The Call of Duty series is perhaps the most well known FPS (First person shooter) series in the modern era. Yet, despite helping revolutionize the genre through many of their earlier games, Call of Duty has suffered a rather noticeable identity crisis. With the latest entry, Infinite Warfare, trying to add wall running and big, flashy gadgets the franchise appeared to try and compete with Titanfall. This was destined to last, as the huge success of EA’s Battlefield 1 showed that there was a desire to take fighting back in time to where these historic games cut their teeth.
Call of Duty: WWII feels like a more comfortable follow up title that doesn’t need to rely on gimmicks. Instead, Call of Duty: WWII delivers some truly precise and polished gameplay that kept pulling us back in. While the Closed Beta had a few issues, overall the future looks incredibly bright for this shooter’s return to the 1940s. Much like Infinite Warfare, players are able to pick from various classes that all have specific weapons and skills that can be utilized. You thankfully aren’t bound to your decision for the entirety of the match, so if something isn’t working you can swap on the fly.
Guns are responsive and can be upgraded with attachments as you become more proficient in them. Players, as they rank up, will earn tokens which can be spent on unlocking new passive skills or weapons. The customization never gets out of control and WWII has ditched the point related system of the later installments. All of this comes together in a nice package that allows for player freedom, but doesn’t become a chore for those who just want to drop in and go.
Multiple modes were available for testing, with most of them being the standard suite of game modes one expects from the series. However, the newest game mode “War” is where things get really interesting. Taking a page out of Battlefield’s playbook, War tasks players with either defending or attacking various objects. The map we played was broken up into 4 different stages, each with their own unique parameters. At one point we found ourselves trying to set a bomb, only to be successful and then have to escort a tank to a final area. This not only keeps the focus away from simple kill/death ratios, but helps drive the action to concentrated areas.
Yet, this is a doubled edged sword as the map we tried never felt truly balanced and clearly favored the defenders in a few key areas. This amounted to some frustrating moments where my team felt obligated to switch roles in order to counter, not allowing for every class to be viable. Despite this, War was an absolute blast to play from start to finish. Matches are rather long for a Call of Duty game and the removal of killstreaks for this mode helps negate any one side from steam rolling the others.
The other maps were well designed, though Call of Duty still has some seriously wonky spawn points. On multiple occasions I spawned either right next to or in the enemy’s spawn area, which got me killed rather quickly. This is sadly a side effect of the fast paced nature of the game, but due to the maps not being as spread out I foresee this happening in most game modes. Domination is still one of the best game modes to play since it will funnel the action to three main areas and the various tools and emplacements you acquire add some nice strategy to the game.
Finally, the weapons and moment to moment gameplay harken back to the Call of Duty 2 days. Kills are fast and furious, forcing players to take in their surroundings at all times. Despite the shift in time, don’t expect the battles to slow down like they do for other war games such as Battlefield 1. CoD is still very much a twitch shooter, so if that wasn’t your jam with the last few installments, there’s nothing here that will change that. However, Call of Duty: WWII is a return to form for the series and it makes us curious as to what other secrets this title has hiding up its sleeve.