If you're anything like me, you've been making the most out of the Call of Duty: Warzone Halloween event running over the past few weeks. Verdansk not only featured Billy the Puppet from Saw and Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (until yesterday), but there was also been an increase in ghostly goings on across the map—from spectres haunting the farmlands to maniacal laughter as you enter a building. But it's not the new Halloween aesthetic or grumbles from nearby zombies waiting to pounce that really creeps me the hell out: it's the damn loot crates.
Specifically, the sheer randomness of when the game decides to shake me to my core. To set the scene, Call of Duty's Haunting of Verdansk (opens in new tab) event added in a fun new trick-or-treat element to its in-game loot crates. These are not to be confused with 'loot boxes' as a paid item, they're just in-game crates that contain loot.
Introduced alongside a new zombie battle royale mode, the 'treat' half meant that for every crate opened in any named in-game location, there was a chance you'd find a delectable Halloween goodie inside. A charm, spray, or player banner brandishing various spooky themes: old-school devil, pumpkin, reaper—all sorts of stuff.
The 'trick', however, was that there was also a chance you'd find a creepy spectre within, accompanied by a deathly scream that begins the moment your key actuates and the chest clicks open.
You can't just ignore every crate you come across either: until you can catch a loadout, you need the gear within the crates to survive. Hence why you just have to open every box and wish for the best.
What drives the jump scare home (beyond the comparatively high volume of the sound effect) is the sporadic nature of when they turn up. You can play for hours without one then, just when you're starting to feel safe, hit three screeching chests in a row that send you back to the corner crying.
You can see the effect in action in the video below from YouTube channel Game Clips and Tips (opens in new tab).
As a horror movie fan—yes, even ones with cheap jump scares—I'll admit I'm fond of the mechanic. It's entertaining, slightly terrifying, and clearly more elaborate than the average Halloween reskin. But then a buddy and I took to the standard Battle Royale mode for a chilled game or two, and this cursed feature took a swift turn into the maniacal.
I get it, put the creepy loot chests into the zombie mode. But the standard mode? Really?!? It took us two hours to find out that the jump scare was an option even in broad daylight Verdansk. Two hours of effective tension-building. Not even the best horror movies around give you a 120 minute lead-time on their maiden fright.
This is hardly a complaint. Now that the feature has been removed, I kind of miss it. Overwatch's Halloween events were always some of my favourites, because they do a great job capturing the spirit of Halloween, and Warzone's 'Haunting of Verdansk' took that one step further with some genuinely horror movie-esque scares. Plus Zombie Royale was seriously fun.
The price to pay for a genuinely frightening and fun Halloween game event like this? I'm going to instinctually wince whenever I open a loot crate in Warzone for the foreseeable. The treats were lovely, but the trick still lingers.