Skip to content

Is Caldera free-to-play?

Yes, absolutely! The new Caldera map addition for Call of Duty: Warzone is completely free-to-play for all players. You do not need to purchase anything or own any prior games to download and enjoy Caldera.

As a free standalone battle royale mode, Warzone has always been free including all maps and core content updates. Caldera continues this approach – all players on console and PC can play it at no cost.

In this detailed guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about accessing Caldera for free and what the new map offers for Warzone players:

Downloading and Playing Caldera for Free

Warzone is a free download from digital storefronts, and Caldera comes included automatically with the latest game updates. Here‘s exactly how to get Caldera on each platform:


  • Open the PlayStation Store app
  • Search "Call of Duty: Warzone"
  • Download and install Warzone (free)
  • Once installed, Caldera will be available when launching Warzone


  • Launch the Xbox Store
  • Search "Call of Duty: Warzone"
  • Select the Free Download option for Warzone
  • After downloading, Caldera will be playable within Warzone


  • Go to and download the free launcher
  • Create a account if you don‘t have one
  • Search "Call of Duty: Warzone" and install it free
  • Caldera will be ready to play from the Warzone menu

Across all platforms, Caldera should update automatically if you had Warzone already installed. The map download itself is around 18-25 GB.

Warzone‘s total install size exceeds 100GB due to the content shared with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. But you only need Warzone itself installed to play Caldera for free.

Exploring Caldera‘s New Map

Caldera provides an entirely new map and environment for Warzone compared to the previous Verdansk location. Here are some key details on what Caldera offers:

Tropical Pacific Island Setting

Caldera takes place on a fictional island in the Pacific, inspired by real WWII history. The lush tropical environment provides beautiful beaches, forests, farms, and ancient ruins.

Diverse Terrain

Elevation varies heavily across Caldera‘s hills, mountains, and valleys. Areas range from exposed cliffs to dense jungle foliage providing unique combat spaces.


Rivers, lakes, and the sea surrounding the island add aquatic dimensions. Water reduces player speed and waterside buildings create fun chokepoints.

20 Major Points of Interest

Caldera introduced 20 unique POIs like the grassy Airfield, mysterious Mine, and perilous Peak. Each offers diverse loot and combat ranges.

New Structures

Thatched huts, crashed plane wreckage, rice paddies, and ancient temples give Caldera an authentic Pacific look and feel.

Wide Open Spaces

Compared to dense Verdansk, Caldera has more open spaces and long sightlines. This emphasized longer range gunfights.

More Verticality

Caldera‘s hilly geography made vertical combat essential, as enemies could be above or below you. Verdansk was mostly flat.

Overall, Caldera radically reinvented Warzone‘s environment. The landscape diversity forced players to adapt new survival tactics and strategies.

Key Gameplay Changes

Beyond the fresh map, Caldera also overhauled Warzone‘s core gameplay mechanics:

  • Fully Updated Loot Pool: Ground loot, chests, and Supply Boxes were updated for the new Pacific era weapons and equipment. Loadout drops remain.

  • New Gulag: The 1v1 Gulag fight arena became an ancient ruin with more uneven terrain instead of a simple room.

  • Circle Changes: The lethal circle now moves erratically instead of shrinking at a predictable pace to throw players off.

  • Fortified Perk: This new base perk for all players reduces explosive damage to give more resilience.

  • New Contracts: Additional intel contracts like Restock and Supply Drop help secure loot advantages.

  • planes: Fighter planes suit the larger map and allow for dogfighting. AA guns can shoot them down.

  • Environmental Hazards: Deadly snakes, active mines, and harsh jungle storms punish players who move recklessly.

Combined with the new map, the gameplay additions forced Warzone veterans to rewire tactics and create new strategies from scratch.

How Does Caldera Stack Up to Verdansk?

Caldera represented a major shift from Verdansk in terms of setting, design, and gameplay:

ThemeModern urban cityHistoric tropical Pacific island
Combat StyleClose-medium range building clearingLonger range open field engagements
Building DensityDense downtown highrisesMore spaced out POIs
Terrain VarietyMostly flatDiverse elevation and foliage
circle BehaviorPredictable shrinkageErratic, random movements
Prominent POIsAirport, Superstore, DowntownPeak, Mine, Capital
Player Count150 per matchVanguard Royale supports 200
Top WeaponsARs, SMGs, SnipersMarksman Rifles, Snipers
Launch DateMarch 2020December 2021
Launch Players6 millionOver 25 million

While Verdansk catered to close quarters urban combat, Caldera emphasized long range marksmanship and environmental mastery.

This provided a fresh experience but also divided some players who preferred Verdansk‘s original Warzone feel and nostalgia.

Caldera from a Gaming Expert‘s Perspective

According to various gaming industry experts and streamers, Caldera shook up Warzone in both positive and negative ways:


  • The map visuals and atmospherics are stunning, especially on new-gen consoles and PC
  • The new terrain and environments create novel gameplay scenarios
  • The POIs have great personality and design suitable to the Pacific theme
  • The gameplay additions like planes and circle changes make matches more dynamic
  • There is ample room for future expansion and events on this larger map
  • Performance and optimization was improved from Verdansk‘s issues


  • Map flow and combat pacing feel less refined than tightly designed Verdansk
  • Swimming and water areas slow down matches too much
  • Too much unusable empty space across the large environment
  • Very punishing for newer players unfamiliar with the layout
  • Much harder to rack up high kill games due to spacing
  • infantry vs planes balancing remains questionable

While impressions are mixed overall, most experts agree Caldera has potential if the devs rapidly address criticisms and tailor the map to suit player feedback.

