Call of Duty: WWII is a first-person shooter game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Call of Duty originated on October 29th 2003 with the release of the very first Call of Duty on PC in which the Call of Duty brand has since spanned numerous console generations and become one of the most successful and highest grossing entertainment franchises of all time as proved by sales rapidly approaching 300 million units sold, alongside the billions of hours of online multiplayer gameplay logged across the entire Call of Duty series including an unprecedented $500 million three day opening weekend launch for Call of Duty: WWII.
Call of Duty made its home console debut with the release of Call of Duty: Finest Hour on PS2 in November 2004 followed by Call of Duty 2: Big Red One for PS2 in November 2005, although both games actually provided a back story to the PC games rather than direct ports. Call of Duty 3 also received a release on PS2 in November 2006, while Call of Duty: World at War – Final Fronts released in November 2008 featuring its own set of single player missions as the final Call of Duty game on PS2. Call of Duty made its PS3 debut in November 2006 with Call of Duty 3 followed by the story arcs of Modern Warfare trilogy, Ghosts and Advanced Warfare as well as World at War and the Black Ops trilogy until November 2015. Call of Duty began on PS4 with a port of Call of Duty: Ghosts in November 2013 followed by Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered and Call of Duty: WWII. Outside of the home console environment, Call of Duty has had its portable releases in the past with the standouts being both PlayStation releases including Call of Duty: Roads to Victory for PSP in March 2007 and Call of Duty: Black Ops – Declassified on Vita in November 2012.
Does returning to the World War II era within a more advanced gaming generation help to reinvent the long-standing blockbuster franchise?
The story campaign is historically accurate as it reflects the brutality and losses of World War II from the outset. After setting the scene by introducing the player to their team of close friends; the story immediately advances to the Allied Invasion of Normandy Beaches in France otherwise known as D-Day which began on June 6th 1944. Your team is contained within one of many small boats; as one of the characters writes a letter to the woman he loves as the boats are about to arrive at the beachhead, while the story continues throughout important battles throughout 1944.
Zombies mode makes a return in the form of Nazi Zombies which is more focused on horror than ever due to some of Sledgehammer Games being responsible for the atmospheric horror epic Dead Space. Nazi Zombies tells the story of the Third Reich replenishing their army by building an army from dead soldiers in a last-ditch attempt to save their war campaign in the later stages of World War II set within a Bavarian village in Germany. Zombies are initially slow and have weaker attacks, although this only lasts for a couple of waves before quicker, stronger zombies will start hounding you into corners and by wave 5; zombies begin showing signs of the discipline they had as soldiers through approaching from different sides, areas and angles to efficiently flank your position. Zombies have their own abilities within each wave such as flaming zombies, running zombies and more besides, alongside numerous enemy designs. There are a variety of intriguing features that layers the gameplay elements including a set of five objectives that must be met in order to unlock a secret character with six secret characters available to unlock, while attempting to look for how to turn the power on, alongside the location of new weaponry, ammunition and upgrade stations. As always, when starting out against the zombies your character will only be equipped with pistols, while numerous weapons can be purchased through in-game currency accumulated through killing zombies from walls and mystery boxes including a range of assault rifles, light machine guns, shotguns, SMGs, sniper rifles and even special weapons such as the Tesla gun.
There are a total of 33 collectibles referred to as mementos with three mementos hidden within each chapter of the story campaign. Unlike previous Call of Duty collectibles which centred around intel; Call of Duty: WWII takes a different approach by focusing on the personal possessions of people affected by the war as each collectible is unique. Mementos include a pathfinder patch, a personalized lighter of a U.S. Naval Aviator, a small civilian pocket watch and much more besides which can be rotated, alongside a full description of the item from the mementos screen situated to the right of the mission select menu.
You can earn squad abilities by killing enemies and performing heroic actions such as saving an allied soldier while he is locked in close quarters combat with an enemy. Squad abilities include being able to request first aid kits and ammunition from fellow members of your team.
Every character is believable as your squad has a Band of Brothers style mentality in which they are all doing their best to look out for one another in order to ensure that everyone returns home safely to their families by having each other’s backs. Enemy design is as menacing as a war game should depict, especially considering the subject matter of World War II.
Environment design contains historically accurate environments such as the beachhead and trenches of Normandy, while mortar strikes and further battles take place in the distance. Interior objects including tables can be knocked over vertically to take cover behind to reduce the chances of being shot by an enemy, while peaking over the cover to fire back. Realistic foliage is to your advantage when going prone for a stealthy approach towards your enemies before attacking or to move away from your enemies when in need of a first aid kit or some ammunition.
