Before you read this review please be aware that I received this game for free for review purposes from Activision but also know that this will in no way impact my appraisal of the game.
Call of Duty: WWII is a BIG game. There is the single-player campaign sure but with this you also get Nazi Zombies mode and of course multiplayer, which for me at least, is what Call of Duty has always been about. A mindless run and gun fest which leaves you wanting more after every match.
Lately, though, the Call of Duty series became something else, the verticality that was much vaunted actually spoiled the game in my opinion. Being able to wall run and jet jump just didn’t fit with the game. Leave that to Titanfall, a similar but obviously less popular title.
WWII, however, does away with all the new man fangled nonsense and returns the game to its roots and this is just what the series needed. It’s not perfect by any stretch but let’s start by talking about the single-player campaign.
Personally, I think the Call of Duty franchise could do away with the single-player campaign, it is expected to be a part of the game but in reality, the time you spend playing the campaign is time you could be playing multiplayer so is really only justified for a quick blast when your internet goes out.
Crawling concussion scenes, angry commanders and poignant moments make an obligatory appearance throughout the campaign with you playing as Daniels, a member of the 1st Infantry Division. You start with the Normandy landing, a scene familiar yet different, I think it was Call of Duty three that had a campaign starting with a beach landing. I remember feeling far more awe and joy during those moments than in this new updated game, however, it was new in 2005. You massacre your way towards the Western Front, liberate Paris, cross the Rhine and even take part in the Battle of the Bulge but, ultimately, I just wanted it to end so I could get back to the multiplayer. It’s not that the campaign isn’t good, it was a fun distraction and I actually enjoyed it but whilst it doesn’t feel out of place in the title I wonder if it’s necessary for a Call of Duty game anymore?
The health bar is back in the campaign, at first, I didn’t think it was necessary but it doesn’t replenish, you are aware that you will die unless you take cover and heal up. It was very nice to feel mortal again and to be able to see how close to death my insane actions had left me. It made my squamates useful, throwing me med pack, ammo, grenades, mortar strikes or spotting for me whilst I sniped from cover.
One thing I wish all games would drop from single player are the stealth levels. They are frustratingly difficult and boring. One level has you escorting two members of the SOE through enemy territory to stop a train, there is no skill needed just trial and error that sees you dying over and over until finally luck is on your side and you can move forward. Its a slow and horrid section of the mission and when you finally make it through this woeful time waste you enter an on-rails section of shooting Nazis off of and out of a train until you ultimately have a couple more quick time events and finish the mission with a little gunfight. It’s 2005 all over again, times have changed, these missions are boring and dated, back in 2005 Call of Duty Modern Warfare was new and the All Ghillied up mission was something to talk about and replay, this type of mission has been done a million times and so we need something new and innovative. I do not want to spoil anything for you but the very next mission does just that, something a bit different and fun. It was still a stealth mission at heart but done in the right way with the correct amount of real tension and skill gets you through.
I am sure hiring the cast of famous actors playing each role wasn’t cheap, I am sure that there were some sergeants as handsome as Josh Duhamel (Danny from Vegas) taking part in the war and whilst he is a fair actor I didn’t really care about his backstory and I wouldn’t have cared if they used a no-name actor and saved a few quid because I was not interested in anyone’s, story to be honest.
Speaking of the story I think my grandfather summed it up when he said “Never spoil a good story with the facts” and the writers have really taken that on board as this unit would surely have been the most decorated in history!
I think I will finish talking about the campaign by saying, it’s okay, it’s a nice distraction but I am really struggling to see the point of a campaign in a Call of Duty game. Perhaps in the next offering, we could have a choice to buy just the multi-player for a reduced fee.
My PC has an i7 4790k, 16gb of Corsair Vengeance RAM, a GTX 980 and is running on an MSI Gaming 7 motherboard, I can handle most games on ultra and Call of Duty: WWII runs without a hitch with everything cranked to max, well extra!? at 2560x1440p at 144HZ. I had every frame synced so I peaked at 144FPS and whilst there were some wild swings in frame rates, down to as low as 64FPS, I averaged at around 100FPS which is fabulous for a game that looks this good.
