Jump scares, zombies, and darkness make battle royales even more stressful.
We were soaring towards Quarry alongside two other teams. I knew we'd have a better chance at taking them out if we landed together towards the back of the location--where we could loot before fighting. Our boots hit the ground and my two teammates, one picking up a molotov cocktail on the way there, ran towards the hum of the chest we could hear inside a nearby building.
"Holy crap! What the hell!?" one of my teammates spouted as he was greeted by a jump scare after opening the chest. He backtracked and threw the molotov cocktail, lighting our other teammate on fire. "Oh s*** man, I'm sorry."
Call of Duty: Warzone's The Haunting of Verdansk event provides dozens of moments like this. The limited-time event that runs through November 3 brings back the same tension that first made battle royales a sensation in 2017. It turns Warzone upside down with creepy environmental changes, a haunted Easter egg hunt with numerous rewards, and two modes that are surprisingly terrifying.
The new modes, Trick-Or-Trios and Zombie Royale, offer two different types of Halloween-themed experiences. Zombie Royale is fast-paced action--the player-controlled zombies are more 28 Days Later than The Walking Dead--where the map is full of undead players leapfrogging over buildings and sprinting through the gas. Trick-Or-Trios offers slower, tension-building gameplay that comes directly from the new haunted map.
Zombie Royale has players come back to life with special abilities after dying. Once dead, they lose all their gear and gain the ability to jump over buildings and sprint faster. They can revive themselves if they manage to kill (or loot) the bodies of two other players. It's an exciting mode that makes the best use of zombie mechanics I've ever seen in a battle royale.
Final circles, many of which still have dozens of players left standing, are absolutely wild. The zombified remains of dead players will come running from inside the gas to flank you. Fighting for your life from inside a building, with the grumble of zombies approaching from every direction, gets the adrenaline pumping more than anything else thus far in Warzone.
Trick-Or-Trios is standard trios with all the new stuff introduced as part of The Haunting of Verdansk. Laughing can be heard in the distance while looting, ghosts appear randomly in windows, and the jump scares that sometimes come with opening chests can cause heart attacks. The tension in this mode is at an all-time high.
Just walking around in Trick-Or-Trios is suspenseful. At any given moment, you could see a ghost train roll past you in the Quarry or find blood gushing up from the floorboards in buildings. And the normal downtime that comes in Warzone, where you are looting a location or trying to decide what to do next, is no longer a break from the stress.
It's hard to reset and get ready for another fight when it sounds like Bobby the Puppet from Saw is laughing in the other room. It's even harder when a player dressed as Bobby the Puppet could pop out and kill you, too.
Both modes offer a new type of gameplay for the two core audiences of Warzone. Zombie Royale gives those who want non-stop action and carnage a new way to get 22 kills in a single game. Trick-Or-Trios adds new thrills without disrupting the slower style of battle royale gameplay.
The trick-or-treat reward system ties it all together. Special rewards, including everything from a new watch to a jack-o-lantern charm that can hang from your gun, are up for grabs. The rewards are spread all over the map--one in most major named locations--pushing players to explore every bit of the haunted Verdansk. They aren't tied to a single spot, either. You need to search the location, opening every chest you come across to find the rewards.
Knowing that no landing spot is safe, along with all the scares that come from just walking around, makes every match feel new and exciting. Even the small changes in The Haunting of Verdansk made me change how I play. Building interiors are now lit with bright white lights, making anything inside them stand out like a target. It's much easier to hide outside, in the dark, waiting to be a jump scare for someone else.
Infinity Ward has done a fantastic job of being inventive with an event that's only going to last two weeks. My only complaints are that victories during the event don't count and other team sizes--not just trios--aren't available in the special Trick-Or-Trios mode. Even so, I hope they keep some of these elements beyond November 3.
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