Call of Duty goes back to its WWII roots
Fourteen years ago Activision gave us Call of Duty, a first-person shooter set in World War II. Most games in the series would revisit this massive global conflict until 2008’s Call of Duty: World at War. From then on out subsequent games ventured further into the future, culminating in last year’s interplanetary sci-fi entry Infinite Warfare. This year though, Sledgehammer Games is at the helm and is transporting players back to that historic 1940s war. The game, of course, is Call of Duty: WWII.
Like all recent entries, Call of Duty: WWII is virtually three games in one. You get a story-driven campaign, robust online competitive multiplayer, and the co-operative zombies mode. All modes are pretty meaty so let’s dive right in and see what you can expect!
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Campaign – fight for freedom
From the moment you start Call of Duty: WWII‘s campaign the brutal realities of this war set in. You step into the boots of Private Ronald “Red” Daniels whose platoon is en route to Normandy on D-Day. Even before reaching the beaches, explosions begin rocking your crew and decimating allied boats beside you. Once the ramp drops nearly your entire squad is instantly slaughtered, forcing you to escape into the red-stained waters. It’s an extremely terrifying and unsettling intro, but it gets the point across of how devastating this war really was.
What’s effective too is how there’s no tutorial or training before this mission begins. You are, literally, pushed head-first into one of the most bloody and pivotal moments of the entire war. Storming the beaches of Normandy is a stressful, punishing experience that forces you learn on-the-fly and adapt quick. You don’t have time to feel out the controls or explore loadouts, you need to find cover and fast. I’ll fully admit I died several times fighting to reach the Nazi fortifications, but what better way to show you the cold hard truth about this war?
Brothers in arms
The sense of scale Sledgehammer Games creates in the campaign is to be commended. This is a global conflict and as Private Daniels you feel as small as you really are. The action around you is constantly life-threatening, whether that’s bullets whizzing by or the deafening grenade explosions all around you. There are large threats too, including bombers flying overhead, flamethrower infantry, and half-tracks with mounted machine guns. Often times they’re introduced through eye-popping set pieces that really get your adrenaline pumping.
Thankfully, you’re not alone on the battlefields. Joining you on missions are squad members such as Private Zussman, Technical Sergeant Pierson, and First Lieutenant Turner. Not only do they provide additional firepower, they support you in various other ways. For example, Zussman tosses you medpacks whenever your health is getting low in battle. Other squadmates can resupply your ammo, or provide intel on the enemies locations. This gives the campaign a Brothers in Arms feel as every comrade you have is crucial to the team’s success.
Multiplayer – enlist today
For years now the Call of Duty online competitive multiplayer has been getting faster and more aerial. From wall-running to jetpacks, the gameplay has seen a dramatic increase in speed and verticality. Call of Duty: WWII brings back the iconic boots-on-the-ground combat that long-time fans have been asking for. The pace is slower, but that’s exactly what the franchise needed to revive that classic Call of Duty feel.
The first task at-hand is to pick your division from five specially trained military groups that participated in WWII. Your choices are the Infantry, Airborne, Armored, Mountain (Canadian division), and Expeditionary. Divisions fundamentally change how you plan your multiplayer career and reimagine the old create-a-class system from prior games. Each division comes with its own Basic Training, Division Training, and Weapon Skills (think perks). Together they give each class their own unique play styles and offer choice depending on your individual preference.
The multiplayer offering, as you’d expect for a Call of Duty game, is extremely robust. It includes the usual standard matches, like Free For All, Team Deathmatch, and Kill Confirmed (tags or it didn’t happen.) Also included are a bunch of objective-style playtypes, such as Capture the Flag, Search and Destroy, and Gridiron.
My personal favourite though is the all-new War mode that recreates some of the most famous battles from WWII. The matches are 6-vs-6 and gives each team one crack at being the Allies or the Axis. Your goal is complete a series of objectives before time runs out, such as defending territories, escorting tanks, and many others. Every time you complete an objective you’ll be directed towards another until you either victory or suffer defeat.
What I love so much about this new mode is the sense of camaraderie it fosters among your team. Your platoon lives or dies by its ability to work together, complete objectives, and fend off your adversaries. War mode also features light narrative before and after matches to raise the stakes and offer perspective on your missions. There are only three War maps currently, but it’s fully understandable as I’m sure Sledgehammer Games wanted to gauge fan reaction before investing too heavily in this mode. Hopefully we’ll see more War maps released soon as expanded DLC.
Zombies – battle the undead Nazis
Call of Duty: WWII‘s version of Zombies is my absolute favourite yet. This co-operative multiplayer mode lets up to four players participate in an objective-style match against a ravenous horde of Nazi zombies. The map, called The Final Reich, puts you in a snowy Bavarian village in Mittelburg, Germany, that’s holds ominous secrets.
As you battle zombies you’ll receive Jolts, a type of in-game currency used to buy weapons and upgrades. Jolts are also used to open up locked doors around the village, expanding your playable map area in the process. You’ll also discover Blitz stations that imbue your character with superhuman powers to help increase your odds of survival. Power-ups include unlimited sprinting, increased reload speed, increased firepower, unleashing zombie-destroying electrical shocks whenever you reload, and more.
Having put in more than 30 hours into the Zombie mode already, I can definitely say I’m hooked. It’s so fun to discover new areas and secrets in this creepy, puzzle-filled German town. As well, I find the Nazi zombies truly horrific and enjoy battling bigger, nastier undead creatures as you level up. The only real drawback to this mode is the single map—it would have been nice to have several maps to choose from.
Call of Duty: WWII is an exciting return to form the franchise. Fans have been asking for some time now to get back to classic boots-on-the-ground combat and that’s exactly what Sledgehammer Games has delivered. All three components of the game—Campaign, Multiplayer, Zombies—are excellent and robust. WWII is the total package for Call of Duty fans.
+ Incredible graphics
+ Amazing sense of realism
+ Thrilling, emotional campaign
+ Polished competitive multiplayer
+ The best Zombies game yet
– Campaign might be a steep challenge
– Needs more Zombies maps
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5