Another year, another Call of Duty. This time we are transported back to World War 2, fighting with the First Infantry Division from Normandy until they crossed the Rhine. So, should you step off on the beaches or sit this war out?
War Never Changes
From the onset of CoD: WW2 the story feels like a “been there, done that” moment that lasts about 10 hours (on normal). This is due in part to the flood of WW2-centric shooters that started a decade ago, though they have waned to be more “advanced or future” in recent years. It is also due to WW2 being one of the most fleshed out historical moments in recent human history (movies, books, games, you name it).
The story revolves around you and you platoon fighting across all the major encounters of the Western Theater: Normandy, taking Paris, Battle of the Bulge, Crossing the Rhine, all the while dealing with drama caused by current and past events. This would work if you felt any connection to the characters, but sadly they all fall into a stereotyped role with mediocre writing to back them up.
But the campaign in CoD has normally been about the big moments and this version has plenty of big moments, from storming the beaches to sitting in an MG nest mowing down swarms of enemies. These are fun standalone events, few moments in gaming can be as thrilling as a well-done D-Day (and also as grim and gory) or as one-offs. The problem here is that every stage seems to place you behind an MG against a swarm of enemies, it stops being fun at that point.
Despite the games short fallings on the development side, the optimization seems to be solid. I played it on my dated PC, a GTX 780 and an old SATA HDD, and load times were fine, it had minimal frame problems even during high-intensity moments. CoD isn’t pushing any graphical boundaries but it looks good. The only gripe I have here is that the gun sounds are not the best.
A Band of Brothers
The core experience, and longevity, of CoD, lies with the multiplayer experience and if you have liked CoD in the past you will enjoy what this game has to offer again.
When you start playing you’ll be asked to pick one of five divisions: Infantry, Airborne, Armored, Mountain and Expeditionary. Each one has a different starting loadout and has different weapons they are suggested to use, but you can unlock any you want along the way. Each also has a different modifier for their weapon – I started as Airborne and could place silencers on my submachine guns – it’s a small and interesting feature that gives each class something a little different.
There didn’t appear to be any major network problems in the games I played (my connection is 150 down/25 up) with empty spaces being filed quickly, no disconnects on my part and generally, the games ran smooth. I will, however, add that I am playing the game after nearly a month of being released and I had heard and read about network problems on launch.
There are two problems, however, that still stick out. First, the map design just doesn’t feel great. Many times I felt like 90% of the map was going unused in favour of just running at the opponent’s spawn location then, when the spawns flipped, doing that again. This does vary depending on the game mode but I always seemed to find a few people trolling around in spawns until they flipped.
The second is simply it doesn’t do anything new, or at least new enough to be earthshattering. You level, unlock things, prestige and repeat. A tried, true and frankly boring progression system. It works as intended and has for years but that doesn’t mean changes can’t be made to freshen the experience for veteran players. How is this new? Yes, there are daily, weekly and speed quests to complete but that isn’t why people want to play CoD online, they just want to enjoy some good old fragging.
Call of Duty WW2 is simply an OK game. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t change the genre or push limits at all. If you like the series pick it up, you know what you’re buying. If you stopped liking the series, this won’t change that.