When Infinity Ward launched Call of Duty: Warzone, its new battle royale offering, the game came with an alternate mode: Plunder. Here the goal is to earn as much money as possible and reach over $1,000,000. Players can complete objectives without the stress of having just a single life. It’s a mode for folks who don’t always want to (or can’t) tryhard their way to a victory in the battle royale mode — the people who don’t mind losing.
Polygon spoke to Joe Cecot and Geoffrey Smith, two multiplayer design directors at Infinity Ward, about the creation of Plunder and who they designed it for.
“Out of 100 percent of the players, probably 10, maybe 20 percent, are super competitive and they want to go for the win,” said Smith. “And we want to make sure that the 80 percent that maybe would never win still had stuff to do, still had fun.”
The vibe in Plunder is very different compared to Warzone’s battle royale mode. We see players air-lifting trucks onto stadiums in Plunder because being able to respawn changes the stakes.
Players can explore this wide-open world with their friends without worrying about someone picking them off at a distance and spoiling the play session. These players know they’re going to lose Plunder when they queue up to lift a car onto a building, but they don’t care — they’re making their own fun.
Meanwhile those that want to win can focus on completing their contracts — it’s a balance that promotes all kinds of play styles. “The fact that there’s so many choices the player gets to make in a moment is, I think, what makes it really interesting if you do want to play Plunder competitively,” said Cecot.
In one of my first Plunder games, my squad of three landed near a farm house. But so did several other squads. The next 10 minutes of the match devolved into small squads running around farm houses, killing each other for sacks of cash. It was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Deathmatch writ large. Even though we walked out of that farm as losers, it was the most fun I’d had with Call of Duty in years.
Smith told us that Infinity Ward refers to that Deathmatch-esque situation as “the washing machine.” And like cautious parents, the team initially worried for players like me, who were focusing too much on the chaos and not on the win. But the beauty of Plunder comes with the loss. I can drop in one game, looking to maximize my cash, and then drop in another just looking to have a good time. And if I get stuck in “the washing machine,” I can pivot to shutting down another group’s shot at victory.
Cecot and Smith have since embraced the beauty of players just having a good time. “I think a good thing as a designer is to be okay if people play the mode the way they want to play because they’re having fun,” said Cecot.
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