Exclusive Interview With Raven Software: Operation Monarch, Weather Cycles & More

We caught up with Raven Software to talk about the future of Warzone and the upcoming Operation Monarch event. So what do the developers have to say about Warzone Season 3 and beyond?
Warzone Interview Operation Monarch
Operation Monarch is going to be awesome. | © Activision

Warzone and Vanguard Season 3 is live, and it's bringing a ton of cool new content. Of course, the most exciting thing is the new in-game event called Operation Monarch which, if you haven't heard, is a crossover with the Monsterverse Universe, and should see King Kong and Godzilla making their way to Caldera. This is probably going to be the most high-effort event since the 80s Action Heroes Event, so we're pretty hyped ourselves. And luckily for us, we now had the chance to talk to two developers from Raven Software (the studio behind Warzone) about Operation Monarch and more.

Operation Monarch Interview With Raven Software

In our interview, we (Lukas Ballat and Jon Ramuz) had the chance to talk to Ted Timmins, Creative Director at Raven Software, and JJ Williams, Associate Creative Director at Raven Software. JJ Williams is the main developer behind Operation Monarch, and both he and Ted gave us some exciting insights into the upcoming event.

How Does Operation Monarch Work?

JJ Williams:

It's been about 10 months now since I presented the first version of the event internally and we started playtesting about 5 months ago. And we were like, hey how is this going to be with Godzilla and it was extra funny because we actually didn't have Kong from Legendary [the model for King Kong] so we had a soldier the size of Godzilla, who walked across the island.

Jon:

So you started development on Operation Monarch pretty much right after the 80s Action Heroes event?

JJ Williams:

Yes, that's exactly why the Power Grab mode came into play when I started developing the event, because a lot of players were having fun with the Power Grab mode. And that's why we now have the Power Grab Ruleset in Operation Monarch as well. I thought Resurgence is really awesome and then Power Grab... and then we put them together and now we have a really nice mix of these modes with visually stunning gameplay.

Ted Timmins:

What I really like about what JJ and the team have done is that they take these two fan-favorite modes but also bring their own ideas. One of the things that was important to us as developers from the very beginning was, how do we make King Kong and Godzilla really present, really there, and players can interact with them? [...] And that's why we use the Power Grab System. What happens when you clash with the Titans and damage them is that the Power Grab bar charges up, and this eventually unlock the Radio. These are the Power Frenzy Events. [...]

What I like so much is that old Warzone players who have been there for three cycles now look at the event and say oh cool we've got a little bit of Resurgence and a little bit of Power Grab here while a new player comes in and just this visually incredibly stunning event by taking the big screen out of the cinema where we all love those great monster movies that made cinematic history and bringing it all to your screen and putting you in control. JJ might be able to explain that better.

JJ Williams:

So in the match we have Resurgence and also Power Grab, 60 players per match, last one standing wins. Those are the ground rules. And then we have two live events (Power Frenzy) that are happening and the Monarch device that we developed with Legendary , which is super cool because we're part of canon now. That device activates, but it is buggy and incites the monsters into a frenzy. So what happens is that Godzilla arrives at the beach and Kong starts throwing rocks at players. You as a squad now have to push them back and you do that by dealing damage. You can't kill a Titan, but you can at least make them think twice about attacking again. It's almost like you're part of a Monsterverse movie and the military are throwing everything they've got at you so you can push back the titans.So we have jets that drop heavy weapons for you and vehicles that deal damage like the anti-air jeeps. And then it's sort of a race, squads get rewarded for doing damage and the top squad gets a Monarch device.

The Monarch device is essentially the way for players to control a Titan's attack. So you can tell Kong where to hit or throw a stone. The second way to get a Monarch device is to collect a certain amount of Monarch Intel . This works through loot, kills, and the Titan Frenzy Event. This will fill the Power Grab bar and if you collect 100 Monarch Intel you will also get a Monarch device.

How do Titan attacks work?

JJ Williams:

Godzilla shoots a beam of heat across the ground, killing every player instantly - there is no down phase, players are out instantly. But don't worry, if an aggressive player runs in and dies, I hold back and he gets back into the match (Resurgence rules). The attack also leaves a streak of fire on the ground, like a massive Molotov, but it does significantly more damage than a Molotov , so be careful. So you can use the beam to completely cut off part of the island.

