Call of Duty: World War II Review

Richard Walker

It was bound to happen sooner or later, wasn't it? Yes, Call of Duty has finally come full circle, going back to its roots, eschewing the jet packs, wall-running and near futuristic warfare for 'boots-on-the-ground', iron sights, mud and blood. WWII is a throwback for the series but new territory for Sledgehammer Games, whose previous CoD effort, Advanced Warfare, marked an increased move towards futuristic, sci-fi waters. Going back to World War II, as it happens, makes for a welcome gear shift for Call of Duty.

Much has been made of this year's CoD being a more grounded affair (in every sense), and the campaign certainly delivers on that front. Telling a more intimate story centred around a band of brothers in arms (you can probably see where this is going), WWII sees you playing as PFC Ronald 'Red' Daniels, a Texas farm boy who's “a long way from home.” From the loud and explosive opening mission on the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day landings to spectacularly derailed trains and even a spot of airborne dogfighting action, Call of Duty still manages to cram in plenty of blockbuster set-pieces, but never loses the essence of what's at its heart. But there is a bit where you drive a tank, because there always has to be a bit where you drive a tank.

If you go down to the woods today...

Very much a story of a single platoon and some of the characters from other sides of the Allied war effort, WWII's campaign might be rather short, but it's fairly well-paced, always switching things up at the right moment. There are some genuinely fantastic and memorable missions in there too, including one in which you assume the role of a French resistance spy, infiltrating a Nazi embassy building. Even the stealth bits are good. It's the sort of campaign you'll almost definitely want to play more than once, even if its cast of characters don't prove to be as interesting or well-drawn as they perhaps could have been. They do throw you handy stuff, though, like first aid packs (invaluable, since there's no longer regenerating health), ammo and grenades.

Practically every cinematic World War II cliché has found its way into Sledgehammer's game, whether it's the private with glasses who aspires to be a photographer; the gruff, acerbic commanding officer or the morally virtuous leader of the platoon who always strives to do the right thing. Not that this detracts from the enjoyment of WWII's campaign at all. It's a well put together story that's also well-told, even if it does lean on a lot of well-worn old tropes we've all seen countless times before. Ultimately, it doesn't really matter.

For most, however, Call of Duty is all about multiplayer, and naturally, Sledgehammer has gone big for WWII, introducing a new social hub area and the multi-stage team-based War mode. This is alongside the usual glut of modes, maps and other content you'd normally expect. All of this is tied together under the same multiplayer ecosystem and the social area of Headquarters, a military camp situated on the shoreline. Essentially, serving as WWII's version of Destiny's Tower, you can call in supply drops from the air, greet other players with emotes or commend them: these are all things that will hopefully make for a more civil multiplayer arena in CoD. Or not. Only time will tell, I guess.

Multiplayer is reliably robust and packed with content, including eleven maps and the social HQ hub filled with activities like the 1v1 pit, the R&R zone with vintage Activision arcade games to play, a firing range,daily and weekly orders (bounties, essentially), customisation collections to acquire, a place to test out all of the game's Scorestreaks and more besides. All of the usual modes like Kill Confirmed, TDM and Domination are accounted for too, bar a few absentees or tweaked versions of modes like Gridiron; a version of Uplink where the scoring zone is on the ground and the satellite drone is now an old football.

War mode is likely to be something you'll return to again and again, especially if you can conjure up a squad of friends. Each of its maps serves up a different set of objectives to tackle, its game of attack versus defence proving enormously enjoyable, especially when a round goes right down to the wire. Escorting tanks, building fortifications, transporting fuel, storming the beaches at Normandy, destroying equipment, seizing territory; War mode is a great way to get a co-op multiplayer fix if you're not in the mood for a straight-up competitive match, and will undoubtedly be part and parcel of your CoD diet, along with the single-player campaign, MP and 'The Final Reich' Zombies mode.

Put this Nazi zombie out of its misery.

Ah, yes, Nazi Zombies. This year, Sledgehammer has made an effort to make Zombies a mite more inviting for new players. As such, the mode is now prefaced by a fun tutorial that has you beating a path to a remote farmhouse in the woods. Here, you can battle waves of reanimated corpses to your hearts' content, learning the basics as you go. There's a Notebook you can call up at the touch of a button to keep track of what you've done, making for an all the more accessible experience. The cast is an eclectic mix as ever too, with Ving Rhames, David Tennant, Elodie Yung and Katheryn Winnick banding together to eliminate Dr. Peter Straub, the mad scientist behind the uprising of undead, played by seasoned German thesp Udo Kier.

Bursting with all of the usual secrets, Easter eggs and other mechanics that by now you'll take for granted in Zombies, The Final Reich is as good a version of the mode as we've seen, with passageways to power on and unlock, contraptions to reassemble and bring to life, and Blitz augmentations to purchase using the 'Jolts' you accumulate for shooting the undead and making them even deader. Upon reaching rank 5 in Zombies, you can access loadouts, enabling you to choose your character's ability, which includes cloaking, a temporary burst of infinite firepower and other valuable skills that you can break out when things get hairy.

Mash this all together into one big, typically generous package, and Call of Duty: WWII is pretty hard to resist. The campaign represents a welcome return to familiar, more intimate territory for the series and is all the better for it, while multiplayer benefits from a paring back that the added mobility of recent iterations brought to the table. Pepper in War mode and another superlative helping of Nazi Zombies with Sledgehammer's own stamp on it, and Call of Duty: WWII is yet another robust CoD title that's most definitely worth your time.

Call of Duty: World War II

CoD's return to World War II seems like its been a long time coming, but nine years on from World at War, Call of Duty: WWII proves that there are still stories to be told based on history's most deadly conflict. It's also proof positive that Call of Duty can still deliver an edge-of-the-seat FPS experience.

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A cinematic orchestral score, excellent performances from a game cast and superb sound design throughout. It sounds great.


An excellent looking game that captures the essence of what made Call of Duty so special back in the day, while communicating the hellish nature of the conflict.


You've played a Call of Duty game before, right? Then you know that the series always delivers, year after year, regardless of how you might feel about it.


Campaign, multiplayer and Zombies, all polished, all equally accomplished. Chuck in War mode and HQ, the new social area, and CoD: WWII is another complete package.


A list that's a bit of an all-rounder like the game itself, covering every facet of CoD: WWII, from campaign progression to Zombie objectives and multiplayer milestones. You will have to attain Prestige, though.

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