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Is Call of Duty Free to Play in 2023? Here‘s the Complete Rundown for New Players

Hey there! If you‘ve heard about Call of Duty and seen friends playing but weren‘t sure if you needed to pay to join in the fun, I‘ve got you covered. Let me walk you through everything you need to know about what parts of CoD are free, what requires payment, and how to start playing Warzone 2.0 without spending a penny.

The Short Answer: Warzone 2.0 is Free, Core Games are Paid

Here‘s the quick overview:

  • Warzone 2.0 – The new 150 player Battle Royale mode – 100% free
  • Modern Warfare II (2022) – Latest core multiplayer CoD game – $59.99

So if you just want to dive into the massive open world fights of Warzone, great news – you can install and play without paying a thing! But if you‘re looking for traditional team vs team competitive Call of Duty, you‘ll need to buy the latest release each year.

Now let‘s get into the details…

A Brief History Lesson for New Players

The Call of Duty series has been around for nearly 20 years, establishing itself as one of the premier first-person shooter (FPS) franchises in gaming.

Each year a new premium Call of Duty game gets released – usually in late October or early November – at a standard $59.99 price point. These blockbuster titles like 2022‘s Modern Warfare II sell over 20 million copies annually!

Here are some of the best selling Call of Duty games over the years:

Game TitleRelease YearEstimated Sales
Call of Duty: Black Ops201031+ million
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3201130+ million
Call of Duty: Black Ops II201229+ million

The reason CoD has such a huge following after so many years comes down to one thing – multiplayer.

Fans obsess over ranking up weapons and operators, learning map strategies, and competing in intense game modes like Team Deathmatch each new release.

However, starting in 2019, Activision added a way for people to get a taste of CoD action without needing to buy the latest game…

The Rise of Free-to-Play Warzone

In March 2019, Activision launched Call of Duty: Warzone, a completely free-to-play Battle Royale experience as a companion to that year‘s premium release Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

This game-changer let anyone on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC drop into the giant map of Verdansk and battle up to 150 other players.

It captured the same satisfying Call of Duty gunplay and movement millions fell in love with, now in an exciting new last man standing format against real opponents.

Within one year, over 85 million gamers had played Warzone, accelerating CoD to becoming one of the most popular shooters in the world.

Activision realized that while devoted fans happily pay each year for new maps and modes, a free access point could expose their franchise to a wider audience.

Now in 2022, Warzone has evolved into Warzone 2.0, and perfected the recipe for a AAA free-to-play experience.

Breaking Down Warzone 2.0 and Modern Warfare II

When Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II released in late 2022, it came alongside Warzone 2.0 – a rebuilt sequel to build on the original massive success of Warzone.

This time around, Activision ensured Warzone 2.0 would be completely free and accessible to all players, even without buying Modern Warfare II.

Here‘s how the two games break down:

Modern Warfare II

  • Release Date: October 28, 2022
  • Price: $59.99
  • What‘s Included: Campaign, Multiplayer, Spec Ops modes
  • Required For Warzone 2.0: No

Modern Warfare II offers the premier Call of Duty experience – an emotional single player campaign, traditional matchmade multiplayer modes like Team Deathmatch and Domination, and 2-player co-op Spec Ops missions.

This is the same premium package CoD fans expect each year priced at $59.99. You get in-depth progression systems and social competitive satisfaction from mastering new maps and weapons.

But it is not required to play Warzone 2.0.

Warzone 2.0

  • Release Date: November 16, 2022
  • Price: Free!
  • What‘s Included: Battle Royale, DMZ, Third Person modes
  • Requires Modern Warfare II: No

As a standalone free game, Warzone 2.0 lets anyone on PlayStation, Xbox, or PC enjoy Call of Duty Battle Royale and other massive scale modes without paying a cent.

You can squad up in trios with 150 other players in the giant new map Al Mazrah and experience CoD‘s unmatched gunplay, operators, and movement systems for zero dollars.

There‘s no progression benefit or additional unlocks from owning Modern Warfare II. You get the full experience for free!

Now let‘s jump into the details on how and where you can download Warzone 2.0 and what exactly you get with the free version.

Getting Started with Warzone 2.0 on Console and PC

The good news is that since Warzone 2.0 is a standalone free download, getting started is quick and easy on both console and PC!

Here are the steps to install Warzone 2.0:

On PlayStation:

  1. Turn on your PS4 or PS5
  2. Open the PlayStation Store
  3. Search "Call of Duty Warzone"
  4. Select the Warzone 2.0 application > Download

On Xbox:

  1. Turn on your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S
  2. Open the Microsoft Store
  3. Search "Warzone 2.0"
  4. Select Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 > Install

On PC:

  1. Open the launcher
  2. Go to the Games tab
  3. Search "Warzone"
  4. Select Call of Duty: Warzone > Install


  1. Open Steam
  2. Search "Warzone 2.0"
  3. Select Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 > Install

Keep in mind the download is large – over 100GB – so make sure you have adequate storage space and a stable internet connection!

Requirements vary by platform but generally an Xbox One or PS4 and above or a decent gaming PC will run Warzone 2.0 smoothly. We‘ll cover more details on performance next.

What Hardware Do You Need for Warzone 2.0?

