The follow is a Youtube Script that has been recorded and is available below. If you prefer to read rather than listen, continue on.
Hello soldiers, I’m Kinglink and It’s time to review Call of Duty World War II.
Call of Duty is a pretty long-running series. At least it feels like that. It’s only about 16 years old at this point, starting in 2003. And yet we’ve had a yearly title almost every year except for 2004, and … well, 2018, it is hard to call Black Ops 4 a mainline game, but you can read about that in a previous review.
Call of Duty World War II came out in 2017, and the reason we’re talking about it today is due to it being part of the Humble Monthly Bundle for November 2019, so I guess I’m covering another Call of Duty title, and honestly I’m glad to.
Before we dive in, though, I do have to disclose something. I was officially offered a job to work with Sledgehammer Games around 2016, technically that position would be to work on Call of Duty World War II. I ended up choosing not to take that position and… I think that was the right choice but as always I try to announce my potential conflicts of interest.
At the same time if you like this review as we go on, consider subscribing it means the world to me and I would appreciate it.
So back to the game, there’s a lot to talk about here, so let’s get on with it and while it’s 2 years old, I find that Call of Duty games don’t age much, by that I mean, playing this game in 2019 isn’t a bad experience, and the fact is World War II is just as impressive today as it was back in 2017.
Now let’s start where every World War 2 game starts. Normandy. Yeah, we conveniently ignore Pearl Harbour, all of Africa and Italy, and spoiler, not spoiler, we also forget about Japan. I get it, Nazis are bad, and I’m not going to question it here, it’s World War 2, you kill Nazis. But be prepared for a game we’ve seen a few times already, even in this franchise. Call of Duty 1, 2 and 3 all covered this part of the war, and I might even say looked at it from more than just an American vs Nazi conflict.
Of course, as you’ve already seeing, this isn’t what we’ve seen before. Normandy here is… bad. Normandy was not a good day or really month, the results were great, but during the battle about a quarter of a million people died evenly split between both sides, and this game kind of gets that. There are horrific moments, and… Yeah, it’s bloody, bad, and it’s not a place I’d want to be.
So kudos to Sledgehammer for such a realistic depiction. The rest of the game still looks good. It still has a dark feeling to some of it. This isn’t a celebration of war. There are not many happy moments, and it’s tone is… also dark. There is this scene on the screen now that shines in my opinion, I, for some reason, was convinced this was actors, it’s clearly not, but the detail is really good and the game can look like this in cutscenes often.
At the same time Multiplayer is good, high action, a lot of motion and feeling but it works well for what it is, and the Nazi Zombie mode is dark and filled with zombies. These are what you expect them to be and… Kudos again, it works for what it is.
The strange thing to me is this opening for Zombies, has both Ving Rhames and David Tenant, as I mentioned in my preview about this, but they stand out. They look great, but I can’t stop seeing Ving Rhames. Tenant is a little better, but he’s still Doctor Who to me, or … Killgrave from Jessica Jones, he’s a good actor…
And if we’re talking about actors… well, I can’t talk about Call of Duty: World War II without bringing up Josh Duhamel, if that’s how you say it. He’s this guy on the screen, Mr. Heartthrob from a ton of movies. He does stand out and it becomes a bit of a problem because he’s so noticeable and a modern actor that he doesn’t fit in when he’s in many scenes, it’s just the notable Hollywood actor and the other guys.
Sticking with him, the fact is, I applaud him here, he’s a solid actor and I honestly think he did a great job with the script in Call of Duty World War II.
At the same time, I don’t know if the character works here.
Call of Duty World War II is set in one of the most important and iconic wars of all time. Just having major moments and random characters could have worked, like Call of Duty 2 did.
Instead, Activision and Sledgehammer decided to focus on Josh Duhamel’s character, along with his superior. Duhamel is playing a character named Pierson, and his boss is Turner. The thing is that so much of the game focuses on Pierson and the main character Daniels. There is a little bit more with a third character named Zussman, a Jewish American who also speaks German… One guess where that goes… and yes no surprise.
The thing is the story here feels more like Apocalypse Now or a video game version of that… Which they already had in Spec Ops: The Line, and Far Cry 2. Seriously, why couldn’t World War 2 just be the basis of the game? Why not focus more on the actual horrors of that war. Instead, they build Pierson but there’s no reason for that story. The setting is already a very interesting moment in time.
It doesn’t help that much of his reveal is that he’s a bit of a control freak but it doesn’t go that dark, he sees missions and then pushes his men to accomplish them, and… doesn’t do much wrong. There are only two or three moments where the player can say “That’s too far” and even that he quickly redeems himself. At times it feels like Pierson’s story is the most important thing in the game, and five minute later characters change to push a different level narrative. I believe many levels in the game are probably done by individual designers, which explains why the story isn’t the strongest here, but it’s never good enough to warrant all of this.
