Call of Duty: WWII

In late May,  Call of Duty: WWII went free for all PlayStation Plus members. Thank goodness I set up an external hard drive for my PS4! After playing about 75% of the Campaign, here is my hot take.

Hot

  • Squad Abilities – Different members of your squad provide you with a handful of abilities you can use during the missions. They provide you with health packs, ammo, mortar strikes, and more. These are a welcome addition.
  • No One Fights Alone – For most missions you are engaging in heated combat shoulder to shoulder with your squad. It adds to the intensity of the engagements when you see soldiers go down and reinforcements run in to the fight to assist your squad. And as mentioned before, the squad abilities make it feel like a unit working together.
  • Campaign Map – The Mission Select screen for the Campaign is a map of North West Europe that shows the front line shifting back and forth depending on your progress. It’s a small thing, but it provides a cool visual of the greater conflict.
  • WWII Highlights – Unlike Battlefield V, the CoD: WWII campaign plays like WWII Greatest Hits. Case in point, the first mission is D-Day. There are some rather interesting detours, but the focus is the grand set-piece battles of the Western Front including the Hurtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge.
  • Cinematics – Wow, they are damn impressive. This short clips completely nailed the look and feel of WWII in popular culture and these are some of the best WWII entertainment media scenes I’ve seen in a long time.
  • The Tank Mission – Holy shit that was intense. There are a few missions where you take a different role and the one where you take command of a Sherman is a highlight.
  • “On-Rails” Sections –There are a few sections that play out on-rails. As a player, you have almost no agency during these types of moments, but man, when they work, it’s fantastic and delivers and truly edge-of-seat experience. On the downside, having to re-do an on-rails section because you can’t seem to MG enough enemies from the back of a jeep is frustrating.

Not

  • The Melodrama – Yeesh. There is an attempt at creating a personal story for Daniels’ journey with his squad. You are led by Lt. Turner (good guy) who is at odds with Sgt. Pierson (bad guy). Creating an intra-squad conflict can be an effective narrative that highlights that the horrors of war more than bullets and artillery. Sadly, it’s so over the top that any subtlety is completely lost. I lost track of the number of times either Daniels or another squad member said something along the lines of “We will be lucky to survive Pierson” or “The Germans were nothing compared to Pierson” or “If only it was just the Germans trying to kill us, not Pierson too”. Ok, I got it.
  • Stealth Sections – There is one true stealth mission (you play as a member of the French Resistance) and infiltrate a German HQ. And that mission is good! I really enjoyed it. However, there are stealth sections in many of the missions and they are bad. Really bad. It’s just a shame to go from a grand scale engagement to sneaking through a section of woods doing stealth takedowns on a handful of enemies. They are annoying, unforgiving and frustrating.
  • QTE – Oh Quick Time Events, I thought we had decided not to have you in games post 2012. Although the idea behind a QTE is sound (add intensity, focus the player action) it just feels like a gimmick and rarely works as intended.

The Takeaway

For the asking price of $0.00 it’s hard to complain. Even if you are not a PS+ member, I’d say CoD: WII is worth a $20 purchase for the single-player campaign alone (MP and Zombies are also included). We haven’t had a cinematic, bombastic, WWII experience like this in a long, long time.

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