Call of Duty: WW2 is going to either make gamers incredibly happy or incredibly annoyed.
Set during the Second World War, the game takes the billion-dollar franchise from spaceships orbiting Mars to landing craft on Normandy beaches. That means no more jet packs, spaceships and robots.
While that will obviously have fundamental repercussions for the single-player campaign it’s the multiplayer that has been truly transformed, and that’s a big deal.
Call of Duty isn’t just a game it’s a competitive sport, something that’s played by millions of people around the world for millions of dollars. While you won’t see it appearing on Sky Sports any time soon, head over to Twitch and you’ll find games of Call of Duty with hundreds of thousands of spectators.
The current game is incredibly fast-paced, packed with weapons and abilities and is mastered only by having lightning fast reaction times.
There are no jump jets in World War 2, nor are there heat-seeking missiles or X-Ray vision. Instead there are bolt-action rifles, wooden hand grenades and the knowledge that somewhere out there is a team of players that are equally ill-equipped.
So how does it play? Well we’ll state the obvious first: This game is a lot slower than Infinite Warfare, and we’re all the happier for it.
Call of Duty: World at War was the last time the series visited World War 2 and it felt like a truly perfect multiplayer experience. To master the game you needed a calm, methodical mindset and a steady aim. While reaction times were important, positioning and patience were often the key components that assured you a victory.
WW2 feels like a spiritual successor to this approach. Weapons feel truly analogue, from the iconic ‘ping’ sound of the M1 Garand rifle to the thundering punch of the Browning Automatic Rifle.
Each weapon feels like it has an identity, something which can be enhanced through customisation options.
As with all CoD games, progression through the multiplayer matches will reward you with customisation options for your weapons, new outfits and abilities.
We only got to sample a small selection but players will have access to a full library of gear authentically recreated from the time period.
During our playthrough we got to try three match types. There was the classic Deathmatch, Capture The Flag and then a new mode called simply War that had us completing a series of objectives against an opposing team.
Deathmatch was in a tightly backed network of trenches and farmhouses in France while Capture The Flag appears to be set on the Eastern Front. Both felt very classic in their layout and design, encouraging players to learn every inch of the map and start predicting the routes that enemy players will use.
War mode was arguably the most interesting. A team is tasked with completing three-four objectives as they progress through a specially designed map.
In the map we played our objective was to defend a base, head into a town and build a bridge over a key river crossing and then finally advance towards the enemy’s base and destroy it.
By creating a narrative-based multiplayer mode the game is actively encouraging you to play with people you know. Teamwork is key.
That sense of camaraderie continues throughout the entire multiplayer experience. Divisions is a new component that splits players into five iconic divisions, each one comes with specialties and bonuses focused around a style of play.
While we haven’t seen much in the way of Divisions at work, if it’s implemented with enough meaningful differences between each one it could add yet another component where players are encouraged to feel part of a wider social space.
WW2’s multiplayer doesn’t feel revolutionary, and in all honesty that’s a good thing. In trying to innovate it feels as though CoD’s multiplayer experience had become so ‘busy’ that it was almost impossible to be anything other then a hardcore player.
WW2 feels like it still demands a high level of skill but with a much lower entry point, and that can only be a good thing for everyone.