After many months of leaks and rumors, Call of Duty: Warzone has officially arrived, allowing shooter fans of all stripes to try their hand at two distinct (and highly replayable) open-world game modes. Since Warzone simultaneously launched as both a free add-on for last year’s Modern Warfare reboot and as a standalone free-to-play experience, it’s readily available to all interested takers on Xbox One, PS4, and PC, not just those who already own Modern Warfare.
As the leaks and rumors already revealed, Warzone was built with battle royale fans in mind, but the game’s Battle Royale mode is only half of the equation. Players can also see how they fare in Warzone’s much more unique Plunder mode where the key to victory lies in becoming a skilled hoarder. In this guide, we’ll briefly cover how the Battle Royale and Plunder modes differ from one another and offer more specialized tips and strategies to help you achieve victory no matter which mode you prefer.
Going for Broke or Taking it All
Whether they choose Battle Royale or Plunder as their go-to game mode, Warzone players will inevitably find themselves parachuting down into an absolutely massive open-world map called Verdansk. As is usually the case with battle royale maps, Verdansk is littered with dozens of unique landmarks such as a logging camp, a quarry, a stadium, and even an entire airport complete with crashed planes that are fractured into multiple segments strewn across the tarmac.
While both Battle Royale and Plunder involve dropping players into Verdansk, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Plunder matches can accommodate up to a maximum of 102 players (skewing more closely to the battle royale standard of 100), but Warzone’s Battle Royale mode boosts that total per-match player count up to a whopping 150. This increased player count affords players more opportunities to warm up the old trigger finger, but it also makes victory all the harder to obtain.
Fortunately, unlike in most other battle royale games, getting shot down a single time by an enemy player in a Warzone Battle Royale match rarely means you’re out for good. Warzone’s default three-player squads format means you’ll always have buddies who can revive you, or you can purchase a self-revive kit from one of the mode’s map-based Buy Stations if you’d rather play lone wolf for a while.
If a player is eliminated entirely, one of their squadmates can purchase a ‘Redeploy Token’ to bring them back, or the player can try their hand at the 1v1 Gulag mini-game where all eliminated players are sent the first time they die. Besting an opponent in the Gulag’s tense 1v1 standoffs affords the winning player a second chance at obtaining Battle Royale glory, though they’ll naturally lose whatever gear they had before they died.
Speaking of gear, that’s the other major way in which Battle Royale and Plunder differ from each other. Battle Royale follows a more traditional route of having players scavenge for gear while avoiding an encroaching wave of deadly gas. In Plunder, there’s no gas, players can use their own customized weapon loadouts (no need for scavenging), and they can also respawn as many times as they please.
To be clear, being able to use your own gear and respawn freely doesn’t mean that obtaining victory in Plunder is any easier than it is in Battle Royale. As we’ll explain more thoroughly in the following sections, winning in either Battle Royale or Plunder is all about utilizing proper teamwork, carefully managing your resources, and knowing when it’s best to engage an enemy squad or fall back so you can fight another day.
If you’ve ever played a battle royale game before, you’ll undoubtedly acclimate quickly to Warzone’s Battle Royale format. All players are dropped in with nothing on their person other than a basic pistol, which means they need to pick a landing zone, scrounge around for as much gear as they can, and then get moving before the circular gas wave closes in. The ever-shrinking circle of safety puts constant pressure on players to keep moving in until they inevitably cross paths with enemy squads, forcing them to prove how badly they want to be the last squad left.
Warzone’s Battle Royale mode doesn’t ask players to worry about finding inventory-expanding backpacks or clutter up their inventories with healing items or manually-triggered perks. Whether out in the open or inside supply crates tucked away in landmark buildings, players will only find the following item types:
- Weapons of different rarity colors (rarity levels go from grey to blue to green to purple to orange, with higher rarity level weapons having more attachments on them)
- Equipment items including lethal equipment like grenades or C4, tactical equipment such as smoke grenades or stims, field upgrades like trophy systems or ammo boxes, and killstreaks such as UAV’s or Precision Airstrikes (a single player can carry a maximum of one lethal grenade, two tactical grenades, one field upgrade, and one killstreak at a time, though they can swap them out if they find a more desirable piece of equipment)
- Armor plates (each player can carry a maximum of six armor plates at one time and they can use armor plates to apply up to three ‘armor layers’ onto their default health gauge)
- Cash bundles (cash is used at Buy Stations to purchase certain items like self-revive kits, killstreaks, or gas masks, the latter of which provides temporary immunity from gas cloud damage)
If a player amasses enough cash during a match, they can also buy a unique ‘Loadout Drop’ item which allows them to equip a standard multiplayer loadout, complete with character perks and high-quality weaponry. Just note that triggering a Loadout Drop broadcasts your current location to all nearby players.
Winning a Warzone Battle Royale match involves knowing when to be conservative and when it’s time to aggressively push. A solid early-game strategy is to drop in at a landmark on the outskirts of the safety circle and scrounge for whatever gear you can find before the gas starts closing in. If you’re playing with friends, it can help to designate certain combat roles on the fly depending on what gear you find (so one person might be a sniper, another could harass enemies from mid-range with an LMG and grenades, etc.).
You should also prioritize finding a vehicle, ideally one that allows your entire three-player squad to quickly move from landmark to landmark so you can keep scavenging for gear and cash. If you get lucky and find some orange-rarity weapons during the early game, so much the better, but no matter what you should be focusing on building up your stockpile of armor crates and cash.
