Call of Duty World War 2 is a return to form for this longstanding franchise. Putting the jetpacks and double-jumps aside, World War 2 is a somber but fast-paced history trip through war-torn Europe.
WWII takes no time throwing you into action with an intense and personal look at D-Day from the eyes of the soldier. As you run onto the shore, taking cover behind anything you can find, you sense the idea that Sledgehammer games were trying to make with this game. You follow “Red” Daniels, a soldier in the U.S. Army. Daniels is a great character who is interesting enough to make you choose the next mission. The narration style of the campaign helped me feel connected but also concerned for the character. I appreciated that in this game there was not a giant Nazi bad guy who I had to track down. I feel like this could have been a cheap way to progress a story, but the game surprised me by focusing on the personal lives of these soldiers. While this game has over the top and typical Call of Duty action sequences, the majority of the game is a somber, introspective look at the sacrifices so many soldiers have made. Even down to walking across a camp to deliver food to a fellow soldier, it’s in these moments you appreciate the games tone the most.
The campaigns missions vary and shift in styles, but are mainly you playing as Daniels, running from point to point, taking out enemies on a set path. This is Call of Duty’s bread and butter, and it works because the controls feel so good. A surprising thing that happened about midway through the campaign was some variation in gameplay styles. There are some missions (particularly Liberation) that slowed the pace of the game and let you walk through a mission as a French resistance spy working to secure explosives from an undercover agent. Half of this mission worked great until you had to use stealth. There are a few missions in WWII that want you to use stealth in order to get through a portion of the game. In my experience, I’d always get about halfway through the mission, and then be spotted no matter what. Another issue with the campaign is some of the vehicle missions. There is a mission where I am in a tank and trying to destroy two other tanks in my area. The tank controls felt over-clunky and I struggled to enjoy that tedious tasks. While on the other hand, there is a plane mission where I am gunning down enemy planes. This was smooth and helped progress the story and break up the monotony of the current mission I was on.
I think my fundamental issue with the Call of Duty is the campaign styles. During campaign mode, you are working on a mission in order to get to the next cutscene or cinematic. This, in turn, makes the game very linear, and discourages any type of “straying from the path”. I noticed on simple missions where I am running along a bridge, or in a city that if I don’t find the exact path to take, the enemy will immediately kill me until I find the right one. This might not be an issue for everyone, but I’d like to see more ability in the future to take varying paths.
All of that aside, the shooting mechanics feel great. There is a wide selection of weapons available in the game, that each has a distinct style and flavor, depending on the situations I was faced with. There is no regenerating health this time around, so that made the feeling of warfare more realistic and costly. This is supplemented with a squad-based help system that provides ammo, health, grenades, air strikes, and more whenever you do heroic acts for your fellow soldiers. This is a cool addition that lets you think more about the levels and how you want to do certain tasks.
The online mode in WWII is familiar but fresh. You begin with selecting a division (basically your load outs) for your player. These vary from Airborne, Infantry, Mountain, Expeditionary, and Armored. Each corresponds to different play styles, and the aesthetic of the options is a fun callback to the 40’s and 50’s style.
There is also a headquarters, very similar to a hub world like Destiny, that works as a location to receive assignments, open loot boxes, and practice at the shooting range. Apparently, there is supposed to be other players with you in this world, but network issues kept me from seeing any other players. This may have been an isolated incident, but it was a little frustrating for me.
In terms of matches in online, they are fast-paced and hectic. The maps don’t allow too much room for sniper rifles and other distance weapons, I got more of a “run and gun” vibe. There are all the typical modes in online, but the new mode War was a great treat. As someone who isn’t the best player at Call of Duty Online, I was happy to play some matches in War mode. In this mode, you work more as a team to accomplish a certain goal, like building a bridge or defending an area. Then, at the end of the round, you swap sides and work to destroy the team effort of the other group. This releases the pressure of KD numbers and gives you more of an opportunity to be part of the action as a team.
Nazi Zombies is back in this game and as fun as ever. You begin Nazi Zombies with a creepy and interesting prologue that launches you into an engaging story about the Nazi’s last effort to provide a zombie army.
There are some brand new additions to the Zombies mode with the implementation of a class mode that gives your character different attributes to help your team work more efficiently together. The zombies in WWII are much scarier than in other COD games. I think that the setting they were trying to create was totally established well.
Call of Duty WWII is three great games in one. In every mode, whether it be the campaign, Nazi Zombies, or Online Multiplayer, it doesn’t disappoint. It is a full game that has plenty of hours ready to be played. While the campaign might have some clunky and linear moments, it doesn’t detract from the fun ride that you will have playing this game. With the tail end of 2017 full of shooters, this is definitely worth your time.