Get chatty in the face of war as the clas­sic shooter goes all so­cial

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Dom Re­seigh-Lin­coln Pub­lisheR Ac­tivi­sion De­vel­oper Sledge­ham­mer Games For­mat Xbox One ETA 3 novem­ber 2017

It was only a mat­ter of time be­fore

Call Of Duty had to break the cy­cle of ever-more-fu­tur­is­tic war­fare, so out go all those grav­ity-de­fy­ing jump boosts and ridicu­lous sci-fi laser ri­fles and in comes bolt-ac­tion ri­fles and good old fash­ioned ‘boots on the ground’ ac­tion.

Okay, so that PR line might sound a lit­tle corny, but it en­cap­su­lates what Sledge­ham­mer has tried to achieve with its first of­fer­ing since 2014’s for­get­table Ad­vanced

War­fare. By di­alling back the clock to the fran­chise’s roots, WWII has re­dis­cov­ered that grounded sense of bru­tal­ity that’s long been miss­ing from the se­ries. Ev­ery bul­let fired feels weighted and hefty, mak­ing ranged sniper du­els and CQC dust-ups alike more im­me­di­ate in their in­ten­sity.

Tak­ing out nav­i­ga­tional ex­tras like wall run­ning might seem coun­ter­in­tu­itive, but Sledge­ham­mer wants to place the onus firmly on your skill with the gun. It’s a think­ing that’s ef­fec­tively lev­elled the play­ing field, and it’s one that will no doubt at­tract play­ers who felt each suc­ces­sive COD was more ex­clu­sive to ex­pe­ri­enced marks­men. We tested out mul­ti­player at Gamescom (again – should we be con­cerned that we haven’t seen much of the sin­gle-player mode?); it doesn’t feel slower, but it does change how fire­fights de­velop mid-bat­tle and takes get­ting used to.

Change con­tin­ues to roll out with the in­tro­duc­tion of War mode. Em­brac­ing the real-life ter­ri­tory bat­tles of the con­flict, this new mul­ti­player mode pits two teams of play­ers against one an­other in a se­ries of at­tack/de­fend ob­jec­tives. Again, it was the same mode we’ve al­ready played at pre­vi­ous hands-on ses­sions, but it was still a lot of fun. New bat­tles Ev­ery­thing from plant­ing bombs to build­ing bridges will re­quire you to cover a team­mate with fire, while pro­vid­ing an es­cort for a tank smacks of Over­watch- es­que co­op­er­a­tion. It’s not revo­lu­tion­ary in con­cept – we’ve been play­ing some­thing sim­i­lar with Rush and Con­quest modes in

Bat­tle­field for years – but it does show the se­ries wants to ex­pand be­yond end­less rounds of Kill Con­firmed.

And while the core con­cept hasn’t changed much since the se­ries last signed up for WWII, the world of mul­ti­player be­yond it has had to evolve to sur­vive. So­cial in­ter­ac­tion and vir­tual min­gling are now the name of the game, so Sledge­ham­mer has taken a leaf out of Destiny’s emote­scrawled book and in­tro­duced the WW2 Head­quar­ters – a brand new, ac­tiv­ity-filled so­cial hub.

In­ter­ac­tion with other play­ers is no longer con­fined to lob­bies filled with an­gry tweens and snip­pets of heavy breath­ing – al­though lob­bies do re­main in their clas­sic form – with a new ex­plorable hub of­fer­ing ev­ery­thing from gun ranges to a 1v1 fir­ing pit. Set on a beach in Nor­mandy, this op­er­a­tional base is ba­si­cally a mud-caked take on Destiny’s The Tower, of­fer­ing you a place to show off your cus­tomis­able avatar to other play­ers and earn XP to boot.

Change is never a bad thing when you’re a 14-year-old shooter fran­chise, and while we’re not con­vinced WWII is go­ing to fun­da­men­tally re­write the COD DNA, the new ap­proach to the long-term ap­peal of mul­ti­player shows a se­ries that’s at least try­ing to move with the times, even if the progress it’s mak­ing are only baby steps in 2017.

“Change is never a bad thing when you’re a 14-year-old fran­chise”

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