Activision’s Call of Duty: Warzone is one of the most popular online multiplayer games today, merging COD’s intricate FPS gunplay with the thrilling mechanics of the battle royale genre.

If you’re not completely familiar of the two kinds of gameplay, this beginner’s guide will help you understand the basics of Warzone and how to play your way through the city of Verdansk.


Map navigation

As a battle royale game, Warzone pits a lobby of players to parachute across the map, find weapons and items, and fight to be the last man/squad standing. Unique to Warzone, the map supports a massive 150 players at one time.

If you’re new to the BR genre, every game will start with you and your squad dropping from a helicopter and dropping into a chosen location.

Image of Verdansk Map in Call of Duty: Warzone Season 3
Credit: Activision

To keep things simple, the best places to land are the named locations on the map. Known as points of interest or locations, these should always provide adequate loot for you and your squadmates.

If you happen to land in a hot area with people already fighting, you can detour to more secluded unnamed areas with houses and other smaller complexes to get your gear.

As a more realistic BR game, players will need to master the parachute to adjust their speed and landing. After the first parachute, keep in mind that you’ll have to manually activate the parachute to land safely.

The Circle

Screenshot of the Circle in Call of Duty: Warzone
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Another important factor in map navigation is the Circle. Staying true to the battle royale genre, the map will decrease in size periodically with a looming cloud of poisonous gas and you’ll have to head to the safe zone indicated by a white circle on the map.

As the map gets smaller, you’ll be encountering more soldiers so get ready to trade bullets when you can.

Movement

With the city of Verdansk being a vast landscape, you’ll also need to know all the basics of movement. On foot, you have the four basic movements of sprinting, crawling, sliding, and jumping.

Image of a soldier running from a Airstrike in Call of Duty: Warzone
Credit: Activision

Sprinting (shift key/left stick press) is mainly used to cover long distances while also being a hard target for any nearby enemies. Don’t rely on it too much because your character will slow down after a few seconds to rest.

In the crawling (left control key/hold circle button) position, you can hide in bushes and other coverage for a good shooting position in exchange for your movement agility.

Sliding (C key/circle button while sprinting) will give you a quick repositioning into cover during a fight and or a fast descent on any hill, but be careful since sliding will only occur with an initial sprint.

Jumping (Spacebar/X button) is pretty self-explanatory as a movement mechanic. If you want to get over walls and traverse through windows, you simply go up to the obstacle and press the jump button to initiate the action.

Image of Tactical Rover in Call of Duty: Warzone Season 3
Credit: Activision

If you’re looking for an even faster way to get around, you and your squad can use vehicles scattered across the map. Rideable vehicles include:

  • ATV: A fast, two-seater all-terrain vehicle with no protection
  • Tactical Rover: A four-seater vehicle that can handle off-road driving
  • SUV: A slower, four-seater vehicle with more substantial protection
  • Cargo Truck: Slowest of all the vehicles with the best protection
  • Helicopter: A flying four-seater vehicle

Looting

Getting the right guns is quintessential to the Warzone experience, but you might get lost on where you can actually find them.

Before we talk about looting, here’s a short breakdown of item and weapon rarities:

  • Grey (Common)
  • Green (Uncommon)
  • Blue (Rare)
  • Purple (Epic)
  • Orange (Legendary)
  • Red (Player)

Supply Boxes

Image of Supply Box in Call of Duty: Warzone Season 3
Credit: Activision

Other than finding loose items lying on the ground, you can open up supply boxes that contain guns, ammo, and cash. Supply boxes will emit an audible hum that you can follow to locate and open the box. Here are the different kinds of supply boxes:

  • Supply Box
    • Marked with a blue glow
    • Comes in a variety of colors that are usually related to the items inside (i.e. purple-colored box, potential epic item)
  • Special Supply Box
    • Only available during Scavenger Contracts
    • Marked with a yellow glow
    • Contains rarer items
  • Rare Supply Box
    • Marked with an orange glow
    • Contains at least one guaranteed Legendary item

Buy Station

Image of Buy Station in Call of Duty: Warzone Season 3
Credit: Activision

The Buy Station is a stationary stockpile that fulfills your combat needs for a price. You can buy such items as Killstreaks, Armor Plates, Self-Revive Kits, and Loadout Drops.

While this may be a trusty way to get your items, remember that Buy Stations are permanent spots on your map so enemies can camp you out if you’re not fast enough with your purchase.