Kong throws a huge boulder. It hits the ground and stuns all players and also destroys their armor, but what you really should watch out for is the rock. The boulder Kong throws kills you instantly and has a huge radius.
So if you see the attack, you better start running.

But don't get me wrong, we talk about the Titan Frenzy Event all the time, but you can always shoot the Titans, anytime. The thing is, the monsters will ignore you for now, they don't care about you, but if you shoot them they will attack you. So you have to weigh up whether you want to attack them for a few Monarch Intel Drops and risk dying.

Ted Timmins:

What I particularly like here is the movement in Warzone. The really good players use movement skills that even we as developers are surprised by. What JJ and his team did is whenever you collect Monarch Intel you get a short speed boost . So before a squad attacks another squad, they can quickly attack a Titan, get the speed boost, and then push the opposing team. [...] We always want to give the players new opportunities to experience something new.

Is the focus of this event more towards action and away from Contracts and Buy Stations?

Ted Timmins:

No, Season 3 should feel like a complete package and yes, we have Operation Monarch Game Mode and of course we are always thinking of new gameplay mechanics, but one of the big successes since Season 3 started are the lootable perks . This brings a whole new dynamic to the gameplay. Players realize that it's no longer just about quick kills, but that loot is becoming more important again. [...]

And what is really exciting here and also comes with the Operation Monarch event are the so-called high-value loot zones.As you start the match, you will see 3-4 highlighted areas on the map that have the best and most loot. And that could really be a cool new feature and part of the meta. [...] When you come back from the Gulag, for example, it has always been difficult to quickly find good loot again, the new high-value loot zones bring a new dynamic here.


The sniper nerfs were probably a good thing on balance, can we expect more changes to this class?

Ted Timmins:

We really pulled together as a team here and realized that the sniper meta hasn't changed in forever. And we were wondering, how do we put more punch back into the sniper gameplay, how do we bring back the feeling that you're carrying a heavy weapon that can do really heavy damage. Sniping in Warzone has evolved from very precise, heavy weapons to just quick scoping in recent years. We always listen to player feedback, of course, but what we've done with the Snipers is just a first foray into this area, and you'll see more of that in Season 3 Reloaded and Season 4 .

Lots of players love the crazy skins, but how do you balance these against the fans of mil-sim? Will Call of Duty games always start with a realistic theme and then become more cartoon-y?

Ted Timmins:

Call of Duty has that kind of flow. There were times when we really wanted to orient ourselves to reality. But we want to have a curve with CoD comparable to a heartbeat, so yes, one moment we have Snoop Dogg or Godzilla, but then again we have a Price, Soap or Adler. Call of Duty is no different than cinema. There are the gritty, gritty but believeable Christopher Nolan films and then the complete opposite where everything is unbelievable and completely CG. Call of Duty is the same, we have both ends of the spectrum and change it with Seasons. Now, for example, we've had the opportunity to work with Snoop Dogg and then Legendary [Monsterverse] and then Attack on Titan as well , but we have other things in the pipeline for the future that are more mil-sim.

But one must never forget that Call of Duty is a brand, a franchise. We have some of the best characters in the industry and we take these popular characters and their stories that have evolved over the last 16-17, almost 18 years and tell their stories in our own universe.

Will there be more weather effects and maybe a day/night cycle in the future?

JJ Williams:

It started when we were thinking about the event. We thought, hey, let's try this gloomier, cloudy skybox that heralds a storm. We're always listening and players seem to really like the new skybox. So if that's the case, we're happy to stick with it. I don't know what Ted has to say about this but we hear you and if you like this... I'm a huge fan, I don't want to wear sunglasses all the time.

Ted Timmins:

It's similar to the skins. We want to create a certain flow here too. When we introduced Pacific it just made sense that everything was bright, colorful, just like a tropical island. So how do we best sell this fantasy of paradise lost? But now as the season progresses, when we talk about the epic titans battling each other on Caldera, the sunny theme just doesn't fit anymore. [...] Now the sound almost reminds me a bit of Verdansk – this somewhat oppressive atmosphere.

This is really a big step for us on Caldera and Season 4 will be the best Caldera yet. I really can't wait to talk to you guys about what the world building team has been working on. They really did a great job with the new POIs, the Dig Site and Peak.

Congratulations, you've now got the rundown on Operation Monarch, and a sneak preview of Raven Software's future plans. And when you jump into the event, remember that you can always check the rules in our guide to the new event.

As soon as we get another opportunity to talk to the Warzone developers, we will of course keep you posted.