Call of Duty has finally returned to World War II, and for some, it brings a welcome sigh of relief. A long while back, we had discussed the need for the franchise to return to its roots as a World War shooter. Finally, the game that genuinely found life on PCs and the Xbox 360 has come full circle on current generation systems. So how does it stack up? Read on to find out.
As far as the campaign is concerned, some may feel like it’s well-trod ground; including the Normandy Invasion which, in my opinion, I was slightly surprised that for an M-rated game wasn’t more visceral in its delivery. But, beyond that, I was impressed with the story as it brought on a great character-driven tale. You get to see this story play out through Ronald Daniels’ eyes as well as his Jewish friend Robert Zussman, whose story is also integral to the game, as well as a few others. The campaign delivers just the right touches of emotion, grit, and heart needed to tell these kinds of stories.
One thing that veterans of these games will note however is that during the shooting portions of the campaign is that they will not be able to “Rambo” their way through. Sledgehammer games brought back an idea from the very first game, and that is the need for health packs and ammo refills. Your squad mates at specific points of the campaign will provide these items as you play, making this a game that you will be forced to take your time and strategically work your way through each level.
Something else to consider is how, in some sections of the campaign, they humanize many of the characters that you may run across. For example, you may have to make a decision what to do with surrendering enemy combatants. Not that it radically changes the outcome, but it’s a decent touch in a game that has always focused on killing and desensitizing gamers in the process.
As far as the multiplayer goes, there are modes that we have seen many times over, but two of the standouts for me are Gridiron and War.
Gridiron is a frantic fun mode in which gamers are tasked to run to the middle of the screen, grab the ball and take it into enemy territory, and score a goal. What makes things interesting is that the ball carrier only has access to their handgun as they play which makes for some exciting strategy as players try to murder their way to the opposing goal, which gives a new meaning to the term “murderball”.
War takes a page from Battlefield 1’s playbook by getting players to fight their way across several objectives to victory. Gamers can rack up a lot of points here by not just the amount of kills but take objectives, building fortifications, and other methods. The big difference here is that these games tend to be a lot shorter than what BF1 offers and gamers get to play both offense and defense. The only thing that I wished for is that more War maps were included out of the box; with the DLC, however, there is hope that more will come soon. The HQ hub is also a welcome addition to the game and when it works, seems to be very well populated with gamers.
So where does Call of Duty falter? There are still two areas that have bothered me for years with this franchise, and I was not surprised that it appears here as well.
As graphically impressive as this game is, (and I can only imagine how much better it will look on the Xbox One X) I still can’t understand why it’s so hard for this series to allow for destructible environments in the multiplayer section. I think it’s fair to say that EA’s Battlefield games, in some sense, have always been a bit more playable because as the battlefield changes, the strategy changes.
In the CoD franchise, that never happens and I have always thought that if Call of Duty upped the ante by doing that, as well as making vehicles drivable by players, there would be no limit to the kinds of games we could get. Thus, the ball is in EA’s corner should the next Battlefield game released is also set in WWII. If Battlefield 1 is any indication of what can be done, a return to World War II would be exciting for the multiplayer experience.
However, the one thing that Call of Duty does allow for that the Battlefield series don’t is the ability to play casual private matches with friends or even by yourself. If you are a gamer that wants to learn a map, has dicey online access, or just doesn’t have the time nor desire to play online, you have options. You can get a few friends together or add a few bots (and they are no slouches), and play without the pressure of having to level up. It’s a great way to get a few minutes in and jump out and not feel like you are missing anything.
Overall, Call of Duty – WWII is an excellent return to the World War II era that has made this series so great. There are still a few hiccups that have persisted throughout the series, but regardless if you are a hardcore fan, a casual fan, or someone new to the series, there is something here for all FPS gamers.
3.85 Grease Guns out of 5