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Review

Call Of Duty: WWII Review

War never changes.

Let’s be honest, dialling the series back to World War II wasn’t going to solve everything for Call of Duty, even with a drastic change in setting and Sledgehammer Games at the helm. One yearly instalment after the next has led to increasing fatigue and indifference, especially with other shooters such asOverwatch, Rainbow Six: Siege, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds taking the genre in a new direction.

For many gamers out there Call of Duty is still a yearly event and those who have stuck with the series for the past decade or so will have no doubt had mixed feelings about WWII’s announcement. On one hand it’s a nostalgic return to the series’ roots and a potential breath of fresh air, but on the other, it strips away the energised, futuristic formula recent instalments have become known for. Sledgehammer will certainly bring lapsed fans back into the fold, but the game brings problems of its own.

Kicking off the campaign is a gritty death march on the shores of Normandy beach. It’s a bloody, brutal affair that sees Private Ronald “Red” Daniels and his squad push through a storm of machine gun as they advance upon the German bunkers. From there, Call of Duty’s campaign takes you on a tour through central Europe as the Allies battle and eventually break the Axis powers.

In terms of gunfights and set piece action, it’s doesn’t break from series traditions, combining tight, fast-paced sequences with larger, more open battles. That said, Sledgehammer has made clear efforts to anchor Red and his brothers in arms. Unlike most Call of Duty protagonists, these aren’t expert killers who have been drafted in to save the day, they’re real people, for lack of a better term, and the game’s story definitely leans in on this point. It’s a different approach and one that gives us a more down-to-earth perspective of war, though it lacks the hard-hitting emotional impact many were no doubt expecting.

It’s still an enjoyable 6-8 hour romp, with Sledgehammer working in a few nuances here and there. The regenerating health system has been swapped with a health bar and usable medkits scattered around each level, as in the very first Call of Duty. By racking up kills you can also activate squad abilities including an ammo resupply, mortar strike, and highlighted enemies. Wedged between the two halves of the campaign, there is also an espionage mission that will no doubt prove divisive.

Online multiplayer is where we see the biggest changes. After three years of high-octane, wall-running antics, Call of Duty: WWII takes a no nonsense, “boot on the ground” approach. It goes much further than that though, also stripping away the excessive loadout options of previous games. Instead, players can choose one of five class-like “Divisions”, each one geared towards a certain playstyle with their own strengths and weaknesses. The Expeditionary, for instance, can load any shotgun with incendiary rounds, adding a powerful damage-over-time effect. Even if players don’t like using the shotgun, other perks – such as explosive resistance and grenade resupplies – will give them reasons to mix and match. The Divisions won’t be to everyone’s taste, though help encourage experimentation, instead of picking the exact same loadout (or a close approximation) you’ve been rolling since Call of Duty 4.

Sledgehammer also attempts to create a more social experience with Headquarters, an open space where players can interact, team-up, and launch into games. It’s an unusual design choice for the series and one that was no doubt informed by the success of Activision’s other FPS behemoth, Destiny. Here players can fool around, unlock daily bonuses, and sign up for specific “Orders” such as 10 sniper kills, or one Hardpoint win. Like Divisions, it’s another way of getting players to break out of old habits and explore more of what the game has to offer.

To incentivise this, there are XP bonuses, weapon skins, emblems, and calling cards to unlock, stashed away in WWII’s randomised loot boxes. These can be earned through completing Orders and levelling up as well as the random drops that occur at the end of each match. The fact that you need to open them in Headquarters, on the beaches of Normandy and in front of other players, has caused a stir though at present there is no way of buying loot boxes with real cash. You also have to load into Headquarters before you can start matchmaking, though this only adds 30-odd seconds before you can do so – in our experience the matchmaking issues from launch have largely been resolved.

While you have the series mainstays like Team Deathmatch, Domination and Hardpoint, another addition to Call of Duty’s multiplayer line-up is War. This brand new, objectives-based mode is split into several seamless phases and is unlike anything you’ve seen in past iterations of the series, though other shooters have featured similar modes in the past. For instance, one map has the attackers capture a command point before building a bridge, planting a bomb, then escorting a tank to the enemies AA guns, lending each battle a narrative.

War offers a refreshing change in pace Call of Duty fans will need adjusting to, doing away with pointstreaks and kill/death scores. It’s purely goal-based and you’ll find yourself caring more about pushing objectives than simply gunning down enemies. I wasn’t convinced at first, but it quickly grows on you.

Finally we the return of Nazi Zombies and, in truth, not much has changed. Sure, there’s a decent prologue, four great new actors, and plenty of unlocks, yet it still boils down to the same mindless running and gunning. Although survival is your primary objective, the game mode teases you and your squaddies with a shopping list of tasks. For the first fifteen to twenty minutes these are great fun, though quickly become too vague, sending players on a wild goose chase around a snowy German village and the hellish bunker that lies beneath.

Regardless of the changes made and features added or taken away, the game feels like Call of Duty. The movement and shooting are just as snappy and precise as they were in Modern Warfare but are no more dynamic either. For die-hard fans of the genre, Call of Duty is perhaps a bit too basic in its gameplay, but it’s still great fun, nonetheless.

