There are three things video game players can count on, death, taxes, and a yearly Call of Duty instalment. It’s something that’s gotten so predictable that there’s hardly any surprise when the next entry is revealed. But Activision caught everyone off guard with Sledgehammer’s Call of Duty: WW2. Though many see it as the series’ reaction to the insanely popular Battlefield1, or a retread of familiar ground for the series, this entry appears to handle the brutality of war with a respect that wasn’t quite as prevalent in Dice’s offerings.
“The detail in the games mean a lot to us,” says Glenn Schofield, General Manager and Co-Founder of Sledgehammer Games, “So does honouring the people that fought and lost their lives.”
Sledgehammer is taking this seriously, knowing that there is a whole generation of players that haven’t experienced an all out Second World War game. The single-player storyline follows the allies starting in France and working their way into Germany, and the hands-off demo I experienced at E3 took place in Marignane. The mission was for the team to take over a church outpost to get a better visual to provide support for a soldier to travel down the street.
What was most obvious from the mission was the dedication to realism The guns have a punch when shot, and the horrific details in the aftermath of the battle are on full display but handled in a true manner. According to Schofield, they’ve painstakingly gone through to recreate the heavier feeling of running, which also dictates how players traverse the landscape. Along with that, med packs are back, and players must rely on their platoon to hand them health packs and ammo when needed.
The Brutality of war will also play a huge role in the gameplay and aesthetic of Call of Duty: WW2. During the gameplay trailer, a bomb exploded directly in front of the playable character. The aftermath left a soldier with had his torso missing, and ribcage showing. Earlier, the screams of a flamethrower-wielding Nazi echoed through the church as his gas pack exploded on him. These horrors really stood out and proved that Sledgehammer is taking this game seriously.
The story is definitely more important this time around. Schofield admitted Sledgehammer tripled the size of their narrative department, and even hired a historian to ensure the game is as accurate as possible.
That’s not to say Call of Duty’s biggest draw— the online multiplayer— is completely forgotten. In fact, a lot has been overhauled. To start, the create a class was swapped out for divisions. Much like actual warfare, players can choose from specific divisions like armoured, infantry, and others. Sledgehammer also added a new mode titled “War mode”, which is a narrative driven axis versus allies, mission affair. Along with that, Sledgehammer revealed a 48-player off-frontlines experience titled Headquarters. Not much was shown, but it could be something that players can lose a lot of hours too.
Zombies will also make a return to the series, though, in Call of Duty: WW2, it will be a little different. This is Sledgehammer Games here, which means Schofield and Michael Condrey are the minds behind the title, and they admitted, they’re bringing their own flair to the game mode.
“Let’s just say, it’s a little Dead Space meets Zombies,” says Schofield.
Though it’s still a few months off, Call of Duty: WW2 is shaping up to be a step away from the traditional COD feeling. Swapping out high tempo fun with a more serious, grounded, and most of all accurate experience, Call of Duty: WW2 takes the next step for the franchise by going back to it’s Second World War roots.