Update: Call of Duty WWII fans got a bit of exciting news on August 14 when Activision unveiled the game’s first multiplayer beta trailer and confirmed the private beta’s launch date: August 25, 2017 for PlayStation 4. The private beta will feature new maps and the all-new War Mode experience.
Original article continues below…
It’s official: the Call of Duty franchise is returning to WWII in 2017. We’ve now seen the official reveal trailer, courtesy of a worldwide reveal on April 26.
The Call of Duty franchise faced its toughest year yet in 2016. While the futuristic Infinite Warfare sold pretty well, it was surpassed by other shooters in nearly every way. Titanfall 2’s slick campaign put it to shame, while Battlefield 1’s 64-player battles in open terrain made the familiar Call of Duty formula feel stale.
In the words of Activision, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare “underperformed expectations”, and fans have been calling for a shake-up of the series for this year’s release. Thankfully, there are early signs that their voices have been heard. Here’s everything we know about this year’s Call of Duty game so far, including a tonne of intriguing rumors.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The yearly installment to the biggest FPS franchise around
- When it is out? November 3
- What platforms? PS4, Xbox One and the PC
Trailers and images
Call of Duty: WW2’s reveal trailer was released on April 26 and confirmed many of the rumors that we’d previously heard about the game including its World War 2 setting.
The trailer features a group of American soldiers as they storm the beaches at Normandy, before cutting to showing a tank convoy being ambushed in the countryside. The trailer ends with a pretty epic action montage, featuring all manner of gruesome delights.
In the months since the original reveal trailer we’ve also seen the release of a multiplayer-focussed trailer, and a trailer focussed around the game’s zombie mode. On August 14, we also got a private multiplayer beta trailer that highlights the new classes and some of the maps we can look forward to when the game enters private beta on PS4 on August 28, 2017.
News and features
The game has been confirmed to have a worldwide release of November 3, though customers who pre-order the game will get access to a private beta. It’s not clear whether there will be different beta access for different platforms just yet, but we’ll update as soon as we know more.
So, Call of Duty is taking players back to WW2 in a “return to its roots.” All of the footage in the game’s trailer was heavily focused on iconic WW2 imagery with plenty of plane and tank-warfare, beach landings, brutal combat and a distinctly Band of Brothers feel.
It’s been revealed that in the main campaign players will take control of a 19 year old soldier from Texas called Red Daniels who’s fighting on the front lines along with his squadmates in the 1st Infantry division. Though Daniels will be the “primary protagonist”, players will also play as another soldier and Daniels’ best friend called Zussman.
The story will largely follow their journey with their squadmates across a range of well-known historical locations from the war.
Michael Condrey noted in an interview with GamesRadar, however, that players would see a diverse and more “global” extended cast that acknowledges the Allies were more than the UK and the US and the Axis force included more than German Nazis. Players can expect to see, he promises, “powerful performances on both sides of the war” from both male and female characters.
In light of this, Condrey confirmed one other playable character from the French Resistance called Rousseau. Though Rousseau will be playable, it’s unlikely the game will focus on her for very long, as Condrey also added that in order to keep the story meaningful and keep players attached to the main characters the game would primarily have players “stay with the squad […] with Daniels.”
Ina recent Q & A on the PlayStation blog, studio head Glenn Schofield confirmed that players would play a number of other characters that Red Daniels meets on his journey for short periods and Rousseau is indeed one of these characters. The main story will, however, primarily follow Red.
Female characters will also, however, be playable in multiplayer.
Call of Duty WW2 is trying very hard to move away from the idea of the player being a single super solider that can take down the entire Axis force on their own and as a result some big gameplay changes are being implemented.
These changes will focus on making the player interact more with their AI squard. For example, if you find yourself low on ammo at some point, your squard will be able to share ammo with you. This, according to Condrey, is “one of several mechanics” where players must take advantage of different and highly varied skills offered by their wider squad in order to survive.
Another example of this is that rather than ducking for cover in order to regenerate health, players must seek out the medic in their squad in order to receive health packs.
