Beginners Guide to Call of Duty: Warzone 2 DMZ

Rodney Orpheus
16 min readAug 3, 2023


How to get started for free in the best Call of Duty mode ever

Call of Duty Modern Warfare II: Warzone launched in 2022 and it’s become a really popular Battle Royale style game — largely because it’s free to play. However personally I didn’t play it much, because I am not a fan of Battle Royale games. But then I discovered that it also has another, completely different mode called DMZ, which is actually kind of awesome. And you should definitely play it.

2024 update: although DMZ is still freely available, it is no longer updated or part of the CoD Season Pass system. While this is very disappointing to those of us who are DMZ fans, it’s still perfectly playable and will be for the forseeable future, so don’t let this stop you trying it out!


To get started, download the free Call of Duty HQ launcher: from Steam if you’re a PC kind of person, or from the Playstation or Xbox store if you’re a console person. If you are running on a PC, it will work fine with either mouse & keyboard or with a controller, take your pick. I’m running it on PC via Steam with a cheap PS4 controller and it works great, including being able to use the controller gyro to aim.

Note: if you’re on PC using a controller via Steam and the game fails to run after installation, try unplugging your controller and exiting Big Picture mode the first time you run the game. Once the game has loaded the first time you can replug your controller and go back to Big Picture mode and it should work fine from then on. It’s a weird bug that I’ve had on several systems but this workaround has fixed it every time.

Alternately you might have to set steam.exe to Run As Administrator in order for it to complete the registration process (search online if you don’t know how to do this). If you do have to do this, note that once you get the game running you can just switch Steam back to normal mode afterwards and it will continue to work fine.

Once the game is running, you need to register an Activision account, which is a little tedious, but not too painful, then you should have the main title screen in front of you.

Note: your game may sit frozen for ages while it optimizes its shaders. So you may have to go get a cup of tea while it does that, it can take a while on some systems — it took nearly half an hour on my old rig!

Getting ready for DMZ

You will see a ton of options for the various different game modes. Look for the Modern Warfare II: DMZ game mode and click on that. Then look for the Active Duty entry in the top menu. That will take you to a page where you can select your starting Operator character and the gear you want to use. If this is your first time playing you will only have a choice of two basic Operators: SpecGru or Kortac. Each of the starting operators has several different skins available to you, just pick the one you like the look of best — all Operators have exactly the same powers, the only difference is cosmetic. You will also be able to unlock more Operators as you play, more on that later.

Note for Playstation players: there are several extra Modern Warfare II Operator packs available for free if you have Playstation Plus, so grab those too before you start!

Optional: starting with a female Operator

Unfortunately the two starting Operators are both male — which is just weird in 2024. If, like most of my female gamer friends, you like to play a female character, the only solution at this stage is to spend some money and buy an Operator pack. There are several available, the best value ones currently being:

  1. The Valkyrie Pack — unlocks the Roza Operator plus 2 weapon blueprints and some cosmetics and XP boosts. Only costs 10 bucks and all the money goes to charity. A great way to get going if you are a casual player and don’t want to spend too much money.
  2. The Griffin Pro Pack — unlocks the Nova Operator with a very cool skin, plus 2 weapon blueprints, cosmetics and 2400 CoD points which you can use to buy other Operators and weapons later! Although this costs 20 bucks, it’s definitely the best value for money if you think you might want to get more stuff going forward (and you will).

If you don’t want to spend any money, pick the base Kortac Operator for now and try to unlock a female Operator later though gameplay. If you’re a free player probably the easiest one to unlock is Kleo, who you get by killing another player with Lethal equipment e.g. a grenade, mine, or throwing knife. Alternately, if you paid for the full Modern Warfare II game, doing mission 10 of the solo campaign will unlock Nova for use in Warzone.

Tooling up

Now to load up. You have 2 weapon slots, plus a Non-lethal slot for things like smoke grenades or flashbangs, a Lethal slot for things like frag grenades or mines, and a slot for a Field Upgrade ability like a Munitions Box.

Tip: to begin with, only fill one of your two weapon slots! The reason is that you will find lots of weapons to pick up in the DMZ and any you bring back with you will be unlocked on your account, and be added to your Contraband Stash for you to use later. So leave a slot open for a picked up weapon.

To fill your Primary weapon slot, select it. You will have a choice of using an Insured weapon or one of several Contraband weapons available to you. A Contraband weapon cannot be modded except inside the DMZ itself, and if you fail to exit the DMZ while carrying it, it will be lost forever. So usually your best choice is to use an Insured weapon if you can.

