The past two weeks have made it an equally exciting and exhausting time to be a Warzone fan. On February 25, Season 2 (opens in new tab) launched, accompanied by the new zombies Outbreak mode, multiplayer maps, and more in Cold War. Warzone also received two new modes and we saw the Vodianoy ship, which had been sending radio transmissions for weeks, crash into the southeastern corner of the map, introducing zombies to Verdansk.
While it's great to see the leaks and rumours that we've been dissecting for months finally show signs of coming to fruition, the gradual build up to Verdansk's explosive sendoff is starting to wear me out. We've had cryptic blog posts (opens in new tab) advising us to "execute the mission", and mysterious machines have surfaced around the map, but these frequent teases don't quite match the rate at which Warzone's narrative is slowly developing. Every time I think something big is about to happen it just...doesn't.
Before I go on, it's important to remember that designing and launching a brand new map (opens in new tab) is no easy task, particularly during a pandemic. According to VGC (opens in new tab), Warzone was originally scheduled to transition into the Cold War era at the end of last year, which would have sandwiched the battle royale into the current CoD timeline closer to Black Ops - Cold War's launch. "Several factors" delayed its arrival and its launch has been pushed towards its first birthday instead, but it looks as though yesterday's update was just the beginning of Verdank's downfall.
As it stands, the expectation is that Verdansk is probably going to explode during Call of Duty: Warzone Season 2 (opens in new tab). The most persuasive theory points to the zombie outbreak fully engulfing Verdansk, eventually prompting a nuclear explosion that'll decimate its landscape. The new map, set in the 1980s, is rumoured to launch in April around the time that the current season will conclude, and it's believed to contain POIs from the original Black Ops game.
Following a recent Warzone leak (opens in new tab) containing voice lines that reference a zombies 'plague' mode, and the fact that the end of the Outbreak Event concluded the day after Warzone's anniversary, fans began to question when the Warzone nuke event (opens in new tab) may kick off. Chasing yesterday's Containment Protocol alert, Warzone's zombies are on the move (opens in new tab), albeit very slowly. Unfortunately it appears as though their relocation to Verdansk's Prison Complex hasn't had much of an impact just yet. We can still trigger the same zombies event as before to grab a keycard, and the infection level is still hovering at just five percent.
After two weeks of containment in the Shipwreck, I'm hoping that we'll start to see zombies spilling into other portions of the map at an accelerated rate. Even if we factor in the tentative April release date for the new map, repeating the same challenge in different zones doesn't sound like a particularly exciting way to wait. If this really is the beginning of the end, I hope there's at least one specialised mission in the works to mark the occasion.
Just this week I praised Respawn for packing Apex Legends Season 8 (opens in new tab)'s opening month with back-to-back Collection Events and some limited time modes. Compared to Apex, which has just celebrated its second anniversary, it feels like we're still waiting for an invite to Warzone's proper birthday bash. Its Verdansk-based playlist updates have given us a few modes to try, but its Exfiltration and King Slayer Trios haven't expanded on the battle royale formula enough to feel all that different from the standard mode.
That's not to say that we haven't experienced our fair share of big moments in Warzone over the past year. Modern Warfare Season 5 welcomed us into Warzone's Stadium for the first time, Cold War's world premiere was neatly tied into the Know Your History (opens in new tab) mission in August, and we even saw subway stations (opens in new tab) take skirmishes underground.
Cold War Season 1 also saw the launch of Rebirth Island (opens in new tab), which successfully dropped us into Warzone's mini-royale experience. While it seems a bit cheeky to expect Warzone's next flagship map to release so quickly after Rebirth Island, the titchy map has always come second to Verdansk. Rather than having a dedicated playlist of several modes, it spotlights one mode with each playlist update. It's also been tied to the Outbreak Event via broadcasts from the Vodianoy ship, but the map still feels like it's mainly intended to support Verdansk—the ship ended up crashing there after all.
Verdansk's mysterious bunkers (opens in new tab) have kept us on the edge of our seats for so long that every whiff of a big update has left the community hanging on the developer's every word. While delivering consistent, big, seasonal updates as well as a completely fresh map is a huge ask, Warzone's first anniversary felt oddly subdued. Maybe it would have been more fitting for Season 2 to have launched this week instead. I have no doubts that the new map will arrive in a spectacular fashion when it's ready, but unless the developers have a few more tricks up their sleeves for March, it feels like we'll need to be patient for a little longer.