Modern Warfare’s ‘Warzone’
As we had predicted before, Call of Duty is assumed to be on the cusp of releasing ‘Warzone’, its own version of the battle royale style game trend. Not much is known about it other than it boasts 200 player lobbies, double that of most popular battle royales. Although there is not a set release yet, hints point that the game mode will release in March 2020. Despite Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 having a version of a battle royale, it didn’t get the popularity like of Fortnite and PUBG. Being a staple series for the FPS genre, is it necessary for Call of Duty to have a battle royale? The answer is: why not?
Despite many gamers tired of seeing an overly beaten dead horse of a genre, CoD has nothing to lose by adding in the game mode. Of course, there is always the chance that the battle royal genre is here to stay. Because Modern Warfare offers than just a battle royal, the failure of the game mode won’t kill the game. Plus, if battle royal games are to stay, then CoD just has one more game mode that people can enjoy, play competitively, and bring in players who exculsively enjoy the genre.
History of The Battle Royale Genre
Before getting into CoD specifically, lets look into how the battle royal genre became so popular in the first place. A lovely article over on DigitalTrends.com chronicles the history of the battle royal genre. Although the genre was popularized in a ridiculously small amount of time by both Fortnite and PUBG, these were not the first games to have this style of gameplay. Massive open world games like Rust had a form of large survival modes predating battle royales. People really enjoyed this type of competitive survival mode that required either a lot of luck or skill to survive.
DigitalTrends also cited another unique inspiration to the genre: The Hunger Games. As the movies started coming out in 2012, people flocked to the idea of the ‘hunger games’. Many gamers took it into their own hands to create early battle royales; many Minecraft servers set up to allow players to go through their own Hunger Games. The idea of a battle to the death was too perfect not to be put in a video game.
While there were a few smaller instances of battle royale games, the rest of battle royale history is pretty clear. Between the releases of Fortnite and PUBG, the popularity for battle royal games exploded within a couple of years. This caused a flood of similar battle royale type games to come forth. Some of these have made names for themselves, while others are just knockoffs. There is a lot of distrust towards any new battle royale as most are uncreative copies of more popular games.
A Genre On the Edge of Dying, Or Not?
It is still uncertain whether the battle royale genre is a fizzilling fad, or it will be intergrated into regularly seen game modes for future games. An article at TheGamer stated about the plethora of games within the genre as, “Quite frankly, there are simply too many cooks in the kitchen.” The over saturation of the genre might quicken the pace that players lost interest in these games. The article also says that it’s difficult to keep players coming back to these games as they turn out to be very grindy after the initial newness wears off. Although many battle royales see competitive play, constant updates/nerfs/balancing make them inconsistent for esports. This may cause players to lose interest in competitive battle royale, causing these games to lose a large chunk of their market.
Others believe that battle royale game modes are here to stay in one form or the other. An article on Polygon stated that, “this isn’t a genre that’s going away anytime soon, and still has plenty of room for adventurous developers to explore.” They cited games like Apex Legends, one of the second-wave battle royale games that has actually gained a solid playerbase for its unique gameplay. While battle royale games are often first person shooters, the article also brings up Tetris 99, a Tetris multiplayer mode where you compete against 98 other players for highscores. This unique use of a battle royale mode shows that there is much untapped potential in the genre.
So then were does Call of Duty: Modern Warefare fit into this? I think it says a lot about where the battle royale genre is going. If it is popular enough that one of the biggest FPS franchises is putting a mode for it in, maybe it’s here to stay. I’m sure if there is anyone that can bring a unique spin to a very overdone genre then its Activision. If Warzone goes over well, I can see battle royale game modes becoming common additions to future FPS games.
So yes, maybe we could use a few more battle royale games. If enough quality games and game modes are added to the genre, then perhaps it won’t feel like an overdone fad, but a tool developers can use to give more unique player experiences.