Call of Duty is back and this time the series delves back into the historic World War 2 setting and for the better I may add. Also returning is the profoundly popular multiplayer complete with new modes and the always satisfying Nazi Zombies mode as well. It’s Call of Duty that’s for sure, but does it excel over previous iterations?
It has been a well-known fact that Call of Duty games are great at both pleasing and displeasing fans with each version that is released. Some of us love multiplayer only, while others purely enjoy the campaign. Perhaps Modern Warfare is your thing or maybe an intergalactic space futuristic setting tickles your fancy? Well I am personally pleased to say that COD WW2 goes back to the series roots with a World War 2 setting that has been so perfectly recreated for today’s gaming consoles. That’s not to say that there was anything wrong with other settings for the series, however the World War 2 setting certainly resonates with me personally as well as other fans of the series.
Call of Duty World War 2 follows the story of Ronald “Red” Daniels, a member of the US 1st Infantry Division, as they trek through the harrowing European theatre of war. You of course join with allied forces from the U.K and the French Resistance, across the beaches of Normandy, to the liberation of Paris and ultimately into Germany. Call of Duty World War 2’s 1944 setting really gives you a true feeling as to what War was once really like. The towns and cities are real, not fictional which separate it from our futuristic shooters. As you begin your game and commence your journey towards the shores of Normandy, you instantly understand and know what is about to happen according to the history books. However that doesn’t lessen your experience in any way, in fact it adds to it.
In terms of gameplay, Call of Duty World War 2 gets back to basics with simply running and jumping mechanics. Gone is the double jump and running with jetpacks, all of that is no longer available. Your weapons are also based on what was around in 1944, and gone are laser sights, plasma cutters and all other futuristic types of weapons. In terms of weapons you will find yourself at home with the M1A1 Carbine, Pistol and Sniper Rifles although I would always ditch the pistol in favour of the sniper rifle when I could. Call of Duty World War 2 takes everything back to basics and I am pleased to see this in the series that was becoming far too complicated and almost lost its way.
As you progress through each level you will grow your relationship with your squad as you work together in the most trying of situations. Friends and squad mates will die, and tensions will rise between the ranks and it’s up to you to keep it together through all the pain and emotion that’s felt here. That’s one thing many shooter style games have failed to earn from me and that’s empathy. Empathy with the main character and a feeling of concern and fear for my squad is ever so present and as each mission passes the death toll rises and a piece of me is also broken off each time. Your squad though help you through each mission offering you health, ammunition, grenades and artillery strikes. Simply approach the respective squad member and press up on your d-pad to engage with your squad who will for example throw you some ammunition or a health pack. I found myself time and time again running low on health which doesn’t automatically regenerate. So you need to ensure you have your health packs in range otherwise the large health bar indicator on the screen will remind you just how close to death you really are.
The campaign is filled with a variety of mission types ranging from clearing out buildings, pushing back opposing forces, holding the line and more. Some missions require a stealth approach and others had me driving armoured tanks through the city streets. I felt that there was an adequate amount of variety in each level which never felt too long or boring in any way. At the beginning and end of each level there is audio commentary explaining your mission and what’s next, as well as cut scenes that truly looked amazing and filled in the gaps between missions which was great.
Multiplayer mode is here once again and has had a large amount of work and refinement made this time around that fans will surely appreciate. The first change is the introduction of Divisions which redefines how players develop their WW2 multiplayer careers. There are now five new divisions and they are Airborne, Mountain, Infantry, Armoured and Expeditionary divisions. Each offers different weapons and training skills and helps to reinforce players individual play styles which is great to see. Fancy being a sniper, then the Mountain Division is for you, or perhaps big explosions is more your thing, then Armoured Division is right up your alley.
War mode is an all new game mode where players must work as a team to defeat the enemy and then there is Headquarters mode which allows players to socialise, compete and earn rewards to show off their accomplishments. Finally Zombies mode is back, but at the time of writing this review we have not had the chance to experience this as yet.
Graphics & Sound
Visually Call of Duty World War 2 is graphically gorgeous especially as I played in true 4K on the Xbox One X console with full HDR as well. The lighting was spectacular and the detail in the buildings, environments and world in general was first class. Every detail from the mud and blood scattered across your fellow soldiers to the sweat on your teammate’s brow during a firefight is simply spectacular. In terms of frame rates, Call of Duty World War 2 never missed a beat at all, running flawlessly throughout the most intense action scenes which was exceptionally pleasing.
I haven’t been this excited and happy as well as yearning for more in a Call of Duty game for some time now. I definitely feel the shift back to the World War 2 era was the right move for Sledgehammer Games here and one that will resonate well with fans. Call of Duty World War 2 really connects you with the characters which is great to see and will be why I will continue to remember my time here that’s for sure. There is a tremendous amount of value here with a great single player adventure, multiplayer modes and of course Zombies to boot.
Thanks to Activision for providing Daily Joystick Podcasts with a copy of the game for review