Selecting an Insured Weapon

To insure a weapon you can choose from any weapon Blueprint you have unlocked. You will only have a few of these to choose from as a beginning player. The best all-round starter choice is probably the M4 Assault Rifle, so pick that and equip it to the Insured Weapon slot, then make sure it’s selected as the Primary weapon for your loadout. As you play you’ll be able to unlock more weapons you can use in this slot — or if you buy a Battle Pass or a paid bundle from the COD store it will automatically unlock fully tuned weapon blueprints for you to add here.

Keep the second weapon slot free, and make sure you have the other 3 slots filled with something you like. I recommend a Smoke Grenade or Stim for the Non-lethal slot and a Frag Grenade or Semtex (or if you like being stealthy, a Throwing Knife) for the Lethal slot to start with. For the Field Upgrade slot the Munitions Box is usually a safe bet, because you will run out of ammo at some point.

It’s time to start shooting!

Entering the DMZ

Click on the DMZ page to go the Lobby. You will be given the choice of 3 missions to take with you. Just go with the default ones for now, they shouldn’t be too hard, and doing them will help you learn the game. From the DMZ lobby you can choose to join a team or Deploy directly. If you have friends who play, now is your chance to invite them from the Social menu (top right of your screen), or just go with randoms. In my experience most people playing this mode are pretty friendly so being in a random party is usually ok.

Voice chat

Press F1 for the in-game menu and make sure your voice chat is set the way you like it. Note: you can voice chat with your team from any distance, but you also can enable proximity chat, so anyone near you can talk and hear you even if they are on another team. If you’re alone it’s useful to have this on, because you can ask people for help if you aren’t sure what to do. If you’re in a team with friends you probably want proximity chat off so you can talk privately with only the team members.

Picking a map

There are several maps available, each very different in play. Probably the best place to start is with the Al Mazrah map, it’s huge and there’s plenty of space to move around and get the feel of things before too many enemies start shooting at you. The Vondel map is another good choice, especially if you have been to Amsterdam, it’s a medium size map that’s a great recreation of that city. The third starter map is Ashika Island, which is much smaller than the other two. It’s a lot easier to get around, but there’s a lot more chance of running into trouble.

Each map contain a lot of AI enemies and several other player teams, maximum number depending on the map. Al Mazrah can have up to 22 player teams i.e. 66 players maximum. Vondel and Ashika Island each hold a maximum of 6 player teams, or 18 players. The very small Building 21 map holds a max of 4 teams / 12 players.

Doing missions

Once you are in the DMZ, take your time and get the feel of your surroundings. Look at the map for any points of interest nearby, such as icons for phones or antennae. You can click on icons on the map to ping them and set them as waypoints.

Move around and check your weapon abilities so you know what you’re doing before going any farther.


Once you are confident, move slowly and carefully towards the nearest building, taking out any enemies you see. Once in a building, look for bags, fridges, medical boxes etc. that you can loot. You have very limited space in your Small Backpack, but grab anything you see anyway, since you can always drop it later if you need to stow something else.

Most especially make sure to loot dead enemies for ammo or weapons — remember you have an empty second weapon slot. Whatever weapon you take away in that second slot, you get to keep and use again later. Any gun you extract with is automatically unlocked for DMZ and all other game modes in future, so prioritize grabbing a weapon you haven’t unlocked yet (which will be most of them if you are just starting out).

Contract phones

A green mobile phone icon on the map. When you are near one you will hear it clicking. Pick it up and it will give you a contract mission to do.

UAV station

Marked with an antenna icon. Fire one of these up and it will spot enemies in the area around it and show them on your minimap. Very useful.

SAM Site

Since the AI has an annoying habit of sending elite troops after you in helicopters, look for a missile icon on the map and try to capture it. This will give you your own personal Surface to Air Missile battery which will happily shoot down any enemy helicopter in the area for you. Note that to capture a SAM site you need to stand really close to it for a minute or so while loads of enemies will try to swarm you, so be prepared for a fight. Not recommended if you are travelling solo.

