Call of Duty: WWII Xbox One l PS4 l PC
DEVELOPER: Sledgehammer Games
RELEASE DATE: November 3, 2017
I haven’t reviewed a Call of Duty game since Black Ops IIback in 2012. Hell, I haven’t even played a Call of Duty game since then. Mainly because the series kept venturing further and further into high-tech futuristic settings.
But for the latest game in the series, Call of Duty: WWII, the franchise returns to its roots. So when Activision offered a chance to review the game, I simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to revisit the franchise as it revisited World War II.
For a lot of Call of Duty players it’s all about the multiplayer. These are the gaming times we live in. For me, I’m always more interested in diving into the single-player campaign. Just the fact that they still put the time into making a story you can enjoy all by yourself is much appreciated—some don’t even bother these days—but it’s also important that it’s not just thrown together to appease we few who still care about single-player.
There’s nothing really new going on in the Call of Duty: WWII single-player campaign. If you’re familiar with the franchise, you know what to expect for the most part: lots of shooting, a few different things to mix gameplay up such as missions involving vehicles, some over-the-top action sequences. It’s a tried and true recipe fitting to a short first-person shooter campaign.
Even so I enjoyed my time playing the story, helped greatly by the return to the World War II setting. I don’t need or expect a game like this to blow me away with something new. Like a slasher horror flick the formula is often the same, but so long as it keeps me interested throughout I’m satisfied. Speaking of movies, the game clearly drew inspiration from some of cinema’s finest such as Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, which isn’t a bad idea when trying to create a dramatic story set during that time.
The only problem I had with the campaign was one that’s common in games like this: NPCs who won’t shut the hell up. Once you clear an area and receive your next objective, NPCs will begin telling you what to do next. And they will not stop telling you what to do next, every few seconds, until you do it or break your TV. This will drive you mad while you’re trying to run around looking for ammo and health kits after a firefight. I know we’re going through the church doors, Transformers star Josh Duhamel, please stop yelling at me!
As for the multiplayer action it has its ups and downs. Right from the very beginning I was being thrown into matches with players 20, 30, 40 levels higher than myself, instead of other low-level folks still learning the maps and so on. Not the end of the world but still a bit frustrating.
On the plus side, I’ve always much preferred the smaller maps and player counts of Call of Duty games, and that proved true again here. For whatever reason it doesn’t seem to matter what I do in games with much larger maps and player counts like DICE’s Battlefield series, I always end up dead within a matter of moments from someone 15 miles away. Here, I can actually compete.
I still end up dead lots of times, but it’s not constant. Sometimes I’m that guy at the bottom who died six times and didn’t contribute a single kill (the guy who flees in embarrassment at the end of a match so quickly there’s only a human-shaped smoke figure left, like in the cartoons). Then there are times where I end up with the best kill/death ratio of the match. As someone who enjoys multiplayer casually, just being able to hang with other players from time to time is all I need to have fun with it. When the multiplayer is overly competitive or complicated I lose interest.
Right now things are particularly enjoyable in Call of Duty: WWII‘s multiplayer because there’s no microtransactions damaging the overall product. That will change in the future sometime soon, sadly. But how it will affect the overall experience remains to be seen. For now you’re able to earn simply by playing, and there’s plenty to unlock and acquire. So long as you can always earn by playing and it’s not overly beneficial to pay real money for advantages, it won’t be a big deal for those who refuse to pay more than the cost of the base game and perhaps some post-release content.
An interesting new feature in the multiplayer mode is a headquarters which ups the social aspect. Instead of navigating various tabs, you’re brought to an actual military base type location. Here you jump to third-person perspective and can do a bunch of things including practicing shooting at the firing range or practicing killstreak rewards, opening mail which offers rewards, watching videos in the theater, obtaining orders and contracts to complete while playing, and more. There’s even a tent where you can sneak in a little R&R with some old Atari games, which don’t fit at all in the timeline but are still a nice added bonus for longtime gamers.
One of the big features of this area is that there will be other players running around you’ll be able to interact with, compare accomplishments with, and so on, but this feature has not worked for me yet. There’s plenty of NPCs hanging out there, but I’ve yet to see another player.
Other players not showing up is something I’m guessing will be patched quickly. The bigger problem is that they built the headquarters on the beaches of Normandy. Not the best decision to set up a fun virtual hang-out in the same location as one of the bloodiest days in human history unfolded. I like the idea, but in this specific case, going with a more generic headquarters would have been a much better move.
In addition to the single-player campaign and the regular multiplayer, fans of the popular zombie modes in previous games have the opportunity to team up with other players and dance with some good ol’ Nazi Zombies here. While I adore the Dead Snow movies, the prologue for this game mode was more than enough for me. Not that it’s bad—I’m sure fans of previous zombie modes and horde modes in general will dig it, plus it’s got a great cast, especially for a side game mode, including Katheryn Winnick, Ving Rhames, David Tennant, and Elodie Yung—it’s just not for me personally.
Call of Duty: WWII is a solid new entry in the series. Between this and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, I have just been obliterating Nazis lately and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Again, I haven’t played a CoD game since Black Ops II so I can’t compare it to more recent releases, but I liked the single-player campaign and am still jumping into multiplayer matches—something I didn’t expect to do much of. We’ll see how microtransactions shift things in the future, if at all, but for now I think this is a game that will remind some fans who had become bored with the series why they used to enjoy playing.