Thanks To Call Of Duty: Warzone, I Get To See My Friends Everyday
Twilight nights in isolation have three ingredients: Coca-Cola, the guys on Zoom, and Call of Duty: Warzone.
Of late, life moves a little slower. Partners, friends and family are separated at the hands of social distancing, with contact rolled back to the tactile means at our disposal – messaging, video-calls, emails or even penmanship.
The prevalence of online gaming isn’t an outbreak-exclusive phenomenon. However, with people becoming more and more acquainted with their own four walls, a portal to an interactive world alongside your chums has an even greater value. For me and my pals, it’s encouraged face-to-face banter amid a hail of bullets, every single day.
Warzone is the free-to-play battle royale offshoot of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – à la smash-hits Fortnite and Apex Legends (only with less fortress tomfoolery and futuristic riffraff). Since its launch on March 20, its player-ship has surged and surged – just this week, it topped 50 million worldwide.
With such an abundance of sudden free time, its popularity is far from surprising. Not to mention the fact that, frankly, it’s just great fun; 150 players’ worth of mayhem on a huge battlefield with bountiful weapons, vehicles and heart-pounding suspense.
Over the past two years, video games have fallen by the wayside for me. What was once a near-obsession in youth has slipped in my priorities, with burgeoning workloads, social life duties and other hobbies (specifically, a love of films) taking precedent.
However, every now and again, a title comes along that demands my attention. In 2018, it was Spider-Man on the PS4, an all-absorbing single-player childhood dream. Today, it’s Warzone, an ultra-addictive multiplayer beast that I’ve come to cherish.
My friends and I live hundreds of miles apart. By and large – for no other reason than oblivious laziness – we maintain contact through group chats beyond the increasingly rare times we actually meet. In the event of a mortifying mishap or tragedy, a video chat is occasionally initiated, but we mostly stick to text-based nattering.
I was the first to get hooked on Call of Duty’s latest release. At first, I crusaded the solo mode on offer, jumping into massive games alongside 149 other individual players – fun, but ultimately shallow. So began the pestering of my best mate, Petrie, to get a headset so we could team up online.
As social distancing and stricter shopping measures began ramping up, he became more reluctant to pop out and purchase a gaming accessory, nor was he keen on making a non-essential online purchase. Then, the penny dropped – we could just FaceTime as we played. Sorted. However, what started as a one-off evening evolved into a regular event.
Once upon a time, in the uni days of yore, Petrie and I lived together. On top of current circumstances giving us little contact with people in general, this sudden resurgence of one another’s company feels like a proper blast from the past – our addiction was inevitable.
Like all good addicts, we reeled in another untapped soul: our close friend Joe. One download later and, at last, we were a trio answering the – yep – call of duty, soaring into the game’s enormous playground for a bloody good time as we talked to each other on Zoom.
Nothing unites brothers quite like the unforgiving, head-splatting brutality of the Gulag – but our nighttime gaming sessions are about more than watching each other’s sixes and urging, eternally, to ‘stay frosty’. For the first time since leaving university, we’re in the habit of catching up every day just to chat and have a proper laugh about what semblance of life we have at the moment.
It harks back to a time that’ll resonate with many; sitting in the glow of your TV as you power up the Xbox 360, ready for a Modern Warfare 2 binge with your friends after a hard day of school. Right now, as a grown-up, it’s nice to escape reality with that same adolescent freedom.
Online gaming is a vital part of my weekly sanity now (much like many others, I’m sure). Dr Dayna Galloway, who leads the games and arts division at Abertay University, echoes its merits, telling BBC News that multiplayer titles ‘easily replace some of the activities that are no longer feasible due to social distancing and isolation’.
Dr Galloway added:
It’s very important for mental well-being to maintain relationships and contact with friends and family, and online games are an excellent method for facilitating this. The games themselves also create emergent outcomes and scenarios that create positive shared experiences, and memories for those engaged with them.
Of course, Warzone is one of countless games available. Recently, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been uniting people in their realms of peaceful mini-civilisations. Other players may favour the endlessly infuriating cycle of FIFA (start up a tournament with your group of mates and you’ve got a week of entertainment, just like that).
Aside from hunkering down in front of your console, try and squeeze in a ‘mix of physical activity, sedentary behaviour such as reading and screen time, and, of course, a good night’s sleep’, otherwise you’ll unwittingly become a lump.
Don’t feel too guilty, though. This is absolutely the time to hone your bygone gaming skills – even the World Health Organization says so, teaming up with Activision Blizzard for their #PlayApartTogether campaign.
A statement on the Call of Duty League‘s website reads:
It has never been more important for gamers to bond together and welcome new people into the community. Video games offer a unique way for people to spend quality time together through gameplay while also practicing social distancing.
That’s why Activision Blizzard is excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with the World Health Organization to encourage all our players to #PlayApartTogether. When we #PlayApartTogether we’re using one of the most powerful preventative strategies to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and others. We all have the power to combat this… by staying at home and playing together online.
It’s a bittersweet reality that these daily games with my friends may no longer be feasible once the world resumes to normality. Self-isolation has brought us together – ironic, isn’t it? For now though, enough muckin’ about – we’re going to the Warzone.
It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization, click here.
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