Call of Duty: World War II Review in Progress (PS4)
Word got out today that Call of Duty: World War II surpassed more than $500 million in sell-through over the weekend. It has also set a record as the best-selling digital full game by units sold on its first day of availability on PlayStation 4. Let’s be completely honest here – this should not surprise anyone. It’s easy to roll your eyes and say “well, duh, it’s Call of Duty. Of course, it is going to sell a ton of copies!” But there was a legitimate concern with the franchise, especially when you look at the lackluster sales of Infinite Warfare. Where could it possibly go? What is needed in order to win back the fans? Will the change back to World War II be enough?
I am one of the many that skipped the past few entries of Call of Duty. Maybe I was burnt out, or maybe I was tired of paying $60 for the same exact gameplay. Whatever it was, Call of Duty lost its appeal. Then, I was fortunate to try out the demo at E3 this year. To put it mildly, I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed myself. The demo ran smooth. The gameplay was familiar but felt balanced. The new War Mode (although similar to Battlefield) was a welcome addition to the many multiplayer modes. And the single player footage blew me away. I couldn’t help but get my hopes up for this new entry. And as I dove into the single-player campaign, I realized that Call of Duty: World War II surpassed many of my expectations.
SINGLE PLAYER CAMPAIGN
COD: WWII takes place at a familiar point in our history; a point of devastation, cruelty, and death. The story takes place towards the latter half of the war. We see important moments of the war through the eyes of “Red” Daniels, a Texas native who reminisces about his girl and brother while dealing with the horrors of war. At first, Red comes off as a typical 40’s soldier during the war. In fact, his troop has typical characters that we have seen in Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan. Yet the developers found little ways to give these characters backstory and personality that kept me invested in their lives and responsibilities as soldiers. One character, Sgt. Pierson, is wonderfully portrayed by Josh Duhamel. He starts off as a very unlikable, cold-hearted Sergeant, and eventually turns into one of the best and well-written characters in the franchise. In my opinion, this story is one of the best of the franchise.
Not only have the developers given us a great story, but they also gave us amazing set pieces throughout the campaign. Yes, you will have your opportunities to mow down Nazis throughout France and Germany. But there are incredibly intense moments throughout the campaign. You will drive cars and tanks, as well as fly airplanes over the snowy fields of Bastogne. You have a variety of very cool stealth missions, especially a very intense moment where you are unarmed, surrounded by enemy soldiers, and carrying precious cargo. Every mission had some element that elevated the standard Call of Duty gameplay that we normally expect from the franchise.
Many other reviewers have singled out a specific mission in Call of Duty called Liberation, and for good reason. It is absolutely my favorite mission in the entire franchise. The mission has two parts, both of which are intense and extremely satisfying. The first part lets you control a French rebel who is tasked with finding a contact inside Nazi headquarters in Paris. This contact has bombs that will allow soldiers and rebels to infiltrate and take back control of Paris. This is not a typical stealth mission. You must memorize key components of your backstory and tell the right details to proper authorities. It’s absolutely terrifying to be surrounded by the enemy and having to remember your backstory. When you succeed, you retake the role of Daniels as you rush to the compound to take out the rest of the enemy and defend it from a massive wave of soldiers. I don’t usually say the phrase “I was on the edge of my seat,” but I literally was during this whole mission. Again, wonderful work from the writers and developers in creating memorable and intense gameplay situations.
Speaking of gameplay, there are a lot of typical gameplay elements at play in COD: WWII. You still have a variety of enemy types and guns to shoot with. Key moments may require you to go prone to avoid heavy gunfire (which is used A LOT on the beaches of Normandy). I want to point out a couple key elements that help COD have a more realistic approach to battle. No longer can you run full speed into enemies and go prone to recharge health. Med kits are necessary to keep you alive throughout the game. I really enjoy this change because it kept me grounded and made me strategize. Another nice change is the ability to call on your squad mates for extra med packs, ammo, and even spotters to tag enemies. I absolutely love utilizing my squad in the heat of battle. Again, this keeps things grounded and prevents you from being a one-man killing machine. The game is very well made. The gameplay is very clean, meaning I did not have any glitches or bugs that broke my playthrough. The only hiccup I had was during heroic events, which are moments where you can save other soldiers. Throughout the campaign, you will find soldiers on the ground. You can drag them to safety and save their lives. There were a few moments where I lost soldiers because I didn’t drag them far enough or to the correct safe zone. It was challenging to swing the camera around to see where I need to drag the soldier.
