Fortnite: Battle Royale doesn't have a monopoly on pop-culture crossover events in the gaming world, even if it often feels like that. While Epic Games seemingly swoops in to accept just about any cross promotion deal from big properties, some IPs are still up for grabs - and Activision hasn't been slacking off.
Call of Duty: Warzone isn't in a great place right now, having lost over 50 million players in a year. The publisher is mostly pointing fingers at Vanguard's poor performance, but the game has been struggling with a few underlying issues for much longer.
With Warzone 2 slated for an early 2023 release, hot on the heels of this year's November release of Modern Warfare 2 from fan favorite developer Infinity Ward, whether or not Warzone needs saving is a valid question in and of itself. The sequel accelerating the game back to the top of the boards is practically a guarantee at this point, being attached to a new Modern Warfare title.
That said, Warzone in its current shape still has at least a Season 4 to go before the switchover, and we don't imagine servers will get axed immediately upon Warzone 2's launch - so here are a selection of pop culture crossovers that just might bring players back to Caldera.
It works on several levels, really - the island is a given, and Call of Duty already had a Predator crossover before in Ghosts, so we already have an established rapport. While temporally the crossover would have been a better fit during the Black Ops Cold War era of the game, the island setting of Caldera lends itself much more readily to Predator than Rebirth Island did, or Verdansk.
Content-wise, the crossover would bring in some of the main cast as playable operators, including Dutch, Poncho and Cooper while changing the Caldera map a bit to include key set pieces from the film as new points of interest. The developers could dig deeper into the Predator franchise and pull from media other than the first, original movie, but doing so might be ill advised. In terms of weapons, we'd definitely see Cooper's beloved minigun, Ol' Painless appear at the very least as a field upgrade, if not a regular gun.
Of course, the titular Predator would need to factor into the crossover as well in some capacity - that's the whole point after all. An interesting and unusual twist on the classic Warzone formula would be adding an NPC predator to the map each match who would act hostile towards all human-controlled players, adding an asymmetric PvE spin on the battle royale. Not only do you need to worry about other operators, but an invisible alien menace stalking Caldera.
Contextual areas where you can slosh mud over yourself to mask your heat signature would give players a temporary reprieve. Granted, adding a potentially random NPC factor into a predominantly PvP game might not go over well with many players - "we could have won if the Predator targeted someone else" might become a common argument - so a different implementation would be required. Perhaps winners (or losers) in the Gulag would respawn as the Predator for a temporary period of time.
It would require some figuring out, but we don't imagine players will control the kaiju in the upcoming Godzilla and King Kong crossover either.
These iconic robots in disguise have tangled with humanity, both as allies and enemies, for decades across all kinds of media. Hasbro has been making crossover moves, but mostly with mobile games and weirdly enough with World of Warships not too long ago (while somehow missing the home-run of including Broadside and Tidal Wave). Call of Duty might be another fantastic opportunity to mix up some IPs.
In most continuities the Cybertronians weren't involved in World War II, but occasionally some of the comics and movies have inserted the transforming robots into that particular conflict, though these usually occurred as retcons or as limited crossovers and spinoffs themselves. Sticking to something more mainstream, in the original cartoon continuity, Starscream discovers and recruits the Combaticons on an island littered with wrecked World War II military vehicles which said robots assume as alternate modes. Except Blast Off, who somehow becomes a space shuttle. Work with us here.
Human militaries fighting against or alongside the Transformers is a common, returning motif in the franchise, so inserting them into a Call of Duty title wouldn't be out of place. We still don't know how the Godzilla crossover will be structured in a gameplay sense, but a similar framework could work for Transformers as well.
You can even replace Monarch with Sector 7, if we're going with the movie continuity, and you're good to go. Toss in some Earth Defense Force cosmetics, bring in Marissa Faireborn as an Operator and you've got your crossover within a crossover, mixing multiple Transformers continuities together with Warzone.
This option seems like the most natural fit, all in terms of gameplay, aesthetic, themes and locations - all the pieces fall into place. Add new operators based on popular Joes and Cobra villains, as they already pack iconic, vaguely realistic military designs. The franchise offers so many prime choices that it would be hard to narrow things down; every fan has different favorites after all.
Marketing tends to favor frontliners like Duke, Flint, Baroness, Destro and of course leader figures like Colton and Cobra Commander, but both sides of the conflict have their fair share of memorable characters who would look right at home dropping into a match of Warzone, with fitting equipment. Weapons lifted from the franchise would also offer a huge selection, allowing the developers to pick whatever they fancy, really.
Caldera, as a tropical island, could easily be reworked into resembling Cobra island, the stereotypical secret villain-lair of the evil organization, and the various vehicles players can commandeer during a match could be replaced with the gimmicky, weaponized rides the classic toyline is known for. Plop the Flagg into the ocean next to the island, and you're at peak nostalgia bait.
Actually, scratch all of that - we don't need a G.I. Joe crossover with Call of Duty. We need a full fledged AAA G.I. Joe game with all of these features.
The upcoming Operation Monarch crossover is already inching really close to what a potential Jurassic Park event could look like. Remove the ape, replace the one Godzilla with many, smaller dinosaurs and you've practically cracked the formula already. Iconic points of interest to be added to the map would be fairly obvious set pieces from the movies themselves, such as the visitor center and the large gate.
The green and yellow park jeeps could be added to the map for the sake of the event too, in order to sell the authenticity. Let NPC dinosaurs loose among the players, and maximum chaos can be achieved. This is a tougher crossover in terms of operators and weapons - none of the classic Jurassic Park characters are particularly military oriented, nor is the series known for any particularly iconic guns.
Cosmetics could fill these voids, allowing players to dress up their operators in outfits inspired by the film's characters. Life, uh, finds a way.
This seems like another no-brainer - though critics may say this of the movie itself, too - fit for Call of Duty, especially after the Rambo and Die Hard crossovers Warzone had back when Verdansk was still around. Such a crossover could feature the action hero characters from the films as operators - or, at least some of them, with other homaged via cosmetics.
The Caldera map could also be updated with various points of interest based on set pieces and locations from the movies, and contracts based somewhat on the storylines could add more gameplay flavor to the event.
With the fourth Expendables movie coming later on this year, the timing would work for a bit of cross-promotion as well. Styled, regrettably, as Expend4bles, the fourth film will once again sport an ensemble cast, however headliner Sylvester Stallone has stated that this will be his last romp as Barney Ross.
Call of Duty: Warzone will still be around and kicking for a while yet before the sequel takes hold, and we have at least one season to go - let's wait and see what Activision have planned for the sunsetting of one of the biggest free to play battle royales on the market.