Prior to the launch of Warzone in March 2020, interest in the Call of Duty (COD) franchise was low following a string of releases that failed to resonate with the often-vocal community. Hot off the back of a return to the Modern Warfare series, Activision and Infinity Ward unleashed the first free-to-play COD title for consoles.
The game skyrocketed in popularity as millions of players dropped into Verdansk with the aim to be the last one standing at the end of a match. While the likes of Fortnite and Apex Legends proved popular, Activision's equivalent quickly became the talk of the town as the community embarked on an all-new experience differing from the annual releases.
In a time when its competitors reigned supreme, the release of Warzone revived the franchise at a time when players were looking elsewhere to get their fix of fast-paced shooting action.
The Initial Revival
The release of Infinite Warfare and World War 2 weren't popular whatsoever as the franchise bounced between the tried and tested boots-on-the-ground formula and advanced movement mechanics. The return of Modern Warfare in 2019 sparked interest once again and to top it off, a fully-fledged battle royale sent interest higher than it's ever been.
The initial build was polished and packed full of unique innovations to set it apart from other titles in the BR genre and managed to maintain the classic Call of Duty gameplay fans of multiplayer are familiar with. While the annual releases continued to perform in the sales charts, playing Call of Duty without having to spend a single penny is a surefire way of rejuvenating a franchise that had lost its way while attempting to reinvent itself over and over again.
A Wealth of Innovation
Due to the concept of battle royale games, most titles steal bits and pieces from each other in a bid to enhance their own product. When Warzone was released, it featured a wealth of innovations ranging from Bounty contracts providing additional cash as a reward to the Gulag, a last-chance saloon for players to drop back into the action.
Others have attempted to replicate the innovations of Warzone, with only a few living up to the levels of satisfaction achieved when defeating an opponent in a situation that could bring a premature end to your match.
An Outlet for Many
Warzone made its debut as the world started to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As millions remained in their homes, the confines of Verdansk acted as a sanctuary for many to keep in contact with friends and family while they were unable to meet in the real world.
With everyone inside, the game was a social hub of sorts as groups of friends dropped into battle against other squads looking for an escape from the goings-on around them. The world might be returning to some form of normality but the early seasons of Warzone will be fondly remembered by many.
A Game-Changing Title?
In recent years, Call of Duty has struggled to stand out in what's becoming a hugely competitive genre. As it looked like the franchise was heading to the Gulag, the launch of Warzone swung momentum in its favour in a similar fashion to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
The 2007 title redefined the shooter genre with incredible gunplay, an all-new Perk system, and design principles that are still followed today. Warzone has managed to do this and much more, generating billions in revenue in addition to giving the franchise another opportunity to thrive once again.
Many happy returns, Warzone. Your impact on Call of Duty won't be forgotten in a hurry.