Warzone 2’s DMZ mode is the best CoD game in years, and fills the void of a co-op campaign – at least for now.
Warzone 2 is great, building off of its predecessor in unexpected (and sometimes controversial) ways – we’re looking at you, 2v2 Gulag – but it’s actually the DMZ mode that’s hooked me.
The Escape from Tarkov-inspired “extraction royale” mode is only technically in beta, but it’s become my favorite way to unwind with friends after a long day of work. I enjoyed my time with Escape from Tarkov, but Call of Duty’s alternative is snappier, more forgiving, and still full of just the right amount of tension.
Warzone 2 DMZ is simple, until it’s not
The core of DMZ is simple. Players start out on a predetermined part of Warzone 2’s Al Mazrah map, and work to scavenge for supplies that can be sold for cash, or weapons that can be used in the field.
Extract, and the loot is yours. Perish, and all is lost (literally).
There are additional considerations, too. A safe will be full of loot but will attract attention while you’re opening it, while a Stronghold offers close-quarters combat with additional opportunities for XP and items.
Complicating things further are faction missions, which range from destroying vehicles to clearing the aforementioned Strongholds, or simply visiting the sprawling map’s POIs.
It’s these objectives that have me coming back for more, chipping away at them in a way a single round of Warzone’s core battle royale mode could never facilitate. It’s liberating to be able to explore the map at my own pace, and while other players are always happy to ruin the fun, it’s just as satisfying to snag a few kills on a successful extraction.
The option of jumping in, looting for 20 minutes only to die in a single gunfight, or completing a bite-sized objective for a chunk of XP and then extracting early doors means DMZ has comfortably leapfrogged Warzone 2.0 in my rotation.
Al Mazrah is a great place to socialize
Playing with friends also allows for emergent gameplay opportunities that feel like the closest we’ll get to a true co-op Call of Duty campaign.
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My friend and I have played through our own array war stories since Warzone 2 DMZ launched. There are tales of holding off waves of enemies for a last-ditch extraction, saving each other from sniper fire, and the moment we got on the extraction helicopter before being unceremoniously killed by another squad because we let our guard down.
Some stories of success, and some stories of failure, but always a feeling of completely unscripted chaos – the antithesis of Call of Duty’s traditionally linear campaigns.
Take it with you
The cherry on top of this delicious, explosion-filled cake is that extracting with a weapon doesn’t just unlock it for the next run — it adds it to your Modern Warfare 2 arsenal, too.
It adds an extra wrinkle to the crossover between the two games and means that hard-fought extraction where you gained an assault rifle that shreds enemies feels all the sweeter when you can take it straight into MW2 multiplayer.
Call of Duty’s first raid can also be unlocked via extracting with $30,000 in cash — another smart way to bring the two games closer together, but DMZ’s nature as a beta is certainly apparent.
In my time playing, I’ve seen enemies vanish occasionally, vehicles despawn every now and again, and found a great weapon that a glitch stopped me from picking up and extracting with.
Nothing is game-breaking, though, and these instances are rare and far enough apart that I’m not left frustrated, but it is something to be aware of.
I can’t wait to see how Warzone 2 DMZ grows in 2023, with a new building coming to the mode in Season 1 Reloaded. If you’re playing over the holiday season, I’ll see you in Al Mazrah.