Call of Duty: WWII (XB1) Review

Storming the beaches…again.

What is old is new again. The Call of Duty series needs no introduction. It is a machine of annual releases that spark a fervor of sales and conversation. Is this the year the series starts its decline? Activision has mastered a cycle between three developers to keep things fresh year-to-year, and in 2017 it is time to revisit where it all started. Call of Duty is returning to World War II, and it is once again time to storm the beaches of Normandy. The real question is, are gamers ready to go back in time?

Let’s start with where I always start my CoD experience. The campaign is much what I expected. It focuses on a group of soldiers as they progress through the war. Players assume the role of Private “Red” Daniels as he experiences the horrors of war. The story feels typical on most accounts. I did like the relationships between him and his squad mates. It builds gradually and by the end I cared about the actions that took place.

MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99

The campaign lasts the standard 5-6 hours and is rounded out by some solid cut scenes. There are great moments sprinkled throughout, but nothing groundbreaking. There are a lot of repeated sections we have seen in many WWII games before, just now in a higher fidelity. Everything feels like CoD of old. The biggest change though comes in ammo and health management. Squad mates can now be interacted with and will toss players ammo and health. There is no more regenerating health. Instead, an animation plays out as I healed myself. It changes the dynamic for sure, and it took me a couple levels to get accustomed to it.

Of course, Call of Duty has also become a three tier game. The campaign is only the beginning. The second piece of the puzzle is the inevitable zombies mode. Keeping with the theme, this year marks the return of Nazi Zombies.

Originally thought of as just another horde mode, Zombies mode has evolved over the years. The WWII setting goes for a darker tone, while also bringing back the puzzle elements fans have come to know and love. There is also a story here, and a dark one at that. It’s a pretty paint-by-the-numbers story that attempts to be more creepy than it actually is. The music sets the mood, but the jump scares are limited.

With so much focus on puzzles it is no shock that Zombies lives and dies on having a good team. Jumping in with randoms is like a roll of the dice. Either teammates don’t bother with headsets or are problematic griefers. However, when I had friends or a good set of random players, the design of Zombies shines. Solving the enigmatic levels becomes the focus, while blasting zombies becomes secondary. It also helps that there are a ton of things to upgrade in this mode. Activision continues to deliver three solid tiers, each of which could be sold as a standalone game for a discounted price.

Finally we come to the heart of all Call of Duty games, multiplayer. I suck at Call of Duty, there is no set dressing to put on that. Jumping into multiplayer, even the day of release, is anxiety city for me. I die and die and die repeatedly. This is Call of Duty though, so they have a great way of showcasing progression even when you suck.

Taking a step back from futuristic weapons changes the landscape, but not the feel. This still feels like CoD, and that is a good thing. There is a reason so many titles mimic the play style of these games. All the standard modes are present and accounted for. There are new challenges that earn XP, and even loot boxes that drop from the sky. Heck, there’s even an Achievement for watching someone open one.

The highlight for me though is War. This large-scale objective-based mode makes my meager skills feel more relevant. My K/D ratio is atrocious, but when playing something like War, I actually feel like I am contributing something.

It is worth noting that early on servers had serious issues. The new lobby system would sometimes load me into my area without being able to join or host games. Things have gotten better, but CoD is known for its stability at launch. This is the first time in years I have even had to mention something about its online issues at launch.

I held my review off so I could see what the Xbox One X could do with WWII. Playing on base Xbox One was fine, but I could see the limitations with the lower resolution. Seeing this game on the X (and likely the PS4 Pro) is incredible. The 60fps action is accented by crisp visuals and great textures. This is a great-looking game.

Call of Duty WWII is a return to its roots. The campaign feels clichéd and the MP still feels like a CoD game, even without technical enhancements. Zombies delivers a visceral and fun experience, granted you have solid teammates. I feel like I go through so many motions year-in and year-out with these games, but one thing is for sure – I always enjoy myself by the end of them, and CoD WWII is no exception.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Zombies is great with a good group
  • Visuals really pop
  • Game play is still butter
  • Launch server issues
  • Campaign falls flat at times
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.