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Game Review: “Call of Duty: WWII”

November 6, 2017

Call of Duty: WWII is a return to form for the franchise and manages to stand out in a year
loaded with first person shooters.

The game’s campaign, the only primary single player experience in the game, stands among
some of the best the series has ever offered. It puts the player in the shoes of Texas farm boy
Ronald “Red” Daniels, who joins the United States 1st Infantry Division and is thrust into the
events of D-Day and beyond.

Early on it takes obvious cues from Saving Private Ryan, and is sometimes a bit too familiar, but
it eventually takes on an identity of its own, becoming a heartfelt story that beautifully walks
the fine line between gritty realism and Call of Duty’s typical cinematic scope. It would have
been far too easy for the game to take the sensationalist route, whether it be overly gruesome
or overly eccentric, but it instead finds the sweet spot between both.

The campaign removes the typical health regeneration found across the rest of the game and
instead has the player rely on obtaining health kits, ammunition and air strikes from Red’s
squad members. The supplies come at a rate that is frequent enough that the system is never
an issue, and aides the writing in creating an environment that is more intimate than Call of
Duty has provided in the past. The player is no longer a jetpack-wielding cybernetic superhero,
but is now another dedicated soldier in the United States military, encountering the same
problems and scenarios as many others involved the war.

The story is broken up into an anthology of the events Daniels and his squad encounter, using
letters Daniels is writing home to his brother as a narration point. It skips the some of the
slower moments that could possibly take place in between some of World War II’s biggest
battles, and early on makes it tough to emotionally connect to all of the character’s squad
members, but fortunately that picks up as the campaign rolls on and the player spend more
time with the cast, each of who delivers a set of exceptionally strong and believable
performances. The missions are varied in both structure and environment, from storming the
beaches of Normandy to an incredible stealth mission in the heart of France, keeping each
moment fresh and exciting. The mission design helps the game’s pacing, tightening the story to
5-7 hours in length and letting players experience the wealth of other content the game has to
provide.

Multiplayer has always been at the core of the Call of Duty experience, and WWII’s is an
outstanding venture that is both an homage to the glory days of the series and is a fresh take of
its own. The usual modes are all present, but it’s the addition of the new “War” mode that
really stands out. War mode is spread out over three custom-built maps for the mode and sees
players partaking in far more cinematic combat situations than the typical multiplayer. Matches
are longer and more teamwork oriented than normal, and individual stats aren’t counted to
encourage players to focus on the objective.

The rest of the modes feature a selection of nine other maps, all boasting Call of Duty’s ever-
familiar three lane map design. The maps take players through iconic locations in the campaign
and other settings of WWII, and just after launch weekend a few stand out as being especially
well designed. There are a couple, however, that can be more of a headache to play on than it
is worth at times.

The weapons are all incredibly well balanced, and there’s no real standout just yet, making a
variety of loadouts and playstyles viable. The game’s phenomenal sound design gives each of
the weapons a distinct sound and gives each shot a powerful punch, making it possible to truly
feel each shot being fired. The typical fast-paced, smooth and tight gameplay that is ever so
synonymous with Call of Duty is present, with each action feeling just as good as ever.

The new Divisions system replaces the Pick Ten system of years past, breathing fresh life into
loadout customization. It’s deeper and more involved than loadout systems of years past,
defining roles for different players that the series may have been missing previously, yet it is
still simple enough for even the most casual players to quickly pick up and understand.
Supply drops are always a point of criticism and question when it comes to Call of Duty, but at
launch it seems that the system is handled with consideration and caution. While it appears to
be coming in the future, players currently cannot pay to unlock any special items, they all must
be earned in the game through random drops and a series of contracts. Every unlockable item
in that sense is cosmetic, and so fortunately doesn’t provide any player with better luck or
more money any distinct advantages over another, leaving the game more up to skill than loot
drops. The alternate unlockable skins for the weapons are awesome too, and give the perfect
item to chase after during and after matches.

Headquarters is quite possibly the biggest addition to Call of Duty this year, providing a social
space where up to 48 players can gather at an Ally encampment after storming the beaches of
Normandy. It’s loaded with things to do in between matches, such as one-on- one fights with
nearby players, firing ranges and arcade games. Even when there’s down time in WWII’s
multiplayer, there’s always something to do.

WWII rounds out Call of Duty’s most experienced multiplayer to date by integrating
GameBattles, one of the leaders in highly competitive multiplayer, and with an all-new ranked
play, which is set to begin in December.

Sledgehammer’s take on zombies is pretty much what’s expected from the franchise, but has
enough changes and improvements to keep it fun and new. It’s still complex and involved, with
plenty of Easter eggs and its own leveling system, but has a tutorial to give new players a
rundown on what to expect. It’s genuinely scarier than the mode has been in the past,
intertwining horror overtones and a couple of jump scares into what is normally present in the
survival mode.

Call of Duty: WWII is a loaded game, with each of its three distinct modes providing more high
quality variety of content than almost any Call of Duty has in the past. While there were server
issues on launch weekend that affected a lot of players’ abilities to connect to matches, the
experience proved worth sticking around for once it all worked. The campaign is a gritty,
intense look at a fictionalized story from the Second World War, the multiplayer has gone back
to its roots with enough improvements and changes to keep it fresh and zombies is more
horrifying than ever. WWII isn’t quite the best Call of Duty ever made, but it’s pretty close.

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