By Mike Buskill
It’s November, which means a number of things. The weather outside is getting colder, Christmas decorations are sprouting up in stores everywhere, and a new Call of Duty has been released. In a genre oversaturated over the last few years with futuristic settings and weapons and abilities, this year’s title goes back to the series roots with a familiar setting, World War II. With Sledgehammer Games taking their second crack at the series, can they bring players back in after the disappointment of Infinite Warefare?
The short answer to this question is, not really. While there are definite improvements, there’s still something about it that doesn’t feel right. The long answer requires a little more explanation. Last year, the trend was set when CoD’s main rival, Battlefield set their title in relatively uncharted territory, World War I. While I wasn’t particularly a fan of it, or the Battlefield series in general, many gamers found some refreshment in a very tired genre. Naturally, CoD needed to follow suit, but went with an old classic, and used World War II as the setting for this year’s title for the first time since 2008’s World at War. Now World at War is almost universally loved by CoD players, so it seems like a no brainer, right? But maybe that’s the problem.
World War II’s problems can be broken down into a few parts, the first being the multiplayer. While there’s a sense of refreshment with the simplicity of not having futuristic weapons or abilities, and no jetpack or exosuit, that refreshment fades away rather quickly. I started the game only a few days after its release and I could see a trend in the map voting. In the first eight matches I played, six of those were on the same map, leading me to believe that it was picked so often, because the other maps weren’t as good…and I was correct in that assumption. The maps overall feel very bland and tired, and there was nothing about them that felt new or original. The gameplay itself was made a little more enjoyable in the Hardcore playlist, but even so, I feel like it would only take a few weeks and I would lose interest.
The second problem is the setting itself. It’s too familiar and has been done too many times. Battlefield One was successful because so few games have touched that setting. CoD would have better suited to use a less futuristic setting, but a road less traveled, like Desert Storm, for example. Or return even to a modern setting and create an original scenario. Or maybe even an alternative history. There’s literally tons of options, stop playing it safe with WWII.
The third problem is the campaign. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely beautiful, just like the one in Advanced Warfare. It’s got a decent story, just like Advanced Warfare. And it only takes around six or seven hours to complete the campaign, just like, you know what, you get the idea. I hate short campaigns. We spend a lot of money to be able to play these games, the least you can do is make it worth it. Now CoD is not the only offender in this situation, as a lot of games have short story modes now, and that’s a major downer to me. When I drop $60 for the game, a few hundred for the system itself, and even more money to play online, not to mention the DLC you want me to buy, the story better be good, compelling, interesting, and above all, I shouldn’t be able to knock it out in one afternoon.
To be fair, maybe my problem is more so with all FPS games right now than this game in particular. Are we approaching the end of the genre in general? Or perhaps the rebirth of the genre. With games like Overwatch and Destiny 2 (yes, I know that it has its flaws too) on the market and shaking up the genre a little, perhaps the old staples are being edged out. And maybe that’s a good thing! More originality makes for more interesting games, which only benefits us as players. Sure, there will be the occasional flop, but with betas for most games of the genre, you really can test drive before you decide to buy.
As far as Call of Duty World War II goes, it’s not bad, but it’s just not great either. With a lot of my time spent on Destiny 2 and the immensely promising Star Wars Battlefront II on the horizon, this title for me will get lost in the sea of averageness, probably to never be played again. And seeing as the last CoD title I actually played for a good amount of time and enjoyed was Black Ops 3, I don’t hold a lot of confidence in the future of the series. I give CoD WWII a 6.5 out of 10.
Do you agree with me? Are you flabbergasted at my dislike or indifference to it? Let me know what you thought in the comments below.
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