your vision to the other, running right in will put you between the enemy and their enemy — who is also your enemy. That’s two enemies. Wait for a victor to emerge, and use their greed to knock them down.
Learn where to drop
Things can go wrong in a Battle Royale match almost immediately — even before you hit the ground, in fact. The announcer apparently scans the skies, warning you of anyone about to parachute into your area. That means anyone who lands fast will absolutely grab a gun and attempt to shoot you out of the sky, and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. Though, with so many players thinking the same thing, it’s not always in your best interest to drop alongside 20 other enemies, so instead, you’ll want to know how to decide where to land.
Warzone gives you manual control over your parachute. You can open it as close or far away from the ground as you want, cut it halfway, and redeploy it again as you please. Heck, you can vault off a building whenever you want, too. It makes sense to dive toward the ground and play chicken with the terrain, opening the parachute at the very last second to cushion the blow, right? Not quite. If you want to land quickly, there’s an effective strategy you can use that doesn’t involve opening your chute at the last second.
While the game was probably designed with that idea in mind, savvy players quickly worked out that the quickest way to get onto the ground — and snag first dibs on the best loot and positions — is to continuously deploy and cut your chute. Why? We have no idea. It makes you fast and that’s all that matters.
But again, landing fast isn’t always the best option. Sometimes, you’ll want to land at a specific hub or close to a contract so you can start earning cash, loot, and XP right away. The key is to look at how the gas is forming in conjunction with the plane’s path. You might find it useful to drop straight away, while others might have a longer tail plan. Either way, landing in the right spot can set the groundwork for a possible victory.
Close the doors!
Another visual cue is an open door. There’s a reason you can tag an open cache to scream “someone’s been through here.” They might still be around or they may be long gone, and you can use that simple mind game to your advantage.
If you don’t want to alert encroaching enemies of your rough whereabouts, close doors as you walk through them. It’ll give approaching opponents the thought that they’re the first to pass through the area, lowering their guard. Hold still, listen to them charge through the building, and blast them down as they get too close and overconfident.
Be aware that it’s not always a good plan. Open doors can provide cover in a pinch, and a shut door is a closed escape route. If you’re not all too confident yourself, it might be best to leave your doors ajar. If you know you can finish the job, however, set the trap and reel in the serotonin.
When in doubt, stop and listen
Things can get hectic very quickly in Battle Royale — particularly from an auditory point of view. You’ll hear gunfire, the announcer, explosions, and, loudest of all, your own footsteps. If you’re overwhelmed, especially toward the later portion of a match, just stop and listen. You might hear some nearby gunfire or even someone running close by. The key is to make sure you aren’t being so loud that it overpowers the sounds of other players.
That’s why we typically crouch-walk when possible, so we can pick up on the footsteps of enemies. You’d be amazed how careless other players are as they sprint, jump, and bash open doors. If you know someone is nearby, crouch and wait for them to get close so you can surprise them. Players who run around like that are likely not expecting someone to be listening in, which serves as a perfect time to strike. They won’t know what hit them.
There are lots of strategies and things to do while in Verdansk, but a surefire way to ensure you’re keeping up with the competition is to complete contracts. Currently, there are five contracts to choose from:
- Bounty (crosshairs icon): This contract will pick a nearby enemy for you to take out and will reward you with cash for doing so. It doesn’t pinpoint the enemy’s exact location, but a large yellow circle will highlight their general position. Keep in mind that the bounty will be alerted when you’re nearby, so be careful when rushing in.
- Most Wanted (crown icon): The Most Wanted contract goes hand in hand with Bounties. Instead, this one places a bounty on your head, and everyone in the game will be notified of your general location. If you survive within the time limit, you get rewarded with cash and any of your dead teammates will be instantly revived, free of charge.
- Scavenger (magnifying glass icon): Upon initiating a Scavenger contract, you’ll have three supply boxes to open, which generally include useful loot. Nothing too complicated with this one, but we highly recommend you complete them if you need loot.
- Recon (flag icon): Recon contracts are unique in that completing them will reveal the next layer of the gas before it’s shown to the rest of the game. That makes them incredibly valuable. To complete them, you’ll need to visit a nearby location and capture a point, similar to Domination in the base multiplayer mode. You’ll also get some loot for capturing the point, though it’s usually not as good as what you’d find when finishing a Scavenger contract.
- Supply Run (stopwatch icon): You’ll want to make sure you try out the Supply Run contracts because they can come in handy, especially if you’re low on cash. What it does is give you a time limit to reach a nearby Buy Station that features hefty discounts on most items in the store. We see people ignore these for some reason, but they’re easy to do and will reward you handsomely for it.
Pay attention to the flares in the sky
This is sort of a nuanced little mechanic that you might not have noticed, but it’s important. Pay attention to the various flares in the sky. A yellow flare indicates a Recon contract is in the process of being completed, giving you the exact location of an enemy.
Likewise, a red flare signifies that an enemy team has just bought back a downed comrade, so keep your eyes peeled for these flares to get a sense of who’s around you. It works both ways — remember that when you trigger a Recon capture point or buy a teammate back, other enemies can see your flares as well.
Learn the ins and outs of the Gulag
The Gulag has gone through some slight changes since Warzone launched, but its main mechanics remain the same: Take out the other enemy (or capture the flag in the middle). The main thing that seems to change are the guns you have at your disposal. When Warzone first came out, the weapons you’d get were pretty barebones — things like handguns or knives. Now, the selection is much more varied, but you’ll want to make sure you’re at least familiar with all of them.
A general tip is to make good use of your equipment. You shouldn’t use it as a crutch, but your stuns, flashes, or grenades can be extremely useful when you’re in a bind. Also, try to take things slowly. No sense in rushing out to the middle where your opponent is waiting for you. With that in mind, try to use sound to your advantage. We covered that topic above, and the same rules apply here. Crouch, stay quiet, and listen for your enemy.
The other thing to consider is that you can actually regain all of your health if you touch the flag in the center of the arena. So, if you’re getting shot and can safely make it to the flag, do it and come back out swinging. This is a lesser known feature that will likely surprise the enemy when you come back with full health.
Finally, if you’ve got a teammate spectating, make sure they give you callouts as to where the enemy is. This can come in handy and possibly give you the edge you need to take them out.
Communicate effectively with your team
When playing with a team, it’s essential that you communicate with them effectively. Learn the names of buildings and how to describe them as quickly as possible. If you take too much time to explain, that could end up costing your team a kill, so learn specific callouts to gain the advantage. Typically, refrain from using long phrases like, “There is a person right in front of you.” This is bad, because if you’ve got a team of three or more, it’s unclear who “you” is referring to in this instance. Instead, say something like, “In front of player X,” or something similar. Come up with your own short phrases for callouts depending on the situation and you’ll be much better off.
Always make callouts when you see an enemy, regardless of their distance from your team. This can help when determining a route, and can even alter a planned route depending on how many enemies you see. In addition, communicate to find out what your team needs. One teammate might have nearly enough money to buy a UAV, so if you can, spot them the cash. The same can be said about Loadout Drops — if you have a team, combine your money to get a Loadout Drop for the whole team. If a team of four splits it evenly, it goes from $10,000 to $2,500, which is a much easier pill to swallow.