Since what feels like the very beginning of Call of Duty: Warzone in March 2020, Activision has been teasing some kind of nuclear explosion. More than a year later, this ongoing tease has already gone on for far too long. But there’s reason to believe that total disaster may happen sometime very soon in a bombastic Fortnite-style event.
Will it turn the city of Verdansk into a nuclear wasteland for future Warzone matches? Or will it migrate over to a new map entirely? Here’s an exhaustive look at the not-so-explosive history of Activision’s longest-running tease — and all of the very convincing evidence that it may follow through with it very soon.
What hints at nuclear disaster in Warzone?
Since Warzone’s release, there have been a series of bunkers placed randomly throughout the map, essentially fallout shelters for when something inevitably terrible happens. For a time, they were inaccessible, but after a May 2020 update, players were able to access them with the right keycards. In Bunker 11, players quickly found a nuclear weapon being built. So the writing has been on the wall for a very long time.
It’s just moving at a snail’s pace.
By June 2020, players discovered a massive missile — presumably connected to this very same warhead — within Bunker 10 by clipping a drone through a locked door. It seemed like some kind of launch was imminent. It wasn’t. Some late July 2020 teasers show camera footage from an area inside the Stadium where some kind of explosion goes off, and then players were able to access the missile properly by the end of the summer thanks to a Black Ops Cold War ARG campaign.
Shortly after the major December update unified progression across Warzone, Modern Warfare, and Black Ops Cold War, a series of War Room intel missions within Warzone led to a “finale” cinematic that could be unlocked. In it, the Modern Warfare hero Captain Price stopped the villain Zakhaev from launching a nuclear warhead — the nuclear warhead — so you’d think this whole saga was finally over.
But it’s not.
This Modern Warfare ending for Warzone made it seem like the nuke saga was over.
Frequent Call of Duty leaker @ModernWarzone essentially promised over Twitter in January that a nuclear disaster would still happen at some point in the future: “Verdansk is 100 percent still getting nuked,” they wrote. So far, that’s an empty promise, but there’s every reason to believe it could finally happen this season.
What are the new leaks and theories?
When Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Season 2 launched in February, it expanded the presence of Zombies in the wider Call of Duty universe. A new Outbreak game mode feels like a mashup of open-world Warzone elements with traditional Zombies mode. Simultaneously, a ship crashed into the shores of Verdansk, bringing with it a slow-crawling zombie invasion.
“In addition to Outbreak, the newest experience for Black Ops Cold War Zombies, Season 2 brought the undead back into Warzone, as the doomed cargo tanker known as the Vodianoy, now a Shipwreck south of the city’s port, held these creatures in its hull,” an official blog post reads. “The clock is ticking for Verdansk, so there’s no time to waste.”
That seems like loaded language. If “the clock is ticking,” that draws an implicit connection between zombies, a bomb, and the potential end of Verdansk as we know it. As if to drive the point home, the official Season 2 roadmap also says, “The end begins February 23.” (That’s when Season 2 began.)
By March 11, the undead had hit the Prison Complex of Verdansk. As of March 18, they’d spread to the Hospital. “Alert: Containment Protocol Level has not been raised, as it is still believed that these anomalous activities will still be confined to the southern zone of Sector 5 and the Hospital,” an in-universe intel report reads. These fools seem to think that this outbreak is contained.
Hint: It’s not.
If we know anything about zombie outbreaks, it’s that they spread at an exponential rate. As we careen towards the mid-season point, the zombies are just going to keep spreading across the map. True to most zombie fiction, the powers at be will inevitably consider bombing the entire area as the only way to contain the outbreak, right?
We can safely expect the zombie outbreak to get progressively worse each week at an increasing rate. And this is pretty much confirmed by leaks from @ZestyCODLeaks, who uncovered script files revealing zombie outbreaks at Bank, Dam, TV Station, Superstore, and Stadium. These files also hint at a “Plague” mode, which could function similarly to special Fortnite-style events to help mark the transition between seasons.
It’s only a matter of time. The real question is: Will it happen with the mid-season “Reloaded” update due out around April 1? Or when the season ends later in the month? Either way, Verdansk won’t live to see May 2021.