My second entry into my top ten video games list of the year is one I might have already called foul on in years gone by. But as I, and thousands of other people, have said already: screw this year. Rather than get bogged down by what can and cannot qualify for my top ten list, I’m just going to list the ten games I got the most enjoyment out of throughout 2020.
Plus, this game technically did come out this year. It just so happened to be bolted onto another game despite being a separate download for most people.
#9: Call of Duty: Warzone
Played on Xbox One X | Released 20th March | Developed by Infinity Ward & Raven Software
2019 was the year that a Battle Royale game finally broke through and got me invested. The newly minted genre really struggled to grab me when the biggest hitters were the overly slow-paced and realistic PUBG and the ADHD fuelled turbo-Minecraft simulator that was Fortnite.
The game that got me was Apex Legends, which managed to hit that perfect blend of pace, accessibility and tone that would get me really invested in the genre. So with me spending so much time playing Apex, it was only a matter of time until another big Battle Royale showed up to grab my interest.
Warzone is a unique game for me, being on this list for a number of different reasons that usually make me pick games. For one, while it is a new mode added to last year’s Modern Warfare, it is technically its own game. It’s a free download that can be owned and played totally separate from Modern Warfare, and it’s also a game that looks like it’s going to bridge the gap between Call of Duty games too. Although Activisison’s route to going about that has been garbage.
I’ll get to that in a bit later though. Warzone is a game I enjoyed entirely as a multiplayer experience. I have played next to none of this game on my own. Rather, the former social group I used to play a lot of Destiny with have not mostly moved onto this game and end up playing it most nights. As a consequence, I found myself roped into playing it too, and really started to appreciate it as a result.
Warzone takes a lot of the things I enjoy about Apex and applies it to a Call of Duty format. Pinging, how forgiving it is, allowing players second, third and even fourth chances to continue on even after going down and the ability to pull your own weapon loadouts into the mode from multiplayer. It’s all the little things it does in combination with the incredibly solid base gameplay that made me fall deep into the base Modern Warfare game.
As an aside, I spend a significant amount of the early parts of 2020 playing the Modern Warfare multiplayer. It being the most time I invested and enjoyed Call of Duty Multiplayer since Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. And that months-long obsession easily translated to Warzone when it came out in March.
It’s just such a massive shame that this year’s Call of Duty: Cold War seems to have failed to capitalise on the goodwill forged from Modern Warfare in just about any way. I’ll be very curious to see whether the new implementation of Warzone with Cold War will take the better, more modern feeling gameplay from the older game or “graduate” to the Black Ops gameplay, which feels more archaic by comparison.
Everything about the transition from Modern Warfare to Black Ops feels like a big old mess though. For example, I own both games on disk, after playing some Black Ops a few weeks ago, I got invited to play Warzone. Here I thought that because Warzone is a free, separate download, I’d be able to jump straight into it. So I backed into the menu of Black Ops, selected the Warzone option that sat right in the middle. The game then proceeded to shut down, try to load Modern Warfare and then fail.
Telling me I needed to insert the Modern Warfare disk to play Warzone. Y’know, the free download that exists as its own executable. Everything about this transition between both games and the console generations as been a shambles, and Call of Duty’s strange inability to fix what should be their first ports of call is difficult to understand.
The fact that I’m still getting 100GB patches for this game is very difficult to swallow, not to mention the drama people are going through on PS5 where the game console if automatically trying to download both PS4 and PS5 versions of the game simultaneously. But that’s another matter all together.
As much as a shitstorm as Call of Duty and the console generation transition has been, I got a lot of enjoyment out of Warzone this year, purely as a multiplayer, social experience. Had I not had people pulling me towards it for most of the year, I probably wouldn’t have given Warzone a second thought. But as much as it pains me to say it, it probably is the best, most accessible Battle Royale game you can go out and play right now.
(Except for the two obvious exceptions that I’m going to pointedly not bring up here.)