As I sat down to play a multiplayer match in the newest Call of Duty entry by Sledgehammer Games, Call of Duty WWII, I was filled with hope. I had been wanting this franchise to head back to the WWII era for quite some time now, and first impressions did not disappoint.
The most immediate change I noticed was that instead of Create-a-Class being where you customize and make your soldier your own, you know chose to be a part of a Division. Love being a Sniper and providing overwatch? The Mountain Division is for you. Maybe you prefer being the tip of the spear and carving the path to victory for your squad. In that case, the Infantry Division is calling your name. Each of these divisions come with their own Division Skills and Division Training which allow you to customize your soldier with abilities like adding two extra attachments to your primary weapon or one extra to your secondary. Each Division much be trained up separately and can be changed between each life. In our demo, however, we had no customization options, only preset classes.
I jumped into the Infantry Division as there has always been a special place in my heart for the M1 Garand. The map we were allowed to play on dropped us into the Trenches of Nazi Germany and I was immediately blown away by the visceral gameplay and fantastic sound design. Call of Duty has always excelled at perfecting gameplay and this entry appears to be no different. Following my squad through the trenches and not knowing what was around each corner created a real sense of dread as you heard every bullet and explosion, knowing the next may find you as its target.
The game looks fantastic and seeing WWII with this level of detail closes on disturbing. In the more recent Call of Duty games, that leaned much more into Sci-Fi and future technologies, there was a bit of a disconnect with modern reality. However, WWII is a real and devastating time in human history, and considering the fact that I have studied and have those in my family who lived this war, it hit much closer to home.
After the shock and awe of being back in World War II wore off, Team Deathmatch felt pretty familiar. I went on a bit of a killstreak and unlocked a Recon Aircraft (UAV), and then a Counter Recon Aircraft, and after 7 kills was treated to a fighter pilot. This brought up the map and allowed my to choose the path a fighter pilot would come in for a strafing run. It felt great and the surprise of not knowing what the killstreak was made it all the sweeter.
After Team Deathmatch, we had a chance to try the new War mode. This is a conquest-esque mode that has two teams fighting for objectives that are ever changing. In one part of the round we had to take advantage of the new tools feature to rebuild a bridge that had been destroyed. While we were attempting to accomplish this task, the defense was able to build and repair stationary turrets and lay down heavy fire to make our mission that much more difficult. These mission objectives give more weight to your journey and force you to change tactics and even Divisions more than you would otherwise. There was even a point where you have the ability to call in reinforcements and a Tank comes to the aid of those in need.
All in all, Call of Duty WWII feels very familiar. That being said, that familiar feeling has brought in Activision millions upon millions of dollars. It feels very refreshing (and terrifying) to be back in World War II, and the new modes may bring some more variety and replayability to those who may have fallen out of love with the franchise.
It remains to be seen if the Single-Player campaign will bring some heart, character, and life to this War and tell a powerful, impactful story that many are hoping for. I have a theater presentation of a single-player mission today and will be providing my thoughts very shortly.
Call of Duty WWII, in my books, is a welcome change to this franchise and playing just three rounds did just exactly what the developers were hoping for; had me wishing for one…more…round.
Call of Duty WWII released on November 3rd, 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.