One of the most important aspects of a live-service game is its ability to keep players engaged for long periods of time. This can be done in a multitude of ways, but a common trend is to implement limited-time events that aim to attract players. Call of Duty: Warzone, one of the most popular free-to-play live-service games, has heavily relied on its seasonal events, most recently with the implementation of Godzilla and King Kong.
The event, titled Operation Monarch, launched on May 10 and allows players to battle alongside the massive monsters. While the event itself was intriguing and fun at times, the marketing leading up to Operation Monarch was highly misleading, due in part to the fact that King Kong and Godzilla don’t fight one another at all. Instead, the two beasts simply wander around the map, aimlessly, which has sparked a major sense of disappointment.
The Operation Monarch event sends 60 players to Caldera, with the goal of being the last squad standing. The catch is that Godzilla and King Kong — known as Titans in-game — roam the island and can take players out with ease. As you collect loot and damage the Titans, you’ll earn intel that eventually accumulates and turns into rewards such as a Loadout Drop, Gas Mask, or even a controllable killstreak that allows you to actually command the two creatures (which is admittedly really cool) to attack other players.
The mode itself has a slew of problems, but right out of the gate, the most egregious issue is that King Kong and Godzilla don’t battle one another, despite the trailers making it seem like that’s what would happen. Many fans expected it to play out almost like one of Splatoon’s Splatfest events, wherein the community has to pick between two teams — in this case, Team Godzilla or Team Kong — to battle it out for the duration of the event.
Instead, the limited time mode (LTM) feels more like regular Resurgence Battle Royale, with a sprinkle of Kong and Godzilla on top, rather than the monsters being the focus. There’s literally a shot in one of the teaser trailers that shows King Kong squaring up against Godzilla, so it’s easy to see why the community was upset when this didn’t take place in the actual event.
Missing the mark
To get a sense of what the community thought about the event, Warzone streamer and influencer ModernWarzone released a poll. Of the 24,194 people surveyed, over 70% voted that the Operation Monarch event was a “loss.” It’s a small sample size, but given the overwhelming results, it’s an informative snapshot of the event’s general reception.
Was #OperationMonarch a W or an L?
— ModernWarzone (@ModernWarzone) May 11, 2022
One of Activision’s priorities with Warzone is to keep newcomers engaged, which can be tricky due to how complex the game is. With the Operation Monarch event, a newcomer or casual player might still get absolutely decimated during a match depending on who they get paired against. Experienced players can easily sit back, fire away at one of the Titans, and rack up intel to eventually get their own custom loadout, which can be used to easily take out players who don’t know what they’re doing. In this regard, it’s an appealing premise for experienced players, but the casuals will likely have a rough time.
Because this mode plays like a worse version of standard Battle Royale, there isn’t much reason to revisit it after a few matches. Sure, the spectacle of seeing the two massive Titans is enjoyable, but it quickly gets old since there isn’t a ton of substance in this mode. It would have been interesting if Activision implemented something that played out more cinematically, especially since the stars are supposed to be the two giants. Perhaps giving players the ability to land on top of the creatures to battle one another could have made it feel special. Maybe we could have seen a similar version of what’s in the game now, but with the ability to power up the Titans, allowing them to duke it out.
Fortnite shows the way
Despite all of my criticisms, I recognize it’s tricky to effectively blend massive monsters into a seemingly grounded military shooter — especially from a developmental standpoint. Considering Warzone is only a couple of years old, it stands to reason that developer Raven Software (and other support teams) are still learning what works and what doesn’t. In this case, figuring out a way to please all players is a massive undertaking. Players are often willing to forgive a developer for missteps here and there — the main issue is that the trailers didn’t match the final product.
Ultimately, Operation Monarch isn’t the worst event Warzone has received. Warzone has a history of terrible events such as the Vanguard reveal, which required players to simply fire at a train for an excruciatingly long time. So compared to that event, Operation Monarch is an improvement, though the bar is admittedly low.
Given the precedent set by Fortnite, which features large-scale events that are typically met with a positive reception, it’s easy to see why players would be underwhelmed with the Warzone’s Operation Monarch. Activision should look to the way Fortnite does its events — particularly its large-scale modes that feature cooperative gameplay — and take notes for Warzone. Something like the massive Fortnite Galactus event that allowed players to enjoy a more guided experience was fantastic, so perhaps Activision could add its own spin on a similar formula to make something compelling. Operation Monarch was certainly a step in the right direction, but Activision still has a lot of improvements to make when it comes to Warzone’s events.