Last year’s Infinite Warfare marked the point at which the Call of Duty bandwagon sputtered to a stop. Fans and critics reacted negatively and a change was needed. Step in Sledgehammer Games, who have brought the franchise back to its historical roots with Call of Duty: WW2.  Although this change is refreshing, the format has yet again failed to change.

Despite the leap backwards in history, WW2 hits every note of a Call of Duty game that fans would expect. Gameplay is fast-paced and intense and weapons feel satisfying to use. There isn’t a lack of choice gun-wise, which was a worry for fans beforehand. Sledgehammer have provided a vast collection for players to wreak  destruction upon their enemies.

Excellent gameplay helps create a chaotic multiplayer mode that is quick and competitive. The biggest change here is how players receive and use perks. The player chooses a ‘Division’ represented by a branch of the Allied forces, which come with their own levelling system that can earn the player perks as they rank up, encouraging players to specialise in a certain class. This brings a lot of play styles  to online matches, however there is still space for players to create their own class.

One of the surprising changes to Call of Duty this year is the inclusion of a single player story actually worth playing. WW2 comes packaged with a solid campaign that, despite a muddled first act and dips in the quality of writing, delivers an interesting and gritty experience. This is largely due to the fact the writers haven’t been afraid to include memorable moments from cinema over the last decade, reminiscent of films like Saving Private Ryan and Fury. These sequences don’t come across as cheesy either, providing some of the best moments of the single player. It does nearly fall into the trap of the stereotypical shooter campaign with repetitive objectives and a cast of familiar characters; however, these are all brilliantly voiced which makes up for some of the poor lines in the script.

“Some of the best graphical environments seen in gaming over the past few years.”

The single player also showcases the stellar visuals Sledgehammer has produced, with the set pieces boasting some of the best graphical environments seen in gaming over the past few years. There are a host of colours and terrains made to look absolutely beautiful running on the in-house engine. Even the destruction of buildings and flora look stunning. This is undeniably the best looking Call of Duty produced this generation.

The renowned game mode Zombies makes a welcome return and still delivers the same hectic fun the it’s known for. It features some brilliant performances by the likes of David Tennant and Ving Rhames, with their quips and remarks contributing to some of the best moments while playing.

It’s no secret Call of Duty will never again reach the heights of the last decade. The tried and tested formula is starting to wear on gamers, posing a problem for the whole franchise. WW2 will attract past fans with the return to the games roots coupled with a strong multiplayer and a decent single-player, yet it may also fail to engage a new audience. Based upon early sales figures, maybe that won’t matter.  It will be interesting to see where Treyarch takes the franchise in the future.

★★★★☆

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