Call of Duty WW2 Is Returning To Its WW2 Roots, But Can It Save A Dwindling Franchise?

Call of Duty WW2: A New Hope For The Series?

After years of rumour and speculation Call of Duty is finally returning to the Second World War. Far from the far-flung future setting of Infinite Warfare, “WW2” will return to a “boots on the ground” setting. This shift is perhaps for the best, since Infinite Warfare’sreveal trailer currently stands at 3.5 million dislikes, making it the second-most dislikedvideo on YouTube.

Personally, I found Infinite Warfare to be a fairly well-rounded experience with a great campaign and an exciting Zombies mode. Regardless of IW, though, as a long-time fan of the series, I’m certainly interested to see what they do with the WW2 setting once more. Especially considering the excellent success of Battlefield 1 and its World War 1 setting.

Call of Duty WW2 represents a recent trend amongst big franchises and publishers. A trend of taking risks and stepping away from templates that may have become stale, Battlefield 1 of course being another prime example. But what could a return to World War 2 mean for the series? And what can we expect? Well, here’s what we know so far.

Call of Duty WW2

Just Another World War 2 Campaign?

Sledgehammer Games describes the development of its campaign as “a journey of inspiration”. With plenty of talk about how important it was to get every detail right. That being said, it isn’t the entire war that the game plans to cover. The very first mission of the campaign will be (yet another) retelling of the Normandy beach-storming of D-Day. After that, it is largely a US-centric account of one specific group of men, although with a British Officer (as heard in the trailer) as a key contact, and allegedly some occasional departures to deal with other stories from the war. The period that is to be covered is 1944-45, so no doubt we will get some downfall of Berlin dramatic climax scenario.

Speaking in an interview with Metro, Studio Head and Co-Founder of Sledgehammer Michael Condrey said “…it’s the most powerful opportunity for us to really create art. To move you as a player. And I’m really proud of what we’ve done there”. Although this quote certainly makes it sound as if Sledgehammer are really trying to make the campaign something special, I can’t help but feel a little skeptical.

Even though I have enjoyed most of Call of Duty’s campaigns over the years, and have always found the hilariously over-the-top action to be quite spectacular, I can’t help but feel that World War 2 narratives have simply been done to death. Particularly ones from a US perspective, and ones that tackle the usual battles and skirmishes. And, unfortunately, it sounds like Call of Duty: WW2 will tackling these same old events one more time, just with a shiny new set of graphics. But we can only speculate at this point. Sledgehammer developed Advanced Warfare, and that had a pretty solid campaign, so perhaps WW2 is in good hands.

Call of Duty WW2 Campaign

The Return of Nazi Zombies

Of course, the hugely popular Zombies mode never actually went away. It’s the infamous Nazi Zombies that will be making a return. Not since 2008’s World at War have the zombies explicitly been Nazis. This isn’t the only change we can expect, however. Condrey claimed that “our co-operative mode delivers a unique storyline that’s an all-new take on Nazi Zombies that we think fans are going to love.” The Zombies feature has always been co-op, so that’s not news, but this “all-new take” sounds intriguing. The same press release points towards it being a “storyline set during World War II”, so perhaps World at War’s original Zombies mode is our best point of reference.  Sledgehammer have teased a reveal for the upcoming Zombies, which will make an appearance at Comic-Con on July 20.

Naturally, the Zombies mode has been through many changes over the past 9 years. What started as a simple round-based horde mode has slowly evolved into a complex endeavour,  combining RPG and adventure game elements with the typical zombie-slaying affair. One which I felt Infinite Warfare’s “Spaceland” map executed very successfully on.

Frankly, I think the Zombies feature has progressed quite nicely over the years, and I expect WW2 to continue that trend. My fear, however, is that the game’s return to the World War 2 setting may lead to a devolution of the complexity and longevity of the Zombies mode. Should they decide to make it reminiscent of World at War, I feel they would be losing much of what has made the recent iterations of Zombies so engaging to come back to time and time again. But I guess we’ll have to wait until later this month for some answers.

Call of Duty WW2

Multiplayer: The Glue That Holds It All Together

Call of Duty’s trademark multiplayer will of course be all there, too. No doubt we can expect the typical myriad of game modes with the traditional 6v6 setup. Although there has been no talk of killstreaks yet, it would be very surprising if they didn’t make an appearance. In terms of new stuff though, the upcoming shooter seems to have one or two new ideas. Firstly, Call of Duty: WW2 will add a “Headquarters” space, which will essentially serve as a Destiny-style social hub, where players can show off their weapons, camos and whatever other silly things you’ll be able to unlock. The developers likened the area to World of Warcraft’s Orgrimmar.

“I remember the impact of going to Orgrimmar in World of Warcraft for the first time, and seeing people being social, showing off their gear, practicing their combat, duelling, all these things.,” Michael Condrey said. A novel concept for a Call of Duty game, for sure, but I can’t imagine players will be spending much time there, unless it serves as a multiplayer lobby or some such function. Call of Duty has been increasingly moving in a more “social” direction (PR speak for adding emotes and customisable appearances) so it’s not a huge surprise that they would want to add something like this.

Furthermore, there has been rather vague talk of “Divisions”, although it is unclear exactly what role they will play. You can choose from a variety of these divisions, apparently, which include Infantry and Armored Divisions, suggesting that vehicles will play a part in the multiplayer, something that hasn’t been a part of Call of Duty since World at Waraptly. Again, it all sounds potentially interesting but hopefully we’ll know more soon.

Check out the multiplayer trailer shown at Sony’s E3 2017 show below.

Call of Duty WW2 certainly sounds promising. It could be the change of pace the once-chart-topping series needs to get back on track. I guess only time will tell.

What you’re hoping from Call of Duty WW2? How do you feel about the return of the Second World War setting? Let us know in the comments below!