With anticipation for the new mode running hot heading into a long weekend, here’s a rundown of what seems most likely based on what’s been discovered so far, and a look at what remains a mystery.
What we know
There’s a new mode coming and it’s got all the earmarks of battle royale
Everyone who’s booted up Modern Warfare since the start of Season 2 on Feb. 11 has been able to see the new “Classified” section smack dab in the center of the mode select screen. The season was also prefaced by a new cinematic that depicts several aspects familiar to battle royale players, such as moving when the ring is closing and parachuting into the fray from an aircraft. It’s that scene, along with much previous speculation on Reddit of a battle royale mode for the game, that makes most people believe the new mode will be a battle royale, though that hasn’t been specifically confirmed.
When the locked mode will be revealed still remains a mystery — it remained “Classified” as of Friday afternoon’s Valentine’s Day update — but footage posted on Reddit and elsewhere, shows a mode called “Warzone” and one video of a title screen text appears to indicate it’s a last-person/team standing format, as you’d find in a battle royale.
There’s a new map and it’s frickin’ huge
Earlier this week YouTuber PrestigeIsKey posted screen shots on Twitter of a massive map he said he captured by using the free-roam camera feature on the newly introduced multiplayer map, Atlas Super Store. The Post followed suit and likewise saw a humongous landscape of stitched-together Modern Warfare maps from its multiplayer, ground war and co-op modes. We flew from one end to the other and it seems to be far bigger than the map featured in Black Ops 4′s battle royale mode, Blackout.
There is nothing that says definitively “this is a/the battle royale map," but if it is, the size could be a requirement of the killstreaks it seems will be usable in the mode, as they were not part of Blackout. It could also be due to the number of players thought to be able to play in a match at once (see the next note). The cinematic, assuming it’s related to the map, showed a number of vehicles as well, which also could use some room to roam. Assuming it is a BR map, it will be interesting to see how much player vs. player contact will occur on such a sprawling battlefield and how fast the ring will shrink the expansive map as the game progresses.
What we’ve seen
The following are things that have been seen but not confirmed or replicated.
It appears to be for up to 200 players per match
A video posted on Reddit Friday appeared to show the “Classified” mode space revealed as Warzone. Another user translated the text on the tab, originally written in German, to read: “Plunge into a unique battle with up to 200 other players to be the last survivor.” Again, it’s just one video and it remains unconfirmed, but the footage matches up with an earlier leak that first put forward the possibility of a 200-player mode, double the size of Blackout.
There appear to be new loadout options
On Thursday, reports emerged of a bug pushing players into new screens carrying the name “Warzone,” including this shot of a player asked to edit his “drop kit.” This could be a bit of a twist for a BR title ... or it could be completely made up footage.
If it is real, it would be a bit of a BR departure. In most battle royales, players land with no weapons or equipment and are required to loot to find that gear. If players can drop in with weapons and equipment, those sweaty, early-game gun battles right after landing are now going to be more like eating a ghost pepper in a sauna over an active volcano … on the surface of Mercury. That is to say, spicy and hot.
That last part again assumes players will enter the game as they did in Blackout: By dropping in from the sky. Given the cinematic, which showed four soldiers parachuting from a cargo plane, it tracks with the clues seen so far.
There appears to be a new tutorial
Another gameplay video posted to Reddit showed what appeared to be a tutorial for the new mode as a player gears up outside a firing range and shoots a few cardboard cutouts before trying to snag some “plunder.” The latter appears to be fat stacks of cash lying around, which, the tutorial seems to show, can be used to buy weapons and gear. That appears to be in addition to finding them and equipment on the ground or in supply crates.
Based on this alleged screenshot, it also seems like players can purchase score/killstreaks … or buy back an operator?
But that has just been gleaned from footage posted to Reddit and has not been confirmed by Activision or replicated by others, so take it with a grain of salt. Beyond these facts, there’s still plenty that we don’t know about the mode, including whether a Reddit thread started all of this speculation in the first place.
What we don’t know …
Will it be part of Modern Warfare or will it be a free-to-play standalone?
