The future of Call of Duty is, possibly for the first time in years, uncertain. What has been an unwavering constant of the yearly AAA cycle, the annual CoD release, is no longer an absolute guarantee ever since Microsoft announced its plans to acquire Activision Blizzard. All bets are, for better or worse, off. Even so, at such a turbulent time, some pretty convincing leaks about a "Warzone 2" have reared their heads.
Ever since the new of the merger broke, some statements have been made to give fans reassurances - like Microsoft committing to keeping CoD on the PlayStation, at least for the next few years. It isn't clear how Microsoft will change the release model, if at all, or to what degree the acquisition deal will affect projects currently under development.
This is a rather interesting and tumultuous time for leaked news of a perhaps unexpected sequel to make the rounds. A staple of Call of Duty ever since the Modern Warfare reboot, Warzone has perhaps even eclipsed the main games in relevance and popularity.
The free-to-play battle royale built upon the foundations laid by games such as PUBG and Fortnite, but rose to rival both and come one of the 'greats' of the genre. Its popularity and staying power has allowed it to outlast two main Call of Duty games already, and is still running concurrently - and with shared content - with Vanguard.
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Since Warzone has made the jump year over year and kept up with the franchise twice already, it seemed like Activision was keen on keeping that streak going for as long as it could - this approach with live service games is hardly novel or unexpected. Just look at MMOs or titles like GTA Online.
However, it seems like there might be an actual sequel planned after all. Being a free to play title - and the assumption is that any 'Warzone 2' would be as well - goes a long way with retaining the player base that's already dropping into the frenzied matches currently.
So far everything we know is vague and unconfirmed. If these leaks are to be believed and Warzone 2 is actually happening, then we most likely won't be hearing about it for a long while, and it most likely won't be launching alongside this year's Call of Duty - so be prepared for at least one more cycle of the current Warzone.
Warzone 2 is literally that... Warzone 2.
Current gen and PC only... No past weapon integrations etc.
A completely new game for the better hardware.
— Tom Henderson (@_Tom_Henderson_) January 25, 2022
The main sources regarding early Warzone 2 information are Jason Schreier and Tom Henderson, both of whom are well known video game industry insiders with an exceedingly long streak of correct, accurate leaks to their name. Not believing anything from non-official sources is a good rule of thumb, but hearing information from these two is just about the next best thing.
According to Tom Henderson, who refers to Warzone 2 as a certain, in-development project, it's just about exactly what fans would expect from a sequel - it's a new and shiny take on Warzone with about as much gameplay changes as you'd expect from one CoD game to another, while getting a major visual overhaul taking advantage of new hardware available in the latest consoles.
Henderson claims that, as such, Warzone 2 will be exclusive to the PC and current generation consoles, and being a separate game it won't share content or progression, nor will it necessarily include items or weapons found in Warzone currently. Warzone as we know it now features content from all of the main Call of Duty games it has accompanied over the years, but the sequel looks to be a clean slate.
NEW: Activision is committed to releasing at least the next three Call of Duty games on PlayStation even after the Xbox acquisition, according to people familiar with the deal. That's COD2022, COD2023, and Warzone 2 (in 2023). After that, it's hazier https://t.co/OpWE7Tk9KV
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 25, 2022
Jason Schreier's information isn't as laser-focused on Warzone 2 itself. Rather, his info gives us an idea of when to expect the sequel to the battle royale to drop - in a Tweet, Schreier said that Microsoft has committed to releasing at least the next three Call of Duty games on PlayStation, including the next two annual releases and Warzone 2, expected to launch in 2023. It's important to note that with past acquisitions, Microsoft would fulfill pre-existing contracts, but cut off PlayStation support as soon as it legally could.
The move makes sense - having been built on the Modern Warfare foundations of 2019, Warzone has become in some ways dated, and while competing battle royales have been around longer, by the time Warzone 2 actually launches that datedness will be much more apparent than it is now. There is only so much you can do with updates before building something from the ground up just becomes a better solution.
Reliable as these sources are, it's still a good idea to maintain some healthy skepticism until we hear any official news on a possible sequel to Warzone. Until then, keep dropping.