If you and/or your squadmates are existing Modern Warfare players with pre-customized multiplayer weapon loadouts, amassing cash should also be a high priority since you’ll want to purchase and use a Loadout Drop as soon as possible. Just remember to place the Loadout Drop in a secure out-of-the-way spot since other squads will be alerted to its arrival if they’re nearby.
Conversely, if you’re playing the standalone Warzone client and thus have more modest multiplayer loadouts, you should focus instead on purchasing helpful items like gas masks, Redeploy Tokens, self-revive kits, and killstreaks. You should also be considering such items if you’re an existing Modern Warfare player, but the sheer advantage of having favored weapons and equipment at your disposal makes the Loadout Drop an ideal first pick when it comes time to spend your cash.
Once you’ve stocked up on helpful items and compiled your ideal weapon loadouts via either scavenging or the Loadout Drop, your team should decide whether they want to play defensively or be more aggressive. The deciding factor might be what killstreaks you have access to. Both of Warzone’s modes only allow for certain killstreaks drawn from the larger Modern Warfare pool, and despite the small selection there’s a decent mix of defensive and offensive options.
If you have killstreaks like UAV’s or Personal Radars, you can use them to keep tabs on enemy players as you defend a position or attempt an ambush. Killstreaks like Cluster Strikes and Precision Airstrikes, meanwhile, are great for flushing out an enemy squad that’s dug into a defensive encampment or giving your team some breathing room if a group of enemies is trying to rush you.
One last tip regarding the Gulag specifically: you might have noticed that, while awaiting your turn to fight, you can watch other matches from the balcony above. If you and one or more of your squadmates is sent to the Gulag at the same time, you can still communicate with each other and thus provide intel to whichever squadmate ends up fighting first. Sure, it’s not exactly the most honorable action, but if your squad is hell-bent on coming out on top, every little bit can help.
In Battle Royale, taking a more passive approach during certain situations can ultimately benefit you and your squad, but such is pretty much never the case in Plunder. Each Plunder match has a total time limit of 30 minutes to account for the infinite respawns, and the match only ends early if one squad manages to successfully secure a total of $1 million in-game cash. Along with killing other players (more on that in a moment), cash is gained via the following methods:
- Finding loose cash bundles on the ground
- Opening supply crates
- Completing contracts which task squads with fulfilling tasks like securing a specific landmark or eliminating a specific enemy player (these contracts appear in Battle Royale as well)
- Collecting packages dropped by ‘Cash Drop Planes’ which appear at certain intervals during the match
- Destroying ‘HVT’ (High-Value Target) attack choppers that appear during the match’s final bonus round period
This race towards the $1 million goal naturally means that Plunder players will have a lot more cash on their person than in Battle Royale. If a player is killed, they’ll drop half of whatever cash they were holding on the ground before they respawn, allowing other players to swoop in and take it. To keep their earnings safe, players can “deposit” their held cash either by calling in a Cash Deposit Helicopter at a designated helipad or by purchasing and using a Cash Deposit Balloon.
Both cash deposit methods involve some element of risk. Cash Deposit Balloons can be shot down as they rise, so you should make sure to deploy them in an isolated location. As for the Cash Deposit Helicopters, nearby players will be alerted whenever one is called in, affording them an opportunity to rush over and steal your earnings if they can kill you before the helicopter arrives. It’s also worth noting that the helipads used to call in Cash Deposit Helicopters don’t become available until at least one squad has accrued a total of $300k cash.
If and when a squad reaches $1 million in cash, that cash is auto-deposited and a final two-minute bonus round begins (the bonus round also happens if the 30-minute timer expires and no teams have reached $1 million). During the bonus round, all cash gains are increased, affording other squads an opportunity to gather as much extra cash as they can and potentially reach the $1 million mark themselves. Once the match ends, all teams are awarded XP based on factors such as how much cash they earned and how many opponents they eliminated, so there really aren’t any “losers” in Plunder.
Still, if getting to the top of that fabled $1 million mountain is a goal you can’t help but chase, being prepared can make all the difference. Since Plunder allows for pre-made gear loadouts, you’ll want to stock up on weapons and equipment that allow you find cash quickly and, more importantly, defend it once you have it.
Consider taking weapons with larger magazines like LMG’s and equipment like smoke grenades to help you outflank any would-be-cash thieves. If you want to go after the HVT attack choppers, you should have at least one person on your squad decked out with an anti-vehicle loadout complete with a rocket launcher and the Cold-Blooded and Amped perks. Having a sniper on your team can also help you take down rival squads from a safe distance, especially when they’re congregating at a Cash Deposit helipad.
Another strategy you should consider is setting one member of your squad as the dedicated cash collector while the other two run interference by providing protection and, if needed, acting as decoys. That way if you run into trouble, the cash collector can make a speedy exit while the other two fend off the attackers. If either of the other two squad members inadvertently gets their hands on some cash, they can use it to purchase a Cash Deposit Balloon for the dedicated cash collector to use. Just note that Cash Deposit Balloons can only hold a limited amount, and as mentioned before they can be shot down so be sure to stick around until the balloon is safely away.
As you experience more and more Battle Royale and Plunder matches for yourself, you’ll get a better sense of your ideal playstyle and which strategies work best for you should you decide you’ve got the chops to take top honors. Even if you don’t have a pair of dedicated friends to play with, both of Warzone’s offered game modes can be a ton of fun and, if you’re already an experienced Modern Warfare player, a great way to switch things up should you grow weary of the standard multiplayer experience.
Call of Duty: Warzone is available now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.