The long awaited return for Call Of Duty is finally over. After the highs of the Modern Warfare series and the lows of Infinite Warfare, it’s great to see Call of Duty doing what it does best.
A World War 2 shooter with great sound design, a cliché but great campaign, and the gloss and finish of a polished, fasted paced multilayer game that gamers have come to expect over the years, coupled with new features this time.
Call of Duty does not sell for its story telling. But there’s no denying it can deliver a compelling story and engaging gameplay experiences in a linear setting. Set in the western front of the World War 2 campaign, you play as Private Ronald Daniels, part of the 1st Infantry Battalion, delightfully known as the “Bloody 1st”.
And you begin at the familiar Invasion of Normandy at Omaha beach as you push towards the Rhine at Remagen.
Gameplay wise, it’s a lot like Call of Duty 2. You are no longer a one-man army able to take a heap of damage, duck into cover, heal up and begin your rampage all over again. This time you are reliant on health packs to heal yourself–you either find them lying around or get them through your squad mates.
Apart from health packs, you can replenish your ammo, call in mortar strikes or highlight enemies with the new squad mate abilities. This fits in the campaign perfectly as it adds a layer of character development, and gameplay by helping you form a bond with your squad mates outside of a cinematic cut scene. Also it changes up the way you play when you get separated from squad mates with those specific attributes.
Speaking of cinematic cut scenes, you won’t be let down by what Sledgehammer Games has in store for you.
To mention a few, the invasion of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, and the attack on Remagen Bridge are some memorable moments that come to mind. The cut scenes are really well done with excellent animations and detailing. The best thing is, they don’t hide what inspired these moments, from referencing the Normandy Invasion from Saving Private Ryan, to celebrating a cold and bitter winter in at the bulge like the one seen in an episode of Band of Brothers or from a Bridge Too Far. The epic moments are Naughty Dog-esque, especially that one cinematic where you cause a massive train derailment or when you are being interrogated by Commander Heinrich during the liberation of Paris mission. However, the one thing that stood out the most was the inclusion of a labour camp level.
I have to commend Sledgehammer on how they handled that mission. There isn’t any gun fight going on, you just walk through an abandoned labour camp and then stumble upon the atrocities committed by the Nazis just as any allied solider would have when they saw such camps for the first time. Overall, I’d say I have not enjoyed a Call of Duty campaign since Call of Duty Modern Warfare but this one certainly comes in at a close second.
Multiplayer has a major shake up with the addition of Divisions. It replaces the Create a Class and Perks system we have become accustomed to.
Each division has its own passive skills in the form of divisions skill and perks are now known as basic training. There are five divisions; Infantry, Airborne, Armoured, Mountain and Expeditionary. For example, here’s a breakdown: you pick the Infantry Division at the start.
You get access to assault rifles such as the M1 Garand. You also get the division skill that gives you the bayonet attachment which only goes onto your AR, allowing you to kill your opponent with one melee hit. If you play as the airborne you get silencers for your SMG’s, Armoured lets you mount bipod on your LMG’s, Mountain allows you to acquire aim assist and expeditionary class gives you incendiary rounds for your shotguns.
As you level up you get an unlock token which you can use to unlock more weapons, attachments or basic training perks. Weapons and basic training is not locked to any division. You can still use but SMG or other weapons if you play as the Infantry, but you can’t use the silencer or your bayonet.
Headquarters is also a new addition. It basically the same as the tower from Destiny. Its where you can meet other players, pick assessments to unlock lot boxes, watch players open up loot boxes to increase your own social score, challenge other random players to 1 v 1 matches which are quite entertaining while you wait for friends to finish up their match or come online.
Loot boxes are in the game. Thankfully the items are purely cosmetic. Hopefully it stays that way, but I have a feeling that we will see some types of weapon variants that can be only unlocked through loot boxes. The limited weapon and attachments in the game might get old for some people pretty quickly, so I can see why variants might be added to keep things fresh.
With the launch, some players, including me, have been having lag or connectivity issues. Maybe with future updates a server list can be added to allow players to pick their servers based on their region or more servers can be added to the Asia region? There has not been a statement released by Sledgehammer games or Activision at time of writing this review.
When you boot up zombie mode for the first time, you are given a mini prologue/tutorial that acts as a fun way to learn the mechanics and story of this mode and to introduce new players to zombies. I’m glad Sledgehammer did this as it establishes the world and mechanics for new players.
After the prologue, if you decide to play on there’s only 1 map on offer; The Final Riech where you learn about Dr. Straus’s Nazi zombies. And my god are the aesthetics great. The zombies look a lot more terrifying and the way the different levels of the map slowly reveal whats going on is simply awesome.
You start off in an ordinary looking German town that has been ravaged by the war. As you progress through the map it you enter the sewers. It gives of a claustrophobic vibe as the passage way narrows and zombies start flooding in. The sewers run red with blood and soon you find the Dr. Straus’ secret lair under the town and with a presence of an ancient evil.
Call Of Duty: WWII is refreshing. It has great sound design, improved graphics, an engaging campaign, and a terrifying new zombie experience. Also with a new take at their multiplayer, Sledgehammer Games just might have set the trend for other studios to give AAA WW2 games another shot.
It’s also great to see that Sledgehammer Games is ready to switch things up for COD players in order to give an aging franchise a new lease of life.