The Call of Duty cycle that fans have become accustomed to has undergone a shake-up. Not only is developer Treyarch’s next entry, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, coming earlier in the usual three-year development cycle, but Infinity Ward, the developer of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, unexpectedly made a widely popular free-to-play battle royale game with Warzone. Moving forward, how will the ever-evolving Warzone platform be reconciled with the upcoming Black Ops Cold War?
Warzone beyond Modern Warfare
While Call of Duty: Warzone uses the 2019 Modern Warfare title as its basis, Infinity Ward design director Geoff Smith confirmed that Warzone will continue beyond that title. “Although Warzone is very closely tied to Modern Warfare, it was designed from the beginning as its own game,” Smith told GamesRadar. “As the game continues to be updated over time, it will evolve and become tied to other games in the Call of Duty universe.”
Even though Smith doesn’t explicitly mention Treyarch’s upcoming game (the title and premise of Black Ops Cold War were not public at the time of this interview), players of Warzone noticed a number of easter eggs, both subtle and blatant, pointing to a new Cold War-era Call of Duty game. Cryptic messages such as “Know Your History” would appear on-screen during regular gameplay, for example.
Warzone has become more of a platform in the same vein of Fortnite, and players would stray away from the usual run-and-gun gameplay to participate in what felt like Cold War era-themed scavenger hunts for new clues leading up to the official confirmation of Black Ops Cold War on August 19. The full gameplay reveal will take place on the Verdansk map on August 26, so it would be shocking if Black Ops Cold War abandoned Warzone after using its platform so elaborately.
Pre-order Warzone skin leaked
If a reputable leak (per COD Tracker) is to be believed, then one of the pre-order bonuses for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War will be a cosmetic Operator Pack that will allow classic Black Ops character Frank Woods to be playable across Black Ops Cold War, Warzone, and Modern Warfare.
Similarly, Treyarch’s Blackout, the battle royale mode of 2018’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, featured a “Classic Captain Price” skin for customers who pre-ordered Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. While Frank Woods in Warzone would be a similar promotional move, Frank Woods being playable in both Black Ops Cold War and Modern Warfare indicate that Warzone will be a shared platform between the two games.
How this will affect the playerbase
Unlike with Blackout, which will forever be locked behind Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Warzone is a more accessible game. Along with being a game mode for Modern Warfare, Warzone is a cross-platform, cross-progression, and free-to-play as a separate download. In order to preserve the playerbase, having Warzone remain a mode for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War would be a sensible choice for Activision.
This would still lead to some questions and quirks — will Warzone abandon the trappings of Modern Warfare and embrace the Cold War theme? Or will there be a new, separate map based on Black Ops Cold War? Will those with a Modern Warfare disc be able to access Black Ops weapons and loot at no extra cost? Whatever the case may be, Warzone will continue to grow through future Call of Duty titles, including Black Ops Cold War.