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What we know, and what we don't, about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's battle royale

Feb 18. 2020
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By The Washington Post · Mike Hume · ENTERTAINMENT 

VIDEOGAME-CALLOFDUTY: For all the leaks, rumors and speculation about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's new battle royale mode - and there have been more than a few leaks to date - there is still plenty that remains unconfirmed or flat out unknown about the mode. And despite requests from The Washington Post for more details, Infinity Ward remains tight-lipped.

With anticipation for the new mode running hot, 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.

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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 Tuesday 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 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 based on several leaks unearthed to date, it appears the mode will be called "Warzone" and it appears to be a last-person/team standing format, as you'd find in a battle royale. Based on several other apparent leaks, the mode will feature several new play dynamics that will incorporate new loadouts and acquiring new gear/weapons on the battlefield. More on those later.

- There's a new map, and it's huge

Last 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.

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. 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.

- It appears to be for up to 200 players per match

A video posted to Reddit on Friday appeared to show the "Classified" mode indeed 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." This 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 a shot of a player asked to edit his "drop kit." This could be a bit of a twist for a BR title. 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 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 leak 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 screenshot, it also seems like players can purchase score/killstreaks . . . or buy back an operator? 

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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 such as 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 such as Fortnite et al. 

- 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 that all four squad types are available, but nothing is 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, such as 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. Here 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 proved correct with these latest revelations.

In that case, how accurate are the rest of the claims in the Reddit post?

The aforementioned Reddit post was dripping with details, but most of it remains unconfirmed.

Based on the leaked tutorial footage, 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.

- How long will matches last?

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.

And 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 on Tuesdays or Fridays. Perhaps we'll get an answer as soon as Tuesday.

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