Call of Duty: WWII Review
Every year, Call of Duty presents a multifaceted
package catering to every possible playstyle. That wealth of content continues
with Call of Duty: WWII, which features a historically-focused campaign, a
zombie mode designed to puzzle and scare, and classic multiplayer combat rooted
in class-based playstyles and a brand new social hub. Of the many features on
deck, only the campaign falters. The rest of the package is as solid as ever,
and for old-school fans of the franchise tired of laser beams and jetpacks, the
title provides an epic return to form to classic warfare.
Through the eyes of a Texan kid out for glory,
you land on the beaches of Normandy, battle through occupied France, and
eventually bring the fight into the heart of Germany. While the experiences you
face are huge WWII battles captured with appropriate grandiose backdrops, the
only chapter that truly stands out is one where you don’t fire your weapon at
all – an infiltration mission that takes you deep into the heart of Gestapo HQ.
The characters in your squad are forgettable cardboard cutouts, a throwaway
cast that seems like a slipshod assemblage of Saving Private Ryan, Band
of Brothers, and Platoon. The people you meet from British and
French factions are far more interesting, and steal the show when they are
The campaign captures Call of Duty’s signature
explosive feel through various adrenaline-fueled moments like chases, a tank vs
tank segment, and firing AA guns. However, the standard gunplay and endless
killing fields often feel like a slog, taking down hundreds of enemies and
moving to the next defensive position. Counting on your squad for ammo, enemy
positions, health packs, grenades, and strikes offers some novelty near the
beginning of the game, but once you settle in, these elements display no important
differentiation from classic hide-until-your-health-returns gameplay.
Traditional multiplayer is the shining star of
the three modes. The new objective-oriented War mode includes all kinds of
various activities such as moving a tank, building a bridge, and capturing
point after point, so traditional gunning for a big kill-death-assist ratio is a
thing of the past. If you’re looking for
something that has established front lines and rewards for working as a team (and
where you won’t get gunned down in the back less than a second after you spawn)
War is worth a look.
The class-centric division system combined with
20th century weaponry feels wonderful. Selecting your division and its focus on
various weapons and playstyles is meaningful and enjoyable to explore. While
perks are gone, you still have tons of customization available, and the slower
speeds make the gameplay more compelling than attempting to abuse wall-running
and power-sliding. Sneaking and sniping with the Lee-Enfield in the Mountain
division or unloading a bucket of incendiary shotgun shells into the enemy as
Expeditionary is exhilarating. If you just want to get those crisp shots off
with the Garand and execute an occasional bayonet charge on an opportune
target, you can.
By eliminating the standard lobby and giving you
a place to play in between games, Headquarters is a fun and lightweight experience.
You can watch 1v1s, test guns at the shooting range, prestige, and pick up
missions. You can even go play a fairly extensive list of ancient Activision
games like Pitfall II. This social space is an awesome inclusion that makes
your downtime interesting, and I can’t see going away now that the door is open.
Supply drops earned through gameplay are opened in this social space, hooking
up any onlookers with bonuses from time to time. All drops are cosmetic and
it’s a lot of fun cracking crates and outfitting your character with new
uniforms, emotes, pistol grips, and more.
Nazi Zombies is the scariest iteration of the
mode that has graced a Call of Duty title, boasting some jump scares and an
absolutely occult vision of the Final Reich. Casual players coming over from
other modes should have no problem surviving for much longer than they have in
previous entries. However, the focus remains on discovery; players must do much
more than slaughter legions of zombies, such as enabling an escape-tube
network, powering up generators, unlocking a weapon power-up station, finding
clues hidden in paintings, and more. Nazi Zombies plays more like a structured
story than previous versions, with themed encounters hitting alongside the
standard wave-based fare. Permanent progression aspects give a continuing sense
of advancement as they unlock tokens from playthrough to playthrough, which you
can spend on new mods to enhance your characters and loadouts, giving meaning
to even the most bitter defeats. Discovering just a bit more each time heading
underneath the snow-packed earth of Mittelburg is a grisly, enjoyable
While the campaign fails to provide a compelling
tale and is often bogged down in uninteresting large-scale slaughter, Call of
Duty:WWII nails its multiplayer, new social hub, and zombie modes to provide
the back to boot-on-the-ground experience fans have clamored for since the
first foray into space.
This review pertains to the PlayStation 4 version of the game. Call of Duty: WWII is also available on Xbox One and PC.