Call of Duty WWII Review – Band of Brothers (Xbox One)

I was skeptical coming into Call of Duty: WWII. The previous installments in the series (in my opinion since after Modern Warfare 2) were a complete disappointment. The move into the future was a mistake. Call of Duty: WWII rectifies this. One of my favorite series’ of all time is Band of Brothers. I couldn’t help but feel like I was playing Band of Brothers as a video game. The campaign is breathtaking. It re-invents the Call of Duty wheel and presents a narrative that is both gripping and scary considering the dark times we’re currently living in. The 1940s were a different time and the world was facing the greatest evil this planet has ever known. WWII presents this in chilling fashion with a Band of Brothers.

A Band of Brothers

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Call of Duty: WWII has one of the best campaigns that the series has ever offered. While I believe Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 are two of the best, WWII actually has some moments that depart from the typical Call of Duty mold. You even get to play a mission as a French woman while liberating Paris, Rousseau, in a stealth mission where you have no weapon to begin with. I never experienced something like this in a Call of Duty campaign and it was exhilarating. The battles are spectacles, and the first mission, where you invade Normandy via boat, actually touched me on an emotional level. These men sacrificed so much to save us from Nazi rule. There is a big where you have to go through trenches and destroy several Nazi bunkers that felt like it was taken straight out of Band of Brothers, which is no knock. While Band of Brothers is the greatest historical series based on World War II, Call of Duty: WWII is the best interactive experience based on the most dire war the world has ever known.

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The campaign has 12 missions, and there is a certain amount of replayability to the game as well. There are collectibles to find riddled throughout the maps and also heroic events you can accomplish throughout your journey. While I played the game on Regular difficulty for review purposes, I am excited to go through it again on Hardened or Veteran modes, like I did with Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2.

I also have to mention the characters. They are fantastic. You play as “Red” Daniels, a member of the US 1st Infantry Division. His camaraderie with his fellow soldiers is what makes the game so special, especially with Zussman. This was a different era. In the beginning of the campaign Zussman is stabbed, but returns to duty promptly. He clearly is in no shape to fight, and is challenged on it, but his determination to serve is simply that strong. This is very realistic too. Soldiers in World War II would leave hospitals pre-maturely in order to return to their units to fight. It was a different era and Call of Duty: WWII reflects this perfectly. You can even have the option of shooting German prisoners of war. This was portrayed in Band of Brothers and did happen, although it was not a common occurrence. The amount of realism in this game is astounding.

The game also changes up how health replenishes in the campaign, which I think is a great change for the series. Now, your fellow soldiers provide you with med packs, ammo, and grenades, as well as smoke to signal mortar attacks. Playing through D-Day, the liberation of Paris, The Battle of the Bulge, and crossing the Rhine, making your way into Germany, is gripping. This may be the best Call of Duty campaign of all time, and definitely the best World War II-based campaign ever put to an interactive form of entertainment.

Multiplayer

Call of Duty: WWII multiplayer switches things up. You can choose from five different divisions, each with their own perks. These “classes” are Infantry, Airborne, Armored, Mountain, and Expeditionary. While your character levels up, more guns and whatnot become available to you, but weapons level up not based on your rank but how much you use the weapon. You can set up five different load outs for your character.

WWII also gives you a central hub called “Headquarters”, where you can take on contracts, challengers, and pick up a payroll (in-game currency). A character, Major Howard, has orders that renew every day or so which provide you with rewards, such as supply drops and additional XP. It’s a little more complicated than the days of just choosing a game mode and going with it, but, it is incredibly immersive and makes for a more realistic experience.

There are nine different multiplayer game modes: Team Deathmatch, War (a brand new mode which is a ton of fun), Domination, Search and Destroy, Kill Confirmed, Gridiron, Free-for-all, Hardpoint (essentially Headquarters), and Capture the Flag. Hardpoint and War are probably my favorite, but they are all great. The only thing that’s difficult is finding a loadout that is right for you when starting out. It takes a while to unlock some of the better weapons, although this is typical in all Call of Duty games, so I can’t really complain. War is a brand new game mode developed in conjunction with Raven Software. It’s narrative and objective-driven, placing you in some of the most iconic World War II locations. It is fantastic and a great addition to an already amazing lineup of multiplayer game modes.

Nazi Zombies also make a return! They are as ferocious as ever as you fight against hordes from the Zombie apocalypse. The mode even has its own storyline, believe it or not. Players can even choose classes in order to support one another, such as a Medic, Offense, Support, and Control. It’s a lot of fun and for a game full of PvP multiplayer, it’s great to see some co-operative multiplayer as well.

Game of the Year?

