Call of Duty: WWII Review
On 26 April, we were treated to the Global Livestream Reveal of Call of Duty: WWII. Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg said the game will have a “Dark, Irreverent Tone” and often used the term “Going Back to it’s Roots”.
Call of Duty: WWII did not only live up to Eric’s hints, but it overshot it by miles and personally, I could not have asked for more than what I received. Call of Duty: WWII is basically three games, neatly packaged into one heck of an adrenaline thrill ride. A Single Player Campaign that tells the story of a US Soldier Squad winning the war, an Online Competitive Multiplayer with a plethora of modes and then, the famed Nazi Zombies. If you know the franchise, you know that Call of Duty is a series that drops a title annually, and has multiple development studios working together to deliver on these seemingly impossible release schedules. Call of Duty: WWII does it’s absolute best at covering all the bases that players know, love and expect from Sledgehammer Games and Activision.
Dirty Campaign Boots
Call of Duty: WWII’s Single Player Campaign finds it’s core grounding from the events taking place from 1944 to 1945, focusing really hard on Historical Accuracy and the importance of the Brotherhood created between Squads. They literally only had one another. Mud. Rain. Snow. The campaign puts you in the boots of Private Ronald “Red” Daniels. From the beginning of the Cinematic Intro leading to the Storming of the Normandy Beaches on D-Day you create an emotional bond with your squad which carries through and intensifies during the gory push towards Germany, and the fight to the Rhine. Not to mention the Love-Hate-Daddy-Son relationship you indirectly develop with Technical Sergeant William Pierson, voiced by the Legendary Josh Duhamel, also gloriously immortalized by the Game Graphic Engine to look exactly the same as he does in real life.
The Squad Element of the story bleeds over into the Game Mechanics. You depend heavily on each of your Squad Members for different types of Support Items. While in the heat of battle, you can call on squad mates to provide Ammo, Health Kits, Grenades, Highlight Enemies and also Signal Grenades that call in Mortar Strikes. Your health does not auto-regenerate like it did in recent Call of Duty Campaigns, so playing very strategically and advancing as a unit becomes your only hope for survival.
In-case you were wondering, you get to either Drive, Pilot or Board many vehicles through the Single Player Campaign and still enjoy the cliché Call of Duty runaway driving sequences with massive cannons or rifles, a gloriously goosebump inducing Flight Mission and Stealth Elements where you need to sneak through a German occupied town at a rapid pace to stop a Weaponized Train from departing without you.
Missions have Optional Objectives that will drive Completionists bonkers, in forms of Heroic Actions and collecting scattered Mementos. Heroic Actions tug at your morals by distracting you in the heat of the battle, with opportunities to save soldiers that are split seconds away from becoming casualties of war or by pausing to allow the Germans to surrender. Best way to depict this via words is: Picture yourself desperately pushing through the dense forest of the Ardennes, health bar pulsing red and you suddenly hear a fellow soldier scream for help. Do you double back and assist the wounded soldier or do you play dumb and keep your pace? Throughout the game, you’ll also have several opportunities to help fallen or critically wounded soldiers by dragging them to safety behind cover. Mementos are mission specific collectibles, like on D-Day, one of the items you collect is a knife that has a backstory to it.
Even though the story follows Private Daniels’ struggle through Europe, and for the most part it being the product of a creative license lacking historical accuracy, Call of Duty: WWII does sneak in factual lessons about faction-mixed squads (unheard of in its time) and the brutal horror of the Holocaust and Concentration Camps. Again, making you question your involvement in the war subconsciously, because you often overhear debates among fellow soldiers, questioning what you experience on the field of battle, as an example whether you should be showing mercy or whether you should risk the mission to save civilians. The pace is fierce and the execution of the content, especially when morally prodding at your decisions, too often made me put down my controller and re-align my perspective, because what is happening on screen, is not sensationalized, it was real.
The Single Player Campaign took me around seven hours to Complete if I calculate my sittings and subtract my “breaks” from the equation. You play through Eleven Missions that increase in time and difficulty to get from D-Day to The Rhine (End Game), but there are a few moments that are emotionally intense, including one notable event, which makes Call of Duty: WWII a game that I can boldly say carries more feels than we’ve seen in 2017.
Toss The Ball Soldier!
Call of Duty: WWII’s Multiplayer Mode feels like a game on its own, as mentioned above. You start off by watching a short flyby of the Headquarters, which is the new Multiplayer Hub intended to act and serve as a Social Area both post and pre Competitive Matches. You are then required to choose one of five Classes (Divisions) for your soldier: Infantry, Armored, Airborne, Mountain and Expeditionary. As you progress, you unlock the four classes that you did not choose and can spend Tokens that you Earned in Battle to Upgrade each class’ Actions and Perks.
