Noxious green gas nips at my ankles, bullets whiz past my head, and a rumbling that resembles the sound of an oncoming tornado puts my heart in my throat. I go prone and desperately try to reload my LMG, which takes up far too much of my precious little time – the gas is encroaching. I slam the clip into position and get ready to run for an outcropping of rocks about 50 yards ahead of me, but just when I stand up to make my move, a piercing, otherworldly scream shakes my very skeleton and an impossibly bright streak of bluish -white light slices through the air in front of me. It’s the last thing I see before it all goes dark.
This is typical for a round of WarzoneOperation Monarch, Call of Duty’s best ever limited-time event. In it, Warzone Pacific is invaded by Godzilla and Kong, and you are but a lowly foot soldier scrambling around their titanic feet like a helpless little ant. I haven’t had this much fun in Warzone in months, and I haven’t encountered a crossover event that feels oh-so-right. If Warzone stayed like this forever, I’d be happy.
I let out a peal of shocked laughter a few seconds into my first Warzone Operation Monarch match when I drop out of the smoking, doomed airplane, pull my parachute, and find myself floating right at Godzilla’s eyeline. The King of Monsters is standing just off of Caldera’s northern coast, stomping around like a demonic kid having a temper tantrum. It’s a sight to see, really, this alien beast hanging out in such a grounded world, and it only gets more ridiculous from there.
Operation Monarch matches require you to stay alive during a 60-player Resurgence on a smaller part of Caldera while gathering Monarch Intel to earn rewards. Monarch Intel can be stacked up by finding it in supply boxes, drops, and on fallen enemies – or by doing damage to Godzilla and Kong. The reward tiers include a gas mask, an armor satchel, a loadout drop, and the super-powerful Titan SCREAM device. It’s the Titan Killstreak that elicits such a loud whoop from me that I startle several of my coworkers – this thing is wild.
During the match, Godzilla and Kong are pretty content with stomping around looking angry – during this phase, they’re pretty harmless. But it’s when they go into Titan Frenzy that you have to watch out: Godzilla unleashes his powerful heat ray in a straight line that slices across the map, while Kong hurls a huge hunk of uprooted Caldera earth that does circular AOE damage. If you get a Titan Killstreak, you can basically use Godzilla or Kong as an extra-lethal precision airstrike, and the results are epic.
Towards the end of one of my first matches, with half my team gone thanks to Resurgence expiring and three full squads left, a perfectly placed atomic breath from Godzilla team wipes an entire squad in the building next to me. In the wake of his atomic breath lies a streak of smoldering blue earth that my teammate and I use as a makeshift ring wall to protect our backs. We take out the last two squads the old-fashioned way, with Godzilla screaming his approval of him in the background. How can you not love this?
The perfect LTM
Usually, I have notes for a limited-time mode. With Halo Infinite’s Last Spartan standing, I want fewer power-ups and better spawns. With Apex Legend’s Control, I want smaller maps and different loadout options. But as far as Warzone’s Operation Monarch goes, I have no notes. Unlike the Krampus event, which forces players to deal with the irritating NPC in order to play the traditional battle royale, Operation Monarch has its own playlist. If you want to drop into some chaotic carnage, it’s there waiting for you like Godzilla sleeping at the center of Earth for years. But if you’re looking for the classic experience, you can avoid the titans entirely.
And unlike the Halloween event – which I adored – Operation Monarch feels like the most organic crossover Warzone has seen yet. It finds the perfect balance between fun and frantic, between new mechanics and existing ones. The resurgence formula means an errant boulder landing on your head won’t necessarily be the end of your match, and the blending of Power Grab features with the traditional battle royale makes powerups frequent. I win a few early matches, get eliminated fast in the next few, but find myself jumping back into the playlist faster than in any other Warzone mode.
In one match, my squad is forced to retreat from the Peak at the center of the map and make our way down the mountain, where we’re caught in enemy fire and have to duck into a tent for cover. Just as it seems like we’ll get a second to catch our breath and shield up, Kong leaps from the Peak and lands directly on my teammate’s head, instantly killing him. Another teammate lets out a nervous giggle before Kong flattens him too, and I back further into the tent for cover, but within moments, the king of the jungle team wipes our entire squad. Laughing to myself, I immediately start up another match, because Warzone Operation Monarch is just that damn good.
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