It’s that time again; we’re on the cusp of the annual Call of Duty launch. This time is unique, in that we’re entering a new entry following reportedly declining sales of last year’s game. Infinite Warfare was not recieved well, and the World War II setting is seen by many as a reaction to that. It isn’t. The game has been in development for years, but it’s an interesting coincidence nonetheless. This is a step backwards for the series in terms of setting, a 180 turn from the sci-fi trappings of the past few years. So let’s go over what we can expect! Here are the ten biggest reasons to be excited for Call of Duty: WWII .
Back to Basics
One of the biggest problems people seemed to have with the last few Call of Duty outings was the controls. With the sci-fi installments came a lot of extra complications. Extra movement is a cool idea on paper with shooters, but the arcade-y appeal of Call of Duty does not mesh well with jetpacks, grappling hooks, and such. Outside of the “hit the dirt” move, Call of Duty: WWII is about as by the book as it can get. The fans will appreciate that a lot.
The campaign is always a highlight of Call of Duty , and this year looks like it might be a treat. Instead of being an epic about the war like previous entries, Call of Duty: WWII is taking a more character-driven approach. In multiple interviews, the popular Band of Brothers series has been name-dropped as the main inspiration for this story. Can Sledgehammer pull it off? There aren’t exactly a ton of examples of great character writing in the series, but there’s a first time for everything.
While the core gameplay is being simplified, so is the metagame. Previously full of customizable loadouts and perks, the new Divisions system aims to allow a degree of player choice without totally alienating newer and less-skilled players. Divisions is sort of a class system, with unique abilities and starting weapons available based on who you pick. The game even gives you a small breakdown and skill level reccommendation for each option.
Fantasy/sci-fi weaponry is fun and all, but there are only so many variations of “beep-boop machine gun with a giant, obnoxious LCD display” before things get boring. Meanwhile, a dev house full of gun nuts making digital representations of old technology that actually existed? Yeah, that’s dope. For the same reason Battlefield 1 was awesome in terms of hardware, Call of Duty: WWII will be (just for, you know, a slightly different time period). Having modern gaming technology applied to recreating old artilley technology will be fascinating, and through playing demos I’ve already been tuned in to how awesome/horrifying the sound design here is. We’re looking forward to diving in more.
One of the big, marquee features of Call of Duty: WWII is Headquarters. It’s also one of the most confusing and intriguing, and the one we saw the least of ahead of launch. Sledgehammer kept this one as under wraps as possible until release. Headquarters is a huge online lobby, one that has its own set of features, game modes, and social functions. It’s a super ambitious idea for an online, AAA game, especially one as heavily populated as a new Call of Duty . Will it be cool or a bizarre sludge through the usual toxic online community? We’ll find out!
Yeah, I’m excited to go back to World War II. In the past, the storytelling aspect of shooters wasn’t as heavily emphasized as it is today. Most World War II shooters of the past used the setting as more of a backdrop for the whizzing bullets and explosions. Since then, the Modern Warfare series exploded and brought blockbuster-style narrative structure to the average shooter. Now Call of Duty: WWII looks to take the subject matter seriously, especially after DICE nailed the World War I setting so well.
One of the more interesting parts of the Call of Duty: WWII campaign is the squad feature. Things like regenerating health are gone, which seems crazy, especially for a modern shooter. Instead, the player will be able to interact with the supporting cast during the story, with each person having a squad ability. One of them, of course, is limited access to medical packs. Adding mechanics to the characters in the story could go the extra mile in helping the player form bonds with them, therefore caring about what happens in the story.
While Headquarters is a big, new structural feature, War Mode is the big, new online game mode. War is a huge, violent game of tug-of-war, with a multi-tiered, narratively structured objective list. Teams can and will go back and forth as they progress through a miniature story that will ultimately see one team come out on top of a battle of attrition. War Mode was the highlight of the beta tests and will likely be the highlight of the full game.
A big theme of video games in 2017 is “shooting Nazis,” and I for one am all about that. Zombies are a bit more played out, but mix in zany, Nazi, occult, pop culture ephemera and you have my attention. Nazi Zombies takes the World War II theme of this year’s Call of Duty, makes it goofy and campy, and turns it into the usual horde mode every shooter fan loves so much. It remains to be seen how much loot boxes will alter the experience, but all the footage of the crazy enemy types and over the top characters has me wanting to check it out.
Speculating About What’s Next
Call of Duty is an annual franchise, and we all know the next two games in the series are already in development in some form. The best part about a new Call of Duty release, other than enjoying the game of course, is being able to jump right in to speculation for next year. Once you go through the story and spend time in multiplayer, you immediately get to think and talk about what’s next. And this is an especially exciting time, because with the return of World War II it could be anything. Call of Duty isn’t moving forward anymore – it could go anywhere it wants. And that’s exciting.