When it was announced that Sledgehammer Games would be taking the Call of Duty series back in time to the days of World War II, many saw it as a chance to revitalize a franchise that may have become stale. While the game always sells particularly well, fans were excited that the series was taking a break from the hyper-futuristic ways of the present and returning to its roots. After getting some hands-on with the game’s multiplayer this past month, I can safely say I join those fans in their optimism.
At this year’s E3 – probably the most known gaming convention in the world – I was treated to some hands-on with the upcoming Call of Duty WWII’s multiplayer modes. After wading through the enormous crowd surrounding the Activision booth, I was finally seated for our multiplayer demo. The battle would be a typical game of team deathmatch, taking place in the bunkers of Pointe Du Hoc. For those non-history buffs, Pointe Du Hoc was a crucial target during the invasion of Normandy and thus makes for an obvious choice for a map in WWII.
Before the game started, the first noticeable change from the normal Call of Duty formula was the inclusion of “divisions” (photo below, excuse the quality). Instead of the normal “create-a-class” system that Call of Duty has relied on for so long, the new game instead uses divisions to break up players. The system itself is inspired by five different World War II divisions and essentially acts like the class system in other shooters like Battlefield. Each division has its own unique characteristics (Infantry users can charge enemies with a Bayonet, while Expeditionary users can load their shotgun with incendiary rounds, etc etc) and it’s own “division training”, which acts as a sort of perk system from the previous entries.
For those worried about having to learn an entirely new character system, I wouldn’t fret too much. In my time playing, the Infantry’s Division training allowed me to have extra attachments on both my primary and secondary weapon and interchangeable “basic” training (things like sprinting for longer distances or being immune to enemy tactical equipment). All of these things are fairly standard in Call of Duty games, and I can’t imagine Sledgehammer deviating too hard when it comes to how players level up their skills. Things like score streaks, recon planes, and air strikes also make a return, although I didn’t see any choices for other streaks during my time.
Once we were in the game, the overall experience felt surprisingly smooth and much better than a lot of the previous Call of Duty iterations. It was nice not having to worry about being able to hover or triple jump and run around a corner on the wall to get a kill. Hunkering down in a trench or silently sneak into a bunker brought back memories of the original Call of Duty games, as well as the Modern Warfare and Black Ops games. While I’m not the best at any Call of Duty game, the game seems to have a steep learning curve, and any player should be able to jump into the game and adjust accordingly.
The map itself was fairly small, with a series of trenches winding its way through various bunkers that overlooked everything. The setting looked incredible; from the dirt popping up anytime a bullet landed or an explosion went off to the flaming wreckage of a downed bomber in the distance, Sledgehammer has so far managed to craft a very realistic World War II setting. What really wowed me, however, was the sound design during the game. Not only did everything look great, but it’s possible that it sounded even better. Everything from your soldier panting as he runs to your rifle being reloaded not only sounds authentic but also elevates the pressure you feel while playing. Narrowly missing being killed by an enemy felt more thrilling than it had in past games, and it’s nice to see something that fans don’t normally think is important get shown appreciation.
While there are other game modes included in this year’s multiplayer, I was, unfortunately, unable to play them. Things like War mode, which is essentially an objective-based game mode that forces players to prevent and capture various points offer some additional content for Call of Duty WWII, but after playing through the standard multiplayer, I’m convinced that this might be all you need. For anyone worried about what a change of scenery might do for Call of Duty, they need not worry anymore.
Call of Duty WWII launches worldwide on November 3rd for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Are any of you looking forward to the game? Please feel free to let us know in the comments section below.