Let‘s quickly talk about the hardware required if you plan to play Warzone 2.0 on PC:

Minimum System Requirements:

  • CPU: Intel Core i3-6100 / AMD Ryzen 3 1200
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 or AMD Radeon RX 470
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 125GB

Recommended Specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 / AMD Ryzen 5
  • GPU: NVIDIA RTX 3060 or Radeon RX 5600 XT
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 125GB (SSD recommended for faster loading)

The major things to focus on are having a decent processor, dedicated gaming graphics card, and sufficient RAM. Storage is also crucial with the huge 100GB+ install size.

An ideal budget gaming PC build would be around:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-12400F
  • GPU: NVIDIA RTX 3060
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 500GB SSD

This would allow playing at solid 60 FPS framerates at Medium to High settings.

Consoles like the PS4 Pro, Xbox One X or newer easily run Warzone 2.0 as well. Overall the hardware demands are reasonable to let most gamers jump in.

Now let‘s look at what gameplay you actually get for free.

Game Modes and Features Accessible in Warzone 2.0

As a free-to-play game, Warzone 2.0 gives you tons of content to enjoy alone or with friends including:

  • Battle Royale – Iconic mode with 150 players across the massive new Al Mazrah map
  • DMZ – PvPvE mode focused on extraction against AI combatants
  • Third Person – Option to experience the game in third person camera

You have unlimited access to all three modes above without needing to pay a dime. This means you can squad up and compete against up to 150 other real players using the full roster of weapons, operators, and gear.

However, Warzone 2.0 does not include traditional team vs team multiplayer modes like:

  • Team Deathmatch (6v6)
  • Domination (6v6 objective control)
  • Search and Destroy (6v6 one life per round)

These require owning the premium Modern Warfare II release. But you still get tons of competitive PvP gameplay through the large player count Battle Royale!

Now let‘s talk about the elephant in the room – how Warzone 2.0 makes money…

Warzone 2.0 is "Free" But There‘s Paid Cosmetics!

Warzone 2.0 uses two familiar free-to-play monetization systems – the Battle Pass and limited time Bundles.

The Battle Pass provides a stream of 100 levels with exclusive cosmetics like weapon blueprints, operators, emblems, charms, and more. These can only be unlocked by playing extensively OR paying up to skip tiers.

Players who complete the full Battle Pass can earn enough in-game COD Points (CP) to purchase the next season‘s pass. But expect feeling pressure to buy tiers if you don‘t play daily.

Bundles offer limited-time access to unique operator skins, weapon blueprints, vehicle skins, and other cosmetics in exchange directly for COD Points bought with real money.

Thankfully, this is all optional! You can enjoy full access to all of Warzone 2.0‘s modes and gameplay content without ever spending a dime. The only limitation is on cosmetics.

I‘ll be honest though, Activision invests a lot into convincing players to open their wallets through flashy bundles and FOMO Battle Pass rewards. Just be aware!

Now that we‘ve covered the basics of what‘s free and paid, let‘s look at some other Call of Duty options.

Other Free Call of Duty Games

Beyond Warzone 2.0, there are a few other free-to-play CoD games that are worth mentioning:

  • Call of Duty: Mobile – iOS and Android app with multiplayer, zombies, and Battle Royale
  • Call of Duty: Warzone (Original) – No longer updated but still playable

Call of Duty: Mobile is surprisingly robust, offering standard CoD maps and modes optimized for mobile devices. It‘s a great option for on-the-go gameplay without paying.

The original Warzone is still online but no longer receiving updates or new content. It can still be fun but feels dated compared to the recent major overhaul.

Outside of those two titles, all mainline premium Call of Duty games remain $59.99 base price entries into the ecosystem like 2022‘s Modern Warfare II.

But Activision does frequently run limited-time free access periods for new releases!

Limited Time Free Trials for New Call of Duty Games

Though core entries remain paid, Activision has offered free access weekends or weeks when new games first launch.

For example, Modern Warfare II had a free 5 day trial in early 2023. These give players a chance to sample the premier multiplayer and other modes before deciding whether to buy.

I recommend watching out for free access periods around new seasons or major in-game events. They‘re a great way to experience paid content temporarily for free!

Will All Call of Duty Games Eventually Go Free?

There has been speculation that with Warzone‘s success, future premium Call of Duty releases may eventually go completely free-to-play rather than $59.99.

However, new entries like Modern Warfare II still sell tens of millions of copies annually, so Activision is unlikely to give up that massive revenue source anytime soon.

That said, integrating more multiplayer maps, modes, and progression into Warzone over time could allow it to stand on its own as a full CoD experience. We‘ll have to wait and see!

For now, expect new 2023 titles like the rumored "Call of Duty: Tides of War" to carry a premium price tag. But enjoy Warzone 2.0 as the gateway into CoD for free.

Time to Drop In and Try CoD for Yourself!

Hopefully this guide helped explain exactly what parts of Call of Duty you can play for free, what requires payment, and how to get started with Warzone 2.0!

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Warzone 2.0 gives you free access to Battle Royale and other massive combat modes

  • Core entries like Modern Warfare II remain paid for premium multiplayer

  • Download Warzone 2.0 directly without owning Modern Warfare II

  • Expect paid cosmetics but all gameplay content is free

  • Limited time free trials let you sample new releases

With Warzone 2.0, it‘s a perfect time to give the world‘s top FPS franchise a try completely risk-free. No need to pay a thing to squad up with friends and drop into the giant new Al Mazrah sandbox.

See you in Warzone, and get ready for some epic firefights!



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