The official reveal trailer for Call of Duty: WWII was impressive, but didn’t do much to distill me from thinking it was just another Call of Duty game. Not to say that’s a bad thing though. I was excited about COD: WWII before the reveal, and now I’m even more excited for the game after seeing it in action. However, there’s more to the story here that has me thinking this isn’t just a new Call of Duty game, but a bold new direction.
A number of previews have been released by major press outlets that include some very interesting details. To start off, the game follows the story of a 19-year-old from Texas, Ronald “Red” Daniels. The game follows his story through the European Theater of War and won’t be jumping around to other characters or locations. According to an IGN preview of the game, Daniels is just an ordinary kid thrown into an extraordinary situation – and this is something previous Call of Duty’s really focused on before becoming so focused on super soldiers.
However, Call of Duty: WWII is taking this to a new level for the series. Sledgehammer Games wants to make this a visceral (sorry, had to) experience, and are even changing up longstanding gameplay systems to do this. The Gameinformer preview indicates that you will no longer be able to just slink behind cover and heal-up if you get shot. Players will need “to call upon your squadmates to get health packs, ammunition, or even covering fire.”
This added reliance on your squad tells me that Sledgehammer is actually making an effort to connect you with your squad-mates and give them an identity. Sledgehammer wants the player to feel the vulnerability of war, rather than plunging head first into gunfire and coming out unscathed. As the IGN preview puts it, Call of Duty: WWII wants to present a “war story that’s grounded, human, and intimate.”
Regardless if you think so or not, this is a big change for the series.
This is also the first World War II Call of Duty to use today’s current tech, and that ties into creating a more impactful experience for players. Here’s a snippet from the IGN preview talking about one of the segments they got to see at their preview event:
The second mission I got to see took place in late ’44 in Hurtgen Forest on the German/Belgian border. German artillery began raining down on the squad, ripping apart the giant trees with nightmarish force. The ancient wood splintering all around Red sounded like thousands of bones snapping in half. The monstrous trees came crashing to the ground, crushing and impaling men with complete disregard.
Marty Silva kept referring to the “horror” of war in his preview and remarked that this is something Slegehammer is really trying to emulate in this year’s Call of Duty. Maybe past Call of Duty games have attempted to show this, but most would agree that Call of Duty games tend to be about the action and big explosive cutscenes rather than depicting conflict in a grounded sense.
I’m being careful though to not over-hype myself on all of this, as Call of Duty does have a certain formula to it that keeps it from being something “more” than just another annualized Call of Duty title. There was a lot of PR talk in today’s preview event for the game, but I do have faith that Slegehammer can deliver on presenting Call of Duty in a slightly new way this year.
It’s still Call of Duty, no doubt about that. But maybe, just maybe, we get a more nuanced and mature look at war this year.