Call of Duty: Warzone's nuke event was a total letdown

A mushroom cloud over Verdansk.
(Image credit: Activision)

When Call of Duty: Warzone's mysterious zombie outbreak began at the start of Season 2, anyone could've told you what was coming: Verdansk was probably going to be nuked, and zombies were likely going to be the reason. It was a very slow burn. Players had assumed that zombies would slowly spread across the map and became a disruption that couldn't be ignored, but instead the infestation bounced from building to building like a travelling circus that wasn't worth the trouble.

Things didn't heat up until the last week leading up to the Destruction of Verdansk event, when players could suddenly turn into zombies by dying in radiation zones. The unexpected turn left us wondering how the grand finale would go down.

And when the day finally came for the Destruction of Verdansk, it was a total letdown. Staff writer Morgan Park and guides writer Emma Matthews are breaking down what went wrong.

Morgan Park: Well, it didn't work most of the time, for one. That wasn't great.

Emma Matthews: Yeah, I logged in around ten minutes before the Destruction of Verdansk Part 1 launched and immediately found myself in a 15-minute queue. This wait time just kept increasing. I noticed that some players were able to get in by constantly rebooting the game, but I wasn't as lucky. 

Morgan: I first saw the nuke through a Twitch streamer because I was stuck in a never-ending server queue. I did eventually get in, but only after 90 minutes of trying. Kinda deflated the whole thing, unfortunately.

If you didn't catch Warzone's nuke event as it happened, here's how Part 1 went down.

Emma: I agree. I ended up watching the live events through streamers because I just couldn't get past the queues. While that was really frustrating on its own, I think there's a much bigger reason why the Destruction of Versansk felt like such a flop, and it's in the DNA of the nuke event itself.

We've been waiting for this event for months and I was really excited to see how the missions would pan out this time. Last August, Warzone played a big part in the Black Ops - Cold War reveal and there was a limited time playlist called 'Know Your History' which sent us off on a quest where we had to collect and crack some codes, unlock a special fun blueprint, and meet up with Frank Woods. The whole thing only lasted around 15 minutes and it ended with everyone rushing to the Stadium before the trailer played.

Morgan: Yea! It was a pretty simple "go here, find this stuff" mission but there was an air of mystery around it and a few fun surprises. The last thing I expected was for the Warzone narrator to start reading off creepy number sequences and "DESTABILIZATION" to emblazon the top half of the screen as I'm running around. It's still neat to rewatch.

Warzone's "Know Your History" event from 2020

Emma: I expected the nuke event to have a similar setup, but it wasn't anywhere near as involved. The Destruction of Verdansk Part 1 wasn't as much of a challenge and that took some of the excitement out of it for me. The zombies aren't exactly new, either. We saw them at Halloween and then they've been moving all over the map since the Ship crashed into the coast. It felt far more pedestrian this time around. 

Morgan: Yeah, the zombies even have the same abilities as they did last year. There was no real strategy to the mode, as it turns out. No matter what you're destined to die, become a zombie, and then get nuked.

Emma: I was hoping for something more impressive. I think it was a strange choice to make Part 1 so short, too. The original schedule only gave us a couple of hours to hop into Verdansk, then the Rebirth Island Resurgence playlist ran for considerably longer and there wasn't much to do. Even if we ignore the server issues, that was a tiny window for everyone to jump in to say goodbye to the original map. As you mentioned in your article, it's never coming back.

Morgan: Goodbye dam, hello cable cars.

Emma: I wasn't a fan of the Destruction of Verdansk Part 2 either. There was a bit more to actually do, but it consisted of running around frantically trying to grab the device and hold onto it. I would have loved for it to have been a bit more involved, and for the rewards to have been better to commemorate the event properly.

Watch The Destruction of Verdansk Part 2 above

Morgan: Yeah, what even was that? The most cramped, chaotic game of hot potato I've ever been a part of. This one was broken for many at first too, but I eventually got in after an hour. I held on to the device for about 10 seconds before I got shot in the head by some dude on a building. Cool.

Win more with these Warzone loadouts

(Image credit: Infinity Ward)

Best Warzone loadout: The gear to choose
Best M4A1 Warzone loadout: Top all-purpose AR builds
Best MP7 Warzone loadout: Effective SMG setups
Best Grau Warzone loadout: Strong AR builds
Best M13 Warzone loadout:  Attachments to choose
Best Kilo 101 Warzone loadout: Boost the punchy AR

Emma: While the event was a letdown, I think the premise was interesting. Making us feel responsible for destroying the map was a nice idea, and seeing it from both sides would have been really cool if we felt the panic in Verdansk a little more.

Morgan: Wow, that would've been genius: some players duking it out on Verdansk while others were on Rebirth fighting over a button that nukes actual players elsewhere? Talk about memorable.

Emma: People were desperately craving a brand new map this year, so it would have felt even sweeter if we destroyed Verdansk and then landed in the Ural Mountains rather than just Verdansk in 1984. It doesn't seem that different from what I've seen. What do you think of it so far?  

Morgan: It's fine. I like springtime and the new locations are appreciated. That said, I really think Activision is making the wrong move here. I much prefer Apex Legends' strategy of cycling through multiple distinct maps and updating them individually. All said, Verdansk '84 isn't much of an upgrade.

Emma: It sounds like we're giving Activision a really hard time on this but they set themselves a pretty high standard with the 'Know Your History' mission. It also feels like they've had a long time to work on something spectacular. Of course, we're not experts when it comes to game development, but I imagine the pandemic had an impact here, as well as things we don't even know about. When I see other battle royales like Apex Legends consistently hosting Collection events, introducing new characters and weapons, and even launching a permanent 3v3 mode next week, I have to question why Warzone's updates aren't as impressive. We've had multiple studios work on it, but maybe updating both Cold War and Warzone is just a bit too much.

Morgan: Absolutely. The pandemic's effect on game development can't be overstated. Though ultimately, Activision decided to hype up last week's events as if Warzone would never be the same and then didn't deliver. It didn't have to do that. Epic pulled off that crazy Galactus Fortnite event nine months into lockdown. Warzone just surpassed 100 million players, so it's not like Activision is incapable of giving these events the time and resources they need to be good.

Hey, there's supposedly a new Call of Duty coming out this year. Maybe that reveal will be cooler?

Emma Matthews

As PC Gamer's guides writer, Emma is usually juggling several games at once. She loves competitive first-person shooters like CS:GO and Call of Duty, but she always has time for a few rounds of Hearthstone. She's happiest when she's rescuing pugs in Spelunky 2.