Call of Duty: Warzone separates itself from other battle royale games in more ways than one. Whether it’s giving players the ability to use their own custom loadouts, offering a way to come back from the dead via the Gulag, or even its general overall feel, there isn’t anything quite like it.
Arguably, its most controversial aspect is the fact that Warzone features an extremely fast time to kill (TTK), which causes gunfights to be over before you even realize you’re being attacked. However, a recent update implemented the Iron Trials mode on Rebirth Island, giving players more health and, ultimately, more time to react — but on a smaller map, resulting in faster-paced matches.
Rebirth Island was already a beloved map, but now that Iron Trials has been added to it, the entire dynamic of the game has changed for the better.
Iron Trials was previously featured during a limited-time event in 2021. It was only available on Verdansk, though, so matches were still long and slow-paced for the majority of their duration. This mode gives players a base health amount of 250 (aside from additional health granted from armor), more expensive Buy Station prices, no free Loadout Drops, and faster round timers overall. This results in matches with higher stakes, especially since respawns are disabled, while retaining the fast-paced flow players love on Rebirth Island.
It’s a fascinating balance because, on one hand, players are encouraged to play more cautiously since money is harder to come by and items are more expensive. You don’t want to lose your hard-earned cash several minutes into a match. But on the other hand, having more health means you can take more risks. An enemy you might not feel comfortable challenging during a normal match might be worth engaging with during Iron Trials since you have more wiggle room during the battle. Beyond that, items are scarce, meaning your opponent might not have full shields at the start of an engagement anyway.
Iron Trials works because it rewards players who are more consistent and accurate, rather than a player who happened to get lucky.
During a firefight, you can make minor adjustments to deal more damage, turning the odds in your favor, even if the engagement didn’t start as well as you’d hoped. There were countless times when an enemy would start firing at me first, but thanks to accurate aim, I was able to snap onto the opponent’s head and deal as much damage as possible while bobbing and weaving around, which kept me out of their line of sight. Winning gunfights in this manner is more satisfying than you’d expect, because it rarely comes down to luck.
Another positive factor has to do with weapon variety that results from a slower TTK. This means weapons with higher magazine counts — such as heavy assault rifles or LMGs — are bumped up to the top of the meta, giving the game a totally different dynamic. Typically, lightweight SMGs or snipers are some of the most used weapon types, pushing heavier weapons with more ammo to the back of the line. While SMGs and snipers do make for a faster-paced match, there isn’t much variety when nearly everyone in the lobby is using these kinds of weapons during standard battle royale.
In Iron Trials, you can still use the aforementioned lightweight weapons, but far more players will bring out the big guns since you need more bullets to secure an elimination. It rewards super-accurate players who can make every last bullet in a small clip SMG count, while still giving LMG users a chance. Accurate players can get away with using weapons with lower mag counts, and they’re rewarded by being much more nimble on their feet. You’ll rarely get taken out with the same meta weapons over and over again=.
Aside from offering variety, more health also means ammo is precious. You’re less likely to go in and wipe out an entire team by yourself during Iron Trials. It’s not completely off the table, but it’s much harder to do since running out of ammo is far more common. While playing, I won several gunfights against opponents who simply ran out of ammo in the middle of the fight, giving me a chance to retaliate and come out on top.
It pays to have a full clip at the beginning of the gunfight and it’s equally as important to maximize your movement so you can avoid taking damage — hopefully causing your opponent to run out of bullets. Having to approach situations more cautiously, especially ones that involve multiple enemies at once, makes each engagement play out in a more deliberate manner, rather than fast and sporadic. Sure, it feels great to run in and take out an entire team by yourself, but you need to be much more skilled this time around if that’s what you want to do.
In the clip above, you can see that my gun skill wasn’t particularly impressive, but because I backed away and reloaded, I was able to take out both opponents simply because I thought ahead. In a regular Rebirth Island match, the second enemy could have taken me out due to seeing me first, but because ammo is so much more precious, and accurate aim is far more important, I was able to come out on top.
Warzone 2 (or whatever it will be called) is in development, and while there’s no shortage of features we’d like to see implemented, giving players more health is at the top of the list. The positive reception to Iron Trials should be proof of that. It’s no fun to spend an entire match looting and getting prepared, only to get sniped by someone off in the distance who happened to be looking in your direction. Having more health gives players time to react, rewarding them for thinking on their feet.