If Breath of the Wild hadn’t come out this year, this very well may be my Game of the Year. It is definitely the best first-person shooter to come out in the last five years, at least, and the best Call of Duty game since Modern Warfare 2. Activision was so smart to go back to the series’ roots with Call of Duty: WWII. The game is an interactive version of Band of Brothers and I’m not even thinking about the multiplayer, which is amazing in its own right. This may be the best Call of Duty campaign and while right now there are a few technical glitches with the servers in multiplayer, that will not deduct from our score because we are sure it will be rectified, as this was one of the biggest launches of the year.

Over 70 years ago the world faced the greatest evil it has ever known. This game reminds us of that. Yes it is entertainment, but it’s a beautiful narrative that is a piece of art. Call of Duty: WWII is not a political statement and nor should it be. But it reminds us how the world was on the verge of annihilation because of one man’s hatred and lust for global domination. This story is one of heroics from everyday men who believed in fighting for freedom and sacrificed everything to do so.

Sledgehammer Games and Activision did an incredible job at honoring their memory and telling their story in such a tasteful and accurate manner. It is definitely a contender for GOTY and is easily one of the top five games to come out in 2017.

Thank you to Activision for providing VGCultureHQ with a copy of Call of Duty: WWII for review purposes.

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Modern Warfare Remaster is Coming Out Standalone

Activision has heard our cries, if a quote by the director of Raven Studios, who is handling the Modern Warfare Remaster, is to be believed. Instead of being exclusive to the deluxe versions of Infinite Warfare, the Modern Warfare remaster is coming out standalone as well as with the deluxe version.

“What we announced before today was that we were going to offer 10 maps on launch, and that’s still true. The announcement today is that the six remaining maps we are actually going to be delivering to anyone who purchases Modern Warfare Remastered, anyone who owns it or a version of Infinite Warfare that comes with it, they’re going to get all 16 of the maps for no additional cost.”

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Activision had to make this move at some point, as there was such an uproar and debate over the decision. Modern Warfare was one of the most successful Call of Duty games and the perception was that, despite if Infinite Warfare is a good game or not, Activision was trying to make fans pay for an “okay” game in order to get a great one. Thankfully, this is not the case anymore.

We have been critical of Activision for this initial move, but we applaud the fact that they made the right decision and hope that Infinite Warfare can stand on its own two feet and end up being an incredible game and live up to the Call of Duty legacy. The Modern Warfare remaster is coming out standalone, rightfully so, and allows Infinite Warfare to be able to shine rather than spend its time in Modern Warfare’s shadow.

The Modern Warfare Trilogy Needs to Come to Current Gen

The Modern Warfare games are arguably the best Call of Duty games to be released as well as the most beloved. Fans have wanted a remastered version of the Modern Warfare trilogy for quite some time, yet for whatever reason, Activision has yet to answer the call.

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Activision has released Call of Duty: The Modern Warfare Trilogy for last-gen consoles, yet they haven’t released remastered versions of these classics for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. These games are the pinnacle of the Call of Duty Franchise and yet in a console cycle where companies are constantly pumping out remasters, squeezing games for every penny, Activision only has plans to release the original Modern Warfare in digital format. An an even larger insult to fans, it will only be included with the purchase of the deluxe version of Infinite Warfare. Now Infinite Warfare may end up being a solid game, but the Modern Warfare Trilogy is what caused the “boom” in the franchise and made it the household name that it is. It was after that that Activision decided to release a Call of Duty game once a year. There’s no excuse that the Modern Warfare Trilogy is not getting released on current-gen consoles in high-definition splendor.

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I traded in my Xbox 360 in order to purchase a PlayStation 4. I still have my PlayStation 3 though, and I was thankful that the Modern Warfare trilogy was available for purchase in one package. The campaigns are the best in the series and it has fantastic online play. The problem though is that the online servers aren’t maintained and the games have become riddled with hackers when playing online. It’s incredibly frustrating, because Modern Warfare 2 has the best online play in the series. All three games have fantastic online play in fact. To play these games, free of hackers, with some added content and cheater-free is something fans want. To see the trilogy in such a state (online) is incredibly depressing because these games have some of the best online play Call of Duty has to offer.

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Modern Warfare thrust most first-person games from the World War II era into the modern era, which was a huge shift and a huge risk. Call of Duty has gone stale since then though and is now directionless. Pre-orders for Infinite Warfare are actually some of the lowest in the series. In fact, the trailer for the game is one of the disliked videos in YouTube’s history, which is saying a lot. This may even be an indication of how insulted fans feel about the fact that Modern Warfare is included as a bonus only with the deluxe versions of the game. While Black Ops III did revitalize the series a bit and had strong sales, a release of the Modern Warfare trilogy on current-gen consoles would not only satisfy fans but sell well. It would bring back both old fans, like myself, who have lost interest in the series. It would also bring in new fans who have only heard about the games but haven’t experienced them. Business wise, it’s a no brainer.

