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

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