Martin Morgan is a renowned World War II historian that provided a wealth of knowledge in recreating the environments; also gave full access to the development team to his personal collection of World War II weaponry. Therefore, Call of Duty: WWII’s weaponry is as accurate as possible to the period of World War II. Weapons include pistols, rifles that are also equipped with bayonets, sniper rifles, detachable heavy artillery machine guns and much more besides.
Season pass holders obtain an extra treat as fan favourite map from the original Call of Duty titled Carentan has been adapted for Call of Duty: WWII’s multiplayer. There will be downloadable content available in the year following the release of the game with a season pass available to effectively pre-order each of the four content packs at a cheaper bundled price of £39.99 including new and returning iconic multiplayer maps, new chapters in the Nazi Zombies mode and new war missions. There is as always the possibility of new characters and weaponry; therefore it would be great to see a return to something along the lines of the star studded Call of the Dead downloadable content from Black Ops.
Call of Duty has previously made an appearance on Vita in the form of Call of Duty: Black Ops – Declassified and even the PSP with Call of Duty: Roads to Victory, although there has never been a port of a home console Call of Duty game, but at least there is remote play as a consolation for players who want a home console Call of Duty experience on Vita. Call of Duty: WWII’s performance during remote play is stunning as it possesses the same quality of graphics, audio and general performance as the PS4 home console release. As with previous Call of Duty games; split-screen multiplayer is displayed in split-screen during remote play, although it would have been much better to have the player using remote play to have their own full Vita screen with the other player having a full television screen. Call of Duty: WWII retains Infinite Warfare’s positive control optimisations that feel as natural as the DualShock 4 controller as shooting and aiming have been re-mapped to R and L respectively which was important for two of the fundamental areas of the control scheme, while throwing tactical and lethal grenades is now mapped to the bottom left and right of the touch screen respectively, alongside sprinting now being re-mapped to holding the left of the rear touch pad, using the right of the rear touch pad to perform a melee attack and tapping the touch screen to produce the scoreboard during multiplayer. Control scheme optimisations have made for a comfortable and exciting remote play experience throughout every mode.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the default control scheme consisting of pressing R2 to fire a weapon; pressing L2 to aim down sights; pressing R1 to throw a grenade or use lethal equipment; pressing L1 to use tactical equipment; pressing X to jump or mantle; pressing square to reload or use an object such as opening an unlocked door, breaching a locked door or entering a vehicle; pressing O to crouch, go prone or dive; pressing triangle to switch between your primary and secondary weapons; pressing up on the d-pad to activate a morale ability; pressing down on the d-pad to perform a specific action; pressing right on the d-pad to use a first aid kit; pressing left on the d-pad to use a weapon skill; pressing L3 to sprint or use sharpshooter; pressing R3 to perform a melee attack on an enemy; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move forward or backward and strafe left or right; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to look up or down and rotating left or right; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Tapping the touch pad displays your current objective in the story campaign or the scoreboard in split-screen or online multiplayer games, while the DualShock 4 vibrates for every bullet wound inflicted upon your character, heavy impact landings, explosions and the recoil of your weapon as it is fired. However, there is no light bar implementation which could have produced various tones of green through yellow, orange and red to show your health conditioning along with flashing red for when your character is near death as a reminder of needing to immediately enquire to your squad for an urgent first aid kit.
There are a number of alternative control schemes to change the feel of the controls to specifically suit each player including four options for the stick layout and 14 choices for the button layout with a further option to flip the shoulder buttons around which is collectively an excellent design choice as it provides the player with the confidence of knowing that there is a definitive control scheme that will perfectly match their play style.
Graphically, Call of Duty: WWII brings the subject matter of the original Call of Duty games to a significantly higher quality of visual fidelity and storytelling such as performance capture likenesses that bring emotion to the story and provide characters that players want to route for. Environments have a real world feel to them albeit within a war zone from mortar strikes in the skies, detailed texturing on exteriors and interiors of buildings and foliage that has appropriate depth, alongside incredible character models, weaponry and particle effects. Call of Duty: WWII produces a performance that is consistent the majority of the time at 60 frames-per-second on PS4, while PS4 Pro utilises dynamic resolution scaling to achieve between 1920x2160p and 3840x2160p on 4K televisions, alongside HDR support on PS4 and PS4 Pro which improves the lighting even further.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, mission select menu, zombies menus, multiplayer menus, settings menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, while mementos can be rotated using the right analogue stick, although it does not include support for navigation via the touch pad. The background of the main menu reinforces the anticipation of a cinematic World War II story between the beaches of Normandy, planes in the skies and tanks on the ground, while menus also have a black and white stylised film grain.
