Call of Duty: Warzone’s new map may be situated on the opposite side of the world to Verdansk, but it won’t turn your assumptions upside down. The Pacific island of Caldera is broken up into a familiar mix of subtly merged arenas: countryside sprawl where squads leapfrog from house to house; a dense urban centre that lends itself to close-quarters stealth; an airfield where engagement distances unfold like a flick knife. Nothing about its geography fundamentally alters the rhythm or tempo of teamfights, or forces you to reconsider tactics honed deep in last year’s lockdowns.
Perhaps that’s for the best: since Verdansk isn’t available, players will expect Verdansk-like thrills from its palm-tree-pockmarked replacement. Just occasionally, though, during my morning of exploratory matches, some spectacular novelty would throw me out of old patterns and wake me up, if just for a second. These are those moments, recorded so that you can enjoy them too.
I… did not know this was going to happen. Did I wake up in Deathloop again? #warzone pic.twitter.com/9nhPuPGzGVDecember 9, 2021
Mucking about with gasoline
Populating the petrol stations and mining cabins of Caldera are stacks and stacks of circular gasoline cans—new additions with the map. These dented steel canisters can be picked up and carried around without any cost to your movement speed, though you can’t fire a weapon while you’re lugging one about. You can, however, hurl and then shoot the thing—or set it aflame with a lighter, creating an enormous grenade on a short fuse.
While outnumbered in a shack on the island’s outskirts, I had some success using a can as a very noisy distraction, giving myself time to steal a truck and make my escape. But the most shocking discovery came when I attempted to use an ‘ascender’, to use COD’s terminology for vertical ziplines, while packing gas. Instead of climbing aboard, my avatar lit the can and attached /it/ to the line instead, sending the bomb straight upwards to explode at the top. Good luck getting any kills that way—but it’s a pleasant surprise to see developer Raven account for creative improvisations in a fashion I’d usually only expect from immersive sims.
Landing on the very tippy top of a volcano
Geographers know a caldera as the cauldron-shaped hollow that forms in a volcano after an eruption. Caldera the map is built around just that: a central mountain with a massive chunk missing out the top.
The island’s titular volcano doesn’t appear to be active (though you just know it’s going to be in a later update, transforming part of the map with magma). Yet it’s still a striking place to drop into, boasting extraordinary views in every direction, which you can enjoy for approximately four to five seconds before getting drawn into a desperate pistol fight. That’s one Warzone lesson that remains true: distinctive landmarks draw players in droves.
Becoming lunchbreak entertainment for miners
Phosphate Mining Corp doesn’t seem like a company that’s big on employee benefits, but it does offer something more notable than a pool table and a vending machine: its very own 1v1 murderpit. After your first death in a match, in lieu of a gulag, you’re dragged into the mines, hurled down a shaft, and left to fight til death betwixt the cart tracks in a cobbled-together hut. It’s a welcome thematic variation, and between you and me, I reckon I’m getting marginally more kills by hopping in and out of the windows.
The whole arena is basically one room with lanes around it. Unlike in the original prison map and the bloated Nuketown remake, there’s no way to hide or delay the gunfight for more than a few seconds. And once you’re free, you actually get to keep the gun you won with. It’s a nice gesture that saves you the trouble of scrounging for something automatic as you land.
Killing a man with the nose of a plane
Verdansk’s runway was a frighteningly exposed concrete carpet lining the doorway to hell. Caldera’s equivalent isn’t quite so bad: if you can make it to a fighter plane, you’ll soon be up in the air, protected by sheer distance from your rivals on the ground.
Their actual utility is questionable in a squad game—you’re pinging from one part of the map to another at such speed that it’s more or less impossible to assist your teammates down below. That said, one stunt did bag me a couple of kills and a cornucopia of equipment. Realising I wouldn’t be able to pull out of a nosedive quickly enough, I aimed the jet at my unfortunate target, waited until I could see the whites of their widening eyes, and at the very last second, hopped out of the cockpit. It’s the cleanest kill I’ve ever managed in Warzone.