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Is Warzone 1 Not Free Anymore in 2023?

Hey there – if you‘ve been playing Call of Duty: Warzone since the beginning, you may be wondering what happened to the original Warzone 1 and whether it‘s still free. With the launch of the new Warzone 2.0 in November 2022, there‘s been some confusion around the current state of the game we used to just call "Warzone."

Well, I‘ve got good news for you: Yes, Warzone 1 is still around and free-to-play! – albeit with some changes.

In this detailed guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about the status of OG Warzone 1 in 2023 and beyond…

Warzone 1 Was Rebranded as "Warzone Caldera"

When Warzone 2.0 first launched on November 16, 2022, Activision rebranded the original Warzone as Warzone Caldera.

So technically, Warzone 1 still exists – it‘s just now called Warzone Caldera. This was done to distinguish the original from the brand new sequel.

The good news is you can still download and play Warzone Caldera completely free of charge. But there are some notable differences compared to how Warzone 1 used to be:

  • Only the Pacific Caldera map is available – fan favorites like Rebirth Island and Fortune‘s Keep have been removed
  • No more new content updates – it‘s frozen in time as of Warzone Season 5 Reloaded
  • Reduced player base – under 300k daily players vs Warzone 1‘s peak of 6 million

So in a nutshell, you can still squad up and drop into Caldera for that classic Warzone 1 experience. But the name and supported maps have changed significantly.

Up next, we‘ll cover whether Warzone Caldera is really "free" for new players…

Is Warzone 1 Still Free for New Players in 2023?

This is where things get a bit tricky. Technically, Warzone Caldera is still a free download for all players, new and returning.

But new players who have never installed Warzone 1 before have to take an extra step:

  • On PlayStation, you need to manually find and download Warzone Caldera from the PlayStation Store. It‘s no longer autoinstalled with new copies of Modern Warfare 2019.

  • On Xbox, you have to download the free Warzone Caldera multiplayer pack from the Microsoft Store. Again, no longer bundled with Modern Warfare 2019.

  • On PC, you need to own Modern Warfare 2019 in order to install Warzone Caldera. So as a brand new player on PC, it‘s not truly free since you have to buy Modern Warfare first.

Here‘s a quick table to summarize:

PlatformWarzone Caldera Free?
PlayStationYes, with separate download
XboxYes, with separate download
PCNo, requires Modern Warfare purchase

So while returning players can still access Caldera for free on all platforms, new players on PC get the short end of the stick in 2023 unfortunately. But consolers are good to go!

Next up, let‘s look at exactly which maps and modes you can play in Warzone Caldera…

Only Caldera – No Rebirth or Fortune‘s Keep

As mentioned earlier, Warzone Caldera includes only the Pacific Caldera map. This was originally introduced back in December 2021 for Warzone Pacific Season 1.

Caldera is a massive island environment filled with various terrain like forests, beaches, and a volcano.

It supports the standard Battle Royale modes you‘d expect:

  • Solos
  • Duos
  • Trios
  • Quads

The max player count is 150 players. So the core Battle Royale, last squad standing action is still there.

In addition to BR, you can also play:

  • Plunder – Race to deposit the most Cash within the time limit. Respawns enabled.

  • Buy Back Quads – BR with the option to buy back dead teammates.

However, limited-time modes and playlists will no longer rotate into the game. And unfortunately, Rebirth Island and Fortune‘s Keep are gone – those close quarters maps are now Warzone 2.0 exclusives.

So Warzone Caldera includes Caldera itself, core BR, Plunder, and Buy Back Quads. That‘s it for now.

Up next – what content and progression does (or doesn‘t) carry over from OG Warzone 1…

Progression and Content Do NOT Carry Over from Warzone 1

When you jump into Warzone Caldera, it‘s almost like starting from scratch again:

  • Your Battle Pass progress and unlocks do NOT carry over from Warzone 1. Warzone Caldera has its own standalone Battle Pass for Call of Duty: Vanguard.

  • Your Operator skins and cosmetics do NOT transfer between the two versions.

  • Weapon blueprints are isolated to each version as well.

  • You have a completely separate player level and progression.

  • In-game currencies are separated, though COD Points do carry over.

This means all of your hard work unlocking camos, Operators, blueprints and more in OG Warzone doesn‘t apply in Caldera. The two games are completely disconnected in that regard.

However, on the plus side, your COD Point balances are combined across both versions. So you can use your points in either Warzone 1 or 2 freely!

Now let‘s look at some of the major gameplay differences between Caldera and Warzone 2.0…

Big Gameplay Changes in Warzone 2.0

When you move from Caldera to the brand new Warzone 2.0, you‘ll notice some major gameplay innovations that help "modernize" the experience:

  • New DMZ mode – This open world extraction mode doesn‘t exist in Warzone 1. It‘s a completely new way to play.

  • Revamped looting – Warzone 2.0 shifts away from ground loot and introduces an inventory/backpack system.

  • Weapon mounting – You can now mount weapons on surfaces for stability.

