Fortnite-style events could be coming to Call of Duty: Warzone, as recently suggested by Infinity Ward’s narrative director.
When Call of Duty’s free-to-play battle royale Warzone launched on March 10, it was uncertain how often the mode’s battlefield would change. Would Warzone take the safe approach of Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode through minor visual updates? Or would players see updates that rivaled the larger scale of Fortnite’s in-game events, with geographical changes tied to in-game events or complete map overhauls?
In a recent interview with VentureBeat, narrative director Taylor Kurosaki discussed how Warzone continues the story beyond Modern Warfare’s campaign. It’s hard not to reference Fortnite when discussing any battle royale. The interviewer touched on the topic of the grand scale of Fortnite’s events and Epic’s infamous black hole stunt, which took the whole game offline for days, to which Kurosaki said, “That’s exactly the kind of thing that we’re working on, that we have planned.”
Kurosaki also added, “If you know who the players are in Modern Warfare, it’ll all make sense, and it’ll all feel appropriate to the universe.”
The continuation of Modern Warfare’s campaign has spilled out slowly, tying Warzone into the narrative in the form of Spec Ops mission cutscenes and episodic DLC trailers. Each “Season” of content for Modern Warfare is kicked off with a cinematic intro, which shows new cosmetics, Operators, and maps being incorporated, as well as tidbits of story.
Modern Warfare’s campaign reached a fairly satisfactory conclusion thanks to the joint effort of CIA-SAS forces and a group of rebels from the fictional country of Urzikstan. But as those enemies fell, a post-credit cutscene showed that Modern Warfare’s protagonists only paved the way for a new power to come into play.
The continuation of the story carried over in the cooperative Spec Ops missions. The missions required players to rescue informants or obtain intel to learn more about the growing new threat. One cutscene showed that a man named Khalid Al-Asad had taken charge of the campaign’s terrorist organization, known as Al-Qatala, and his troops were invading the fictional city of Verdansk, which is the location for Warzone.
Season One’s pre-Warzone cutscene introduced two new Operators, Mara and Nikto, as clashing forces on a remastered “Crash” map from the original Modern Warfare. While this appeared to be just a fancy way to preview Season One’s DLC drop, this was actually setting up additional post-campaign narrative. The cutscene ended with Al-Asad watching over the battlefield from inside a television station, which was a remastered version of “Broadcast” from the original Modern Warfare. This served as a teaser for Warzone: the TV station is a point of interest on the map of Verdansk. Al-Asad sounded unphased by losing his gas canisters in the helicopter crash, stating, “No problem, brother. We have more. Plenty more.” This felt like a reference to the circle of gas that closes around players in Warzone, which could make Al-Asad responsible for the battle royale fumes.
Season Two’s intro arrived shortly before Warzone’s release and continued the growing conflict from Season One. The cinematic introduced a new skull mask for the Modern Warfare series’ fan favorite, Simon “Ghost” Riley, who arrived at the Verdansk airport to find that the soldiers there were strangely targeting their own. Ghost called for backup, asking to be sent fighters he could trust. But we wouldn’t find out who’d come to his aid until Season Three.
When discussing Season Two in the interview, Kurosaki said that Ghost is “going to be leaving clues, leaving bits of intel for his fellow operators, meaning you as the players, to find and aid in this quest.”
The newly released Season Three intro revealed that Ghost’s trusted backup was Alex, a character believed to be dead, who somehow survived the explosion from the campaign’s final mission. It’s unclear how Alex survived the assumed-to-be fatal explosion, but I’m curious to learn more about his return and team up with Ghost.
“With the season intros, that’s where we’re earmarking a new cinematic that continues the story,” Kurosaki said. “But all that is a setup for the discoveries that the players will make when they’re playing the mode [Warzone]. There are Easter eggs in the maps, hidden areas in the maps.”
His statement could be referencing a number of small Easter eggs littering Modern Warfare’s multiplayer and cooperative Spec Ops maps, with many of those individual maps forming the real estate for Warzone’s massive map of Verdansk. However, he could also be referring to the mysterious bunkers, telephones, and laptops scattered all across Verdansk. These interactable but so far useless items have been puzzling players since Warzone’s launch. Kurosaki said in his interview, “The emergent narratives we’re seeing in Warzone, that’s a whole other way to look at narrative.”
Personally, I hope these breadcrumbs come into play during whatever fight Ghost and Alex are preparing for. Will Ghost lead an attack against Al-Asad, in a nuke-filled event that will force players into those secret bunkers for protection? Explosions that could drastically alter the landscape of Verdansk? It would be an event that would fit Call of Duty’s flair.
Kurosaki didn’t give any sense of a timeline for what could be coming next for Warzone’s story. “I would look at it like we’re making an episodic TV series,” Kurosaki said, comparing the game’s story development process to shows like The Sopranos and Lost. “We know where we’re going, and we know where we’re starting from. The question just remains, how long will it take us to get to our conclusion? That’s kind of up to our fans.”
If we’re lucky, we’re not left staring at a black hole for several days, waiting for this next big thing to happen.