Few, if any, video games are hotter right now than Call of Duty: Warzone. Activision’s entry into the increasingly-popular genre has mixed all the elements of a battle royale game with the hyper-realistic feel of a CoD release. It’s been a smash hit — in its first month alone, more than 50 million gamers gave Warzone a spin. With no new Call of Duty releases on the horizon and this being a free-to-play game, we can safely assume that Warzone isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
There’s just one problem: If you’re new to the game, or if you don’t play it all that much, you might get overwhelmed by the players who are way, way better than you. Games like Warzone reward those who sink hours and hours into it, and if you’re not particularly good, it’s quite easy to get discouraged as you’re going through the various growing pains.
Warzone does offer up ways to get up to speed pretty quickly. There are a handful of practice modes for players to try out — “Warzone Orientation” gets you up to speed on controls and how things work in the game, while “Battle Royale Practice,” “Plunder Training,” and “Trials” all get newer gamers up to speed on combat against computers. But in the eyes of Nick “Happy” Suda, a member of the New York Subliners of the Call of Duty League and a frequent Warzone player, your best bet is to go with a more trial by fire approach.
“I, personally, would suggest just hopping right in with a buddy,” Suda, who has been a professional Call of Duty player since 2016, told Uproxx Gaming. “Someone who’s fairly at the same level of you, if not probably even better. It’ll be better for them to be better so he could help you. Just go straight forward, and no hesitation.”
We caught up with Suda to talk Warzone. Specifically, we wanted to get tips for people who want to get better at the game from a pro’s perspective. As with anything in life, Suda thinks there’s exactly one tried-and-true method for those who want to up their Warzone game: Spending a whole lot of time playing and getting used to the game, living with incremental progress, and accepting that you’re going to be bad until you improve.
Winning a game of Warzone isn't just about kills, it's about good decision-making. @OpSuda tells you how to play tactically from the minute you land, to the final circle.
— NYSL (@Subliners) May 26, 2020
There are, of course, some other things that could help. Suda mentioned watching streamers who sink hours into games on Twitch — unsurprisingly, he recommends checking out his fellow members of the Subliners, part of New York’s Andbox, an esports organization that also fields an Overwatch League team — in an attempt to pick up on their habits and fold them into your own game, citing things like keeping a keen eye on where players like to land. Having an understanding of how both battle royale games and releases in the Call of Duty series work as a baseline isn’t the worst idea, either.
And as someone who prefers to play quads, Suda also stressed the importance of making sure you’re squadding up and sticking to a gameplan. In fact, in Suda’s eyes, someone deciding to break away from their team and play hero is “the most common mistake I see people make.”
“If you have four guys shooting one guy, he’s never going to stand a chance,” Suda points out.
While these more general pointers are useful for getting a feel for the game and having an understanding for what you’re getting yourself into, when it comes to playing like a pro, Suda has some ideas. Specifically, he wants you to grab your controller and tweak some of the settings so you’re making life a little easier on yourself. As he tells it, most, if not all, pros turn on contextual tap, automatic tactical sprint, and tap to slide. He also wants you to opt for a square mini-map and turn off all of motion blur, weapon motion blur, and world motion blur.
“Contextual tap will help you pick up loot much easier,” Suda says. “Instead of having to hold square, you just have to tap it once. So when you’re in a quick engagement and things are getting stressful and you have to make a quick play, you can pick up loot much easier. And automatic tactical sprint, this is negating the double sprint button that you have to press to engage with the automatic tactical sprint. And it’s just keeping you at full speed at every single time you sprint. And the tap to slide is tapping the slide button once, making your character slide instead of having to hold it.
“The square mini-map will make your peripherals bigger on the mini-map, therefore seeing more enemies on the map compared to a circle mini map,” Suda continues. “And the motion blur will take away from motion sickness that players might have while playing the game had its normal settings, if you turn it off it will make it run much more smoother.”
Picking weaponry and attachments that lets him take out an opponent from a distance or from close-range is big in Suda’s book — he uses the Kilo 141 or the Bruen MK9 with an MP5 and the EOD, Overkill, and Amped perks with lethal C4 and tactical heartbeat — while he opts for UAV and precision strike for when he gets on kill streaks and prefers dead silence as his field upgrade.
He also has a tip for loadouts, one that he does every time he plays and recommends everyone follows as long as they can make it to that point.
“You could buy a free loadout, or you could buy a loadout from the store from $10,000, which we all know,” Suda says. But there is a freeload out that comes in the game after the first circle closes at 13 seconds, every single game. So if you and your team don’t have enough money for a loadout, you can wait for the first circle to close. And at 13 seconds, the game will give you one. And that’s a big tip that I still use to this day. I preach to that. I stare at my clock in the game and once 13 seconds hit, we always make our way towards the loadout, making it easier to just get kills.”
When it comes to landing, Suda has a fun tip for racking up kills — just go to the very end of the map, when players are automatically kicked out of the plane and “AFK” (away from keyboard) players just stand there aimlessly. (This, as an aside, has my full recommendation, as I immediately did this after we hung up and it works as well as he predicted.) He also advises those who want to rack up kills to land at the TV station or the hospital, where helicopters are there for the taking.
On landing, Suda’s advice is pretty general — those who want to fight go along the plane’s route and in the circle, those who want to survive get away from everything and let everyone else go at it. He likes landing near the hangers at the circles outside the superstore, which is a hot zone, as are the TV station and boneyard. A general recommendation is landing near a store and to land in such a way that you can use the game’s free loadouts to your advantage.
“I like to land near scavenger packs and/or bounties,” Suda says. “If you start a scavenger pack in the beginning of the game, you could potentially be the first team in the game, or the first team in the lobby to have a free loadout. So landing your scavengers in stores are where you want to land near, and where I always land near.”
Money and armor plates are huge for any player to survive, and when you’re teaming up with friends, Suda recommends using that to your advantage. He notes that if an opposing player is facing shots from four different opponents at one time, they’re not going to have much of a chance, and even if a player is not playing quads, this is a helpful tip in any game mode that involves teams. And if you find yourself on the other side of this sort of thing, he wants you to have some tricks up your sleeve.
“The best tip to survive while being ambushed is definitely the most underrated tactical in the game, the smoke grenade,” Suda says. “So if your team has a dedicated smoke grenade player, you could always chuck up smokes and get your players out of sticky situations. Another tip I would say is always having a precision airstrike available, making it easier for you to quickly streak a team that has a better position on you, making them have to back down from that position and your team escaping.”
There is the situation everyone wants to avoid in Warzone: ending up in the Gulag. But there are ways to make sure that situation boils down to more than just getting lucky and seeing your opponent before you see them. Tacticals, for example, are your friend in that environment. Or, Suda says, you don’t need a metaphorical friend, because you could have your actual friend coaching you if you’re playing in a game with others.
“If you and your teammate die at the same time, the chances are you’re going to be in the same Gulag,” Suda says. “So your teammates spectating could call out for your teammate that’s in the Gulag, giving away what position he is, exactly where he is in the Gulag, making it an easier kill.”
Ultimately, the goal of any Warzone player — whether they’re a pro like Suda or a schmuck like the person who wrote this article — is to outlast everyone else and be the last person (or team) standing. All of these tips can help someone get to that point, and for some, it’ll happen sooner rather than later.
But in his last final bit of advice, Suda circled back to the one thing that is guaranteed to work: “Play with your friends, play with people you’re comfortable with and try to get better with them, and keep studying the game.”