CALL OF DUTY: WWII
Developer Sledgehammer Games Publisher Activision Format PC, PS4, Xbox One Release November 3
Phew. While our trip to Sledgehammer Games for E307’ s cover story left us confident that the studio’s exhaustive research work would deliver a robust, authentic singleplayer campaign, we remained unconvinced by the multiplayer component. Slow, heavy, World War II-era weapons and gear seemed incompatible with the Ritalin-paced merry-go-round of the modern-day
COD online mode. After an hour-long session, any lingering concerns have melted away.
Team Deathmatch and Domination play out largely as you’d expect, but benefit hugely from what feels like a slower pace. It may simply be a consequence of WWII’s developer removing the expanded traversal abilities that have infected COD multiplayer in recent times, or of flattening out maps which had grown upwards to accommodate double jumps and wall-runs. But it feels right – more so than any COD in years.
The star of the show, however, is War, which borrows from the Battlefield series the idea of a multiplayer map that focuses the action on a series of single chokepoints that one team is seeking to capture, the other to retain. First, allied and axis forces fight over a house; then, over a bombed-out bridge the attacking side needs to rebuild. Before long we’re trying to claim a courtyard munitions dump. There are two objectives beyond that, but neither team makes it that far. It’s a wonderful mode, adding pacing, dynamism and focus to a multiplayer component that, has slowly turned into a game of running around in circles looking for people to shoot. Loadouts are no longer just a matter of preference, but often of necessity: the attacking team will want close-range weapons when taking the courtyard, but mid-range rifles when advancing on the house. And good luck taking the bridge unless at least one of your team brings smoke grenades and a sniper rifle. Those leader boardtopping kids, with their S MG sand catlike reactions, are in for a shock.
Weaponry, meanwhile, is both authentic – the iconic ping of the Garand, for instance – and in many cases smartly designed to boot. Sledgehammer’s treatment of the humble sniper rifle is ingenious, authentic and, to those who like to use them like shotguns when danger approaches, an absolute nightmare. Scoping in narrows your field of vision to the sights and sights alone, and blocks out almost all ambient sound. It makes sniping a commitment, as it should be, a trade-off of power and range against vulnerability up close. It’s emblematic of Sledgehammer’s approach to a game that is respectful, authentic and all the rest of it, while also fixing many of the problems that put more and more people off COD each year. Victory seems assured.
The leader boardtopping kids, with their SMGs and catlike reactions, are in for a shock