After a spate of jet boosted, wall running, chain movement and space themed outings, Call of Duty is headed back into long gone territory, world war II style with the brand new boots on the ground Call of Duty: WWII. A move that many CoD fans have been begging for since the series began to sway into more modern themes.
This past weekend saw PS4 users get exclusive early access to the Call of Duty: World War II Multiplayer beta allowing players to get a (restricted) hands on feel of the new game before it releases in early November. Upon first impressions, the ground based warfare is a major welcome return to form for the first person shooter series that has been dangling a little too long in outer space though there are a few restrictions that may see those used to more freedom in customization struggle with the new game.
As of writing this, I am a little shy of hitting the 7 hour game play mark where 3 maps, a handful of game modes and heavily limited customization options are open within the beta.
Now it’s time to look at the great, the good and the bad of this Call of Duty WWII beta.
War Mode. It’s one of only a handful of games available to play in the beta and brings with it a familiar feel to those who played the recent Star Wars Battlefront which sees your team of 12 attack or defend multiple points in a chain, working together to either claim or hold back the enemy from progressing further.
As described by Activision: Fight for control of a war-torn French village west of St. Lo, an important operation in the Allied push onward and out of the beachhead at Normandy. Allied and Axis forces clash for control of a strategic manor to secure a forward operating position. Bridge construction, ammo depot demolition and tank escorts are key strategic tasks in this do or die mission to dominate the enemy. Choose your equipment wisely – every decision can mean the difference between victory and defeat in this narrative-driven, objective-based multiplayer experience – a first for Call of Duty.”
This beta only has one map open but it’s a great game mode and new addition to the series.
Play of the Game Highlight. As featured in Overwatch, Call of Duty is doing away with ‘final kill cam’ which saw a sometimes boring or standard final kill be highlighted after the match has finished, and in its place, a play-of-the-game sort of sequence which showcases a worthy highlight from the match. While it’s not as personal as Overwatch with it’s character highlight intro, the change finally gives players who pull off incredible plays their dues.
Game Play. We were promised boots on the ground and deliver it Activision/Sledgehammer games have. Cod WWII offers a very nice balance between the uber-boots on ground style seen in Modern Warfare Remastered and the ease of movement seen in something like Black Ops 3. The knee slide had been replaced with a lunge, the sprint is limited but not in a incapacitating type of way while mounting ladders and climbing through windows and over things is very smooth, quick and not lumber-some.
Audio: It feels as if a lot of work has been put into the sound aspect of the game with everything sounding hard and present and realistic. From the gun shots to planes firing overhead to the sounds of the soldiers taking fire (or being set alight) it’s all pretty spiffy – the best bit though, the sounds of the hand grenades going off, pending how close you are to them can be terrifying!
Maps. Three maps are open for play in the beta and they are Pointe Du Hoc, Ardennes, and Gibraltar. Pointe Du Hoc is a medium sized map that sees most game play occur within a maze of trenches surrounded by destroyed outposts and offers up a great mix of space for snipers and fast close combat for run-and-gunners. Gibraltar is a multi level, medium sized map with three lanes of play that may allow those apt with quick sniping to take advantage of the height variance in the map depending on your spawn point while Ardennes is a snow covered map, once again medium in sized with interconnecting lanes that can favor both long shooters and those taking advantage of the connecting lanes in close combat.
The Pre-Game Lobby. Looking like an old war photo, the entire play list of both teams are now featured in the pre-game lobby. Here you get the opportunity to quickly go through each player, check their load out and get a close up view of their playable character. It’s a nice new touch that Sledgehammer have brought in for players to showcase their customized character.
Top Players Highlight. Becoming a regular feature, the top players in the winning team are given their dues post match where, like past outings, actions can be performed such as ‘salute’, clap in ‘good job’ and wave in ‘Hey!’. I’m assuming there’ll be more to unlock in the full game.
Customization. Note, this section is severely restricted in the Beta and the customization options of your character are very limited. From what’s on offer, we’re given a glimpse of a basic collection of pre-designed heads (in the beta, two are literally a re-color of each other) which are available for choosing (5 in the beta including three male and two female) and that is pretty much it. I did stumble across a uniform section but it seems to have been locked for beta and now going back, cannot be found anymore.
Funnily enough, Sledgehammer have been quite open about their knowledge of how players react and engage to their own customized character but from what has been seen, i’m a little worried about the final product. Here’s hoping, when the game drops, there’s more to be found in this section such as removable helmets, alternate uniforms and additional character building cosmetics.
Weapons and load outs. My biggest gripe with Modern Warfare Remastered was the lack of load out options and weapon customization and it appears, Sledgehammer have taken no notice of the foul cries and have semi-replicated the load out system. Perks are limited to a “Basic Training” feature that allows you one bonus load out option but they are muted and vary from “take a second primary weapon” or “collect ammo from fallen soldiers” effect.
Weapon attachments are of course in the game but the ability to run around with a powered automatic adorned with a scope, silencer, extra ammo and laser sight is a no no. Pending on the division you choose to enlist in and the weapon picked, most weapons only offer two to three attachment options.
Limited suppressors. Just putting it out there but I have a very specific style of game play when it comes to the Call of Duty series and it seems Cod WWII may just force me to get out of old habits. My CoD load outs have always consist of silent movement, no radar ping and a silencer attached on a weapon – it’s what works for me as a player but it seems within WWII, only one division is offering up the ability to add a suppressor AND from the looks of it, will only be attachable to an SMG……………eeek.
Overall, there are some welcome return to forms for this up-coming Call of Duty outing along with some concerns about where Sledgehammer are going to take the series. To note, the beta currently has locked until launch
- Headquarters – We’re testing the match-making of this all-new social experience, but access to this space will not be active during the Multiplayer Beta.
- Supply Drops, and Loot – These customization features that add depth and personality to your soldier will not be included in the Multiplayer Beta.
- Esports – Ranked Play, Game Battles, and our suite of competitive features will be accessible when we release in November.
- Additional content not in the Private Multiplayer Beta includes: full progression, remaining maps and modes, additional War Mode maps, and the full armory of weapons, scorestreaks, Basic Training, and equipment.
Also, there have been some players having issues with timing out and forcing an app close during this beta, but I can say I have had no issues to date. There has been no delay in finding a match or being kicked out of one. There may be an issue with bullet recognition but that may be a lag/beta issue.
The beta re-opens agains on September 1 to Monday, September 4 for both PS4 and XBox users with Call of Duty: WWII launching on Nov. 3, 2017.