Gaming is arguably the most innovative form of entertainment media we consume. Video games with new concepts, incorporating new gameplay, and creating new mechanics come out every year. But, some franchises dominate the industry, with or without innovation, every year.
Series like FIFA, Assasin’s Creed, Need for Speed, and NBA games are just some examples of such franchises. They sell like hotcakes every year no matter their quality or innovation. However, the most dominant series among all of these sales giants is none other than Call of Duty.
Saying that Call of Duty is the biggest video game series of the modern era would not be wrong at all. With lifetime sales of 425 million units worldwide, it is the 4th best-selling video game series of all time. The franchise is a true juggernaut, not only in the gaming industry but in the entertainment sphere as a whole.
A big reason for this is the willingness of Call of Duty to experiment and expand into different forms. For example, it was one of the first big-name shooting IPs to venture into the mobile market. And, that move made it copious amounts of money.
Just last year, a report informed us how Call of Duty Mobile had a lifetime gross of $1.5 billion. The game did this while being completely free-to-play and the money came through player spending. For a franchise built on $60 games, this was a success beyond compare which laid the basis for something even bigger.
Battle Royale games had become the main attraction for players by 2020. Fortnite was responsible for this cultural shift and most new shooting games employed the free-to-play battle pass method. It seemed like titles like Apex legends and Fortnite had successfully shifted the focus away from Call of Duty.
The First Warzone
However, in 2020, the franchise showed everyone why it had been on top for so long and why it would stay there. Call of Duty: Warzone launched in 2020 as a part of Modern Warfare’s remake. The title was free-to-play and introduced the Battle Royale game mode to the franchise.
Warzone, alongside Modern Warfare, made a huge statement in the face of Fortnite’s dominance. It brought the franchise back on top after two dismal years and bought millions of players to Call of Duty. As of April 2021, more than 100 million players had played Warzone.
The game made $5.2 million per day according to a report in August 2021. So, not only did Warzone make Call of Duty relevant again, but it was also an insane financial success while being free-to-play. And as is the rule in entertainment, anything that is financially viable gets a sequel.
Following this rule, Activision made a sequel to Warzone called Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0. Like the first game, it came out alongside a new Modern Warfare remake from Infinity Ward. Since then, the game has had a great start with over 25 million players in its first 5 days.
But, the question that many have asked is that if Warzone was doing so well, what was the need for the sequel? No other battle Royale titles like Valorant or Fortnite have made a sequel after years online. So does the sequel to Call of Duty’s flagship online game add something or is it unnecessary?
Warzone 2 Is A Great Iterative Sequel
The thing about Warzone 2 is that while it makes some great additions, it doesn’t change much. Although some might think minor changes don’t call for a whole sequel, these tweaks are what make it great. Warzone 2 keeps the formula that made its predecessor a success while making additions that take it to the next level.
For example, Overwatch 2 is a sequel to another online game that was very popular. It dropped this year and even though the main concept didn’t change a lot, Blizzard Entertainment overhauled some key components of the game. The result was insane fan backlash resulting from these changes.
Overwatch 2 changed the battle pass system and made it so the player had to grind harder for mediocre rewards. Fans also hated a major change in the team battles mode, as they were now 5v5 instead of 6v6. Critics also heavily criticized the progression system and the updates have only made the game worse.
Like Warzone 2, Overwatch 2 was also an iterative sequel, but it made the wrong changes. Instead of replacing the things fans disliked, it removed the stuff players loved and made the game harder. Such a sequel was unnecessary and could have been just an update, and the fan reception echoes this.
On the other hand, Warzone 2 is the opposite of this. Yes, it does only make subtle changes to the formula of the first game, but their execution is beautiful. It doesn’t try to be an innovative new sequel and doesn’t change a lot.
For example, it doesn’t tweak the gameplay much but makes some additions that make Warzone much better. The introduction of the DMZ mode is the best example of this. As it is an entirely new game mode it justifies the game being a sequel and is a new addition that doesn’t change anything the previous game had.
It provides new and unique player interactions that are exciting and always end with gunfights or tactical standouts. Games like Escape from Tarkov and Hunt: Showdown first kicked off this DMZ mode. And Infinity Ward adding this to Warzone 2 is a masterclass in making iterative sequels.
Other Small Additions
Other changes to gameplay have also been made, but they are also entirely new and don’t touch the core concepts of the first game which made it good. The addition of Strongholds and Black sites is an example of this. Players have loved this heavy loot feature of Warzone 2 which make the game harder and change nothing.
AI of the sequel is also more challenging, but the leap isn’t too big for players, and it’s executed well. The difficulty of the black sites is a big reason for this, but instead of being a nuisance, it’s a huge plus. Hence, Infinity Ward made the game a bit harder, while adding fun features.
Proximity Chat is another example of a small addition that has had a big effect. It’s one of the most convenient things in Warzone 2 and literally affects nothing the players previously liked. So, as you can see, the game has been brilliantly made better and has kept the spirit of the original.
All of the alterations developers made to Warzone 2 have been on a micro-level. They have mostly been small-scale additions by Activision that have made the game more convenient. However, even with such puny changes, Warzone 2 is without a doubt a much better experience.
Such small-level changes have combined the best features from the first game and the new inclusions. This has made Warzone 2. one of the most perfectly balanced Battle Royal games out there, in my opinion. It only enhances the allure of the first game and makes it perfect.
Every piece of the puzzle is well made and has a brilliant undertaking, making it a complete Battle Royale. You might say that such additions could have still been done through an update. But, Infinity Ward remade the game from the ground up to provide a new experience, and it has worked.
Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 is a perfect example of how to make an iterative sequel, which adds new things while keeping every feature that made the first game better.
But, the best thing about it is that it helps the franchise keep up with the cultural behemoth that is Fornite. Not only does it improves the Warzone experience, but it also keeps the series relevant in gaming culture.
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