After very much enjoying the story and gameplay of the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare campaign, I was ready once again to jump into the next Call of Duty release, WWII. This iteration, however, left much to be desired.
Given the now standard tick-tock cycle of Call of Duty development and yearly releases, the newest title under the mantle does not necessarily take any lessons learned from the previous. I found this very much to be the case with Sledgehammer Games’ Call of Duty: WWII released in 2017, a far departure from Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare released in 2016. Gone were the engaging characters, the above board storytelling, and the choose your own adventure gameplay, leading way instead to a completely average experience that departed not only from what I enjoyed in the previous iteration, but also from any WWII game before.
In Call of Duty: WWII, the player takes control of “Red” Daniels, an Army Private joining the European theater of the war with his platoon. Starting the game, I was immediately able to pick out what was going to happen to each of the primary characters. This guy was going to die or get captured and I’m supposed to care deeply about it. This guy is the one I hate now but will like later. And this guy is the leader of the group and will have some tough calls to make. Having this feeling so early in the game (and having it carry through) speaks to just how average of a story is presented. Sledgehammer Games did very little to try to open our understanding of the European theater of WWII. All of the standard locations are presented (Normandy, Battle of the Bulge, a forest of exploding trees), complete with taking down machine gun bunkers, artillery cannons, and hundreds or thousands of enemies. There was an opportunity to tell new stories about the war, but the same ol’ same old was maintained. I actually felt bad at one point. WWII was a gritty (to put it lightly) experience where many lost their lives, and almost all attempts at trying to place shock or emotion to an event in the game was met with little care.
The game follows the standard Call of Duty formula as it is a first person shooter with an ability to carry a few weapons and use them against waves of enemies. The shooting in the game felt as good as any other Call of Duty, which is a plus. However, the choice of weaponry again removed me from any immersion into the setting. While past WWII games have relied mostly on the M1 Garand, the mainstay of Army weaponry, Call of Duty: WWII provided a nearly endless supply of automatic weapons and ammunition. In fact, it was difficult at times to even locate an M1 Garand on the battlefield. Not having the “plink, plink, plink, ding!” of the Garand is like Star Wars not having the laser or light saber sounds. I realize that the automatic weapons were made more prominent for the increased action, but that’s not what I’m looking for in a WWII game. I want something that is reflective of the setting, and I just did not find it here.
Call of Duty: WWII is a competent shooter. If you come to this iteration of the game looking for the online multiplayer component, then I’m sure you will be happy with what you find. If you are like me and primarily play the campaigns in the Call of Duty franchise, then perhaps take a cautious approach to this one. It’s a good six to seven hours of shooting in a game with good graphics and scenery, but don’t expect more than that and that alone. If you find the game for cheap and just have to try it, then go right ahead. Otherwise, maybe look to the next shooter that is more inspired.