Call of Duty: WWII has an incredibly talented cast that collectively provides exceptional performances not only within their individual respective performance capture roles, but also bringing life to their teamwork during communication with one another. Josh Duhamel performs and voices TSgt. William Pierson having previously voiced High Volt in Skylanders: SuperChargers and having starred as Lennox in the Transformers films, while Jonathan Tucker performs and voices PFC Robert Zussman having previously starred opposite Bruce Willis in Hostage. Jeffrey Pierce performs and voices Joseph Turner having previous experience in Call of Duty games dating back as far as 2011 including performing and voicing such characters as additional voices in Modern Warfare 3, Thomas A. Merrick in Ghosts and Havoc in Infinite Warfare, while also having voiced Mother in Medal of Honor and Medal of Honor: Warfighter; Jason Bourne in The Bourne Conspiracy; The Specialist in Prototype; and Tommy in The Last of Us. Brett Zimmerman performs and voices Pvt. Ronald ‘Red’ Daniels having previously starred in TV series Days of Our Lives and film Million Dollar Arm, while Kevin Coubal performs and voices Pvt. Drew Stiles having previously starred in film Beatbox. Jeff Schine performs and voices Frank Aiello having previously voiced the lead male character Javier Garcia in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier and Danny Burke in Mafia III. Matt Riedy performs and voices Colonel Davis having previous experience in Call of Duty as General MacDonnell in Advanced Warfare, while also having voiced Mike Haggar since Marvel vs. Capcom 3 through Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Russell Holbeck in L.A. Noire and Animal in Unit 13, alongside a very talented ensemble cast.
Sound effects include walking, running, reloading, shooting at enemies and enemies returning fire, explosions, distant mortar shelling and more besides, alongside a period soundtrack composed by Wilbert Roget II having previously composed soundtracks for Star Wars: The Old Republic and Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. Whereas Call of Duty games leading up to Call of Duty: WWII had implemented small ambient sound effects such as beeping during radio transmissions or perk related sound effects into the DualShock 4 speaker’s output; Call of Duty: WWII does not, although it could have realistically produced speech or ambient sound effects.
The trophy list includes 51 trophies with 38 bronze trophies, 10 silver trophies, 2 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include a range of communication that you can have with your team that can be earned through natural accumulation during the story campaign such as the Friend in Need silver trophy for requesting Zussman to toss you 30 first aid kits; the I See Movement silver trophy for requesting Pierson to spot enemies 25 times; and the Praise and Pass silver trophy for requesting Turner to toss you ammo 25 times. Harder trophies include the Pieces of History bronze trophy for collecting 33 mementos, especially with the collectibles being unique in design instead of identical and the Distinguished Service gold trophy for completing the story campaign on veteran difficulty. There are more online multiplayer trophies than usual in comparison to other Call of Duty games including the Buck Private bronze trophy for getting 10 kills; the Ricky Recruit silver trophy for completing 21 daily challenges in headquarters; the General of the Army gold trophy for entering prestige 1; the Tour of Duty bronze trophy for winning 5 war matches; and the Divisional Commander silver trophy for reaching prestige in a division. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 30 to 40 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are four difficulty levels including recruit, regular, hardened and veteran with the major differences between each difficulty level being less efficient in combat during recruit difficulty, although still having a fair capability all the way through to a shoot on sight policy with unbelievable accuracy, flanking and sneaking up behind your character, throwing a grenade in front of you to force you into concentrating on immediate evasive action instead of the imminent gunfire and even reacting to noise and nearby gunfire to quickly engage in further combat. There are particular areas of the story campaign that are hard no matter what difficulty you have chosen such as the Normandy beachhead approach in which heavy artillery and machine gun placements usually provide very little chance of progression without a serious rethink in strategy.
The two player split-screen multiplayer performs flawlessly even when the maximum capacity of ten bots in individual competition or five bots per team in team based competition is on-screen simultaneously with everything happening at a frantic pace. The online multiplayer performs the same even during split-screen online multiplayer with a maximum of 18 players participating in the same game, although the environments do not seem as destructible as previous games during multiplayer.
Infinite Warfare was criticised for only having 10 maps at launch which was less than the usual 15 or so in comparison to previous Call of Duty games, although Call of Duty: WWII actually has only 9 multiplayer maps for local and online multiplayer. Fan favourite multiplayer map Carentan from the very first Call of Duty has been re-imagined for Call of Duty: WWII; featuring all-new graphics which compliment the vast exteriors, sniper lanes for long range combat and interior areas designed to also incorporate tight close quarters combat.
