Call of Duty: Warzone. PC / Xbox 360 / PS4. Rating: 9/10
Call of Duty: Warzone, for all its lack of originality, is easily the slickest Battle Royale offering currently on the market.
In terms of shooting and movement, competing games such as Fortnite and especially PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds feel exceptionally clunky and lack urgency, while in terms of communication and team cohesion, only the brilliant Apex Legends can rival Infinity Ward's latest effort. Despite it being the veteran developer's first Battle Royale-style mode (Black Ops 4's was designed by Treyarch), they have a wealth of experience designing FPS games to draw from - and it shows.
As the Battle Royale genre is further refined, it is not hard to imagine the ideas of the inventory and endless on-the-fly customisation of gun attachments being the first things to get the boot. Warzone's system of looting runs with this ethos, even developing it further. You pick up weapons with set customisation options, either off the ground, out of hidden chests or from downed enemy players. In classic Call of Duty fashion, you can also purchase your own loadouts from 'Loadout Drops': chests that can be flown in using money found scattered around the map.
While the weapons you find in crates are often even better than the ones you have available in your loadout, there is a lot to be said for having your own 'tools' that you know inside-out. Claiming loadouts in the Warzone also has the added bonus of having 'perks', the classic bonuses from the regular multiplayer modes. In the late game, when there are less than 20 people left, perks are often what may give you the edge in an otherwise evenly matched fight.
One of the few totally unique elements introduced to Warzone is the Gulag, a second chance at life afforded to you by a genre that isn't known for forgiveness. Here's how it works, you die but the screen goes black and you are being dragged into the Gulag by masked operatives. Here, you must fight another player who has died for the chance to parachute back into the map. Each player has the exact same weapons and items and only a short amount of time to make short order of each other. It is a delightfully tense and rewarding mode.
Warzone is by no means perfect but then again, no entries into this still-fledgling genre are. There are still things about Warzone that are bad (no solo play), truly bad (the Stadium) and hilariously bad (the vehicle handling), but for a free-to-play release in its first week it makes a serious shot at being a contender for Battle Royale's crown.