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I played through a wonderful match in Call of Duty: Warzone’s new map, Verdansk 84, last night. I dropped at one of the new locations, wracked up five kills and even finished a Contraband Contract to cap off the exciting round. It felt just as good as it did when Warzone first launched last year.

That’s the problem, however. It was supposed to feel new. Activision and Treyarch blew up Warzone’s map with a nuclear bomb, yet there’s no sign of any fallout. Instead of a crater, we got transported back in time to the 1980s?

The majority of the map is similar, or exactly the same, to Verdansk before the explosion. Running through Train Station, Superstore, Farmland, Prison, Lumber and other named locations doesn’t feel like a new experience. The small changes made throughout the map in Season 3 appear inconsequential.

Warzone summit location
Summit is one of the new name locations. It replaces Dam. Provided by Activision

Activision and Raven Software have made a number of adjustments throughout the first year of Warzone’s lifespan. They opened the Train Station and Stadium, added a moving train, introduced subway lines under the map, and established a spooky haunted version of the map with jump scares and ghosts for Halloween. Those changes were all relatively small; this update was supposed to be the first significant overhaul to the map.

A Nuke should have an impact

A few new named locations aren’t significant. The main character of a battle royale is the map. Out of everything in the game — weapons, encounters, load outs — the only thing that will remain the same in the next match is the map. That’s why it’s essential that the map change in meaningful ways over time.

“They dropped an atomic bomb and all did was reskin the map,” tweeted Sam “Octane” Larew, who plays for the Seattle Surge in the Call of Duty League. “You couldn’t make a new map outta that??”

You’d think that a nuclear explosion would have serious implications for Verdansk. It’d leave a crater, create a Chernobyl-like area of the map or completely wipe one location off the face of it. Changes like that tell a story over time. Verdansk 84 doesn’t tell a story; it mimics the setting of Activision’s annual release in Black Ops Cold War, instead. The studio plans to adapt Warzone to whatever game comes out next, rather than give Warzone it’s own unique identity.

Warzone array location
Array is a new named location on the right side of the map. Provided by Activision

Call of Duty: Warzone is still an amazing battle royale. There’s nothing else in the genre that provides the same amount of tension and Hollywood blockbuster-like moments that Warzone does. The unique stories that players experience in every match are unrivaled. I wish the map changed and evolved to be as unique as those stories.

“I gotta be honest, this ‘new’ Warzone map is like getting underwear or socks for Christmas,” said Warzone steamer Bobby Poff in a tweet. “But smiling anyways and saying ‘thank you, I love it.'”


Aron Garst looks at esports from a different point of view by tackling the ways games are molded and broken by players around the world. He covers Call of Duty, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros, and everything else for Upcomer. You can read his previous work at WIRED, Rolling Stone, ESPN and elsewhere. Rise up red sea.


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