We all know what to expect from a Call of Duty game. There is always a campaign, always multiplayer, and always co-op PvE. However, over the past decade, we seem to have forgotten how good that package can be when all the pieces fall into place. Enter Call of Duty: WWII, Sledgehammer Games magnum opus and proof that the series still has something to give above and beyond a nostalgia trip back to the bloodiest conflict in human history.
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The campaign serves as a greatest hits compilation of the Allied advance to Berlin: storm the beaches of Normandy, liberate Paris, freeze your arse off in the Ardennes, and cross the Rhine. COD: WWII forgoes lumping famous faces at you in an effort to make you care about its campaign, instead it turns the dial back from 11, offering players a limited perspective on the war.
You spend the bulk of the story fighting alongside the same five men: a sergeant and lieutenant who are constantly locking horns, best friend Zussman, snarky know-it-all Stiles, and country bumpkin Aiello. Each one offers a different service, whether that is first aid, ammo resupplies, or spotting enemies, so you have to keep them close, which helps to forge an organic bond between you and your comrades.
The boldest changes have been saved for multiplayer. As silly a marketing slogan as it was, ‘boots on the ground’ perfectly sums up what COD: WWII is about, not least because there are no jetpacks this year. Additions like Headquarters and War borrow from other titans in the genre, the former adding a social space so you can take a breather between rounds, while the latter does its best to emulate Battlefield’s popular Rush mode.
War is without a doubt the highlight. For the first time in a COD game, teams are actually playing the objective, throwing themselves into doomed, last-ditch attacks without giving a second thought to their K/D ratio. Pushing up the Normandy beaches, frantically popping smoke grenades to cover you as you dash between anti-tank fortifications, the unmistakable buzz of MG42 fire dominating the soundscape – War brings a touch of Battlefield to COD: WWII, a sense of scale and spectacle that has always been absent in the series’ multiplayer.
And it is improving, too. Activision and Sledgehammer Games are already doing an admirable job of updating the game with new weapons, game modes, and seasonal maps… at no extra cost to you. If poor sales for Infinite Warfare threw the future of the series into question, then Call of Duty: WWII is the ideal response. It serves as a reminder, not just of what Call of Duty was, but also of what it can be.