Glen Schofield has said that AI has been improved so that when players interact with their AI squad they’ll feel genuinely intelligent and the interactions will have real meaning to the player.
Apparently, it will be possible for the player to lose members of their squad as they play through the game, which will also have an impact on the kind of help they’ll be able to receive: “You can be separated from guys with key abilities that would change how you play – if you’re not with the ammo guy then you have less ability to replenish your ammo.”
There will also be scripted deaths, though it’s next to impossible they will result in the loss of any character with a key ability required to complete the campaign.
Of course, there will be multiplayer and as a result of the jump back in time it will be slightly different. No more boost jumps and high-tech gimmicks – now it’s back to a more historically accurate arsenal. Not only has the historical setting had an impact on the game’s weapons, it’s also going to have an effect on the multiplayer maps and how players interact with them.
This time multiplayer maps will feature real and iconic locations from the war and the different weapons and technology available to players will mean that they’ll have to adapt their strategy from what they’ve grown used to in other Call of Duty titles.
A big new addition to multiplayer mode is Headquarters which will allow players to be social and interact with one another. Comparisons are being drawn to Destiny’s Tower or hubs in World of Warcraft for a better idea of how this is intended to work.
It makes sense that in an area where players are able to interact and show off their items the camera would enter third person mode.
New multiplayer mode with a story
As well as the traditional online multiplayer, Call of Duty WW2 will introduce a new multiplayer mode with a story called War.
This mode will take the form of “a series of objective-driven conflicts” which will focus on Axis versus Ally team-based gameplay.
Zombies will, once again, be making a return in Call of Duty WW2. It’ll be used to introduce co-operative gameplay where players will team up with their friends in order to take on hoards of Nazi zombie soldiers.
The cast includes some big names including David Tennant, Katheryn Winnick, Elodie Yung and Udo Kier. In terms of story, the new mode will be focussed around attempting to recover a number of works of art from a Bavarian village, with some outrageously zombie-filled results.
You can check out the reveal trailer for the Zombie’s mode below.
Hands on impressions
Though we didn’t get to try out Call of Duty WWII’s single player campaign for ourselves, we were invited to watch a short hands-off demo which lasted just under 10 minutes. The demo took us to a portion of the campaign mode where the protagonist, Red Daniels, is on a mission with his squadmates to capture a church at the centre of an old European town.
The demo showed us the first-person experience of controlling Daniels through the town’s twisting streets, showing off the game’s smooth combat controls and impressively realistic graphics. Depending on how you feel about dismembered bodies it might sometimes border on too realistic.
However, capturing the visceral brutality of war is a well-documented aim of Sledgehammer Games for this title and that comes across in this demo’s explosive and bloody combat.
The demo also gives us a peek at the game’s new squad abilities which are replacing mechanics such as health regeneration.
Where your character was once able to regenerate their health on their own, they’ll now rely on one of their squadmates called ‘Zussman’ to throw health packs to them when needed.
This is an interesting mechanic and we liked the idea behind it as well as the visuals of it in action. Other than that, the demo didn’t show us too much that took us by surprise – explosive, cinematic and heroic it was what we would expect a good-looking Call of Duty campaign trailer to be.
It was for the game’s mutliplayer mode that we got to pick up the controller and try out the three different game modes: Team Deathmatch, Domination and the brand new War.
Team Deathmatch and Domination are both very familiar forms of multiplayer for anyone that’s already played a Call of Duty game. In Deathmatch you essentially run around the game map with your team, shooting down enemies on the other side, while in Domination you do the same with the added challenge of capturing and keeping flags.
It’s the game’s new War node that is by far the biggest and most exciting addition to Call of Duty’s multiplayer and it’s clear that Sledgehammer Games is excited about it. War is the franchise’s first narrative-driven objective based multiplayer mode and casts players into one of two camps: attacking or defending.
