At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, two games emerged as "the" video games of quarantine. Animal Crossing: New Horizons gave an island to anyone yearning for an escape, a place where zen-like farming and fishing awaited them.
The other game was Call of Duty: Warzone.
A free-to-play battle royale spin-off of the 2019 hit Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the game was immediately popular when it launched in March 2020, attracting 30 million players in two weeks and 85 million players by the year's end.
One year later, Warzone is still one of the most popular multiplayer shooters. Despite technical issues and widespread cheating that have tanked community morale, the game remains a hot attraction that is only going to keep socially distant gamers engaged through the next Call of Duty this year. Like it or not, Warzone is here to stay.
But how will publisher Activision mark Warzone's first year? As of February 9, neither Activision nor developers Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Raven Software are talking about an anniversary for Warzone. But based on how the equally-popular Call of Duty: Mobile held such an event last October, it's possible Warzone will receive a similar celebration.
Aside from crucial glitch fixes and stamping out cheating that is holding Warzone back as a pure experience, here are the six things we want to see in a theoretical anniversary event for Call of Duty: Warzone.
6. Bring back cosmetics from previous seasons
Despite its instant popularity, many Warzone players came late to the party. I personally didn't start playing until Season 3, and I also took long breaks because burnout is real. I know I'm not alone. As a consequence, I missed out on cool, limited-time cosmetics. (Ghost's Season 2 skins are a sore spot for me.) The ability to purchase old skins would be a killer way to mark one year of Warzone.
Similarly, I missed out on one Operator, Nikolai, who was a reward for finishing the Season 6 Battle Pass. Though I purchased the pass, I was unable to complete it. However, reintroducing skins like this would be a fair reward for loyal players who purchased passes to unlock the content, especially Operators, via completion of in-game tasks.
For the record, Warzone is now doing something like this. Some new "Operator Challenges" in which you can unlock some Season 1 and Season 2 cosmetics went live after this past weekend's update — the first inkling of a real anniversary event headed to Warzone. The only problem: Like most of Warzone, it's currently bugged and progression isn't being counted.
5. Return of the old shower gulag
When Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was integrated into Warzone, it brought one of the biggest changes: a new gulag. Gone is the symmetrical shower gulag. In its place is a reskin of Nuketown that — to its detriment — adds verticality, upsetting the balance of a one-on-one fight. With Black Ops Cold War now available with Nuketown '84 in the multiplayer, a return to the original gulag would be a welcome change for Warzone's first anniversary.
4. 5-6 player squads
There have been times when a game of Warzone begins in Discord, but friends have to sit out because the maximum party of four is reached. An expanded squad size of five or even six would help mitigate this admittedly minor complaint.
3. Semi-regular 200 player Warzone
A 200-player Warzone was previously a limited-time event during Season 4 that vanished afterward. While the mode earned some criticism for elongating Warzone games, there's something thrilling about having twice the amount of players of a typical battle royale.
We're not asking for a permanent 200-player Warzone. But it would be cool to play that regularly, perhaps as a single long weekend at the end of every season. With all the new changes to Verdansk since Season 4, such as the opening of the stadium and the running train, there's lots of space for 200 players to run amok.
2. "Firing Range" loadout test
Frequent updates to Warzone means the meta is prone to changes. This means players always seek out the most up-to-date, top-tier combinations of weapons and attachments. But there is no easy way of testing loadouts. Most test in private matches or solo Plunder, and an official guide published by Activision even recommends testing in private matches (which happens to be available only in the full, paid version of Modern Warfare).
This is bogus. An easy-to-access "firing range" in Warzone can allow players to experiment and share their discoveries with each other, fostering a more engaged community.
1. An in-game event/a real Season 7 for Modern Warfare
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the game that laid the groundwork for Warzone, concluded awkwardly and in a way that led to player resentment towards Black Ops Cold War.
While course Activision wants people to spend money on the new game, it's still awkward how the last Modern Warfare season ended. The heroes of Task Force 141 assembled with key people missing (fan favorite Soap is nowhere to be found) and a long-teased nuclear event happened... in a cut-scene.
A proper Season 7, even a truncated one with a discounted Battle Pass, could be a real farewell to Modern Warfare. And a real in-game event, something the community can enjoy together (like Fortnite's concerts) could not only be a proper end for Modern Warfare but a solid hype machine for the 2021 Call of Duty that could be Modern Warfare 2.