It has become a tradition that at this time every year, I begin my Call of Duty review by saying “It’s another year so it’s another Call of Duty. Love it or hate it, it doesn’t really matter, everyone is playing it.”. And I need you to focus on that last part. This year Call of Duty has no straight up competitor, it’s alone and everything is up for taking. So how does this year’s Call of Duty fares?
The TL;DR version of the review is that everything in the game is old by design and that somehow makes it fresh and really enjoyable. Does that make sense? Of course not so let’s get on with this review.
Call of Duty games are usually really good at telling great powerful personal moving stories set in either real or fiction time periods. World War 2 was fu*king brutal with an unparalleled loss of human life. There was a lot of shooting, there was a lot of bombings and there was a lot of death as it is considered the deadliest conflict in human history. It was a shitty time to be alive especially for those who lived where it all took place. Call of Duty WW2 doesn’t take us through the whole war, but it focuses on the Western Front of the European Theater.
You see it through the eyes of Private Daniels of the 1st Infantry Division beginning with D-Day, proceeding with the liberation of Paris and finishing with the Battle of Remagen where the allied forces managed to capture and cross the last bridge over the Rhine, a critical point in WW2. Infinite Warfare had a great campaign with an open structure, where you could select what mission or side mission to tackle next. WW2 is straight up linear, like the old COD games and I was OK with it, I am OK with it. It’s a fantastic and cinematic ride from start to finish with many amazing setpieces, interesting characters, well-written dialogues and some very interesting moments.
Red is haunted by a personal and emotional moment that has happened early in his life, so when he acts like acts in the story everything starts to make more sense. You connect to this guy, you feel what this guy is feeling, he becomes relatable and that’s just beautiful. The other characters, especially your best friend Zussman and the asshole-ish Pierson have the best character development in the story. There are moments where you see the real them, you see them breaking down before you and that feels just real. War is hell and these men spent a lot in it seeing all sorts of crazy shit, no wonder they might be just a little bit of f*cked up.
Great war movies like Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers and The Pacific series come to mind while playing as they are a clear inspiration for the story and characters. Coping with the war and its horrors takes a toll on even the strongest of men, that’s why you need to rely on your teammates. And WW2 introduces this cool new simple mechanic in the game, where your teammates can resupply you with ammo, grenades, spot enemies, call in mortar strikes and give health to you since there’s no more hunker down until your screen clears so you can go Rambo on the Nazis. This, of course, it’s gamified, but it helps with the whole bonding brothers in arms deal.
What WW2 also does, which was very interesting is that, while we know that Nazis were monsters and did a lot of despicable things, the innocent German civilians didn’t have it easy either. And there are some moments where you see that, you see the death, you see the misery, the sacrifice some of these people went through and man, that’s tough. It’s a powerful and emotional story. Yes, it has a lot of shooting your M1 Garand, taking down planes using AA guns, driving a jeep, a tank and a plane, infiltrating a Nazi headquarters, but it all feels grounded and real cause all that shit happened.
And they managed to portray all that in glorious details. The graphics are insane, the cutscenes might as well be just real ones shot on location with Josh Duhamel reprising the role of Pierson and the rest of the cast. Everything is extremely detailed, the environments look beautiful even when there are dead bodies lying all around the place. And the sound design, oh my god, sounds bloody gorgeous. The score is hauntingly beautiful, the umpf of the guns, the bullet hits, bullets whizzing by you, the explosions, Stukas nose-diving towards you, everything sound so real and is f*cking delicious. It might be the best sounding FPS game out there at the moment.
The Campaign is just one of the three main pillars of Call of Duty WW2. Multiplayer and Nazi Zombies are the other two, also excellent modes. Generally, I don’t really stick to playing Call of Duty multiplayer after I am done with the review, but this time around things might actually change. The multiplayer is back to basics, no jetpacks, no jump boosting, no wall running, no bullshit scopes, just simple boots on the ground gameplay. Gone are the Specialists and the super abilities like in Destiny for a more simple new system called Divisions. If you join a Division you get an extra ability like a suppressor for your SMGs or incendiary rounds for your shotguns and whatnot. But this new system doesn’t really block you with experimenting, it doesn’t lock guns or attachments or equipment or even perks to you. You can use whatever, whenever you want no string attached, you just get a small bonus or two if you stick to the stuff that makes sense specific to your selected Division.
Call of Duty WW2 multiplayer has a loot box system which is only for cosmetic items at the moment and I could give a rat’s arse about it. It’s there and I am totally fine with it. By just playing the game or completing “objectives” running around the Headquarters social place, think of the Tower in Destiny 2, I managed to get a few loot boxes for free. And I got some cosmetic stuff that I couldn’t care less. It’s not a problem, it’s not a pay to win system, it’s just a pay to look good system.
All of the usual modes make a comeback, Free-4-All, Team Deathmatch, Domination etc. are all there. The “basketball” mode returns in WW2 as the Gridiron mode where you have to carry a ball and score it in the enemy’s goal. It’s a nice mode that plays really nice in the game, but it plays better when you have your friends protecting you while you carry the ball and not total randos that do what they want. Call of Duty WW2 also introduces a new mode called War which is like Operations from Battlefield 1. However, it is more cinematic and at times it feels like you are just playing a single player campaign against either very good Veteran AI or utter shit Recruit AI. It’s an objective based mode where it doesn’t matter how your K/D ratio is, but it matters when you play the objective.
It’s a nice new mode, a refreshing one and I cannot wait for the DLCs to bring new War maps since I burned through the three available ones in a matter of hours. Other than new War maps, the DLCs usually include a new Zombies map which in WW2 I found it to be excellent. The one map is massive, it has a ton of paths to unlock and memorize, a lot of weapons to find and pickup, a ton of traps that might save you from a horrible situation, a ton of easter eggs to find and goals to complete. The map looks really good, it’s dark maybe too dark at times, but that’s good since you are fighting creepy and scary zombies. It’s a blast to play through not only with your friends but also with randos you find during the matchmaking.
And while there is a loot box system, much like in the Multiplayer, in Zombies the loot system is actually pay-to-win since in the boxes you might find consumables that you can use to your advantage while playing Zombies. But again since this mode is PVE, players versus enemies, I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about it. It totally optional, it doesn’t give me an advantage over my friends since we are on the same side so it is fine, totally OK. The amount of fun you can have doesn’t really increase or diminish if you buy loot boxes so if you have money to throw away, go crazy on them loot boxes.
Call of Duty WW2 is a return to basics and that make is fun and refreshing to play through all its offerings. Campaign is really good and emotional, Multiplayer is simple and engaging at the same time and Zombies is a delight to explore and play through over and over again. Yeah, Call of Duty WW2 is a win in my book! Thanks for reading!