Infantry is a great division to wet your feet with in the Multiplayer Modes and are skilled at Mid-to-Long-Range Combat and you get to use the very handy Bayonet Charge Ability. The Armored Division is for players whose weapon of choice is the LMG (Light Machine Gun) or Missle/Grenade Launchers also giving them the option to use a bi-pod to post up and do some serious damage. The Airborne Division is all about Stealth. The key ability here is the option to Add/Remove a Suppressor Attachment during the match. The Mountain Division is for the Snipers, and the Expeditionary mains an unforgiving Shotgun, which makes you only proficient at Close Quarter Combat.
There are some really epic modes in which you can get your PvP (Player vs Player) on in, from Team Deathmatch, Domination, Harpoint, War to a crazy fun mode called Gridiron, which is basically like playing Rugby with Guns, without the green field, but rather within a regular map! (Whaaaaaaat?)
War Mode is one of the most popular game types, with a focus on Team-Based Objective-Gameplay. A Microphone is pretty much a requirement here, as the Axis and Allies face-off in a series of Attack or Defend Objectives, each getting a chance to Attack or Defend these objectives. War has three maps, but Operation Neptune stands out as the Pearl of them all, giving players have the opportunity to either Storm or Defend the Beach on D-Day! It’s like reliving the intense opening moments of the campaign, but this time, with your friends!
Headquarters is a really cool idea, because there are a number of activities you can indulge in to kill time until you party up with friends or load into a match! One of the most entertaining activities by far is the 1 vs 1 Pit, which is a board where you Sign Up to Fight another Player while the rest of the Players in Headquarters can be Spectators by standing around to watch you throw down!
Dread The Undead
Zombie Mode is back in all it’s gory, I mean glory! In the past, Zombie Mode has featured celebrity guests like Sarah Michelle Gellar, George Romero, Pam Grier and most recently, David Hassellhof. The Final Reich smashes you into the Zombie-Oozing Action with Katheryn Winnick (Vikings) who leads the a group of other celebs, namely David Tennant (Doctor Who), Elodie Yung (Daredevil) and Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible) on a mission to attempt to recover priceless works of art stolen by the Axis. On your way to your destination your train is attacked by “something” and derailed, leaving you stranded in a tiny village near Mittelberg, Germany which is filled with bloody sewers, bloody labs and scientifically altered horrific nazi-styled undead.
Finally, with Nazie Zomie Mode, you get to pick and customize your character and your loadout, but there can only be one of each character. With customization, you pick from one of four classes: Offense, Medic, Support or Control. Each role gives you Super Abilities that charge up with kills acting like a Cooldown Mechanism.
You start of Zombie Mode with a Prologue “Story” that acts as a basic introduction to the characters and plays out as a Tutorial. Fans of Zombie Mode will not be disappointed at all as most of the mechanics feel the same, but have been tweaked slightly to fit the setting. The Currency used to buy Guns, Perks, Traps and Unlock Zones is called Jolts. Windowpanes cannot be bolstered or repaired for extra Jolts anymore, but you can drop some of your Jolts to help teammates that are running low so you can help each other stay in the game with the best guns and plenty of ammo.
There are objectives that help you progress through the creepy town and while powering up a crystal you build an equipable Tesla Cannon that stuns the sons of b****es and deals gang damage. You also have the ability to Supe-Up your favorite guns by placing them on an upgrade bench and spending hefty amounts of Jolts each pop, but these upgrades are necessary as the brutes back a punch and have hardened skin after wave 20! The Final Reich really is far more scary than the Original World at War Nazi Zombie Mode. There’s plenty of gore and disturbingly ugly mutations that feed the never ending jump scares, well, for me anyway.
Developed by Sledgehammer Games and Published by Activision, I am not afraid to say that they have really delivered a well polished experience across each of the “Standalone” Modes of Call of Duty: WWII, giving us exactly what a Classic Call of Duty game should look and feel like in 2017. At launch, on 3 November 2017 there were notable server issues, where they were either offline for extended periods of time or later afflicted Multiplayer Modes with server interruptions causing people to lag out. Since then, a week after launch and at the time of this review, the servers are holding up strong, with very little connectivity issues. At the time of this review, BT Games is selling the PC Version for R825.00 and the PlayStation 4 and XBox One Versions for R915.00. There is simply no arguing about this title, it is a must have, especially if you are interested in taking part in the Call of Duty League that Mettlestate will be hosting for South African Call of Duty players from January 2018.