Review: Call of Duty: WW2
Call of Duty is back, baby!
With the last couple of releases, we got jetpacks and space fighting, which is something no Call of Duty gamer wanted. CoD fans were excited about futuristic gameplay, but Activision took the reins and ran off in a different direction. Now, refreshing the series with a brand new game and bringing it back to what we all love, Call of Duty throws us in the middle of World War 2. Sledgehammer and Activision have fought to bring boots back to the ground, and damn they did. I have some issues with the game, but nothing that would deter a CoD fanatic from running to the closest game store to pick up the game.
In 2017, we return to the beaches to attack the Western front for Call of Duty: WW2. Gameplay is solely based on gunfights, no more unfair advantages, and definitely no more ‘jetpackers.’ Guns feel punchy and authentic, score streaks are balanced, and gameplay feels great. CoD: WW2 spreads across three base modes being campaign, multiplayer, and zombies. I genuinely enjoyed each one, which is a lot to say from somebody who doesn’t enjoy Zombies. The campaign is around 6-7 hours depending on difficulty and was fun to play. Battlefield returned to WWI with their last installment, so I figured it would be difficult for CoD to get their own sense of “style.”
In the campaign, you play as Private Ronald “Red” Daniels, a young southern boy who joined the services to protect his country. You follow him through the horrors of war the 1st Division as they attack the Axis Powers. Characters feel familiar, but you soon find yourself feeling for them. Zussman is the smart-ass best friend everybody needs, Stiles is a recent college graduate, Pierson is your hard-ass sergeant, and Turner is the platoon leader whose only goal is to get everybody home alive and well. As I was playing the campaign, I couldn’t help myself by hoping everybody would make it. This proved the bitter truth of war, especially the deadliest war in history, that not everybody makes it home.
Activision and Sledgehammer went out to try and find a way to make campaign feel exactly like World War 2 felt, like a never-ending hell with no rescue in sight. They don’t shy away from the violence and brutality of war. Instead of having the regular health regeneration, you have to use health packs. In CoD: WW2, teammates have special abilities, but they do have a cooldown period. You can find health packs around the levels, or request from Zussman while Pierson points out enemies, Stiles gives you grenades, and Turner fills up your ammo. It’s a neat way of adding a new twist to Call of Duty, and I enjoyed it. Running around World War 2 trenches while having a Wolverine super power of healing doesn’t exactly feel authentic.
The campaign had some pivotal moments you would remember from other WW2 depictions, like Band of Brothers’ forest explosion scene, or Saving Private Ryan’s bridge scene. I felt like Activision and Sledgehammer took the easy road on this. Instead of having their own fresh, unique take on the war, they focused on scenes that have already been done and perfected.
At the end of the campaign when you inevitably have to see scenes of the Holocaust, it was extremely watered down. Yes, it’s terrible, but not nearly to what actually happened. For a game that wanted to focus so much on “getting it right,” they seemed to focus solely on multiplayer, again. If you are going to push the game by attaching the phrase “getting it right,” then don’t half-ass it.
After finishing the campaign, I moved on to multiplayer. I played each beta on each console, so I already knew what I was getting into, at least I thought. We have non-classic game modes, like the non-modern take on Uplink, which is called Gridiron. Instead of tossing around a drone-like ball, you are throwing around an old-school American football.
You have your basic team deathmatch, kill confirmed, search and destroy, modes while there is a brand new mode that was introduced with CoD: WW2, WAR mode. WAR mode puts two teams up against each other, Allies and Axis respectively. There are different tasks and missions teams have to complete to move on or push the enemy back. For instance, on Operation Nepture, you have to charge the beaches of Normandy as the Allies, while enemies overlook you with turrets and a never-ending rain of grenades. It’s not easy, but neither was the real thing.
WAR is fun, but there is often a hard tilt for the defensive side. If you are playing with a bunch of randoms, you most likely will never win. However, it is the most versatile. You can run around for the first couple of minutes shooting people with SMGs, and the next you are sniping from the back of the map. The game is always changing, and it’s fun for a few matches. There are also only 3 maps, so there isn’t much to play. I only found one map to be fair, Operation Griffin and even that was a 1/3 shot of winning.
Sledgehammer also added a new social space, Headquarters, which is meant to increase social interaction. However, with the bottleneck created by a huge influx of users, Sledgehammer has shut it down so they can get a better understanding of server load. In the Headquarters, you can collect your supply drops, which are purely cosmetic or XP boosts. No more of unfair advantages from people buying supply drops and exclusive items. You can also check out the firing range to test different builds and loadouts, engage in 1v1s, and even test out scorestreaks. It’s a cool copy of the social space in Destiny, in my personal opinion.
Call of Duty: WW2 also changed up the class system to the new five ‘Divisions.’ You can play the sniper-centric Mountain, run-and-gun Airborne, or heavy-armed Armored. I switch between Mountain and Airborne, personally. Each division can be leveled up to unlock certain perks, so there is a lot of time to be spread across all 5. Guns feel great, did I mention that? You hear an ever-so-satisfying “tink” as you nail somebody in the head. You feel the hit markers hitting enemies as you engage in battle. Everything about multiplayer feels balanced, as there are only pure rounds of ammunition being used, not lasers. It’s also nice to be able to just rely on my gun, and not worried about another player having a better one via crates.
However, crates are substantial for Zombies. I am not a big Zombie player, but I genuinely enjoyed my time playing it. Call of Duty: WW2’s zombies, or The Final Reich, has four players going up against a swarm of zombies. We get to see actors David Tennant and Ving Rhames, who give enjoyable performances that make the mode that much more personal. Zombies is Zombies, but for those who enjoy the mode, then they will enjoy the hell out of it. There are tons of walkthroughs and videos breaking down each Easter egg online, but you can still enjoy without spoiling.
The issues I have with Call of Duty: WW2 will hopefully go away over time with patches, like incredibly unstable servers, gun nerfs and buffs, etc. I am a multiplayer buff, so I am judging this game with a close eye. With the time I have put into it, I can say as a Call of Duty gamer; I genuinely enjoy the game. Casual gamers will enjoy the campaign, Zombie players will comb through looking for Easter Eggs, and competitive gamers can enjoy Gamebattle’s integration. For a person who is looking to just enjoy the campaign, then I’d wait for a sale. For a gamer who loves shooter, then they should definitely put it on their Christmas list.
A sample copy was provided to KnowTechie for the purpose of this review.