What is old is suddenly new again and that certainly fits the bill with Call of Duty: WWII, taking example from the recent Battlefield 1 by going back to the series roots, this time with a World War 2 setting.  When the Call of Duty series first sampled the futuristic theme with the Black Ops instalments, it was a welcomed change going from being historic, modern and then futuristic.  However, after we had an Advance Warfare, Black Ops III and Infinite Warfare, despite having very enjoyable features, many fans had gotten tired of the double jumps and jet packs, and wanted something more grounded.  Enter, Call of Duty: WWII from Sledgehammer Games.

In my humble opinion, what Call of Duty: WWII does so well, is by having a consistency of quality with both its singleplayer and multiplayer offerings.  The singleplayer campaign is both visually stunning and in its moments, has some true moments of cinematic brilliance.  It’s not unknown for the series to have a story to the standard of a Hollywood blockbuster in the style of Michael Bay, but it seems to be more evident with this latest instalment.  In the campaign, you play as Private Ronald ‘Red’ Daniels, a story of a simple man, thrown into an extraordinary situation, tasked with huge responsibilities as he faces horrors of the war head-on.  But for me the star of the story lies with the supporting role Sergeant William Pierson played by Josh Duhamel, simply put, this man is a hard-ass asshole.  However, you feel that there is far more to his tale and depth to his character that will unfold as you progress through this gripping campaign.  As with many campaigns from the series, it has its fair share of stealth, drama, sorrow and all out action and WWII is no exception.  It’s certainly an old-school throwback, revitalised in the new school and kept me enthralled throughout.

Like so many that picks up any game from the series, for most, the multiplayer is where all the end game fun is at.  While I’ve played every multiplayer mode from the series, I’ve certainly played more than others.  However, I’ve never really been truly addicted to the multiplayer since the days of the Modern Warfare series and the first Black Ops, although I did casually play the others sparingly.  I don’t know whether it’s the back to basics approach, but I struggle to think of other games when I’m not playing online, similar to how the Destiny multiplayer had gripped me and WWII achieves that with me.  I’m constantly having that “one more game” feeling as I edge towards my next rank-up.  Of course with any multiplayer modes, you’re always going to have you John Rambo’s, Johnny Bravo’s and Han Solo’s fighting like they’re the only player on the team, but perhaps more so than any recent game in the series, I’m finding more random players (including myself), playing more as a cohesive team.  This is simply refreshing for the series, at least from my perspective.  If I’m not shadowing a random on respawn, I’m the random shadowing someone else, while its not perfect of course, I feel like I’m playing more as a team, more so than in many a year.

Call of Duty: WWII offers many of the usual multiplayer suspects, from Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Capture the Flag, Domination and much more, as well as more multiplayer maps then some other games have to offer.  Yet, there is an all-new mode to the series called War.  In this mode, both teams will playout key objectives with each team rotating each of those objectives.  The tasks at hand can include defending a stronghold, building a bridge or defending a moving tank, while the opposing team must simply stop you from completing those objectives and then the roles are switched over.  WWII has more of a team vibe and large factor for this, is the War mode.  What I also find particularly great about this mode, is that it couldn’t care less about your Kill/Death ratio, all that matters is the objectives at hand.  This not only makes the experience a little less stressful, but it also maintains that competitive edge as you attempt to work as a well-oiled team.  And if you can band some friends together with headsets, your experience, whatever the mode, is going to be that much more fun with an increased chance of winning the odd game or two.

Call of Duty: WII has also made a couple of key changes to the social aspect of the multiplayer and how the loadouts will work.  Instead of the traditional loadouts, you now have Divisions.  Here you pick your chosen class to begin your online career with the choice of Infantry (typically rifles/assault rifles), Airborne (SMG), Armoured (LMG), Mountain (Sniper) and Expeditionary (Shotgun).  Looking from the outside in, it still looks like not much has changed in terms of loadouts, but by playing in a particular Division; it makes you feel like a member of that squad, each with their own unlockable weapons and rewards as you progress.  You can though unlock the other Division classes via one of the in-game currencies, so you’re not always restricted to just the one.  I’d recommend beginning with just one or two, switching between them depending on what class might suit a particular map.