Loadouts and Loadout Drops

When talking about the best way to get a full bag of armaments, loadout drops are by far your best bet.

Warzone allows players some assurance in loot with the use of loadouts, pre-determined sets of guns, perks, and equipment. Once you’ve got enough cash (US$10,000 to be exact), you can call in a Loadout Drop to deliver some of your preferred guns, but bear in mind that other players will hear the supply helicopter and see the smoke of the drop.

Loadout Drops will also drop throughout the match, one within the first two circle collapses and one in the late game, so there’s no rush to cash out for a quick load up.



Combat

Your Warzone gameplay is dictated by the guns that you use. A standard loadout usually includes a primary weapon, a secondary weapon, lethal and tactical equipment, and perks.

Recommended starting loadout for beginners

Here’s a simple assault rifle/SMG loadout for beginners:

  • Primary weapon: M4A1 Assault Rifle
  • Secondary weapon: P90
  • Perks: Double Time, Overkill (Unlocked at Character Level 8), and Amped
  • Lethal equipment: Frag Grenade
  • Tactical equipment: Flash Grenade

As you play the game more, you’ll want to customize your loadout. Here’s what to look out for:

Weapons

Here’s a quick rundown of all the weapon types and their best options:

  • Primary Weapons
    • Assault Rifle
      • Your standard go-to primary weapon that excels in medium-range engagements
      • Recommendation: AK-47 (Black Ops) (Unlocked at Character Level 7)
    • Submachine gun (SMG)
      • a fully automatic, compact weapon with faster firing that’s effective in close-range combat
      • Recommendation: MP5 (Black Ops) (Unlocked at Character Level 4)
    • Shotgun
      • The perfect close-range weapon that fires buckshot ammo, ripping through enemies with dispersed pellet damage
      • Recommendation: JAK-12 (Unlocked by getting 3 hipfire shotgun kills in 7 different matches)
    • Light machine gun (LMG)
      • a slower, heavy-hitting automatic weapon with a high-capacity magazine
      • Recommendation: Stoner 63 (Unlocked at Level 4)
    • Tactical Rifle
      • A specific kind of rifle that is built for precise and accurate shots with a burst or semi-auto firing
      • Recommendation: M16 (Unlocked at Character Level 10)
    • Marksman Rifle
      • A slow-firing, high damage weapon that fits in between the Assault Rifle and Sniper Rifle categories
      • Recommendation: SPR 208 (Unlocked by getting 2 Longshot Kills that are Headshots in 5 different matches with sniper or marksman rifles)
    • Sniper Rifle
      • A powerful, long-range weapon with strong recoil and a limited magazine capacity
      • Recommendation: HDR (Unlocked at Character Level 11)
  • Secondary Weapons
    • Handgun
      • A close-range backup option once your primary weapon runs out of bullets
      • Recommendation: 1911 (Unlocked at Character Level 1)
    • Launcher
      • A niche, hard-hitting armament that’s perfect for dealing vehicle and splash damage
      • Recommendation: PILA (Unlocked at Character Level 1)
    • Melee
      • A hand-based weapon class that is perfect for finishing enemies up close before they can reload
      • Recommendation: Combat Knife (Unlocked at Character Level 22)

Gunsmith and Attachments

To fine-tune your weapons, you can check out the Gunsmith tab in the loadout section. Here, you can add up to five various attachments to your gun that alter its weapon stats. Attachments will be different for each weapon so you’ll have to work around what’s available for your specific loadout.

If you’re unsure of what you want out of your gun, here’s a quick breakdown of each weapon stat.

  • Accuracy: How accurate the weapon is when fired from the hip
  • Damage: The damage the enemy takes when shot
  • Range: How far the weapon can shoot before losing accuracy
  • Fire Rate: How fast the weapon can shoot
  • Mobility: How quickly you can move and aim the weapon
  • Control: The sway and recoil of the weapon
Screenshot of Locked Attachment in Call of Duty: Warzone
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

To unlock various attachments, you must play the game with your gun equipped and level up through in-game actions like kills, assists, and contracts.

Lethal and Tactical Equipment

Lethal and tactical equipment are common finds among loot and loadout drops that can aid you in the battlefield.

While lethal equipment is usually classified by its explosive qualities like frag grenades and C4s, you can also find deadly throwing knives and fiery Molotov cocktails in the category.

