Call of Duty: Warzone is getting a sequel next week, and the ol' battle royale dinosaur isn't taking it too well. Activision announced in a blog post yesterday that, once Warzone 2.0 is out, the original game is going through some big changes.
First, the old game is shutting down for a few weeks starting on November 16. Development resources will be primarily diverted to Warzone 2.0 to make sure its "ecosystem is fully stable." After a holiday break, old Warzone will come back online on November 28 with a new name—Call of Duty: Warzone Caldera. The rebranding seems to mark the informal "end" of Warzone 1.0's ongoing support as focus shifts to the new game, but Activision isn't just leaving 1.0 as it is today. Warzone Caldera's maps and modes will be stripped to bare essentials.
It's an unusual step to temporarily sunset a game and rename it, but I think what's motivating this is Activision's need to clearly communicate what the newest Warzone experience is. Overwatch 2 avoided such a scenario by subsuming its ancestor.
Per the blog post:
- Expect to access a standard Battle Royale Playlist
- Rebirth Island and Fortune’s Keep maps will not be present when Call of Duty: Warzone Caldera becomes available to play
Apparently the new name "Warzone Caldera" should be taken literally: one map, one mode, no frills. It stings that neither iteration of the iconic Verdansk map will be playable when Activision sunsets the game, especially because Caldera has failed to make a lasting impression on the community.
Even worse is that Warzone's beloved smaller maps, Rebirth Island and the still-new Fortune's Keep, are disappearing too, and it's not clear if either will ever come back. This is a bit of a shock. Covering Warzone from a distance this past year, it's clear that a significant chunk of players prefer the smaller, respawn-friendly format of Rebirth Royale on these smaller maps. Activision seems to know this too, and is asking small map fans to hold on until an indeterminate time in the future:
"For those fans of small Battle Royale maps, expect exciting developments in Warzone 2.0 during future seasons."
Activision is hoping for a clean transition from Warzone 1.0 to 2.0, but the fated state of Warzone Caldera doesn't sit right with me. If this is old Warzone's last hurrah, then why not leave it in the best place possible? Right now it seems like the opposite is more likely. Warzone will remain as a husk of its former self with a mediocre map and minimum options.
It could be worse: Warzone 1.0 gets to live on in some form after the shinier version steals the spotlight. That's more than can be said for Call of Duty's corporate cousin, Overwatch. Blizzard chose violence with the launch of Overwatch 2, literally overwriting the original like it never existed. Let's hope it never comes to that with Warzone Caldera.