If you were to judge Call of Duty: WWII solely off of its innovation, you’d end up with a remarkably low score. But the latest entry in Activision’s yearly FPS franchise succeeds most when it wholeheartedly borrows from the deep past. Plus, there’s no more jetpacks, double jumping or gingerbread man costumes to ruin the experience from the start.
There is no sequence, player interaction, story trope or mission type in Call of Duty: WWII’s campaign that hasn’t already been seen and done before.
You’ll storm the beach at Normandy, Fight at the Battle of the Bulge, shoot from the back of a jeep, engage in a dogfight, shoot an Anti-Aircraft gun and helm the gunner’s seat in a tank all before the credits role. As exciting as that all sounds, even casual players of FPS games have done this all before and WWII offers changes so insignificant within its campaign that you’d swear you were just playing a prettier looking remake of a game that came out in 2003.
As much as the story tried to wrap me in, I was often distracted by the poor choice of dialogue, abundant one-liners and predictability of knowing exactly what each character would say and how they would react. Despite a setting rooted during the greatest conflict in human history, the campaign established little purpose for me to meander from fight to fight.
Quick-time events are unnecessarily plentiful during the 6-hour campaign. I feel as if they may have been shoe-horned in to keep easily distracted players from simply skipping the game’s interactive cutscenes.
The squadmates gameplay system, in which you must be close to fellow platoon-mates in order to receive health, ammo and other supplies is a shallow realization of a clever idea, especially at lower difficulties. There was never an instance where I was wholeheartedly dependant on Zussman (who supplies your character with health) or Turner (Your Ammo man), as the battlefield was always littered with ammo boxes, more guns and health packs.
Overall, the lack of newness coupled with a simultaneous lack of nostalgia settles Call of Duty: WWII’s campaign into the forgettable category. It’s by no means a grind to play, but it is representative of nothing more than mindless shooting galleries coupled together.
I’m just going to be blunt and say this is the best multiplayer Call of Duty has seen since Black Ops 2.
Although movement has been significantly slowed by the absence of super-human enhancements and jetpacks on soldiers, matches still move at a brisk pace thanks to the tried and true three-lane map design present. The maps aren’t all good and Gustav Cannon stands out particularly as a “what the f**k were they thinking” map, but most do a great job of highlighting the stellar gunplay in WWII’s multiplayer.
Time to kill may be a bit longer than what I look for in a call of duty, but I have gotten used to it in the week since launch. Compared to Sledgehammer Games’ last effort, Advanced Warfare, which featured two incredibly dominant guns throughout the title’s lifecycle, WWII features a multitude of viable weapons and playstyles.
The Divisions system simplifies perks and loadouts along with giving advantages to players adhering to a playstyle represented by their class. For the Airborne division, this grants a suppressor to SMG wielders, and to infantry, the ability to put a bayonet on all assault rifles. Benefits stack as you level up and offer encouragement to prestige classes, which kept me heavily engaged in WWII’s progression system.
The new “War” game mode is an interesting diversion. Two teams take turns attacking and defending points. While defenders are simply tasked with halting an enemy advance, attackers will be required to attempt everything from building a bridge, setting off charges and escorting a tank. It’s a game mode that isn’t perfectly balanced but is a solid addition to a strong lineup of returning modes.
If there’s been one nagging issue holding Call of Duty: WWII’s multiplayer back, it’s the abundance of matchmaking issues that, depending on your platform of choice, has been resolved to varying degrees. In 2017, it’s shocking that Activision can’t establish reliable dedicated servers and work with its developers to keep basic systems like leaderboards and the game’s own f**king progression system from defecating on itself and the player base. A week from launch, these issues have been minimized but not completely resolved, and that is unacceptable.
Call of Duty’s popular zombies co-op mode returns in WWII and offers a more horror oriented twist when compared to past installments.
There are still perks, a mystery box, weapons you can buy off walls and of course zombies, but the aesthetic is much darker and more serious when compared to Treyarch’s zombies and feels like a misguided emo-stage when compared to Infinite Warfare’s Zombies in Spaceland. I say misguided because I couldn’t shake the feeling that the tone presented was out of place.
The survival aspect endures here, but the “fun” is thrown aside for a loosely arranged story that fails to realize that a mutated undead soldier with a giant screw for an arm is one of the enemies you have to fight.
I can’t end this review without talking about the pervasive nature of Supply Drops. Present in both multiplayer and zombies, supply drops represent a path I hope the game doesn’t travel down when it comes to microtransactions.
As it currently stands, cosmetic variants of weapons in multiplayer offer, at most, an XP gain increase. In zombies, guns received from crates can alter perks and character stats in a way that can give you slight advantages over the average player.
Although their inclusion leaves me with a guilty and uneasy feeling everytime I open one, their current state of inclusion doesn’t affect my gameplay experience significantly. With that said, this review will be updated as Activision and Sledgehammer Games implement new supply drop items and microtransaction systems.
Call of Duty: WWII is strongest in its multiplayer and falls into the mediocre category in nearly every other aspect. The campaign is as unoriginal as it gets, zombies mode takes itself too seriously and supply drops taint the overall experience. But the moment to moment gunplay and progression system in multiplayer will keep me actively engaged for the foreseeable future. The overall package is unessential playing, but offers a good experience if you’re looking for a rewarding PvP shooter.