I posted Take That's "Greatest Day" in the Discord before Verdansk's final hours. A thumbnail of Gary Barlow, arms spread, bellowing at the skies: "TODAY THIS COULD BE!". I did this because a live event was about to usher in Season 3 of Call Of Duty: Warzone.
After roughly twenty minutes trying, I didn't get a chance to watch the nuke go off and blow Verdansk into the 1980s. Instead, I stared at a server queue, then proceeded to gaze at streamers crash to their desktop over and over again. I should've posted Johnny Cash's "Hurt", instead.
Perhaps more than anything, I was sad to have been deprived of a goodbye. All those hours in the original Verdansk incinerated as I, stone-faced, watched a streamer I didn't know yell "ohmygod" (and generate the perfect thumbnail for their upcoming reaction video in the process). I'd missed the funeral; this last hurrah for a silly map I'd dropped into hundreds of times. And even though I tried to pass it off, telling friends and myself that the event was a bit rubbish anyway, deep down it stung. I wanted to be there, but server queues and disconnects entirely out of my control stopped me.
I returned at 10pm, for part one: part two. Yes, this live event was split into different episodes, so two hours after part one, you'd get the second part of part one, which would last for a few hours, and then lead into something else. Part two? That was a day later. So where were we? I don't know, but at some point the revamped Verdansk arrived.
In the end didn't get involved in the second part of part one either - but that's on me, to be fair, because 10pm is nearly my bedtime. Thankfully, it seemed to work for everyone who did hang around for it, which is good! It was a night-time version of the map Rebirth Island, and hid some clues about the revamped Verdansk while facilitating some spooky, close-quarters action.
I didn't log back into the Discord until the next day. Part 3 was upon us and my energy had returned. We vibrated with anticipation, because according to the schedule, this was it - the arrival of new Verdansk. So we booted up Battle.net a little early, just to be safe, and any excitement we had was frozen, shattered, and then pooled at our feet in a sodden puddle of dismay. The dreaded server queue had caught up with us once again.
My first experience of the new Warzone watching the same streamer drop into 1980s Verdansk, another thumbnail secured. Eventually we did get in and drop in ourselves, but it was a shame we lived it through someone else first. And listen, I think for the most part the event went okay-ish. I was less angry about missing out on seeing the nuke go off, and more a bit sad for the devs. Knowing that lots of people's hard work juddered on fried servers sucked.
Most normal human beings with jobs and livelihoods don't have time - or the patience - to hop in and out of Warzone like it's a conference.
What I really struggle to understand is why Activision opted for a multi-part event. I get that it holds people's interest for longer, and maybe even gives behind-the-scenes folks more time to last-minute polish Verdansk 2.0 before launch. But it's a nightmare to follow. Most normal human beings with jobs and livelihoods don't have time - or the patience - to hop in and out of Warzone like it's a conference.
Warzone should look to Fortnite as the benchmark for live events. Despite my lack of passion for the most famous battle royale, covered by a collage of different brand stickers, its pre and post-season crescendos are always sights to behold. They even hold concerts in-game; my mind flits to an image of a giant, virtual Travis Scott spitting bars to a crowd of bananas holding pickaxes.
The main thing is that Fornite's events are easy to access. Fans know what time they need to be online, and they'll be sucked into a zany reveal without a hitch. It is a tasty meal gorged in a single sitting with your mates. You clink glasses and share excited chatter, then when it's over, you bid each other adieu. Warzone's Season 3 event felt like a tasting menu stretched out by serving courses over an entire weekend. Initial excited chatter, then deathly silence as people wait for the next bite ("Today this could be..." drifts faintly out of the kitchen, as Gary tries to keep up the enthusiasm after 12 hours).
Next time, we need fewer moving parts and one whole. Keep it to a simple time slot, have something happen, then get us all into that new map. Whatever goes down in the future, I would rather not have to hire a personal assistant to keep me informed on Verdansk 3.0's exhaustive multi-part reveal. Just keep it to one thing, please - please.