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
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.
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.
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.