Tactical equipment is a bit more diverse in its usage on the field. Aside from known choices like a flash and smoke grenade, you can also load up a stim which helps replenish your health and stamina or a snapshot grenade that detects enemies in its blast radius.

Perks

Screenshot of Perks in Call of Duty: Warzone
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Only available through your loadout and loadout drops, perks are passive benefits that boost your operator’s abilities to charge into the fray. While all of them serve their purpose, here are some standout perks that can get you locked and loaded for a drop in Verdansk.

  • Double Time
    • Double the duration of Tactical Sprint
    • Increase crouch movement speed by 30%
  • Ghost
    • Undetectable by UAVs, Radar Drones and Heartbeat Sensors
  • Tracker
    • Enemies leave behind a footprint trail
    • See markers at enemy death location and hide the death markers of enemies you kill

How to aim and shoot

Once you’ve got your guns loaded up, let’s talk about how to get your shots down.

Warzone’s shooting mechanics are fairly standard if you’ve had some previous FPS experience. With any gun equipped, you are automatically put into hipfire mode, a fast and easy way to chug out those bullets to opponents.

You can also press the right mouse button or left trigger on controller to activate aim-down sights (ADS), a more accurate aiming mode that’s important for shooting enemies from afar. One downside to ADS is that it slows your operator’s physical movement, potentially leaving you flatfooted in a crossfire.

Screenshot of M16 Burst Rifle in Call of Duty: Warzone
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

With a plethora of guns available, you’ll also have to learn how each gun deals the most optimal damage.

We may be all familiar with the usual fully automatic run-and-gun gameplay, but you’ll probably run into guns that might have different shooting modes so it’d be best to know what they are and when they can be useful.

  • Bolt-action
    • Single-shot firing that requires a long bullet reset
    • Best used at long distances
    • Common in sniper rifles
  • Semi-automatic
    • Single-shot firing with a significantly quicker bullet reset than the bolt-action
    • Best used at medium and long distances
    • Common in marksman rifles
  • Burst
    • Fires 3 or more bullets in succession for every trigger click
    • Best used at medium and long distances
    • Common in tactical rifles
  • Full-auto
    • Fires automatically and indefinitely until the magazine finishes
    • Best used at close and medium distances
    • Common in assault rifles, SMGs, and LMGs

Other game mechanics

Health and Armor

Screenshot of Health and Armor in Call of Duty: Warzone
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Your operator can sustain damage with your regular health and your added armor, located in the bottom left of your HUD. Your armor will be the first to deplete when taking damage, but your health will be the final factor in staying alive.

After finishing any fights with injury, your health will automatically regenerate after a few seconds, but your armor will have to be manually replenished by utilizing armor plates found on the battlefield.

Field Upgrades

Screenshot of Dead Silence Field Upgrade in Call of Duty: Warzone
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Located in the bottom right corner of your HUD, the field upgrade is a useful item or skill that gives you a momentary advantage. You can find these upgrades in supply boxes, but make sure to use them at the right time since they do have upgrade-specific recharge rates.

Some notable field upgrades include Weapon Drop, which gives you a supply box filled with state-of-the-art weapons, and Dead Silence, which makes you move faster with silent footsteps for a short amount of time.

Killstreaks

Screenshot of the Buy Station Killstreaks in Call of Duty: Warzone
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

If you’re familiar with Killstreaks from previous COD installments, Activision has streamlined the process of obtaining them in the battle royale setting. Instead of having to rack up kills in succession, Warzone allows players to purchase killstreaks through the Buy Station. You’ll see some familiar tools like the enemy-detecting UAV or the deadly Airstrike that could turn the tides for you and your team.

With a hefty price tag ranging from US$3,000-4,000, you can also try your luck by just opening supply boxes and finding a free killstreak along with your loot.

The Gulag

Screenshot of the Gulag in Call of Duty: Warzone
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

One game-changing twist that Warzone has added to the battle royale experience is the Gulag.

If you happen to get eliminated, you are given a free chance to reenter the game by winning a duel against another eliminated player in the Gulag. You and your opponent will have the same weapons and items so it becomes a true test of skill on who deserves to go back on the field.

Don’t lose hope if you get bested in the Gulag since your squadmates can still redeploy you through the Buy Station. Remember that you’ll return with only a pistol in hand so make sure you find loot once you hit the ground.

We hope that this guide has given you enough intel on how to play Call of Duty: Warzone. See you on the field, soldier!

READ MORE: Every new location on Warzone’s Verdansk ’84 map