I also want to point out that the game looks and sounds incredible. The cut scenes look incredible with a ton of high-quality graphics and details. Of course, the violence of war is on full display as limbs are blown off and blood goes everywhere. The only graphical anomaly that I noticed involved dog tags poking through shirts during cut-scenes. The sounds of war were terrifyingly loud, with each gun sounding unique. Any moments of shell shock had the appropriate dead sound where the sound was muddled and soft until you regained your senses.
We all know that Call of Duty lives on it’s multiplayer and zombie modes. However, I highly recommend that you play the single-player campaign. It only takes about 6-8 hours, but it is worth every second. I will say one more time that it features some of my favorite missions that I have ever played in the Call of Duty franchise.
We all know that the multiplayer experience is just as important, if not more so than any other campaign in Call of Duty. As much as I love the single-player campaign, I must acknowledge that multiplayer is the main selling point of any Call Of Duty game. Call of Duty lives and dies on the ability to have a functional and addicting multiplayer experience. Call of Duty: World War II offers some very nice additions to the multiplayer experience (along with a few frustrating elements).
The multiplayer experience offers a variety of modes that you are familiar with. This time, however, COD: WWII has a new War mode that is very similar to the Rush mode in Battlefield. Players are tasked with completing a variety of tasks over several stages. As you complete a task in the first area, you will unlock the next segment in the map and must do what you can to either attack or defend your position. You have a limited amount of time in each stage, so move quickly as a team if you want to complete your mission. War mode is easily my favorite addition to Call of Duty. Not only does it give objective based combat, but it also makes the maps bigger without making the gameplay boring. In Rush mode, combat can take way too long. War mode is bigger than a typical COD map but manages to keep things tight and focused. If you are a sniper, then War mode is definitely the best mode to play on.
If you are uninterested in War mode, then you can still play the typical modes like Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. COD: WWII offers 10 compact maps that are well balanced and fun to play. You will most likely stick to a non-sniper rifle in these maps, which I am totally ok with. With compact maps comes a lot of camping, drop shotting, and jump shots, so be aware. I do wish the developers had updated the gameplay to not reward people for this type of behavior. Perhaps it can be addressed in the future. The progression is pretty typical of the franchise. The more kills you get, the faster you level up (same goes for weapons, which is nothing new). Divisions become more meaningful because each division has specific perks that can really help you out in multiplayer. You choose one division at the start, but you can unlock the others as you progress.
Another new aspect of the franchise is the Headquarters. This is the Call of Duty version of a players hub. You can check mail, get contracts, open supply drops, and use the firing range to test out guns. The best part of Headquarters is the opportunity to 1v1 with another player. This is a phenomenal addition to the franchise. Is there a player that’s been pissing you off? Challenge them at Headquarters! You can also challenge someone at the firing range. Leaderboards keep things very competitive at the Headquarters. I enjoyed the attention to detail in Headquarters. It looks like a typical staging ground that you would expect to see in World War II. I really hope this type of hub becomes a regular part of the franchise.
It’s a little surprising to see how popular the zombies campaign has become. In some ways, the zombie experience is more popular than the multiplayer. It all comes down to consistency. The newest zombie campaign, The Final Reich, is another fantastic entry to the franchise. The beautifully made map is set in a Bavarian village feels bigger than other maps in the franchise, yet it functions really well and is very challenging. The zombies look downright scary with different abilities that throw a wrench in how you typically play a zombie map. Like other entries in the past, The Final Reich holds many secrets to unlock, so teamwork is of the essence.
I have a few recommendations for The Final Reich. The biggest recommendation is to play often. I find that you are greatly rewarded as you play more often. Each and every perk will help you in some way, along with how you customize your loadouts. Second, get a consistent group to play with you. The main easter egg in The Final Reich is not easy to solve, so you will want to play often with a group you are familiar with. You can easily customize your loadouts to fit specific roles, so find a role and work with it. And yes, there are loot boxes just like in multiplayer. Use the items wisely while you fight endless waves of zombies!
Call Of Duty has done something that I didn’t think was possible – it won me back. The single-player campaign is spectacular with real heart and amazing action set pieces. War mode has brought some life back to the familiar and “typical” multiplayer experience. And the zombie campaign has once again added amazing secrets to draw you back again and again. I can only hope that this trend will continue in future entries of the franchise.
Note: GameOctane Editor Ryan Welch received a physical copy for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Exceptional Single Player Campaign
Addicting Zombies mode
War Mode is a plus
Headquarters is fun
Typical multiplayer experience (with exception of War Mode)