It certainly appears this new mode will be playable through Modern Warfare, but it has also been rumored that Activision would introduce a free-to-play battle royale-only version of Call of Duty to compete with other free BR games like Fortnite and Apex Legends. With crossplay already a part of Modern Warfare, a free-to-play Call of Duty mode would potentially give Activision access to a massive global audience for the battle royale, far bigger than it had for Blackout, to which it can then market skins and other in-game goods like Fortnite et al. It makes business sense. Is it real? We don’t know.
How big will squads be?
Several screen grabs from players that glitched into Warzone appeared to show a menu that offered a trios mode. Will there be solos, duos and full squads of four, too? Unconfirmed reports from Twitter users who claim that they’ve been glitched into the game mode’s lobby have indicated all four squad types are available, but nothing confirmed.
One life to live?
In most previous BRs, be it Blackout, Fortnite or Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, players are first knocked and then eliminated. In Apex and Fortnite there’s also a chance for teammates to carry killed comrades’ tokens to a respawn beacon so they can reenter the game. Blackout featured a variation with some limited time modes, like Alcatraz, where players can respawn a set number of times before the final circle. But what will the core life/death dynamic look like in Warzone?
There were rumors, stemming from a November post on Reddit that a Modern Warfare BR mode would allow the dead to return via a 1 vs. 1 gunfight held in the Gulag, the setting from which players freed Captain Price in Modern Warfare 2. In the Reddit post, it is said to serve as a kind of Thunderdome, where two players enter and the victor gets to leave and rejoin the game.
Again, that’s unconfirmed, but many of the other details from that post have tracked with the footage posted claiming to be of the new mode.
In that case, how accurate are the rest of the claims in the Reddit post? Or is any of this even real?
The aforementioned Reddit post linked above was dripping with details and only time will tell if any or all of it will prove true. So far, most of it remains unconfirmed.
Based on the leaked tutorial footage, if it was legit, the weapon color system from the post appears to be accurate, with rarity following the white, green, blue, purple and gold scale most gamers have grown accustomed to. If this tracks with Modern Warfare’s weapon blueprint system, the rarity will also correspond to the number of attachments the gun features, from none (white) to five (gold). There will also be three different levels of armor and three types of helmets.
Among the other more notable claims, there’s also a note about how respawn tokens can be looted and used once per eliminated player. And with regard to the Gulag 1 vs. 1 dynamic, the Reddit post says you can bet on those in the fight using funds from your plundering. It also notes a “jailbreak” dynamic where all inmates are set free and return to the game. Again, it’s all unconfirmed, but if true this would be a much more complex battle royale than we saw with Blackout.
If you want more speculation, there’s a new subreddit dedicated to Warzone, here.
But speculation may be all any of this is good for. A PlayStation user on Monday was able to use Modern Warfare’s custom game mode to make a “Warzone” title screen, which he sent to The Post ... meaning someone out there could be having a lot of fun with us and everyone’s eagerness for a new Call of Duty battle royale. It begs the question of whether the original Reddit post was citing things found in the upcoming mode or whether others are using it to create “evidence” of the new mode’s features. And if it is all true, one more question ...
How long will matches last?
Okay, maybe this is just a question I have. If matches are 200 players, and you can respawn with tokens, and you can return via the Gulag jailbreak/Thunderdome dynamic … how long will each round last? It sounds as if each round alone could come in closer to an hour than 30 minutes if you fight to the end. This seems like a lot. In fact, this all seems like a very intricate and complex mode if all of this is to be believed. Will users really buy in for all of this?
Oh, and then finally there’s the question everyone reading this really wants to know: When will this mode drop? It would seem odd for it not to debut some time in Season 2, but when exactly will remain a mystery until it’s either live or Activision or Infinity Ward decide to put a date on it. For what it’s worth, most of the game’s updates have gone live either Tuesdays or Fridays. Perhaps we’ll get an answer as soon as the 18th?
Note: This post has been updated from a previous version and will update again if any new information comes forward.