In Call of Duty tradition; maps are accompanied by an absolute plethora of game modes spread across a variety of categories including standard modes and eSports modes. If you are familiar with the multiplayer component in the Call of Duty series, then you will already know the classic recurring standard modes such as Team Deathmatch, Domination, Kill Confirmed and Free-for-all, alongside eSports favourites such as Search and Destroy, Capture the Flag and Hardpoint which all feel incredibly different to one another in their approach and potential play styles.
Deathmatch style modes include Free-for-all in which it is every man for himself with the first player to reach the score limit ending the game or otherwise the highest scores are counted after the time limit has expired with the top three players on the podium being classed as successful in the match; Team Deathmatch is a team based version of Free-for-all in which both teams are attempting to win the game by reaching the score limit or having the most kills when the time limit expires; and Kill Confirmed sees everyone attempting to recover dog tags to score for your team and deny the enemy from scoring. Capture the Flag variants such as the original Capture the Flag mode sees both teams vying to claim the enemy team’s flag, take it to their base and complete the capture by touching the enemy’s flag back at their base; Domination sees you attempting to capture and hold the designated positions to gain points against the competing team; and Hardpoint sees two teams attempting to capture and hold hardpoints. Mission objective based modes include Search and Destroy in which both teams take turns to defend and destroy an objective; and War which sees both teams attack or defend a set of objectives to complete their mission. An all-new mode named Gridiron is a fun twist on American Football in which a ball is placed halfway between each team’s goals with the objective being to throw or carry the ball into the enemy goal.
There are however some multiplayer modes from previous Call of Duty games that could have realistically fitted the World War II setting, but have not been retained. For instance, Momentum from Advanced Warfare which saw players attempting to capture all of the flags to win, although killing enemies would increase the speed of capturing flags. Further multiplayer modes that are not present from Infinite Warfare include Search and Rescue which sees both teams take turns to defend and destroy an objective with the twist being the recovery of dog tags allowing or preventing respawns; Reinforce sees both teams attempting to capture every point in order to win the round with an added incentive being placed on players capturing points to revive fallen teammates; and Gun Game which tasks every player with the objective of being the first player to score a kill with each of the provided weapons.
A major new addition for online multiplayer is a social area that players can interact within before matches known as Headquarters which embraces up to 48 players or groups of friends that can be challenged to 1 vs. 1 games, daily challenges or discussing the best loadout for certain missions while situated at the firing range to experiment with the loadout that best suits your preferences.
Divisions are essentially a re-imagining of the create-a-class system which is replaced by five historic World War II divisions to define how players want to play and progress their skills in local and online multiplayer. Divisions include airborne which are stealthier in their footwork as they are faster yet simultaneously quieter before firing at enemies with suppressed weapons; armoured brings the heaviest weaponry; expeditionary force is equipped with shotguns; infantry are capable of leading the attack with bayonet charges in close quarters combat or holding position to take on enemies at mid to long range through rifle battles; and mountain are expert snipers with sharpshooter focus for precise sniping from a distance.
Divisions also have a range of unique perks for each of the five divisions that are unlocked after attaining a specific rank within that respective division. For instance, when players within the airborne division level up to rank 1, they will receive an SMG suppressor, while rank 2 will provide the ability to sprint for longer distances; rank 3 allows for faster climbing over obstacles; rank 4 produces a greater sprint speed; alongside a prestige reward for attaining rank 5 including an MP-40 SMG and energetic basic training resulting in no fall damage and the ability to start sprinting sooner.
The two negatives of the entire multiplayer component remain once more in the form of the split-screen multiplayer being for only two players; despite the complaints regarding the reduction of four player split-screen to just two players since Call of Duty: Ghosts brought the series to the PS4, while Call of Duty: Black Ops III’s co-operative multiplayer story campaign has been dropped. However, there is two player split-screen online multiplayer across all game modes which certainly helps to retain a social aspect of the multiplayer component; regardless of if you want to play in a private lobby and invite people into it from your friends list or search for a game online.
The replayability is strong throughout Call of Duty: WWII including Call of Duty’s best story campaign set within World War II with world class performances from an incredible cast, four difficulty levels to adjust the experience appropriately to your skill level, the most unique collectibles within the Call of Duty series, unpredictability of chaotic split-screen offline and online multiplayer with 9 multiplayer modes and the latest Zombies co-operative multiplayer story.
• Title: Call of Duty: WWII
• Developer: Sledgehammer Games
• Publisher: Activision
• System: PS4
• Format: Retail/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1-2 (Split-Screen Multiplayer)/2-18 (Online or Split-Screen Online Multiplayer)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 58.12GB (Version 1.05)