Buy station

Marked with a shopping cart icon. If you get to one, you can sell some of the stuff you’ve picked up to make room for more loot later, and also buy extra equipment and armor. Useful items you can purchase include:

  • Armor Plate — $250
  • Munitions Box — $5,000
  • Gas Mask — $3,500
  • Medium Backpack — $6,500
  • Large Backpack — $50,000
  • 2-Plate Armor Vest — $7,500
  • 3-Plate Armor Vest — $65,000
  • Revive Pistol — $10,000
  • Stronghold Keycard — $5,000
  • LTV with Turret — $75,000
  • UAV — $100,000
  • Advanced UAV — $200,000

I recommend at minimum getting a Medium Backpack and a 2-Plate Armor Vest if you don’t have those already. And some extra armor plates are always handy.


DMZ is basically a PvEvP environment. Most of the time you’ll be taking on AI enemies, but there will be other players around. Some of them will be friendly, others not so much. If you don’t want to PvP and you see another group of players, you can either try to quietly sneak away, or simply yell FRIENDLY over proximity chat and hope they won’t gun you down. You will get the occasional assholes who will shoot you, but many people will be happy to help you out if you tell them you are new. If you do get shot you will be given the ability to press a button to call for help — do it! A lot of times people might shoot you by accident thinking you are an NPC enemy, or because they are worried you’re hostile, and will be happy to revive you again if you ask them.

Joining another team

While in a DMZ game you can invite people nearby to join you, or ask to join a nearby team. Although you can only have a maximum of 3 people in a team in the Lobby, while you are in the game you can increase your team size to up to 4 people.


You’ll see a yellow circle on the map — this marks a radiation zone. Stay away from it to begin with, it’s nasty. However after 20 minutes, it will start to expand. This is your warning that it’s time to exfiltrate! You’ll see a countdown timer below your minimap. Keep an eye on it and when you get the warning that winds are spreading radiation, get ready to get out.


This game is not just about shooting and looting — it’s also about getting away with your loot. You’ll see 3 blue Exit sign icons around the map — these are possible exfiltration points. Go to one of them and you will see green smoke — get close to that and you will be prompted to call for helicopter extraction. It takes a while for it to arrive though, and meanwhile every enemy nearby will be making a beeline for you, so get behind cover and start taking them down as they get close. Once the chopper arrives run up the rear ramp and go!

If radiation spreads over an Exfil point it becomes useless, so if you’re late getting out, head for the Exfil furthest away from the radiation zone. Note that once all 3 main Exfil points have been covered by radiation an additional 4th Exfil point will appear randomly on the map, so if you miss the first 3 you still have a chance to get out in an emergency.

Unlocking upgrades

It may seem counter-intuitive, but you do not upgrade your character in DMZ by gaining XP. You have to unlock individual upgrades by either levelling up your Faction reputation with the Black Mous, White Lotus, Phalanx etc. and/or doing certain actions or extracting certain items. To see the upgrades available to you, go to the DMZ Lobby and press the button on the bottom left for Available Missions, then choose the Upgrades section. You’ll be presented with a menu across the top listing all the various types of upgrades — and there are a lot of them! I advise grabbing a pen and paper and writing down what you need for each upgrade you want, because you will forget otherwise.

Starting upgrades

Good starting upgrades to aim for include:

Black Mous daily urgent missions

  • Extract with a full backpack with each slot filled.

White Lotus daily urgent missions

  • Complete the “Mysterious Letter” mission for the Black Mous faction.
  • Extract two Al-Qatala planning diagrams or images.

Unlock Wallet – Unlock the Wallet to store extra cash.

  • Extract $100,000 in cash.

Stash Expansion I — Expands the mission item/key stash by five slots.

  • Reach reputation level four with Black Mous.
  • Extract 10 nuclear fuel rods.
  • Extract two radiation blocker bottles.

Unlock Second Insured Slot

  • Reach reputation level four with Black Mous.
  • Extract three IFAKs (found at hospitals or in first aid kits).
  • Extract one AFAK or large medical bag.
  • Extract one enemy operator’s weapon.

Contraband Stash Expansion — Expands the Contraband stash by five slots.

  • Reach reputation level five with Black Mous.
  • Extract four thumb drives.
  • Extract five hard drives.

Weapon Loadouts

Once you have unlocked a few weapons and gathered some contraband, you’ll want to figure out a good weapon loadout for your playstyle. This is going to be different for everyone, but here are some starting suggestions:

Solo player in Al Mazrah

The Al Mazrah map has a lot of wide open space, so a powerful longer range weapon can be very useful. If you are running solo, good choices for your Primary weapon are a Marksman Rifle like the Tempus Torrent, or a Battle Rifle like the Cronen Squall — add a suppressor in order to stay stealthy. Pair it with a decent SMG like a Lachmann Sub or Vel-46 for more short to medium range engagements. When running solo, try to pick up a Stealth Vest if you can as well, it keeps you invisible to enemy UAVs.