What’s Good:

  • Looks stunning throughout with great acting
  • Return to WWII is a welcome change of pace
  • Gunplay is still fun and precise
  • Divisions, Headquarters, War, and other interesting MP changes

What’s Bad:

  • Story isn’t quite brave enough
  • Nazi Zombies drags on a bit
  • Less interesting than other shooters on the market

Three years ago, Sledgehammer took a bold step forward with Advanced Warfare. Now, in 2017, it’s taken a bold step back. Despite some interesting additions like Headquarters and War, Call of Duty: WWII is arguably the most reserved entry we’ve had in years, but is already proving a hit among fans. There is still that sense of fatigue, however, and if Call of Duty is to soar to the top once again, Treyarch and Infinity Ward will need to change something more than the time period in the coming years.

Score: 8/10

Version Tested: PlayStation 4 Pro

12 Comments
  1. wonkey-willy
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    I think it was a bad mistake returning to boots on ground for Call Of Duty (bullet sponge special edition…

    Say what you like about COD’s recent incarnations but they are bright, bold and fluid.

    I think Jim summed it up quite well in his closing comment.

    “Less interesting than other shooters on the market”.
    Shhhhhh I think he means(Wolfenstein)!!!

    The single player albeit gorgeous to look at, is woefully short and not worthy of the admission price.

    The multiplayer is broke.Period!
    The kill cams are wonkey,people seem to absorb bullets like sponges,the social hub has been switched off and not back on again and the bronze star system is a joke.
    I have shelved my copy until someone at HQ fixes thing and have returned to Infinite Warfare for the foreseeable future.

    Comment posted on 10/11/2017 at 16:12.
    • Jim Hargreaves
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      I really enjoy the boots on the ground stuff – WAW probably being my favourite Call of Duty game.

      It’s actually good to hear that someone enjoys the sped up/futuristic side of more recent CoDs. I’m hoping CoD will expand into several different flavours, catering to the different audiences the series has picked up.

      Comment posted on 10/11/2017 at 19:30.
  2. RFC2007
    Member
    Since: Sep 2009

    Thought this review was never coming guys lol.

    I’ve held off on buying it so far, but most of the reports have been positive (apart from load times, lootboxes and the final killcam/play of the game)

    I think I’ll maybe take the risk this year after failing to get into BF1

    Comment posted on 10/11/2017 at 16:14.
    • Jim Hargreaves
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      Didn’t get our copy til midway through launch day! My crummy internet meant that I couldn’t get stuck in until Monday. But hey, got there in the end :)

      Comment posted on 10/11/2017 at 19:28.
  3. JR.
    Member
    Since: Apr 2013

    Thought the campaign was good but it was like watching/playing the ‘highlights’ on fast-forward so it lacked depth or any emotional punch. WWII era weapons were great but the flying section was absolutely terrible. I think I preferred the World at War campaign more overall.

    I think I’d prefer a more authentic WWII game but I didn’t expect that from COD.

    Didn’t touch the MP.

    Overall, good but forgettable.

    Comment posted on 10/11/2017 at 16:24.
    • ron_mcphatty
      Member
      Since: Sep 2008

      Good to know JR. I’m not a fan of CoD multiplayer, it’s too fast and snappy for me, but I’ve enjoyed the campaigns of all of them up to Black Ops. Since I’m it it for the story I think I’ll wait until it’s cheap.

      Comment posted on 10/11/2017 at 18:07.
      • Jim Hargreaves
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        If you’re not terribly bothered about MP then you should really wait for it come down in price. The campaign is solid, and even has some awesome set pieces, but is fairly short and lacks any particularly hard-hitting. There are moment where Sledgehammer could have been braver but ultimately decided to play it safe.

        Comment posted on 10/11/2017 at 19:32.
      • ron_mcphatty
        Member
        Since: Sep 2008

        Fair enough Jim, cheers for the advice. Plenty of other stories I want to play and get punched in the emotion guts by. Must remember to get the new Uncharted.

        Comment posted on 10/11/2017 at 21:20.
  4. Ade
    Member
    Since: Jul 2017

    I must admit that I got bored of Call of Duty a decade ago. Can’t see much here to change my mind. Sledgehammer seems to have taken the ‘Make America Great Again’ approach to videogame design, relying on nostalgia over genuine innovation. Although I might need to play it before throwing out untested assumptions and opinions. But what is the internet for if not to throw untested assumptions and opinions into it?

    Comment posted on 10/11/2017 at 17:53.
  5. matthangzhou
    Member
    Since: Sep 2010

    I’ve played a few CODs but am not a yearly adopter. Last one was the advanced warfare for me – which I thought Titanfall was superior and didn’t my include zombies with the base game which is something my brother always enjoyed.

    So for me I’ve really enjoyed this iteration. Zombies which I’ve not played before. Decent story and solid multiplayer. Can’t speak for the yearly adopters but for people like me who’ve only played a few over the years this is a fun experience.

    Comment posted on 10/11/2017 at 19:39.
  6. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    Every year I say I won’t get caught up with Codfever and years of old, I’ve ended up as riddled with it as the next gamer.

    This is the first time an entry has landed and it hasn’t given me Codfever. It’s the first COD I have no real interest in playing. What the world needs is Battlefield 5.

    Comment posted on 12/11/2017 at 13:18.
  7. three_leg_jake
    Member
    Since: Aug 2011

    It is cod as cod is.

    Get loads of disconnect from listen server errors, frustratingly usually after w win. Makes it very difficult to fulfil the challenges when wins don’t register.

    Seems to happen a lot so hopefully it will get patched.

    Comment posted on 12/11/2017 at 16:27.

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Call of Duty: WWII
  • Developer:Sledgehammer Games
  • Publisher:Activision
  • Platforms:PS4, XBO, PC
  • Release Date:03/11/17
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