The meat of the game for me is multi-player and it’s better than ever in terms of sheer fun, however, there are a few things about Call of Duty that seem to be unique to it. There is a toxicity in the lobbies and matches that you don’t get in other games, sure, everyone who does well is a hacker and anyone that kills you more than once is a camper but for some reason, anyone who gets killed is shocked, every player thinks they are the only one on their team “playing properly”. If you have ever played Call of Duty online think about how many times that you have heard these sentences:
“No way, I shot you first”
“He’s just a camper”
“Insert name is definitely hacking”
“Play the objective”
“Worst team ever”
I could carry on but it seems everyone thinks they are above average at Call of Duty and are then shocked when people shoot them. No disrespect to a particular nation but 15-17-year-old American boys are the worst for bad mouthing in COD. I have left several matches because I was bored with the one super soldier who was shouting and telling everyone what to do and I think its indicative of playing online that you will get called a “Noob” but it only seems in Call of Duty games that people have a genuine hatred for you because you “should go and play another game”. I average between 30-45 kills per match, I like to play hardcore mode and without a Headquarters mode, I have been playing Domination. I find hardcore mode removes the buff of some weapons as most are a one or two shot kill and I have found that more adults frequent the hardcore modes. This doesn’t stop the shit talking but it certainly reduces it.
That said, for mindless run and gun it’s hard to beat Call of Duty. I think I prefer Battlefield overall, however, leveling up, gaining a prestige, unlocking new weapons etc, it all works to make Call of Duty multiplayer a fun experience.
The matches aren’t lag free but are pretty good overall, matchmaking is hit and miss however and I often find myself in a team of new players facing a team of vets, but, playing in Hardcore mode again, takes away any real advantage and I think most people have been playing COD long enough to know the score.
I am so happy to see a return to a soldier, a weapon, some non-op perks and no jetpacks meaning you are left to win or lose based on your reaction time, how well you know the map and of course, your teammates doing the same.
The maps are standard fare for Call of Duty, each is essentially three lanes with every position being “flankable”, that’s not a word but I think you know what I mean. Highlights for me are the USS Texas and Pont Du Hoc but I am sure you will have your favourites. There is still an issue with spawn killing in certain scenarios and at times you will be whitewashed and everyone will leave the match because of it so you will be left to be killed 80 times, however, overall, I think the maps are generally very well balanced and over time I think the matchmaking will improve too.
There is light at the end of the mindless shooting tunnel in a new mode called War. It sees two teams pitted against each other with opposing objectives. I am singling it out because it really changes the way you play Call of Duty. You cannot just run forwards shouting and shooting, you may need to hang back, camp a mounted weapon, hold a bridge and actually talk with your team. It’s very different to any other Call of Duty experience I have had and I actually really enjoy it, in fact, it’s fantastic and I do wish they would add a hardcore mode but it’s still the best thing about Call of Duty multiplayer in a very long time.
Another change is the HQ, a Destiny 2 alike area played from a 3rd person perspective. It’s a strange addition to COD and I felt it was out of place. I had to run from place to place to do tasks I could do from a single screen previously however, it does allow you to see your natty costume. There is a lot to do in the HQ however the main reason for its existence I believe is so that you can see other players calling and opening supply crates or as everyone else calls them, loot crates and be envious that they have loot boxes and you don’t, wait, I could have them if I give you more money?
That’s right, these are loot crates and are currently filled with cosmetic items only, as long as you don’t call XP boosts advantages, which they are, they boost XP so you level up faster and can then get higher tier weapons, so if you have more money and spend more money you can rank up faster but it’s not an advantage apparently. I don’t buy it and call bullshit. I am sick to death of this mechanic showing up in games and the truth is there is only one reason for them, greed. The people that add these horrid things to games are not gamers, they are money men and they will ruin gaming for everyone so I would urge everyone who reads this to promise to never buy a loot crate in this or any game ever.
Nazi Zombies is back too, they look more intimidating too but the mode plays the same as every other Zombie mode from all previous titles and its boring. I have played this mode the least and even with friends, I found myself frustrated with the pointlessness of this mode. This is certainly something that I would be happy to see go.
In summary, then, this is the best Call of Duty game in some time, I think I like it more than any other Call of Duty game since Modern Warfare 3 and I won’t be playing it much after this. I will hop onto multiplayer every now and again to have a quick blast but times have changed. Interaction with your friends and teammates is key to fun nowadays and Call of Duty: WII is a game stuck in the past.
The campaign is fun but ultimately unengaging, the zombie mode is tedium personified and whilst the multiplayer is good fun I can play Battlefield 1 with friends, communicate with my team and work towards winning together as a cohesive unit whereas I feel too much of a lone wolf in Call of Duty: WII, even when I play with others.
That said, War mode is a great direction for the game, it is the way the whole of the Call of Duty franchise should be heading and marks the first time in a long time that I have been excited about a Call of Duty game.
Will it be successful, my god yes, this is the 720 no scope capital of 15-year-old boys and they will keep lapping up the mindless, Michael Bay feed that is Call of Duty in any format.
I like this Call of Duty, I think it’s good, sure, there are games that have kept pace with the times far more consistently than Call of Duty but if this is the new direction, I like it.