- We chat with Raven Software Senior Creative Director Ted Timmins about what players can expect at launch, why this may be the definitive Warzone map, and his favorite drop locations.
- Urzikstan is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and diverse Warzone maps ever created.
- Urzikstan launches alongside Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III and Call of Duty: Warzone Season 01 on December 6, 2023.
Since the launch of Call of Duty: Warzone in 2020, we’ve been treated to several large-scale, free-to-play multiplayer maps that have each continued to deliver a stellar battle royale experience for all Call of Duty players.
We’ve also seen many features help extend the value of Call of Duty: Warzone, like the introduction of modes such as Lock Down and Payload, the squad-based Resurgence, and the treasure hunting Plunder game type, alongside new maps Ashika Island and Vondel to complement the Al Mazrah launch map from last year.
Now with Urzikstan, the first new Call of Duty: Warzone map to launch after the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III last month, we caught up with Raven Software Senior Creative Director Ted Timmins to learn more about what players can expect at launch, why he thinks this may be the definitive Call of Duty: Warzone map, and some of his favorite drop locations.
“After four years of Call of Duty: Warzone it goes without saying that we learn so much from every map we make, and what I love about Urzikstan is that you can really feel a little of every map to date within it,” explains Timmins. “Naturally I’m biased, but I do think that this is the definitive Warzone map — because not only does it have that reflective nostalgia, but the density of the map feels new and refreshing that allows for more interesting engagements. And escapes!”
This excitement starts with the sense of discovery that the team wants players to feel when they drop into Urzikstan for the first time, like the new locations to explore, the gameplay to engage with, and perhaps some secrets to find. Two of these new features will be a drivable train as well as the introduction of horizontal ziplines.
“When we start thinking about building a new map like Urzikstan, it naturally starts with how the map and the gameplay combine into one seamless experience,” says Timmins. “As we worked on all the new movement mechanics, we wanted the gameplay to deliver too. So, making the train drivable, including it going in reverse and having a handbrake, and then adding horizontal ziplines to allow players to quickly traverse from rooftop-top-rooftop for the first time, felt like natural additions to the world.”
As the team iterated on the design of the map, something that was discovered during the playtest sessions was that there were no singular hot-drop locations — players were finding all sorts of new and interesting places to stake their claim at the start of their match. But for Timmins, he did find himself focusing on one area that became a favorite.
“If I’m not dropping on the new drivable train, you’ll find me in the Zaravan City area on the south side of the map,” he says. “I love the density, the freedom of movement across rooftops with the horizontal ziplines, and knowing it has good rotation opportunities to other locations. Once players notice that you can also vertically ascend the cranes and then use them as jump-off-points, I think it’s likely to be a popular place that’s for sure!”
If you’ve picked up a theme here, movement has been at the core of what the team was looking to dial in on with this next chapter of Call of Duty: Warzone. Not only has Urzikstan been built with this level of freedom of movement in mind, but it has also crossed over into the game’s unique Perks system.
“We have a wealth of new Perks incoming, like Irradiated which allows for faster movement in the gas (on the map), or Resolute that grants a short burst to movement speed when taking damage,” Timmins says. “We didn’t stop there. Players will now also be able to reload while running, ADS while sliding, increased weapon swap speed, and increased climbing and mantling. All of this adds up to the most fluid Call of Duty: Warzone experience to date.”
Timmins mentioned that when thinking about adding new features, the team often starts with areas that they feel will make each of the Call of Duty: Warzone maps unique. One that they definitively wanted to retain and find a way to improve upon is the fan-favorite and innovative Gulag mode that has made it an iconic part of the Warzone experience.
“We wanted to retain the 1v1 that players love but spice it up by bringing the Public Events system to it,” explains Timmins. “This new system includes events like, Go Again (if you lose, you go back into another Gulag fight), or Locked & Loaded (fight with full armor and fully kitted weapons), Cash Drop (money in Gulag ground loot) or, one of my personal favorites, Night Vision Gulag which will launch midseason with Season 1 Reloaded.”
Contracts have also been an important part of Warzone, bringing that back as well into Urzikstan was a no brainer, including the fan-favorite contract, Big Game Bounty, where the challenge is to eliminate the player with the highest kill count to earn the Advanced UAV. Season 1 Reloaded will also introduce a new Champions Quest – but we’ll have to wait for more details on that later in 2024.
“Vondel and Ashika Island will be present during Season 1. And with the new movement mechanics, weapons, and Operators, it makes them feel refreshed,” explains Timmins. “Where we are most excited is looking to the year ahead, when we will see the return of Fortunes Keep and Rebirth Island! We have a great year ahead of us in terms of maps, and it all starts with Urzikstan!”
Urzikstan is shaping up to be the Call of Duty: Warzone map for everyone. And with returning modes like Battle Royale, Resurgence, and Plunder, and other new modes arriving in Season 1 Reloaded like Covert Exfil and Weapon Case, now’s possibly the best time ever to experience this epic, free-to-play battle royale experience.
“Whether they have been with us since launch, are returning to experience Urzikstan, or dropping in for the first time, I would like to thank our players for their support. And of course, a big thanks to the team for whom without them all this excitement wouldn’t be possible. So, until next time, I’ll see you in Urzikstan — please don’t drop on the drivable train as it’s mine, thanks.”
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