Call of Duty needs to go back to its roots and begin anew, and releasing the Modern Warfare trilogy on next-gen consoles would be a huge step towards revitalizing a stale and stagnant series.

The Online Gaming Community is Toxic

Now, before you freak out, this is not referring to the gaming community in general; in fact, the majority of the gaming community is absolutely delightful. What this is referring to though is the toxicity and disgusting practices that go on while playing games with other players through online services on home consoles. Much of this seemed to stem in the beginning from Xbox Live in the mid-2000s when it launched, but, it has even infected PlayStation Plus as their online infrastructure has become more developed. Gaming online simply isn’t fun anymore, and for me, this began when I started playing Halo 3 online. It honestly makes me think that Nintendo may have online gaming right, although they need a few tweaks; allow voice chat with friends-only. On other platforms, get rid of general voice chat altogether, because the practices that are shown on both Microsoft and Sony’s platforms are absolutely disgusting.

One of the thing that shocks me is that it isn’t just the pre-pubescent 12-year-olds who are responsible for the endless amount of expletives, harassment (sexual and otherwise), and reprehensible behavior. Many of these gamers are grown men. It’s absolutely sickening and there is no short of sexism displayed. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition actually has a really wonderful setup for multiplayer; there is both a competitive and a casual mode. There are still people playing the casual mode though who will either tell you what a horrible player you are or even go as far as telling you you shouldn’t have been born and should commit suicide (real experience). Casual mode is not meant to be MLG-pro but to be enjoyable for someone like, for instance, me, who hasn’t actually played Gears competitively online for four years and simply wants to enjoy myself. In one match, I was playing Gnasher 2V2, an exclusive mode for Ultimate Edition, and my teammate actually killed me in the first two rounds so he could get the kills against the opposing team. This is supposed to be a team match, yet people are so eager to simply look out for themselves alone to improve their own stats instead of working together, which is what online gaming is supposed to be about.

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As bad as these instances are though, they cannot even compare to what I have experienced and observed in Call of Duty, and recently Destiny on the Playstation 4. The things I went through in Call of Duty I can’t even repeat because it was so profane and abusive, and when looking for groups to play raids with on Destiny things could be even worse. Using LFG (an online system that allows you to find groups to play with for games like Destiny) is a nightmare and playing with randoms is usually an abusive experience, even if you’re a good player. If you’re female, well, it’s an inevitability. This is not just a problem on the Microsoft or Sony platforms, but a problem with the gaming industry as a whole. The sad thing is though, in all likelihood, there is no way to fix this. When people hide behind a moniker they think they can say hateful, hurtful things, and harass people simply because they can get away with it. There are some great experiences I have had online while playing both Playstation and Xbox, but it has been far outweighed by my negative experiences, and I’m not the only one who has encountered these issues.

A part of the problem is the fact that parents don’t pay close attention to what their children are playing or simply do not care, as games like Call of Duty and Gears of War are rated M for a reason: they are not meant for younger audiences. Children don’t have fully developed minds and while they are intelligent and fascinating, they don’t comprehend the consequences of their actions and words; this is a fact of life. It is up to the parents to supervise their children’s behavior and monitor what they are playing, but that just doesn’t happen, and that is in part why we’re in the situation that we’re in regarding online gaming. Retailers are also to blame because in a lot of cases they simply do not care if they are selling these games to those under the age of 17. When I get carded for an M game, I usually welcome it.

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The other reason is the anonymity of the internet. People think they can get away with whatever they want because they aren’t using their real name and there will be no real-world consequences just because it’s online gaming. There’s no accountability. I have been told to kill myself, that my mom should have eaten me when I was born (what does that even mean?), that my family will be murdered, etc. The rest I cannot repeat. It is sickening and disheartening and makes me not even want to play games anymore, even though this is what I do for a living and I love it. It truly makes me think, does Nintendo have it right when it comes to online interactivity on the Wii U?

I do believe that Nintendo needs to be a little bit more lax and allow voice chat with friends in private parties that can act cross-software, much like Sony and Microsoft allow, but I think that’s it. You should only be allowed to talk to people who are on your friends list and only be allowed to use voice chat if you are over the age of 13. It may seem a little restricting, but because of how toxic the online gaming community has become, many people stick to party chats anyway to avoid all the negativity. Nintendo was even considering voice chat with Tri Force Heroes, but because of play tests where players were bullied, they opted for communication with icons instead, which actually worked very well.

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The gaming community has to step up and gamers, developers, publishers, and anyone affiliated with the industry must denounce this despicable behavior. It has gone too far and not only has a horrible impact on innocent kids who are just trying to play a game, like a T-rated title such as Destiny, but kills people’s enjoyment of gaming. What should be a fun experience that brings us closer together as both human beings and gamers is actually tearing us apart. Online gaming is supposed to be enjoyable, not the current nightmare it has become.