Call of Duty: World War II Review
Platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Call of Duty has returned to its roots—to what made the franchise what it is today. With over three years of development, Call of Duty: World War II shows us what it’s made of. With a cinematic style campaign and fast-paced multiplayer, this installment in the series turns out to be the best in years. Boasting a revamped multiplayer experience and new additions to classic zombies, Sledgehammer Games has given us what fans have wanted from a new Call of Duty.
Step into the boots of Ronald “Red” Daniels and mount-up with his squad as you move through Europe in an effort to push back the Nazi regime. You and the famous 1st Infantry Division must keep hold of the gained allied forces’ territory to ensure the Reich doesn’t secure any more land. The campaign possesses captivating storytelling and interesting characters. You’ll find yourself in various locations during major parts of the war.
In previous Call of Duty games, when damaged, your health would regenerate over time. Not anymore.
Relive the invasion of Normandy, a grizzly and harrowing experience. The sheer level of death and destruction that Sledgehammer has been able to capture is astounding. The ground shakes and bombs drop as you storm up the beach to push back the Reich in one of the world’s most infamous battles. You will also experience the liberation of Paris as you and the allied forces take back the city of lights in a powerful struggle. Sledgehammer Games has done a great job forming a narrative that fits within actual historical events. The story is equally as emotional as it is gut-wrenching. After a while you become attached to those you’ve met and served with. But this is war, and anything can happen.
In recent years, Call of Duty has made you feel like a super soldier, giving you jump packs and grenades that highlight enemy positions. You felt like the the enemy stood no chance against you. Sledgehammer Games has decided to turn the odds in favor of the enemy. In previous Call of Duty games, when damaged, your health would regenerate over time. Not anymore. This time around, health packs are the only way to recover from injury. With previous titles allowing you to rush through a group of enemies like a tank, Call of Duty: World War II seeks to make gameplay much more difficult to prevent the player from rushing the levels. Health depletes much faster, and depending on what you’re shot with, it could be over in an instant. Health packs refill about half your health, and after two shots from the enemy, you’ll need to use them.
The reason for the change is to encourage players to take their time to scan their surroundings for opportunities and craft strategies to clear the area of hostiles. This enhances gameplay and extendes the duration of the campaign. You are able to hold a maximum of four health packs at a time. Health packs can be acquired from the environment, or gifted from an ally.
Your brother-in-arms now possess abilities shown by the gauge next to their name on-screen. When the meters are filled, you will be able to use their abilities to your advantage. Allies can give you items such as health packs, artillery strikes and ammo. It’s an odd choice, but one that definitely helps in combat. The keys to turning the odds in your favor during combat are to carefully time the use of your abilities, and always know where your squad is. Managing abilities and using them effectively definitely makes an impact in gameplay. Although, apart from their abilities, the AI isn’t much help. More often than not you’ll find your squad mate hiding behind cover, not shooting at anything—or shooting in the wrong direction entirely. The enemy AI has the habit of running straight up to you and shooting you point blank, rendering cover useless in some cases. This can result in multiple frustrating deaths before you proceed to the next area.
The cut scenes are the best Call of Duty has given us yet. The level of detail and realism put into these scenes makes you think you’re watching Band of Brothers. The voice acting is great as well. Using well-known actors such as Josh Duhamel (who plays Sergeant Pearson) Call of Duty: World War II is able to provide a unique and and cinematic experience. This allows you to connect with the characters more. You start to care more about those in your squad you serve with as the game progresses. Although, after the cut scenes have ended, you’ll notice the lip-sync for characters are out of whack and downright funny at times.
Call of Duty: World War II’s campaign will make you witness all of war’s horrors, from seeing death take hold of your comrades to witnessing those you care about get cut down by machine gun fire. The campaign leaves you with memorable moments, some good, some horrible, taking on two tanks when your back’s against the wall, or being pinned down by sniper fire from afar. Every new Call of Duty title tries to deliver new and unique experiences. In World War II you truly feel as though the odds are against you every step of the way.
An interesting choice in gameplay is the focus around stealth segments of the campaign. Whether you’re using a silenced weapon or a combat knife, you must guide yourself around enemy soldiers to avoid detection to complete your objectives. Enemies are equipped with a detection meter, much like the enemies in Assassin’s Creed. If spotted, you will be forced to fight through them all—a difficult feat for even the most experienced player.
No Call of Duty multiplayer has ever felt as immersive as this one. No more flying through the air and running on walls; it’s time to take a more personal approach. Multiplayer feels and sounds more like traditional warfare—with the screen shaking as the ground bursts with artillery fire. One thing that still resonates is the flamethrower. When an enemy is killed with a flamethrower they let out a blood-curdling scream that fills the map. Watching them burn alive took me out of the game for awhile, as I had to process what I saw. Running through the map, hearing the screams of those who have fallen makes the experience a difficult one.
With the loss of jumpacks and other mobility abilities, the gameplay feels more genuine and it all comes down to skill in the end—rather than who has the best toys. Being careful in multiplayer can lead to getting the drop on someone. Footsteps are heavy, and can be heard when an enemy gets close, so pinpointing where they are in relation to you is possible.
Utilizing perks can make all the difference. Divisions play a large role in multiplayer. Depending on which division you pick, you will gain a special perk—such as attaching silencers to sub-machine guns, charging with bayonets and focusing while aiming. Catering to those who prefer different play styles is an essential part of good multiplayer. The game does contain loot boxes, but they don’t affect gameplay much. They mainly contain cosmetic items with the occasional XP boost.
The classic Call of Duty multiplayer feel is present throughout the experience. Combat is frantic and everyone has an itchy trigger finger. One problem I had with multiplayer is the lack of mid-range maps. Maps are either too claustrophobic or too wide-open, leaving snipers with clear sightlines. War mode is the crown jewel of the Call of Duty: World War II multiplayer, completing and preventing objectives creates a fast-paced match with friends.
Nazi Zombies, a staple of Call of Duty multiplayer for years, is back. Always bringing in an all-star cast, this year’s protagonists include Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible), David Tenant (Doctor Who), Elodie Young (Daredevil) and Katheryn Winnick (Vikings).
A nice addition that all zombie fans will enjoy is the option to choose your character before you start the match. You can also pick a role: Offense, Support, Medic or Control. Each role gives you special abilities that can be used after a cool-down period. The Zombies formula hasn’t changed much. Some of the older mechanics remain the same, such as using points to buy weapons and upgrades. One thing taken away is the ability to gain currency (Jolts) by repairing windows. Jolts can also be dropped and picked up by other players so they give teammates a chance to switch up their weapon and bolster the team.
Call of Duty: World War II proves to be the best Call of Duty in years, delivering on what a game in this franchise should be. The game takes away the sci-fi elements and and gives players the experience of real war. Sledgehammer Games pays homage to where the series came from and provides us with a no-nonsense (Nazi Zombies excluded), classic Call of Duty game. All areas see improvement, and few downsides can be found. Call of Duty: World War II features a brilliant campaign mode, great multiplayer and the always fun zombies mode that has brought fans of the franchise together for years. The game could use some polishing when it comes to AI interaction, but overall it delivers a solid experience for long-time fans and new fans alike.