Call of Duty finally getting that simplicity is perhaps for the betterment of the series. This is after the series decided to finally leave Earth in Infinite Warfare after years of near-future build up. This is also after Infinity Ward said they will return to the root of the franchise. Who did it better? That is an answer reserved for the review of the game. What we do have is the multiplayer open beta for Call of Duty WW2 though. So does it leave a good first impression? Yes at first.
The first thing you would notice is that the game has classes, which are called Divisions, which provide distinct perks and weapon skills. You are still free to choose whatever weapon you want to use, but you are better off using the weapons assigned to each class. Do not expect to mount a silencer onto any gun as the Infantry, you have to be Airborne to do that. Also you will need to be using a submachine gun to mount one. You want the bayonet? Infantry with rifles get that. Incendiary rounds? Expeditionary with shotgun. There are also other limits to the various classes, such as Division Training.
The perk system is also a lot different. Compared to previous titles where you can mix and match, and then pick some trait for your class. Division Training on the other hand has set perks that you gain access to as you progress down a certain class. For example at Scout III, the Mountain gains the ability to see player names further, sees more of the mini-map and is hidden from player controlled kill streaks. Augmenting the perks given by Division Training are the Basic Training perks, which is a single selectable perk that can be used by all classes. Other than the new perk management system, the Create-A-Class is more or less the same as previous Call of Duty games.
Moving on to gameplay, Call of Duty WW2 takes the good old mechanics and slaps new paint on it. By paint, I mean making the guns feel like guns. The older games always had guns that felt like angry laser guns given the sound of angry type-writers, but the gun sounds now boom. When you shoot it, it feels mechanical. Like you can hear the bolt cycling, the bullets ejecting. It is hard to explain, but think of how the Battlefield franchise tends to get their weapon sounds right, yes that. In turn, the sound improvements lend to authenticity and make gun battles more immersive. The gunplay in and of itself is not remarkable, it is classic Call of Duty, but the new sounds just make it so much better.
The game also happens to take place in World War 2, so say goodbye to the jump packs or whatever cheap copy they did. Jump packs in the past games were more of a gimmick in my eyes than something that gives added depth. Wall running is nice, being able to go higher is nice, but when your map design considers none of that and it only acts as montage bait, then that for me is a gimmick.
Now we have a problem. We get the same game modes we have had for the past decade and then one new mode. Do I need to introduce Team Deathmatch, Hardpoint and Domination again? No. For the new mode called War. War is an objective based game mod with one team of defense and one on offense. The goal in the single map available during the beta was to destroy the enemy’s anti-aircraft gun batteries, and to do so is a step by step process. Think Battlefield’s Rush mode but more focused. The mode has a good premise, but I feel it was a massive let down.
The problem with the game mode is the scale: it is too damn small. The player count can slide (it is 6 vs. 6 only), but the map design is lacking. It is too small, there are too many choke points and you are not given the opportunity to flank around enemies because there are death walls everywhere. The players can make do by playing the objective, but it gets frustrating that for a mode that sounds massive, it is pretty contained.
As I said in the first paragraph, Call of Duty WW2’s multiplayer leaves a good first impression with me. The game is grounded (literally) because of its setting, and overall it seems like it will be a good next entry. I do hope they are able to make final improvements to the War game mode prior to launch or it would be a big opportunity wasted.