Taking a page out of Activision’s other big gun; Call of Duty: WWII also now has its own social hub, similar to what we see in Destiny’s Tower.  Here you can mix and mingle with up to 47 other players, check out loadouts, potentially meet new friends and so forth.  At launch the social hub known as Headquarters was a pretty lonely space and I rarely saw any other players, but now that area is often full.  However, this can get a little annoying as people are prone to get in your way, so it would be better if other players were transparent like in Destiny and you will hear annoying rustling of loud players over headsets (though you can mute them, thankfully).  In Headquarters you can pick up Orders from Captain Howard and Contracts from the Quartermaster (though the later will cost you currency, but the rewards are greater) to take on select timed objectives for additional XP, Supply Crates and even in-game currency (similar to how Bounties were in Destiny), speaking of currency, you also get a login bonus for jumping into the multiplayer every day, so make sure you do that as often as you can.

There’s even a place to test out all the Scorestreaks rewards to avoid feeling like a rabbit in the headlights during a multiplayer match to see what suits you and there’s even a shooting range to test out the various guns on offer.  Headquarters is also a place to open up your Supply Drops aka loot boxes, as they drop from the skies and open up for your watching audience to behold, there are also XP objective that rewards you for opening your box in front of other players and vice versa.  I get it from Activision’s perspective, that by others seeing your Supply Drop and vice versa, it might encourage some to spend real-world money on an extra box or two (although a little creepy), in my opinion it should be done for you only to see (from a consumer perspective).  Because at the end of the day, if you’re the type of player to spend your hard earned money on micro-transactions, then you will do it anyway, so lack of population in Headquarters aside, Activision will still sell plenty of loot boxes regardless.  Thankfully, if you don’t want to spend real-world money on boxes, there are enough in-game rewards that should help you resist that urge.

Nazi Zombies also makes a triumphant return, which is more narrative focused in this outing and the story acts as a prequel to what’s come before with the likes of World at War and some of the Black Ops outings.  The premise is a simple as it’s always been, you must survive an increasing difficulty of zombie hordes, unlocking secrets and abilities as you progress and with up to four other players, working as a team to survive is as vital as ever.  As simple as the premise is, working as a team is how you survive the more challenging latter stages.  It’s fair to say that this is probably the most tense and frantic Zombies campaign in years and if the gruesome zombie mutations don’t give you chills, the realisation of knowing you’ve drifted far from your squad and you’re all alone will.

In one match I played, I was with a skilled friend and two randoms with no headset.  The one random worked well as a team and always stayed close, but the other player, while also clearly skilled, he or she wondered off to once again go all John Rambo, Johnny Bravo.  While he got a higher kill count, it meant absolutely nothing in the long run, because his or hers unwillingness to work as a team, ultimately cost us to progress further then we could have done.  So if you can find a group of three other friends, like most multiplayer modes, this is the best way to experience and progress through Nazi Zombies, especially if you want to unlock as many skills, abilities and Supply Crates as possible as you rank up, like you would do in PvP.

I can only speak from my own perspective of course, but as I’ve already alluded upon, I grew somewhat tired of jetpacks and double jumps, and I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the only one to think that.  Much of Call of Duty: WWII offers little in what we’ve already seen before, with the likes of the early games in the series and even from the early Medal of Honor games from EA (I miss those).  But going back to basics, back to the games roots, keeping things simple, yet engaging, in this generation, it offers us a more refined experience of why a lot of us first loved the series to begin with (at least pre Modern Warfare).  Whether it’s the singleplayer campaign, Nazi Zombies or PvP, Call of Duty: WWII offers so much variety and quality in one single package.  It’s a game that I struggle to put down and always has me thinking of when I can get my next fix.  Call of Duty: WWII is a true return to form for the series and stands out as one of it’s best in quite sometime and above all else, it’s rekindled my once wavering love for the series.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake