“Call of Duty: WWII” brought back bare-bones gameplay that fans have been clamoring for since the series adapted exo-suits in “Advanced Warfare.” From the moment the World War II theme was announced, this year’s “Call of Duty” became one of the most anticipated first-person shooters of the decade. Now that the game has been released, it is time to see if it met expectations.
The good: The gameplay is fantastic. It is arguably the best it has been in the history of the series. The balancing is top notch, and an overwhelming majority of the weapons in the game are on even footing. Choosing what loadout to use comes down to the players’ personal preference, not “this is the only gun that works” that recent installments were plagued by.
The campaign really highlights the gun balancing. Players find themselves cycling through dropped guns while they fight for survival. This year also marks the debut of squadmates with specific abilities, another fresh feature that adds to the game. Once their meter is full, the player can call on the special ability of their non-playable character squadmates, ranging anywhere from receiving more ammo to dropping a mortar strike on a designated area. Using these abilities at critical points during the campaign often means the difference between success and rage quitting.
There has been a shift in the video game industry over the last few years to move non-role-playing game titles in a more archetype-based gameplay direction. “Call of Duty: WWII” does this better than most other titles. This year, players chose a division for their soldier and equip matching weapons for extra bonuses. Unlike other games where the implementation of archetypes feels forced, this addition to “Call of Duty” feels natural and adds to the game. It makes sense that snipers hold their breath longer, armored units move slower and receive extra protection, etc.
The bad: The extremely popular zombies mode has been tweaked gradually in the last few installments of the “Call of Duty” series, adding more and more easter eggs with each passing edition. Zombies in “Call of Duty: WWII” is a complete departure from what its predecessors established. In the past, it was a mode where everyone from casual to hardcore players could simply run around and try to survive. Now, there is a grocery list of objectives players have to complete to survive. This drastic change, while creative, unnecessarily altered a popular mode, creating mixed reactions amongst the gaming community.
The ugly: The servers are horrendous. There is no way, nor need, to sugarcoat it. The biggest mode in “Call of Duty” is online multiplayer, and right now, their servers are making the game borderline unplayable. Forget the glitches players are exploiting in actual gameplay; right now, players cannot consistently get into games, properly load once in a game and remain in a lobby without the server crashing between games.
The verdict: The gameplay itself is very good. The writing in the campaign is forgettable, but the new features make it worth a full run-through. Zombies is a hit or miss depending on personal taste. All of this is irrelevant, however, because the servers are atrocious. When the servers are fixed, this will be a great game and a must-have for anyone who enjoys first-person shooters. Until that happens, it is hard to justify paying full price for “Call of Duty: WWII” or consider it anything more than an average, disheartening video game experience.
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