Solo player in Vondel, Ashika Island, or Koschei Complex

These are much smaller maps without long sightlines and with a lot of concentrated enemies, so your best bet for a Primary weapon is something that can spit out a lot of damage at medium range, such as an LMG or Assault Rifle. As a secondary, an SMG is always useful, but with the amount of indoor fighting you will see on these maps, consider taking a Shotgun for rapid close range takedowns. Another option for Vondel is to take a Handgun, since that’s the only weapon you can use underwater — and Vondel has a lot of water! A Stealth Vest or Comms Vest can also be handy for avoiding enemy player squads, but if you are getting chased just dive into a canal and take them out with your pistol.

Squad Fire Support

In modern military parlance, an LMG is usually referred to as a SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) and there’s a good reason why small squads usually carry one for fire support and enemy suppression. If you know you’ll be running with a squad, it’s a good idea for at least one squad member to carry an LMG to lay down the hurt. Pair it with an fast SMG like the Vel-46 or PDSW for clutch moments. Also consider a Med Vest for reviving other team members rapidly.

Squad Sniper Support

Depending on map and playstyle, you might want to have one member of the squad take a Sniper Rifle or Marksman Rifle, particularly in Al Mazrah. Sniping is a great way to clear enemies at range, and it’s also very handy against annoying enemy players. As a backup weapon consider either a quick firing Assault Rifle — bullpup rifles like the Tempus Razorback or FR Avancer have good mobility and handling as well as decent range — or a solid SMG like the Lachmann Sub or ISO 45. A Stealth Vest can also be useful for staying well hidden.

Squad Point Man

If you like to be upfront you’ll need a fast and flexible loadout — and I’d also advise the use of a suppressed weapon so you can take out a few enemies before they even know you’re there. A solid all-round Assault Rifle with a suppressor like the M4 or TAQ-56 should be your go-to weapon in this case. Your backup weapon should usually be an SMG or Shotgun to take down enemies rushing you. A Comms Vest will also be useful to give you advance warning if there are enemy players nearby.

Available Operators

There are a lot of playable characters in this game, each with multiple different skins — here’s a full list. Some can be unlocked via gameplay, others require actual cash. Which brings us to…

Spending money

After you’ve done a few missions and decide that you love this mode, you might want to drop some money on improving it. You have several options:

  1. Buy the main Call of Duty Modern Warfare II game — this will give you a ton of excellent solo campaign missions, co-op Spec Ops missions etc. It will also give you extra missions and XP for the DMZ mode. And if you do the solo and co-op campaign missions it will unlock several other Operators you can use in DMZ. It’s also stupidly expensive unless you get it in a sale. Basically it’s worth buying if you want to play the solo campaign, but if you just want to play multiplayer, don’t bother, there are better options, such as…
  2. Buy a C.O.D.E. Pack — this is a special pack with an Operator and some weapon blueprints, cosmetics etc. and all the money earned goes to charity. For 10 bucks you get a good deal and support a good cause, so a worthwhile choice if you don’t have a lot of money to spend.
  3. Buy an MWII Pro Pack — this is a great deal, because for about 20 bucks you not only unlock an Operator with a cool outfit, some good weapon blueprints etc. but you also get 2400 CoD Points. Considering that this is the same price as buying the CoD Points on their own, it’s excellent value for money. There are several Pro Packs in the store and available via Steam etc., so choose an Operator you like the look of and get one. If you are getting one primarily for playing DMZ, the best choice is the Graffiti Tactical Pro Pack, which comes with a free 2-plate armor carrier and an extra DMZ Active Duty slot.

Important note: all Call of Duty bundle packs released after October 2023 are for Modern Warfare III only! They are not backwards compatible for DMZ and you won’t be able to use them in that mode. So if you want to play DMZ, only buy Modern Warfare II packs which were all released before that date. Please examine the pack compatibility information carefully before you spend your money! On the plus side, all MWII Operators and weapons do carry forward to MWIII so any you unlock for DMZ can be used in both games — making them even better value for money.

That’s it!

That should be enough to get you started in DMZ. Have fun and remember…



Rodney Orpheus

I write about music, tech, and, games. All the cool stuff the kids are doing these days.