Player Counts and Reception

Within the first 8 days after launch, over 25 million players had dropped into Caldera according to official data. However, some key stats reveal a more nuanced reaction:

  • Steam Concurrent Players: Peaked at over 620k shortly after launch, then dropped below 300k within 2 weeks. Verdansk maintained 500-600k Source

  • Twitch Viewership: Fell from over 600k viewers in Verdansk era down to 200-300k after Caldera released. Source

  • Metacritic User Score: Caldera earned just a 1.8 score from players, versus Verdansk‘s 5.6 rating. Source

Based on engagement data, it appears many players did try out Caldera but soon returned to other titles. The lower viewer hours demonstrate less entertainment value for streaming audiences.

However, key factors like the busy holiday season, lack of anti-cheat, and Omicron likely also depressed engagement. Overall reception improved slightly as updates addressed complaints.

Top Tips for New Players on Caldera

For those booting up Caldera for the very first time, here are some key tips for survival from experienced Warzone experts and streamers:

  • Drop into Plunder modes first to safely learn the new map at your own pace

  • Spend time spectating matches focusing just on studying the terrain

  • Adjust aiming and movement to account for more verticality in fights

  • Use the island foliage for cover and concealment during traversal

  • Vehicles are extremely useful on this large map, especially in circles 5+

  • Engage enemies at longer ranges compared to Verdansk‘s CQB style

  • Use suppressors to avoid revealing your location across open fields

  • The circle moves erratically now so stay vigilent of the countdown timer

  • Mine the anti-aircraft guns around Peak early on to control the skies

  • Equip Overkill initially for both long and short range weapon flexibility

  • Play aggressively for loot in Resurgence modes before respawning is disabled

  • Capital and Docks are high density loot areas so contest them

Following this tips will help get you up to speed on Caldera‘s new combat rhythms and flow.

Why Buy Vanguard for Caldera?

While Caldera itself is free, buying the premium Call of Duty: Vanguard game provides extra benefits:

  • Exclusive Combat Pacing Options: Choose between Tactical, Assault, and Blitz player counts

  • Vanguard Royale: This mode limits weapons and operators to Vanguard‘s WWII arsenal

  • 24 Hour Early Access: Play new content 24 hours before free Warzone players

  • Prestige Leveling: Rank up much quicker using Vanguard‘s progression systems

  • Weapon Unlock Challenges: Faster leveling for Vanguard guns like the Cooper Carbine

However, these are purely optional bonuses. Buying Vanguard is by no means necessary to access the full Caldera battle royale experience.

The Warzone Monetization Model

As a free game, Warzone generates revenue through optional in-game purchases:

Battle Pass

  • $10 premium track with 100 tiers of cosmetic rewards. Or free track.


  • Regular cosmetic bundles like Tracer Packs for blueprints, operators etc.

COD Points

  • 100 COD Points = $1. Used to purchase passes and bundles.

Monetization focuses on cosmetics and convenience, not gameplay altering upgrades. Players can easily enjoy Caldera without spending money, though cosmetics provide progression for some.

According to reports, Warzone‘s revenue from these systems exceeds $5.2 billion lifetime to date. The free game has proven highly lucrative for Activision.

What‘s Ahead for Caldera and Warzone?

The future content roadmap for Caldera includes:

Limited Time Modes

Fun rotating playlists like Clash, Plunder, and Resurgence will continue

Map Expansions

New minor POIs, anti-cheat, quality of life fixes

Regular Events

In-game events like Festive Fervor, Halloween effects


Tying in new Call of Duty releases like Modern Warfare II

Battle Pass

Refreshed cosmetic content and challenges with each new Season

Ongoing Balance Changes

Weapon buffs/nerfs, loot pool updates, bug fixes

The studios supporting Warzone plan to release continual content updates to improve, expand, and refresh Caldera on a regular basis.

In summary, the new Caldera map addition to Call of Duty: Warzone is completely free for all players on console and PC.

No purchase or ownership of Call of Duty: Vanguard is required to enjoy Caldera‘s sprawling new Pacific island environment. While Vanguard unlocks some non-essential bonuses, everything core to the Caldera experience is included free as part of Warzone.

Initial reception and engagement was mixed, with some players preferring the feel of original Verdansk map. However, incremental updates have improved Caldera significantly since launch.

For new players, investing time to learn Caldera‘s diverse POIs, terrain, and revised gameplay systems is highly rewarding. Patience and an adaptive playstyle suited to long range outdoor engagements is key.

With a steady content roadmap planned, Caldera has a bright future ahead. Warzone remains a top free-to-play contender in the crowded battle royale genre, offering engaging, large-scale tactical combat for squads.

So rally your friends and drop in to explore Caldera‘s rich world – completely free for all. Let us know your gamertag in the comments below!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.