Call of Duty WWII Hands-On Preview – Some Things Old & Some Things New

Travelling back in time to the second World War once again, the Call of Duty franchise takes an interesting turn this year as it longs for a much simpler time. Dropping the futuristic gadgets and wall-running of the likes of Infinite Warfare, and even the modern weaponry of Modern Warfare, WII marks a new (or old?) beginning that may breathe new life into the franchise.

After getting our hands on the game for two matches of multiplayer, we were initially greeted with the game’s traditional team deathmatch mode. Whilst not exactly thrilling in objective, this did give us a good first impression of how the game has slowed things down significantly in order to take the formula back to the likes of the earlier titles in the game, though I personally found the game to have more in common with the first Modern Warfare and World At War when it comes to traversal and gunplay. Whilst it’s been a while since the franchise has used this formula, it didn’t take long for us to feel familiar to the controls and the general feel of the game, which is much more focused this time around.

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Before the initial match, we were met with the game’s new Division system, which replaces the classic create-a-class feature with a system that not only changes your loadout and appearance, but your character’s specializations and skill set, with each different division having their own advantages and strengths/weaknesses in certain areas of the game. Divisions range from all-purpose classes to snipers and heavies, which gives the game a much more dynamic approach when it comes to the selection of players within your team. Whilst our time was limited, it did give me some opportunities to experience the different feels of each division, though it’s often easy to notice that some divisions may clash with your play style, prompting you to stick with divisions that better suit your needs and preferences.

The initial deatchmatch felt a lot slower than Call of Duty usually does, which is also thanks to the boots-on-the-ground approach that makes the core gameplay a lot more grounded, evening the odds as the only verticality within the map is attributed to the map itself. With this, the map design felt good enough for it to balance the game itself, acting as an arena where flanking is definitely an option and snipers weren’t exactly hard to spot when they stayed in the same spot for a long period of time. With this, I did feel like I ran into dead ends once in a while, making the layout rather confusing, though this being the first time playing on the map I can attribute it to my unfamiliarity with the map itself.

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Whilst modes like deathmatch in Call of Duty are thoroughly enjoyable, our following match of the game’s new “War Mode” is where we met a completely new side of Call of Duty. The basis of War Mode is simple, attacking teams are given the mission to destroy multiple objectives, with the defending team having to stop them until the time of the match runs out. Starting off as defenders, I found myself working together with my team quite heavily in order to create a strong perimeter of the defense, in which tight coordination and strategy gave us a clear advantage, giving us a win in the first half of this match of war mode.

After our clear victory, we switched sides as we were met with the same initial objective, in which it became even more apparent that teamwork was the only way to win, which was definitely the weakness of the defending team. The fun thing about war mode, however, is that the objectives are different each round, ranging from taking a location to escort missions and demolition objectives. They’re all fairly simple in nature, though moving through the map and advancing definitely keeps the game more dynamic as we progress. This mode would probably best be described as a mix between Killzone’s warzone and Battlefield’s Rush.Naamloos-1_0000_Laag 3The downside, however, was the fact that our match began to feel very one-sided once we rushed past the initial objectives, raising the question whether the defending team needs more resources to defend itself once they take hits throughout the match, which could make the game much more dynamic as it did really feel that things were getting to easy at a certain point. For example, we were at one point tasked with escorting a tank, which basically felt like a walk in the park, releasing a lot of the tension that built up during the initial first round of objectives.

Call of Duty: WWII needs some fixing when it comes to balancing certain modes and gameplay elements, but the move back to a simpler formula and more dynamic gameplay makes it the title that the franchise desperately needed.

Call of Duty: WWII comes out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC this November.