Sledgehammer’s latest iteration of the Call of Duty franchise takes gamers back to the series’ roots while offering subtle tweaks to the winning formula that brings about an air of freshness.
At E3 this week, Adam Herr & I received a private screening from Activision with Sledgehammer Games’ co-founders Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey. The screening showed us 30 minutes’ worth of the campaign’s single player gameplay, while addressing some of the new features that we can expect in the game’s multiplayer and social setting.
As the title states, the game is set in World War II. You’ll play as Private Red Daniels, a recruit whose first experience in the war is D-day. Our gameplay demo took us to Marigny, France, 7 days after the events of D-day. The look and feel of the single player campaign is classic Call of Duty; lots of action, intense firefights, and major Michael Bay-like set pieces. One thing that stood out to me was the faces of my comrads – they are the most detailed, expression-filled faces I have ever seen in a shooter. Since Call of Duty got its start in the World War 2 setting, this game feels like a nod to those days, but with a decade’s worth of developments. Sledgehammer appears to have found a nice mix of throwback and modern day gameplay, much in the same way that DICE was able to do with Battlefield One last year.
The soundtrack is a perfect compliment to the action, evoking a feeling of somberness while maintaining an upbeat, patriotic feel. The intensity from the musical score is matched, if not exceeded by the visual elements. I noticed a slight trail of blood when I had to drag my injured fellow soldier to safety. Speaking of blood, the game is downright gorey and gruesome. There were several cringeworthy sequences. In one instance, we witnessed a soldier’s head getting blown off like you would see in a game such as Doom or Left 4 Dead. In another, a rocket launcher missile took off a man’s top third from the rib cage up. It really made me think twice about the ethics of simulating a war, let alone one of the bloodiest in human history.
The dynamic surrounding your player and your fellow soldiers has evolved, where being the lone wolf won’t get you very far. Much like in some of the past Battlefield games, you are required to lean on your squadmates to get your through an objective. In our demo, one character acted as the medic, able to give out health packs at the request of the player-controlled soldier. Speaking of health, CoD WWII doesn’t offer the regenerating health bar that we’ve seen for the duration of the series’ history. It’s back to the classic health kit pickup in order to restore your life meter. It’s a nice return to form for the series, and one that not only switches things up, but brings an element of challenge back. No longer can you simply wait out your enemy behind a perch; you have to manage the inventory of your soldier and your squad’s as well.
In addition, your other squadmate is a lookout. In one leg of the level, it’s your objective to snipe as different squadmate makes his way across the field. Your lookout will highlight the enemy targets for you, which puts a gray hued outline around each enemy within range. Just prior to this portion of the demo, we took over an enemy outpost. Here, our main character was given the option of killing our 3 prisoners, or detaining them as they surrendered. It’s a nice touch to the game that feels like added depth. It’s reminiscent of Battlefield: Hardline’s option of sneaking up on opponents and taking them down humanely.
Throughout the mission, we witnessed a gatling gun takeover, an intense battle through a church, and flames from an nearby fire right in your face after something didn’t go as planned. All of that just from the single player campaign. In switching gears to multiplayer, there are a few noteworthy systems that have been added. Most notably is “point Du Hoc,” which was teased for more details later this Summer. You’ll be able to experience The Battle of the Bulge, a new mode entitled “War,” and of course the fan favorite co-op Zombies mode. There will also be a brand new HQ where players can socialize and meetup with other players who fit a similar play style, much like Destiny’s The Tower.
We enjoyed our time with CoD WWII and can’t wait to see more. There will be a private Beta this Summer. FOr everything Call of Duty: WWII, keep it locked to The Geekiverse.
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