Call of Duty WW II – Hands on with the old school multiplayer

4 min read

Call of Duty’s multiplayer is still the option that keeps fans around long after the dust of the single-player campaign has ended. It’s what most diehard fans pay good money for every year, as the chance to score some killstreaks and earn a few medals on the quest to Prestige yet again. This year, things are different for the long-running multiplayer suite as it ditches exoskeletons and the tall skyscrapers of tomorrow for a more grounded warfare experience that brings back some old school action.

Boots on the ground may be a meme-worthy catchphrase, but it feels perfect for Call Of Duty: WW II’s online presence. I got a chance to go hands on with the multiplayer maps and modes, a trinity of bulge-battling options set across the European theatre of war. While Team Deathmatch and Domination speak for themselves, the big new addition comes in the form of War Mode which throws players into scenarios that require even tighter teamwork than usual.

Objectives need to be completed, enemy forces need to be held back and the action has a pace which never relents. Perhaps that’s the first indication that the action on the screen is typical Call of Duty: It’s fast, it’s unforgiving and death is one well-placed bullet away. Call of Duty WW II’s action may be familiar, but it’s also more vulnerable now. You’re no longer a super-soldier, you’re a grunt with limited stamina thrown into the longest day in mankind’s history and battlefields that feel like a meat grinder.

Heroic classes are gone, replaced instead by specialised soldiers in Divisions mode that highlights one of five military divisions and a selection of weaponry that was designed to kill as simply as possible by shortening the distance from point A to the point of your target’s face. Your five classes happen to be made up of:

  • Infantry
  • Airborne
  • Armoured
  • Mountain
  • Expeditionary

What makes these classes different? Besides the basic cosmetics, initial weapon access and skills, they’re also capable of engaging in Divisional training that can help improve your soldier of a chosen branch, while every other class gets more basic Basic Training with which to improve their skills.

War mode felt fantastic in action and was easily the best of the lot that we were given a chance to play. While having objectives within a multiplayer shooter isn’t exactly new, it’s the manner in which Call of Duty: WW II tackles this. The objectives handed out vary, following a rule of three as players find themselves either on the defensive or attacking and pushing back as time ticks away.

The catch here, is that defenders have a harder job. While time inevitably catches up to either side, the speed at which objectives can be completed begins to increase as the deadline looms closer. It creates a frightening pace, one where the balance of power can be shifted at a moments notice. Brilliant stuff really.

It’s the maps that really sell this Call of Duty game though. You’re not just waging war in the sands of a French beach or a small hamlet in Europe that has found itself devastated by constant bombing runs. These are warzones within warzones as the action rages on all around you, as Sledgehammer Games had to walk across a fine line of creating a map that was both authentic and challenging. “That’s always definitely a challenge,” principal multiplayer designer Sean Soucy explained to me.

The historical connection is always important to us in all aspects of the game. So we wanted to make sure that we’re giving players the history but also giving them a great gameplay experience. It’s a balance that we try to strike always. We do a lot of research on the locations that we put into the game.

Those maps, if you Google Ardennes Forest then you’re going to find out about its history in World War 2. It’s part of the battle of the Bulge. And we want to represent the things that you would have seen there. Making sure that the environments are representative to a fairly accurate degree of what you expect to see when you read the history of that.

The initial results are promising so far, but the real test will come closer to the when Call of Duty finally does go boots on the ground for one more ride into Europe.We’ll have more on the multiplayer of Call of Duty up this week, so keep your eyes open for it.

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Last Updated: June 14, 2017

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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