Call of Duty WWII – Disappointingly familiar

Call of Duty WWII takes the best-selling franchise back to where it all began. The first game to be set in World War 2 since 2008, when COD World at War hit the shelves, and cemented the franchise as a force to be reckoned with, following Modern Warfare’s success.

The fourteenth instalment offers players an 11 mission Campaign, which takes players through various iconic World War 2 battles; as well as a Multiplayer and Nazi Zombies mode.

Campaign

Players are put in the boots of U.S. Army Private Ronald Daniels, who is haunted by a childhood memory where he failed to save his older brother from a wolf attack. The story shows a flashback of the event several times throughout the story, including the final mission, which feels like a poor attempt to apply a theme to the story, as you shoot a German soldier who’s about to execute your injured best friend.

wolf
Cutscene from third Campaign mission – “Stronghold”

The narrative is what really lets the campaign down. The story fails to give the player a reason to feel empathy for any of the characters, but does succeed in making you hate contagonist Sergeant Pierson, who is a stubborn tyrant from start to finish.

Despite the unfulfilling storyline, the campaign still offers some exciting action. Highlights include the Normandy ‘D-Day’ landings of course; ‘S.O.E’, which tasks you with taking out an armoured train, and ends in a thrilling car chase; and an undercover mission (‘Liberation’) where you make your way through Nazi occupied Paris before helping the French resistance to force the Germans out.

guard
Screenshot from fifth Campaign mission – “Liberation”

Throughout WWII’s campaign you will also find yourself piloting a fighter plane and using an anti-aircraft gun. New heroic actions where you save a downed ally or take a German hostage are not much more than a gimmick, but the return of the health bar, which has to be regenerated with medic kits, makes for a more engaging game where players are on edge more often than in previous titles.

WWII’s campaign is action packed, and full of stunning visuals, but the poor narrative means it doesn’t even come close to the Modern Warfare or Black Ops series.

Multiplayer

The multiplayer game mode is as satisfying as ever, and surviving being outnumbered, or racking up enough points to decimate your opponents with a carpet bomb, provides ample joy.

Multiplayer features all the game modes seasoned players will be familiar with, as well as iconic weapons from the World War 2 era like the MP-40 and Panzerschreck. One new game mode has made its way into the game though, War. If you’re interested in more than just running around on a killing spree then you will enjoy this addition. This new attack vs defence mode tasks the attacking team with objectives such as capturing bunkers and escorting tanks, whilst the defending team do all they can to stop them. Although the crux of the mode has been ripped straight out of FPS rival Battlefield, and there are currently only 3 playable maps, War is probably the best new feature on WWII.

operation neptune
Screenshot from War game mode map – “Operation Neptune”

Whilst the War mode has just 3 of its own bespoke maps, Team Deathmatch and the rest can currently be played on 9 maps. They’re distinctly smaller than previous games, as developers Sledgehammer tried to retain the fast paced gameplay, despite the lack of the jetpack which featured in the two games prior. This feels like a mistake though as it’s incredibly difficult to stay alive, and dying several times in the space of a minute becomes frustrating to say the least.

Headquarters mode is a social space where you can walk around and gesture to other players, whilst showing off gear you’ve unlocked, just like Destiny’s Tower in 2014. You can also play a 1v1 match or practice scoresteaks, but unsurprisingly the main attraction is Supply drops, which you can open and purchase in Headquarters. The microtransaction system which every game seems required to have at the moment doesn’t escape Call of Duty. Players can purchase these packs with real money, in the hope of unlocking a cosmetic skin for their gun or character. How… exciting.

COD_WW2_loot_basecamp
Screenshot of Supply Drop in Multiplayer Headquarters

Zombies

The zombies you get to mow down to your heart’s content are Nazis for the first time since their introduction in COD World at War. Whether that’s a good thing or not, this mode has seen notable change, and seems to be where Sledgehammer were most willing to get creative. The new storyline gives the zombies a somewhat original background, and the new characters include one voiced by the brilliant David Tennant, who shouts various comical expletives as you shoot at the undead.

The complex objectives keep this mode from getting dull too quickly. You’ll likely need to team up with a group of your friends to complete the boss battles. But, even before trudging down a sewer and activating numerous generators, there are several types of zombies, some who have large bombs strapped to their backs and others with axes in hand.

zomb
Cutscene from Zombies mode – picturing the Wüstling zombie

Just as you’d expect, there are zombie supply packs too, which essentially contain the same content but for the zombies mode. So if you want to spend any more money on virtual gun skins and character attire, you can.

Verdict

In summary, Call of Duty WWII is a Triple-A game, it has the spectacular cutscenes and dynamic soundtrack. It clears the hurdles we’ve come to expect from a Call of Duty game too, the multiplayer combat is balanced and polished, the servers are reliable and the maps are well designed. However, the game lacks any original innovation whatsoever, meaning anyone who’s played a significant amount of Call of Duty before, is going to get bored very quickly. A solid game, but sadly this franchise is well beyond it’s glory days.

6.5/10

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