The biggest issue is Act 1 of this story doesn’t exist, Pierson is almost always teetering on the brink of insanity and falls in…ok that’s the end of the movie but the characters don’t evolve enough to tell that story. There’s no beginning or middle to this descent.
Now as for the game, all the big moments are here. We’ve seen Normandy, we have the Ardennes Forest, and…. Spoilers but there’s a concentration camp, because, of course, there was, though this game does talk about a real one, it seems to want to focus more on that it’s a POW camp not a Jewish Concentration Camp, and… the camp is named Buchwald.
Now you can look it up. The problem is almost everything this game does is wrong. They make this the epilogue, there is almost no one alive when the soldiers get there, which isn’t true about the actual camp. It’s most definitely a Concentration Camp, not just POW camp in real life, and probably not many POWs, we’re talking about two hundred thousand people over time.
Concentration Camps are one of those things… it’s about the worst thing you can do or show, and the fact is, it’s wrong to ignore it, but you also should try to be truthful about it, and not dramatize for your story… and Call of Duty World War II tries to dramatize it and make it personal but ignores everything else and ultimately fails which makes the scene cringeworthy.
Call of Duty World War II also decides to pull a twist at this point unrelated to the camp… or the game. Without giving away the twist I will say it adds nothing to the game. I couldn’t have guessed the twist because what they twist has very little purpose to the story as a whole.
The thing is there’s this idea that there will be twists that matter in Call of Duty. You get shot at the end of a major dark mission in the original Modern Warfare, you get nuked, your best friend dies and you have to press F to pay respects. This is a common theme in these games. But the series as a whole has become a bit like M. Night Shamalayan as a director in that every game HAS to have a twist even if it doesn’t add anything to it. Having a twist because you have to have a twist is a bad idea, and … yeah, the twist here doesn’t help anything.
Overall the acting is good, but the story here… there’s no reason for most of it. They’re overcomplicating what could stand on its own. World War 2 is well known but playing through it and understanding the war itself has enough drama that you didn’t need to add to it.
On the other hand, Nazi Zombies does have a bit of story, and it’s more progression based, where the player activates certain things to push the story forward and… It works. I found this story to be far better than what I had seen recently in Black Ops 4, and it made me want to play more… though losing all your progress every time your team falls does make it a little more annoying, but this is something you can enjoy at your own pace.
So let’s talk about gameplay… and this is Call of Duty.
Call of Duty World War II is like every Call of Duty game. You run around, shoot enemies and advance on their locations. You’ll hit the right button to do some action and move on to the next location. It’s a typical shooter.
Though there are now QTEs, that’s right Quick Time Events. They don’t appear that often, at most one or two times a level, but it’s too often for 2019, or 2017. The correct number should have been 0 and they don’t add much to the game, except ways to die for no reason but you didn’t do a small action fast enough.
There’s also no recovering health which sounds bad, but I didn’t have any problems with Normal difficulty. There’s a health system that requires you to hit 6 on the keyboard, while in cover. It’s an interesting system, not the best, but a nice change for a game or two.
Call of Duty as a franchise is just a theme park of video games. You’ll go through some level shooting enemies, get to the next interesting segment where you might be on a tank, on a turret, driving cars, and more. The car chases here are quite good and I applaud them. They are fun, fast, and perfect for the series.
Not everything felt that great. Driving a tank around oddly sucked, the tank would turn independent of the gun, and so it became frustrating to move the turret around to blast enemies. The enemies had to be attacked from the side and … I’m showing it and… I just didn’t enjoy this section.
Similarly, I like airplane games, I still need to cover Ace Combat 7, but there’s a flight segment in World War II, I won’t show it here, but I’m not a huge fan of this one. Especially because it forced a third-person view that felt unnatural.
Overall though, there are a lot of great moments here, and as a theme park, it was fun to play through. Fighting in major offensives are fun, the turret section is good, there are good shooting and sniping galleries and the single-player worked for the most part.
They also added in Heroic Actions and Mementos. The Mementos are just collectibles and they are hard to find but they are what you expect. Small things which can be looked at later.
Heroic actions, on the other hand, are interesting moments where you can do something major to help another soldier, whether it be killing an attacker or dragging them out of the line of fire, but they don’t do much other than award an achievement. I think they mostly recharge special abilities.
Speaking of, those special abilities are a huge improvement. Each of the major squadmates has a special ability. Pierson can spot enemies, Zussman will give you a health pack. Someone will give you grenades, Ammo, mortal shell markers. Your teammates have a lot of purpose here, and it’s a strong part of the game because now suddenly you care who you’re standing with.
