The Most Surprising Part of 'Call of Duty: Warzone' is How Fun Dying Is

About a year ago, we saw shooter juggernaut Call of Duty take a crack at a battle royale-style game with Blackout. But unlike most other battle royale experiences, Blackout already has a sequel, a standalone game called Warzone. Boasting a 150-player count, Warzone is a different from the genre's mainstays, with some interesting new mechanics. We discuss Warzone's fun take on respawning, Ori and the Will of the Wisps and how much it builds on the first game, and our new work from home situation on today's Waypoint Radio. You can read an excerpt or listen to the full episode below.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

In terms of covid19 talk, It’s so surreal how fast things move. The white point crew probably record this at like Thursday at noon-ish? It’s been slightly over 48 hours probably since this was recorded and all sports internationally pretty much have been canceled. We might be on the tip of the iceberg but holy cow this is shaping up to be an interesting year to put it mildly

It’s been a weird day listening to this, and it’s like, fuck, serious fuck. Then it’s so nice out. With the clocks moved back it’s not even close to dark when I get out of work now. The roads out here aren’t even all that crowded and then… fuck serious fuck.

I wish Ori were out on Switch so I could play it now.

I wonder if I’m the only one who thinks using Gulag theming or even just the name as part of a game mechanic like that is distasteful. The lack of self-awareness seems a bit surreal. I also get that it’s just a game and that the crew here or the game’s designers can’t be universally sensitive to the history of all people, but it struck a nerve — just personally speaking.

After sleeping on it, my feelings haven’t changed much. Often, I will lighten up a bit as the wave of my first impressions subsides, but it hasn’t now. One of the great tragedies of modernity reduced to a base fight club mechanic, absent of critique or introspection, and intstrumentalized for the violent imagery it conjures up even among people far-removed from this history.

It isn’t unique to CoD to do this, of course. That doesn’t need pointing out. It has more to do with myself being sensitive to the subject, and people of different backgrounds will have different things that strike a raw nerve like this has for me. I tried to think of other examples that are perhaps not scrutinized enough. FC2’s Malaria mechanic comes to mind. I haven’t played the game all that much, but it, too, seems to use the illness as an associative tool (Malaria bad; fix if get), a tragic problem to justify a banal survival mechanic. Shadow of the Tomb Raider comes to mind. Dia Lacina wrote an excellent piece on how it struggles to balance game mechanics and their (British) colonialist implications, a perspective that tries to depict native peoples in a human way but, at times, nonetheless has twinklings of the type of thinking behind Orientalist art. I’m confident there are countless examples that I can’t recollect right now.

I reread the interview by Tamoor Hussain and Michael Higham of Gamespot with Taylor Kurosaki, narrative director of Modern Warfare. This was after people took note of the way this game portrayed the “Highway of Death”.

Higham asks Kurosaki about pulling from real-world events while also changing the way certain things played out in reality for the game’s narrative purposes. Kurosaki responds:

This is not some kind of propaganda or anything like that. This is reporting on what is happening in these conflict zones. […] And the biggest victims of these proxy wars are the local people on the ground. I think that when you finish the campaign and look at it in its totality, that’s really what we’re trying to say here. I think that for people who are from a more privileged background or don’t live in close proximity to these conflict zones, they don’t think about the cost or the locals in these areas.

I think that this is a thing that we’re really building awareness for. When I was a kid, I learned a lot about stuff through things like Schoolhouse Rock, you know what I mean? I was singing songs and I was learning about real-world things, but in an entertaining fashion. And so I think that for people today, if we learn about some of these things, even while we’re engaged in an interactive experience, I think that it’s still valuable.

People far-removed from the historical context. Thinking about the cost or the locals in these areas. Building awareness. Learning about real-world things through interactive experiences.

What is there to learn from shooting each other in a vaguely decrepid prison? What does this tell us about the history of the Gulag? What awareness does it raise other than associative violence? How does it get us to think about the human cost of the Gulag, the families and psyches that it tore apart? Perhaps I’m too blinded by this nerve being laid bare that I can’t see it.

More broadly, at what point do real-world histories, illnesses, concepts become too real to be treated so lightly? To become mere devices for “grounding” game mechanics without really exploring them. I haven’t really given it much thought until now apart from the odd flash of disapproval when something obvious comes up, to be entirely honest. That’s my mistake, no doubt.

People interested the Gulag, Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus “The Gulag Archipelago” is a must-read. It’s lengthy. But worth the time. Though even the abridged edition paints an image so vivid and so shocking that it cannot be forgotten.


I had an out of body experience this one time. Even caught a glimpse of the beyond. It’s a little hazy, but it looked like the shower room from The Rock and I had a gun and shot this other guy and then was revived back in hospital.


It occurs to me that the contracts system in this battle royal has great potential to direct the flow of a match. The contracts could push teams to certain areas where they’ll intercept other teams who also have a contract that brought them to that space; the contracts could make sure you can find some spice instead of wandering around a giant map, not knowing where to find anyone.This could furthermore be regulated by how many teams will have a contract directing them to a certain place. There could be many locations at the beginning of the match to make sure players don’t end up dying in a massive early culling while perhaps in the middle of the match, the contracts could direct teams to one to three locations, creating large battles at a stage where everyone is reasonably equipped and planning the count going down to move into the endgame.

I don’t know if Infinity Ward is doing any of this but it certainly sparked an idea for me and I’d like to know more about their designs of the Warzone mode.

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I like some of the ideas in Warzone but spending Sunday playing it with friends I don’t think I like it. Movement and shooting feels off to me coming from Apex and I just don’t like the parachute mechanics at all. What’s the point of a jump master if they really don’t do anything? It feels like you don’t have a lot of control compared to other BRs either.

Also you die so fast it feels like there’s no time to react.


Yea I’m with you. Like, it’s fine and a good compromise if you have friends on different platforms and want a decent battle royale experience, but it ain’t Apex. At least not yet. I’m gonna keep it on my hard drive and see how it develops though.


You articulated a lot of these vague feelings I’ve had about this really well, thank you for the post and consideration!!

When I was playing for the first time with my friends, we all laughed when we saw the name. It’s so fucking absurd. But then when you think of it in the context of this specific game and recent Call of Duty games as a whole with their anti-Russian themes, it stops feeling like a weird misguided “joke” and instead a pretty dark/insidious decision.


Hey, thanks for the reply. I’d been dreading reading responses, but I’m glad I’m not the only one at least. Like, I’m not faulting or judging people for enjoying the game or the mechanic or whatever. As someone who does come from a post-Soviet background, I found it really… interesting. I’m sure the series has a rich history of gamifying all kinds of touchy subjects, but I haven’t engaged with these games (not my genre, that’s all), so it’s just this that I read about and made me think about why it made me uncomfortable.


I’m really glad you brought it up and talked about it so extensively!