While my personal custom is to skip a Call of Duty campaign and jump straight into the multiplayer, I was happy to start Call of Duty: WW2 with this very personal-feeling but typical war story.
Campaign of Call of Duty: World War 2
The campaign, which follows Private “Red” Daniels through pivotal moments like D-Day (of course) and the liberation of Paris, is a good primer for what’s to come. It shows how well Call of Duty’s combat adjusts back into a historical setting for the first time since 2008’s World at War, and, more importantly, tells a good story with some fun action movie-style spectacle.
Over the short (or average, for this series) five- to six-hour campaign, I slowly but surely found empathy for Daniels and his squad. The story is built mostly through excellently animated cutscenes and in narration after missions – the standard Call of Duty fare.
I appreciate that while Daniels and his squad fought the obvious Nazi enemy, the tension between characters also developed as they found themselves deeper and deeper in the war, and that drove much of the drama.
The squad isn’t trying to take down the biggest, baddest enemy they can find; they’re just trying to survive and do their best to make a difference as things get progressively worse. It’s a more human perspective than we’ve seen in recent years.
Uneffective yet Well Weponary of COD WW2
They all use a similar set of tools, though, and the M1A1 Carbine was my best friend by the time I finished the campaign. Even without fancy sights or scopes, the rifles felt best in the predominantly medium to large firefight areas.
Generally, though, WW2’s weaponry is effective but well-worn – this game isn’t rewriting history, so it’s pretty much all weaponry we’ve seen before in dozens of other games set in this period. The only gun I was in a hurry to drop is the default pistol, especially when I came across a rare rifle that had an attachable grenade launcher or shotgun with incendiary shells. Those were awesome.
Aside from mowing down Nazis with all manner of guns, Daniels is also charged with manning specialty weapons like rocket launchers and sniper rifles. Rockets are somewhat rare – and fun, as blowing things into smithereens is always satisfying – but the sniping was more of a chore than a treat. There’s nothing wrong with the guns themselves, but the cover fire tasks you’re assigned are often tedious.
Clearing waves of enemies was fun at first, but as they just kept coming and I wasn’t allowed to leave my post to maneuver and change things up, I got a little tired of the job. It started to feel like work, and I couldn’t help but wonder why someone else wasn’t providing the cover fire for me so I could do the fun stuff of destroying mortars or fighting Nazis face to face.
Multiplayer setting of the Game
“Wow dude, you die so fast,” a random guy in my match said over voice chat as he fell for the umpteenth time. Call of Duty: WW2’s multiplayer may be set in a time without high-tech superweapons, but it’s still very much a Call of Duty multiplayer mode; you die fast, respawn fast, and kill fast.
It’s as satisfying a cycle as it’s always been – especially when you do less dying and more killing – and the World War II setting does provide for interesting new player classes (called Divisions) and a new mode that certainly deserves more maps.
By the second day of its release, getting into games was relatively easy, though developer Sledgehammer Games did make it so the new social space, Headquarters, a temporary solo experience. It’s also unfortunate that models and textures for various items in menus, like weapons and attachments, take a noticeable amount of time to load.
It’s jarring to see that as an issue in a game of this caliber. It sometimes also takes awhile to load into matches and then, once it’s over, to move past the end-game scoreboard. All these little things add up to make for a delayed and slightly irritating experience I’d expect to be beneath Call of Duty.
The beloved COD Nazi Zombies Mode
This iteration of the beloved four-player co-op zombies mode pulls back the zaniness of Infinite Warfare’s Zombies in Spaceland theme park in favor of a much creepier setting and a story to go with it. Like previous versions, Nazi Zombies is a dense puzzle that’s a ton of fun to crack with friends while surviving hordes of zombies.
It’s a little more tense, but with even more upgrade systems (there are so, so many systems in WW2), it can be easier to survive Nazi Zombies’ grueling waves of undead. Overall, even though this version sees a lot of improvements, it still needs to figure out how to make online play between teams of strangers a better experience.
Whether you’re crawling through the trenches in the campaign’s D-Day landing, fighting on the competitive battlefields, or lopping off gruesome undead soldiers’ heads in Nazi Zombies, Call of Duty: WW2 offers a surprisingly fast-paced and fun World War II experience.
The campaign features a more personal story, while the new War multiplayer mode alleviates some of my frustrations with the generally small multiplayer maps. Of all the parts, though, Nazi Zombies is a standout with its wonderfully creepy setting and puzzle-like tasks. It’s mostly what you’d expect from a great Call of Duty game, and a near-miss for a spot in the lineup of top Call of Duty games.