  • Interrogations – Revive enemies to learn the location of their teammates.

  • Backpacks – Increase your inventory capacity by equipping backpacks found in-match.

  • Strongholds – PvE objectives that bring AI enemies into play.

  • Third-person mode – Toggle between first and third-person camera perspectives.

  • New Gulag – Gone are the 1v1 duels. The Gulag is now 2v2 combat.

As you can see, Warzone 2.0 overhauleda lot of the traditional Warzone foundations and systems. This helps give it a fresh new feel.

Caldera, on the other hand, offers that original classic Warzone 1 gameplay you know and love.

Now let‘s look at Caldera‘s current player count…

Warzone Caldera Player Count – How Many Still Play?

Official player counts are not provided publicly by Activision for either Warzone version. So we have to rely on third-party tracker tools to estimate Caldera‘s current population.

Here are some recent estimates:

  • – 250,000 peak concurrent Caldera players daily
  • – Around 180,000 peak concurrent users

For perspective, these figures are way down from Warzone‘s overall peak of over 6 million concurrent players back in 2021.

So it‘s safe to say interest in Caldera has dropped significantly since the heyday of Verdansk in Warzone 1. The new hotness of Warzone 2.0 has pulled a lot of the player base away.

But nonetheless, hundreds of thousands still play Caldera every day. Queue times remain quick, and you can typically find a match within seconds. The player count is certainly healthy enough to find fun games.

Next up, could Activision pull the plug on Caldera someday? Let‘s discuss…

Will Activision Shut Down Warzone Caldera Servers?

At the moment, there‘s been no official word from Activision regarding shutting down Warzone Caldera anytime soon.

When they first announced Caldera, the messaging positioned it as a "separate experience" that would continue on alongside Warzone 2.0.

However, given that it‘s essentially an unsupported live service game now, it‘s definitely possible Caldera could get shuttered at some point in 2023 or 2024.

But as of right now at the end of 2022, players can still enjoy Caldera with fully operational servers and no discontinuation plans that we know about yet.

I‘ll be sure to provide an update here if Activision ever announces an end date for Caldera!

Warzone Caldera vs. Warzone 2.0 – Which Is Better?

This is ultimately a subjective question that depends on your personal preference as a player. But let‘s look at some of the key pros and cons of each:

Why you may enjoy Caldera more:

  • Nostalgia for Verdansk and the original Warzone map
  • Prefer the familiar weapons, Operators, and gameplay
  • Simpler looting without backpacks or Strongholds
  • Larger player base results in quicker matchmaking

Why you may prefer Warzone 2.0:

  • Brand new map, modes, and features to master
  • Cutting edge innovations like DMZ and interrogations
  • Modern movement, gunplay, and graphics engine
  • Receiving frequent content updates
  • Lower skill gap since every player is learning

As you can see, there are great reasons to play both! Warzone 2.0 likely represents the future with its new engine and innovations. But Caldera is a nostalgic trip back to the glory days of OG Verdansk Warzone.

At the end of the day, it comes down to your personal gameplay taste and preferences. You really can‘t go wrong with either one!

Frequently Asked Questions about Warzone Caldera in 2023

Here are quick answers to some common questions about the status of OG Warzone 1 heading into 2023:

Is Warzone 1 completely deleted?

  • No, it still exists under the new name, Warzone Caldera!

Do I need Modern Warfare 2 to play Warzone 1?

  • Nope, Modern Warfare 2 is only required for Warzone 2.0. Caldera is a standalone installment.

Will Caldera get any new content updates?

  • Unfortunately, no. Caldera is frozen in time and will not be updated moving forward.

Can I play Rebirth or Fortune‘s Keep in Warzone 1 now?

  • Sadly, no. Those maps have been removed from Caldera and are exclusive to Warzone 2.0.

Does my progression carry over from OG Warzone?

  • No, your unlocks and progression don‘t transfer over to Caldera. They are separate installments.

Is Plunder mode still in Warzone 1?

  • Yep, Plunder remains available and playable in Warzone Caldera!

How do I download Warzone Caldera now?

  • Check your platform‘s digital store and search for the standalone "Warzone Caldera" application.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, Warzone Caldera keeps the original Warzone 1 spirit alive by offering classic free-to-play BR action on the Caldera map.

It may not be as fresh or exciting as the new hotness of Warzone 2.0, but Caldera delivers an enormous dose of nostalgia for OG Verdansk fans.

Hundreds of thousands still drop into Caldera daily for their BR fix. And it could remain online for quite awhile thanks to its healthy core player base.

So if you have an itch for "old school" Warzone, Caldera is still very much so available in 2023! It provides a nice break from the frenetic action of Warzone 2.0.

Both versions have their merits, so switch between them whenever you need a change of pace. But rest assured the roots of OG Warzone are preserved thanks to the existence of Warzone Caldera.

So drop in, soak up the nostalgia, and remember the good ole days – Caldera isn‘t going anywhere just yet!



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