In this mode, the attacking team must try to push across the game’s map by completing a set of four of tasks. In the game we played the first involved capturing an enemy building, the second required us to build a bridge, the third saw us capturing an ammo depo, while the final challenge was escorting a tank through a town’s streets.
The attackers only have a limited amount of time to complete their tasks and if they don’t manage to do so, victory goes to the defenders.
War is a very different kind of multiplayer experience for Call of Duty but it’s a very welcome addition. It feels fresh and intense and it’s nice to find yourself working with your squad to do something other than protect a flag.
Not only that the sense of progression moving through the tasks gives is very satisfying in a game mode that usually leaves you feeling like you’re running around the same corner of a map over and over again.
Whether it has longevity and becomes a mode players will repeatedly return to is yet to be seen, but our hopes are high for it.
Back to the roots
Sledgehammer Games’ decision to return the Call of Duty franchise to its roots in WW2 was definitely a clever one in our eyes. It may not feel like it, but it’s been 10 years since we saw a Call of Duty title set in this era and game development technology has come a long way since then.
From what little we played, Call of Duty WWII’s combat is largely the standard affair we’ve become used to, just in a more historical setting than we’re used to seeing. Though multiplayer mode was as fast-paced and fun as ever, it’s certainly a good thing that the more narrative-driven War has been added.
Though the new main campaign offers something new on its own and will no doubt draw in many fans, War is a new feature with replayability value in the part of the game most of the franchise’s fans will spend the majority of their time, offering a value which will no doubt satisfy many players.
Is there a beta?
It’s been confirmed that there will be a multiplayer beta for PS4 and Xbox One owners ahead of the November 3 release date. There’s no news yet if this will be available to PC players. To get in on the early gaming you’ll have to be early in your purchase by pre-ordering the game.
Those who pre-order the PS4 version of the game will have access to an early private beta which starts August 25 and runs through to August 28.
Another beta will then be held for both Xbox One and PS4 pre-order customers running from September 1 to 4.
Will Call of Duty 2017 come to the Nintendo Switch?
When we asked Sledgehammer Games at this year’s E3 whether or not Call of Duty WW2 would ever appear on the Nintendo Switch, they told us that there weren’t plans in place at that time as they wanted to concentrate on perfecting the game for PS4, Xbox and PC. This wasn’t a yes but it left the possibility there.
Now, however, we have a definitive no. Call of Duty will not be coming to Nintendo Switch. During a recent , Sledgehammer games was asked again by a fan if the game was coming to Switch and they responded with a short and bittersweet ‘No.’
It’s not entirely surprising news – Call of Duty hasn’t appeared on a Nintendo console for a few years now. The last game was Ghosts on Wii U in 2013.
It’s become increasingly common practice for games that are regularly released and regularly updated during their release cycle to have several versions to purchase, many of which come with additional pre-order bonuses. Pre-order this game, for example, and you’ll get access to the beta periods detailed above.
There are three versions of Call of Duty: WWII available and to help you choose which version is right for you we’ve summed up all of the pre-order options and what they’re offering you here.
It’s worth noting that pre-order are a fairly low commitment way to secure popular games. You won’t be charged for the game until it ships so you can cancel at any time before this and not pay and with retailers like Amazon if there are any price drops before you pay for the game, you’ll get the lower price too.
The standard version is just that – standard. You’ll get access to the beta through your pre-order (if you opt for the console versions of the game) but there aren’t any other extras. If you just want the game with no garnish this is the perfect and lowest cost option.
Digital Deluxe Edition
With the Digital Deluxe Edition you’ll get access to the beta period, but you’ll also get a season pass for the game which means any content released for the game after its release will be free for you.
The Pro Edition is essentially the Digital Deluxe Edition but in physical form and that means a nice steelbook cover and additional physical merchendise depending on which retailer you purchase from.
The Pro Edition is exclusive to Gamestop in the US for $99.99 but it can be purchased from several UK retailers. Both Amazon and Game UK have the Pro Edition for £89.99, though it’s worth noting that Game has an exclusive poster and Divisions Bonus Pack for its pre-order customers.