The first Call of Duty: WWII details tell us a lot about what to expect
Activision and Sledgehammer Games have officially unveiled this year’s version of the Call of Duty franchise, and the few Call of Duty: WWII details revealed tells us a whole lot.
The name of the game – along with the setting – were announced last week, but the reveal was detail-free. After all, World War II was a major event that spanned the globe and lasted for years. Just knowing the name doesn’t in itself tell us all that much.
Following the livestream, we now know a lot more than we did before. There are still a lot of details to be revealed, but we have a good idea of what to expect.
First, the focus will be on the 1st Infantry Division, which is also known as “The Bloody First” and the “Big Red One.” Whether the choice to follow that division is a coincidence or a direct callback is unclear – Call of Duty: WWII will follow the same group that the 2005 spinoff game, Call of Duty 2: The Big Red One, followed. That was Treyarch’s first COD game, and the second COD game to appear on consoles.
Call of Duty: WWII follows the 1st as they storm the beaches at Normandy, fight the Nazis across Europe, and eventually make their way into Germany itself. If the game follows the history, that means players will experience the invasion of Fortress Europa via Omaha Beach, the subsequent push into the French towns of Formigny and Caumont, and then the Saint-Lo breakthrough nearly six weeks later, which drove the Nazis out of northern France.
The real-life 1st also pushed through Europe, reaching the town of Aachen on the German border. After a short siege, it continued through the Hurtgen Forest where it was then scheduled to take a lengthy rest following six months of continuous combat, but the Battle of the Bulge happened and the 1st was sent to the front lines of the Ardennes in one of the bloodiest conflicts in the European theater. Less than a month later, the 1st broke through the Siegfried Line. It then made its way into Czechoslovakia and fought until VE Day. In total, the 1st saw over 3,000 of its members killed, over 15,000 wounded, and received 16 Medals of Honor.
As both history and the trailer show, the game will feature a mix of infantry and mechanized combat. It will specifically follow a single character named Ronald “Red” Daniels, although there will be at least two other playable characters – a soldier named Zussman and a French Resistance fighter named Rousseau. That would also explain how the Liberation of Paris is in a game following the 1st Divison (assuming the devs care about historical accuracy). Historically, the 2nd Armored and the 4th Infantry joined the 2nd French Armored in the push into Paris while the 1st was in a completely different part of Europe. The odds are no one will care as they play the game, but it’s nice to know there may be at least a modicum of real events tossed in.
The gameplay in the campaign will also have a bit of a squad-based feel, with squad mates able to give you assitance and items. If those squaddies die, however, it will affect the level of support you can receive.
The reveal today focused mainly on the single player, but there were some hints about the multiplayer and the cooperative zombie mode.
The multiplayer will, of course, be set in the same time period, but expect a few anachronisms. Like Battlefield 1, there will probably be a heavy reliance on “prototype” and experimental weapons, which players will appreciate, but historians will take to online forums and post lengthy diatribes that begin with “Well, actually…”.
There will be another reveal in the near future that highlights the multiplayer aspects of the game, but Activision and Sledgehammer did offer a few specific, albeit somewhat vague tidbits.
To begin with, there will be a new “Headquarters” feature (not to be confused with the game mode of the same name that was popular during the Modern Warfare series days). This headquarters is “dedicated to engagement off the frontlines,” which sounds like an online area where you can track your challenges and awards. In essence, in a first for COD, there will be an area where characters can socialize outside of the shooting. Many people are describing it as being similar to the communal areas in Destiny, where you can go to socialize, buy new gear, customize your character, and even find people to join a party.
There is also a new “Divisions” feature that offers a “new way to engage in a player’s Multiplayer career.” You can choose from a variety of divisions, including Infantry and Armored, which sounds a bit like a metagame. That’s just a guess at this point though.
One new multiplayer additions that does sound intriguing is “War,” a new multiplayer mode that puts players in historical battles where teams fight for strategic objectives. Hopefully, that means massive battle recreations, but it could also simply be a new game mode in the vein of Domination or Hardpoint, or even Ground War. Based on an interview by Sledgehammer’s Michael Condrey with Games Radar, it sounds closer to Battlefield’s Operations mode.
There’s also an emphasis on what it being referred to as “boots on the gournd.” That signifies a shift away from some of the more gimmicky tools and special abilities that have come to dominate the recent COD multiplayer games. That should also mean there will be less focus on the killstreaks given that WWII didn’t have drones and the like, but World at War had plenty of options on that front, so don’t expect too big a shift away from that.
The four-player zombies will also make a return with an all new cooperative mode pitting you against Nazi Zombies – which brings the zombie mode full circle back to its earliest days. More on this mode is expected soon.
This game marks a return to its roots for the Call of Duty franchise, which began as a multiplayer WWII shooter. This will be the first WWII– era COD game for Sledgehammer, and the first WWII-era COD game since Treyarch’s 2008 Call of Duty: World at War. It’s not all that unexpected of a move though. The COD series has gone more and more toward a futuristic setting over the last few games, but the sales have been declining since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
Despite that, the franchise remains hugely profitable and influential. The move back in time isn’t unprecedented either – Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 1 took its Battlefield series from the modern day setting and placed it in the First World War. The sales were very good for EA’s game and it garnered several awards, so there is definitely an audience.
World War II has always been a favorite era for game developers and players. To most, it is viewed as an unambiguous era, with clear good guys and bad, and stories of heroism, bravery, action in settings all around the world. The truth is a little muddier, but in terms of games, there are few eras in history that have been as thoroughly covered as WWII.
Following a few years when there seemed to be a new WWII game every month, most developers backed off the era over fears that it was exhausted. Can Sledgehammer find a new angle to help breath life back into it?
Check out the trailer, then look for the game on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on November 3, 2017.