Well. Here we are. Call of Duty’s extraction mode, DMZ, is dead. For a little while now, debate has raged in the community over whether or not it was going to happen, especially as Modern Warfare 3’s Zombies has taken the spotlight as the series’ PvE mode. In a recent update, Acitivison confirmed the reality many of us were dreading: DMZ will receive no updates and will be separate from the Modern Warfare 3/Warzone ecosystem with the launch of Season 1 of Modern Warfare III on December 6, 2023.
On November 14, 2022 DMZ arrived as a beta within Warzone 2.0. It offered up an open-world, narrative extraction mode where multiple players had to loot, survive, and escape in a high-stakes PvPvE scenario. It was a more streamlined version of games like Escape From Tarkov. Though DMZ never achieved the same level of popularity as Warzone, it did have a dedicated fanbase. It also captured many hours of my attention and was one of my favorite gaming experiences of 2022 and early 2023.
In an update, Activision said the following regarding the fate of DMZ:
Beginning with next week’s launch of Season 1, DMZ Beta players can continue the mode via the Call of Duty: Warzone section of COD HQ. The DMZ Beta will remain fully playable across all current DMZ content, including Al Mazrah, Ashika Island, the Koschei Complex, Building 21, Vondel, as well as all DMZ missions. The mode will not be available or interact directly within Modern Warfare III or Call of Duty: Warzone which means that progression and any new Modern Warfare III or Warzone content, including Battle Pass or store bundles, will not sync or carry back into this DMZ mode. Also, DMZ progress will not apply to new Battle Passes beginning with Season 1.
So, yes, you can still play the mode, but there won’t be any future content updates and you’re shut out of earning progress toward your battle pass if you do. The DMZ update concluded by saying that “development teams will continue to evolve these dynamic open world experiences into the future. We look forward to sharing updates when ready.” Kotaku has reached out to Activision for comment.
DMZ’s on life support. Time to play Tarkov?
It’s an unfortunate end to those who loved the DMZ and hoped to see it mature out of its beta status. Difficulty balances and intrusive monetization practices were often a sore spot for the mode, but many players chalked it up to the natural ebb and flow that most live-service games go through while still offering a net positive experience. Despite its struggles, it courted a small but rather passionate fanbase, especially on r/DMZ which is currently going through a collective mourning.
The end of DMZ is particularly painful because there aren’t a whole lot of approachable multiplayer extraction shooters out there. The genre delivers a very specific kind of hybrid competitive/cooperative game experience that isn’t totally satisfied by battle royales or traditional deathmatch scenarios.
Free-to-play sci-fi extraction shooter The Cycle: Frontier was recently shuttered in September and is completely unplayable at this point. And Tarkov’s smaller maps, survival mechanics, and grittier inventory management is likely to prove a tough shift for DMZ-heads to switch to.
For those who love this kind of game and desire something a bit more approachable than Tarkov, Bungie’s upcoming Marathon might be a good fit in the near future. However, its sci-fi stylings are distinct from CoD’s more real-world military aesthetic.
But if a change of genre isn’t too much, the DMZ diaspora will have to wait a bit for Bungie’s newest game: Unfortunately, Marathon isn’t likely to arrive before 2025 after a dramatic round of layoffs at Bungie.
So if you’re into extraction shooters (they’re a unique adrenaline rush in today’s landscape), what should you do? Well, you can keep playing DMZ in its frozen state.
Sure, DMZ won’t see any of its rough edges rounded and it won’t contain any new experiences beyond what exists.
But, hey, the game is no longer a part of CoD’s active live-service model. I kind of see that as a silver lining here: it’s an invitation to keep playing it for its own sake, for the moment-to-moment fun. DMZ was often so much fun because the emergent gameplay it creates is like a perpetual motion machine of PvE and PvP scenarios. Let me rephrase that: We can now just enjoy DMZ for the fun of it. Sure, DMZ is now stuck with only its mere potential, but I think that’s a good time to reflect on what works and doesn’t work, what could be improved in future extraction shooters and more.
Remember when that was all multiplayer shooters were about?