Call of Duty: WWII’s version of zombies isn’t anything like other recent entries. While I’m a fan of the gritty, hard-boiled film-noir zombies and an even bigger fan of the over-the-top carnival antics of the '80s zombies, this upcoming offering promises a focus on pure horror.

While many zombies movies, games, and shows create the popular undead monstrosities via supernatural means, a virus or plague, or infectious bites, Sledgehammer is going real weird with their take on this one. A pseudo-scientific “what if” scenario that dredges deep down into actual plausible scientific research that the Nazis were conducting at the time involving physics – a twisted sci-fi/horror blend that combines analytical and scientific methodology with Nazi occultism. 

“We’re going back to energy stuff, what Germany knew at the time – German physics,” says creative director Cameron Dayton.  “We’re sort of taking a pragmatic science-fiction path to it.”

The zombies in Call of Duty: WWII are based on physics and aspects of the nervous system. The corpses of fallen soldiers could be repurposed and brought back, and often the more disassembled and grisly bodies are chosen – strapping together pieces from multiple bodies in some cases to form aberrant flesh-heaps. These lifeless husks are fueled by the nervous system and supported by base mechanical augmentation like bolts, straps, spinal grafts, and support braces. 

These attachments are not just to keep an arm in place or a head upright, in fact, these zombies are literally propelled by pain – these crude torture implements can be used to induce a surge of power in the zombie. Even zombies that may not have eyes or a full set of traditional organs can sense nearby life, and are programmed to snuff it out. As you may have guessed, these are not the most controllable batch of soldiers – by the time your crew of art hunters finds your way to the hellish tunnels under Mittelburg, the zombies have already escaped their masters three times with disastrous consequences.

 

While the Nazis were interested in legendary and mythological relics, artifacts, and mysteries, there was the notion that perhaps there was something rooted in science behind the mystical powers of things like the Ark of the Covenant or the fallen empire of Thule. The Nazi search for Wunderwaffen is often tapped within the sci-fi and horror medium, from stuff like Hellboy’s adventures to time-travel theories involving Die Glocke.

“There was a branch of the SS developing the occult, exploring,“ says Dayton. “Looking for the spear in Christ’s side, the Ark of the Covenant, the lost land of Thule and all these other things to back up their ideas. The interesting thing was for the first time in human history, there was an attempt to pair science with that. Of course it’s all twisted and dark and headed in scary directions, but it’s the perfect setup for this sort of thing.”

The zombies come in quite a few different shapes and sizes, from the most basic Pest, which often doesn’t even have arms and may be missing all sorts of body parts, that are simply programmed to be biting bullet-sponges that get in the way to Bombers, corpses stitched together to carry an explosive payload. There are also much more terrifying zombies in play that can come with potent weaponry and augmentation, like a titanic zombie assembled from several corpses that can bathe your team in deadly fire.

As always, the true tale behind zombies is locked behind mysteries and secrets, which players can delve into on their attempts to learn more about the mysterious Nazi doctor and a kidnapped toymaker. We’ll be hunting for clues on November 3.

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