Call of Duty WWII is Dark and Gruesome
Ryan Bloom / Jun 14th, 2017 No Comments
World War II was a horrific world-wide event where about 60 million people lost their lives. This is not something the developers at Sledgehammer Games are taking lightly. At a pre-E3 preview event, Sledgehammer co-founders Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey assured us that the upcoming Call of Duty WWII does not sugarcoat the fact that the Second World War was devastating and that it also doesn’t glorify the war.
Of course, WWII has player-controlled soldiers taking fire at enemies, but this game is about the experience. This incarnation of Call of Duty is about telling the story of the people who gave their lives during the most brutal conflict in the world’s history.
Are you skeptical? So was I. In recent years, Call of Duty has shifted heavily to a focus on fast-paced multiplayer than single-player campaign. But Sledgehammer’s appreciation for history was apparent in a mission from the game’s story that they showed off at the event.
A Dark Past
Watching a demo of the Marigny level from WWII’s campaign, it became clear that this iteration of Call of Duty is very different from its predecessors. This mission features house-to-house combat, showing off the game’s graphical prowess and high level of detail. The look of the game features neutral tones and a darkness that sets the atmosphere for a brutal war.
Players take control of a member of the 1st Infantry, and he gets plenty of help from his friends in order to survive. This platoon appears to a be close group of soldiers, and Sledgehammer said the actors who played the roles also became very close during more than a year’s worth of shooting the project.
This was important to make the experience authentic, but it also serves another purpose. In WWII’s single-player mode, your teammates have squad abilities that you can use when you are in the vicinity of those soldiers. In the demo, we saw the main character ask a squad member to point out targets while sniping and request a health pack from a medic — there will be no automatic health regeneration in the campaign, although it exists in multiplayer.
Sledgehammer told us that this was just a taste of the squad abilities in WWII. Players can upgrade squad abilities as they go, but they will also have to be strategic as they sometimes separate from members of the team.
Marigny also showcases the horror of the war. Despite the fact that you won’t see wall-running enemies or teammates flying around on jetpacks, the environment is chaotic and desolate. Authentic era guns dole out painful damage to enemies while planes fall into buildings and tanks destroy walls. In a shocking moment, a squadmate is literally slashed in half by falling debris. Then, the player must avoid that same fate by performing an interactive quick-time event. It is strange to see QTEs in a Call of Duty game, but they seem to work in the context of this level. However, we hope QTEs aren’t riddled throughout the solo campaign.
More Than Meets the Eye
One of the knocks on WWII since it was officially unveiled by Sledgehammer has been that we’ve seen the 1st Infantry experience already. For that reason, it is important to note that Sledgehammer said the game will be told from a variety of different perspectives.
The campaign in WWII takes place from 1944-1945, and includes Normandy and the push into Germany, Belgium and France. Not only will you be playing as a member of the 1st Infantry, but you will also play other roles, including a figure in the French Resistance. The ensemble cast features playable characters that are women, African-Americans and children because developers know these groups all played a big part in the Second World War. However, we did not get a chance to see how big of a role these characters play in the campaign.
Additionally, Sledgehammer briefly discussed its task of bringing the brutality of the war to multiplayer while respecting those who fought in the war. Multiplayer includes the new War Mode, which is a narrative-driven event centered around the Allied versus the Axis.
Even in multiplayer, developers approached the game with a deep appreciation for the stories and the people who fought in World War II. The class system has been swapped out for divisions to replicate the feeling of joining the war. Each division has specific training and weapons skills that can be upgraded. Developers also spent time firing era-specific weapons on the gun range to replicate the feel and function for the firearms used in the war.
The Past is the Future
With Call of Duty’s three-year development cycle, Sledgehammer was able to put plenty of care and time into WWII. Going into the past for the first time as a studio forced the team to take a more personal approach, and it involved a lot of research so they could properly honor a global war. This approach has helped the developer create what they describe as “the best game we’ve ever made.”
There is still a lot to learn about Call of Duty WWII. There is apparently much more to the game’s campaign than meets the eye, plus Sledgehammer and Activision have yet to show off Zombies, which the developer describes as “Dead Space meets Zombies.” We will surely find out more before the game’s release, and we will see if it is able to live up to Sledgehammer’s lofty expectations when it releases on Nov. 3.
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