Initial Release: 3 November 2017
Call Of Duty started on the beaches or Normandy and it’s return 15 years later is just as moving and just as epic
Back In 2003 a brand new franchise launched on Microsoft Windows, set in a time that was recorded as the deadliest in human-history. This first-person shooter would do things a little different and allow you to see the story from multiple viewpoints, its epic and intense introduction into the game would set the tone for the rest of its deep and occasionally emotional campaign. This was our first experience of one of the biggest selling series in the history of video games, this was Call Of Duty.
Fast forward 15 years and we revisit the World War 2 setting for the first time in a Call Of Duty game since World At War in 2008. In this latest outing Developer Sledgehammer Games has pulled no punches, with one of the most enthralling campaigns we have seen in any war game, a fun and deeply rewarding Multiplayer and its accidental success of Zombie mode, this time in the form of Nazi’s. The campaign for Call Of Duty WWII begins with a cutscene that is intended to set up the relationships between your fellow soldiers that will be battling deep in the trenches alongside you. Then the nightmare begins, 6th June 1944 or better known as D-Day – the largest seaborne invasion in global history with over 5000 men falling on its first day. Sledgehammer places a microscope on an individual squad that highlights the horrific battle of the great siege.
Firstly, I will highlight that this is not an easy game, it’s clear that Activision are peeling away from the Arcade Shooter and those awful jet packs. It’s full on balls to the wall, all out action – I won’t disclose how many times I died in that opening sequence (It’s quite embarrassing) but it was something I could understand, it shouldn’t be an easy task to storm the beaches of Normandy in the most horrific conditions imaginable. The first thing that totally threw me was that in this latest addition you no longer naturally regenerate your health, instead you will need to find medpacks which are scattered across the battlefield or you can grab one from your squad medic. This is just one of the few new touches that has made this years entry more tactical, rather than the familiar run-and-gun formula that the franchise is so well known for. Another is the major overhaul to the cover system (You will need this more than ever before), every little shot that ricochets around you will keep chipping away at your health, so making use of the new cover system is imperative.
Another thing you’ll notice is that certain members of the squad will have individual abilities that help you along the way during each mission, Zussman will throw you a medpack on request, where others will have ammo or even flares to call in an airstrike. The problem this creates is you find it easy to rely on your squad more-so than ever before, so when I was on a mission and for whatever reason Zussman wasn’t on the same assignment – I would instantly miss the ability to boost my health when I needed it. The star of the show here is the squad interaction, Private ‘Red’ Daniels is well voiced and has his own personal story that you will work through, but he is a part of something much bigger – a small piece of a conflict that affected millions of lives in more ways than one. You will find plenty of experiences in this captivating story from infiltrating the Nazi base in Paris, storming the beach in Normandy to finding yourself in a dense forest engulfed in thick fog which kind of reminded me of the movie Inglorious Bastards. Call Of Duty WWII has lived up to its name, especially after taking us on this epic journey back to the war that started the franchise off.
Call Of Duty’s Multiplayer has become more of an annoyance than an enjoyable experience over the past few years, with jet packs, wall running and people flying around each map like Superman, this may have made for a more fast-paced, high velocity encounter – but rather than a war game, we’ve had more of the arena based shooter. However, this time around the pace has slowed down from previous entries and finally, we have that classic multiplayer we enjoyed so much all those years ago. I haven’t enjoyed a Call Of Duty Multiplayer this much since Modern Warfare 2, with a rifle-heavy arsenal and plenty of perks to engage in, every battle feels like you have a chance to come out on top. There are a few new introductions, including a fully fledged social space where players will be able to queue for their next match and take part in several activities and challenges, including a firing range to test out your new weapons before taking it to the battlefield – you will also be able to go head to head in a 1v1 pit where players can test each others skills. A handful of secret rewards can be found inside headquarters as well as additional modes and opportunities to boost your skills before heading to battle.
The second main addition to this years Multiplayer is the brand new War game mode, where two teams of six battle each other for supremacy by going through various objectives to capture that will enable them to advance to the next round. What’s also impressive with this mode is that it caters for all play styles; you can make use of vantage points and Sniper from afar to give your fellow team covering fire, or you can switch to a deadly shotgun midway through the match to gain advantage with close quarter combat. War often becomes a very tactical and intense affair that encourages players to avoid the typical run-and gun approach for a more strategic way of advancing to the next round. The only slight drawback is the lack of maps available at launch and out of the three available, Operation Neptune feels incredibly unbalanced, with the defending team given a clear line of sight of the attackers spawn points which makes it easy to choke them before you can even get started. The likes of Team Deathmatch, Domination and Capture The Flag all make a welcomed return, there are a wide variety of Multiplayer modes on offer this year that will give you plenty of reasons to keep coming back for more. This goes for the class-changes during each match as well as the customisable Divisions that cater for specific play-styles, each Division has to be ranked up individually which means you will have plenty of work to do to unlock all those individual rewards. There are five Divisions in all, ranging from close-quarters combat to an out-and-out Sniper, you will be able to upgrade and equip new weapons in headquarters as you progress and shake up your arsenal that suits your style of play.
Rounding off what seems to be the best Multiplayer experience Activision has published in the last nine years (Controversial I know), is the improved supply drop system. This time, Sledgehammer have opted for the more delicate approach to what you can gather from these loot crates, you wont necessarily gain any stat upgrades from these, it’s more about the cosmetics side where you will gain a variety of gear and gun upgrades that will give you additional experience boosts and some sharp looking equipment. This is where the shift in balance favours every player, rather than having to worry about who got to the supply drop first and wondering if you’re going to get taken out by an inferior ability, you now have an equal playing field.
The Treyarch-inspired co-op mode Nazi Zombies is as enjoyable to play as it is frightening, blasting your way through a rural town with a Tesla gun and lightening bolts will keep you coming back for hours on end, the mode has up to four players fighting off hordes of the undead in a fight for survival. As you earn points and advance through the map unlocking various sections in an attempt to stay alive, you will also begin to gain enough points to upgrade your weapons and abilities. Nazi Zombies also features customisable classes, along with one slot for a special ability and three slots for equippable modifications. There are four special abilities, each one if used correctly can aid your team to move on to the next phase – for example; the camouflage ability will make you temporarily invisible which in turn will allow you to revive your teammates in tricky situations, or the frontline ability that will increase your power and draw out the zombies to give your teammate a much needed rest.
The environment is much darker and brings a real horror element to a mode thats been more laughable than anything else in recent years. This year also brings an award winning cast, the likes of David Tennant and Ving Rhames deliver some great if occasionally tacky performances – that still manage to capture a unique and edgy feel to the horror that is unfolding in front of them.
Call Of Duty WWII is one of the best games in the series and it’s a welcomed return to form after its Titanfall meets Destiny meets Quake phase, the game feels like a breath of fresh air once again revolutionising the franchise with added care and attention in to its plethora of online modes, grotesque approach to Zombies and its deep, enthralling, emotional campaign. Each gun fire feels impactful, connecting with your enemy feels like an accomplishment and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you plough your way through each section of its intense battles.
The biggest letdown for the game is its servers, if you can get in to one then you’re fine – that’s if you can get in to one. I’m sure this is a priority for the guys at Sledgehammer Games and Activision to ensure this is corrected as soon as possible. Apart from that, the game is well balanced, it’s well thought out and it’s a big step in to the past where going so far backwards is the new forward. Call Of Duty started on the beaches or Normandy and its return 15 years later is just as moving and just as epic.
Verdict – 8 Out of 10