But there’s no risk of them getting injured so it’s just a way to get some more items or ammo.
There are also three missions back to back in World War II that has some level of stealth in it. Which is probably two too many, if not three. There is an interesting one where you go undercover as a French Resistance fighter but it goes on far too long and tries to build a story that only appeared for about 30 minutes and didn’t matter. The other two stealth sections had even less purpose. One of the levels could have worked but after three… I didn’t find it as necessary.
That’s the single-player campaign. Now, of course, there are still the Multiplayer and Zombies.
Multiplayer is just what you expect. Decent size maps, and teams. It’s quite lively right now. Whether that’s because of Humble Monthly Bundle or just people going back to this after Black Ops 4, I don’t know, but I easily found matches at all times of the night, even when I would be unable to in Black Ops 4.
One of the two big modes for me was Shipment 1944, which is just an uber small map, perfect for farming kills and having a good time. The other major mode is called Ground War, which is four objectives placed back to back, and once one team completes all four objectives in order or is stalled long enough for time to run out, the two sides switch, and honestly, I think Ground War is pretty solid. The one-piece I like is having to retreat when you lose one of the objectives.
There’s a new idea in multiplayer of Divisions which gives some bonuses, and it’s just yet another thing to level up. Rather than really building out a ton of challenges that always gave you something to work towards, now there are a few challenges and new orders, and you can take orders which give you rewards for completing them. Like, kill 200 people get something.
But for me, orders don’t do enough. Not enough happens each mission and I think back to the Modern warfare games where almost every map and game felt like you completed an objective. Even just killing three or four people in one life was a major feat. Now it feels more like you’re grinding to earn these little bonuses. If you like Multiplayer, I’m sure you’ll have a good time here, but I see the grind more and more each Call of Duty game I play.
But of course, we have to talk about something else. There are microtransactions. If you like the loot boxes, you can go chase down orders and hope you complete them so you can earn loot boxes, or of course you can go buy loot boxes, whether they be for Nazi Zombies or Multiplayer.
And if you want you can open those loot boxes in the HQ, which, like a mini level, which you can run around with your friends or random people. It’s based on Normandy so they’re making you open your loot boxes on just a bloody battlefield and it’s distasteful. What you earn isn’t that valuable but it’s the pieces that people can show off when they win the game. Those awesome taunts people will use to show off how great they are… That’s what’s in the loot boxes. You can earn the loot boxes in the multiplayer, at least one player earns a loot box every game but… This stuff could have just been normal level rewards. I don’t think the loot boxes adds anything to the game, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Nazi Zombies, on the other hand, is more story-based, but still killing Zombies. The mode does get quite hard and it becomes a repetitive mess to the point where I played through twice and was done. They also have the orders, unlockables, loot boxes, and more here… The biggest thing though is there’s only one map available and you can buy three more as DLC or maybe the season pass but… Nah, I’m good.
Overall, Call of Duty World War II is a solid game. There’s a lot here and if you enjoy the series, you’ll have fun with this one too. The story is a bit of a mess, but the minute to minute pieces of the gameplay is fun.
Multiplayer is solid if you go for that, and the same is true for Zombies, I think it’s the best Zombie version I’ve played, just not something I wanted to play a ton of.
So overall I got to say, this is a fun game. Just nothing that stands out, and I think it could have been done better. The weak story hurts here, and the microtransactions aren’t doing Activision or any game company any favors at this point.
I give Call of Duty World War II a
World War II is good but that score is because I know Call of Duty can do better, Advance Warfare also was developed by Sledgehammer and was better, and as awful as Kevin Spacey is as a person, I still think that story was a higher point than World War II’s. But even if you have played too many World War 2 shooters, this version is good for the grittiness of the scenes, if not the story.
That’s my look at Call of Duty World War II, what do you think? As part of the Humble Monthly Bundle, you currently are getting this game, Spyro, and Crash for 12 bucks. That’s honestly a fantastic deal, and especially at that price, this game is worth it.
I will return soon to talk about all three games. If you do want to hear more from me, I’m thrilled, consider subscribing it always means a lot to me. Throw me a thumbs up or thumbs down, I understand if that’s how you’re feeling, and feel free to comment if the mood hits you, or you want to tell me how to pronounce Duhamel.
We’ll throw up my review of Black Ops 4 if you want to see what I think of the OTHER Call of Duty that recently came out, and I’ll link to my Spyro Reignited Trilogy, I’m a fan of that one.
Until next time, I’m Kinglink And thanks for watching.
Stats: Single player 10 hours played. 18/35 achievements earned
Multi player 3.8 hours played 1/55 achievements earned.