( As of this writing, I have already completed the campaign. My thoughts on the campaign will be in the CoD: WW2 Review going live tomorrow.)
The water is a bright red, or maybe a light pink. A few dead boys lay in the sand and others lay in the waves, being brought out to sea and back in as the well-dug in Germans start to open fire again in their concentrate pillboxes, the bullets make pinging noises all around me some land in the sand, some land in the water, and others land in your teammates who go down on a beach on the coast of France. Red, the main character gasps and scrambles through the bullets and diving head-first in the sand behind a hedgehog and as he looks up, he shares the hedgehog with a soldier who’s face is half missing.
To say that storming Omah Beach on the morning of June 6th, 1944 is iconic is doing it a complete disservice, Omah Beach and the entire D-Day invasion are hallowed echoes of true bravery, courageous, and a noble assault on Hitler’s Fortress Europe. If D-Day doesn’t make you feel some sort of way, then you’re doing it wrong my dear friend. This is why the campaign for Call of Duty: WWII is different to anything else within the recent titles, in recent years going back to 2016, Call of Duty has focused on going to the future and that was different because it wasn’t WWII.
14 years ago, Call of Duty began life as a World War themed franchise featuring the adventures of the American 101st Airborne, the British 6th Army, and the Red Army during the war and then in 2007, it changed gaming forever when Modern Warfare released. But today, it is a different reality: Many gamers today don’t have ties to World War II like we did or have, it seems like a good time to go back to the war on new technology and new hardware.
For me and I guess for you too, we have ties to World War II. Alot of us are the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of WWII veterans, my grandfather served in the Mediterranean Theater and the European Theater with the 82nd Airborne. My grandfather passed away several years ago, he spoke about his war experiences with me before he passed away and you likely have stories like this too, please tell me in the comments. The campaign here in this Call of Duty is very personal and I quickly remembered the stories that he told me before he passed away. What follows is my first impression of the first four hours of the campaign.
Call of Duty WWII’s campaign is told from the perspective from Pvt. Ronald “Red” Daniels, a rookie private who experiences combat for the first time during D-Day with the Big Red One, also known as “The Fighting First.” At the start, he relies heavily on his superiors Pierson and Turner who both have different ideas. What’s different here is that unlike the campaigns of Advanced Warfare and Infinite Warfare is that Daniels doesn’t have an exo suit or gravity boots or superpowers to help him in combat, he’s just a regular kid in the middle of a conflict that would soon be the world’s deadliest conflict and there are flashbacks to his upbringing in Longview, Texas where he was taught to survive and certain lessons about how the world works from his brother.
The campaign begins on D-Day and it follows the squad as they break out of Normandy and fight their way to the Rhine and into the German homeland. The campaign is personal and good but also very typical, somewhat unoriginal, and boring: The campaign took me through some of the standard WW2 staples that you’ve seen time and time again. World War II games has seen this a million times before and I hoped the campaign would introduce us to something new but it felt just like another WWII shooter, or even Medal of Honor. When I landed on Omah Beach, I just was reminded of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and this particular version is no where that epic and memorable sequence and top of that it didn’t really look like Omah Beach and it just felt like I was playing another WW2 game from a decade ago. It felt like I’ve seen this done way better.
For the first time since Call of Duty: United Offensive, health packs have returned, replacing the regeneration system that was present since Call of Duty 2 and this change works better and you need alot of them on Veteran: You need to be more cautious and forward thinking and placing yourself into cover. Feeling vulnerable is great when you can’t heal magically on your own and adds a good amount of tension.
Another addition is that your squadmates have abilities that you can get when racking up kills, a squadmate will hurl at you medkits, another one will hurl at you grenades, your Lieutenant will lob you ammo and whatnot. This system seems exciting but it’s frustrating at times and it feels clumsy in gameplay
The prospect of a WWII “definitive.” game and especially a Call of Duty WWII game at that seems exciting but this game really isn’t it, much less the campaign. I’m reminded of my grandpa’s stories but it doesn’t really pan out to anything, just another WWII game. It doesn’t really capture the feeling of the original Call of Duty games like they said it would be and it doesn’t capture the ambition of games like Call of Duty 4, World at War, Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops and Black Ops II.
Stay tuned for my review tomorrow.