E3 2017 is a big show for Activision and Sledgehammer as they show off their upcoming release: Call of Duty: WW2. The game marks a turning point for the massively popular shooter franchise, bringing the series back to its roots in a number of ways. While the reveal event showed off a lot of the game, the single player campaign has been somewhat shrouded in mystery outside of what we saw there. While I didn’t get to go hands-on with the game, I did see a run through of an entire mission, so here’s my thoughts so far.
It’s quite clear that Sledgehammer had a lot of time to craft the experience in Call of Duty: WW2. Being the first COD game from them where they had three years to work on it, it was clear from the beginning of the presentation that this was something different for the developer. There’s also the added weight of putting the game into the massive global conflict that was WW2, which was a responsibility that they seemed to take seriously.
In the single player campaign mission that I saw, which was set in Marigny, France, the game showed itself to be a more grounded experience. Players could still get shot a few times, but to heal they would need medkits rather than just some time behind a nearby wall. The game seemed to have more of a dramatic heaviness to it as well, with characters showing emotion when others were hit or they were put in danger.
Call of Duty: WW2 is also likely to be the most graphic game in the series, with blood spattering with each hit on an enemy or friend. Headshots were quite graphic, with some really tough images being put in front of me. Its jarring, but effective, setting the stage for a truly impactful conflict. This isn’t some fun space adventure, this is war, and it was real.
What was a little disconcerting was that the Michael Bay-style setpiece action was still on full display. In the Marigny mission, the player is tasked with taking over a church to then help cover the area below. The charge on the church is over-the-top action, but is totally fitting with a WW2 shooter. It was the scene inside the church that was a bit much, with the player involved in a few quick-time events as he flees a collapsing church bell. It just felt a bit out of place in the otherwise serious shooter scenario, but I’ve always been more prone to disliking the more bombastic elements of this series, so maybe that’s just me.
Despite this small detail, overall I was quite pleased with Call of Duty: WW2. The team is certainly taking the game seriously, and the return to WW2 is a welcome breath of fresh air for the series. Focusing on boots on the ground action is exactly what the fans want, and this mission helped solidify my belief that it was the right move. Throughout the ten or so minutes I saw I was riveted at the action on display. It was more tense and dramatic than anything I’d seen from Call of Duty in a long time.
Call of Duty: WW 2 hits PS4, Xbox One, and PC on November 3rd.