So the Call of Duty: WWII Private Beta is upon us, and did I have quite the ride. Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you how amazingly different it is because, I’ll get this out of the way now, it’s not. In terms of gameplay, it’s still the Call of Duty we all know and love. It’ll no doubt get its fair share of haters, Battlefield fans blowing up Call of Duty’s rear end claiming how it’s copying it by going back to the past. It’s ready for it, Call of Duty is going back to World War II, and it’s taking no prisoners and smashing Nazi skulls without a second thought.
The beta was our first real glimpse at Call of Duty: WWII in action. We got to see how it plays, how it felt, how it looked, and I was blown away. I only played three maps, but what I saw was dripping with authenticity. The developers, Sledgehammer Games, weren’t wrong when they said they researched every battle to death. Look out to sea on the Gibraltar map and you can see Allied battleships floating dormant as fighter planes zip past through the air above. It’s a hauntingly real sight, one that would take you to that place, at that time. I myself love World War II, the era and countless iconic battles and events fascinate me, and I have a feeling that Call of Duty is going to show me just how real it was. Saving Private Ryan is one of my all-time favourite movies, it got it right from those first twenty minutes, the D-Day landings, and I’ve got a feeling we are going to see just how real it was from a first-person perspective.
The beta showed the new class system called ‘Divisions’ acting very much like the Rigs in Advanced Warfare, and each Division has its own load-out. Infantry was my favourite, standardised with a BAR assault rifle or the iconic M1 Garand, each fitted with a bayonet for up-close and personal encounters. The Bayonet Charge is Infantry’s Division skill, suspiciously similar to the one seen in Battlefield 1, as you charge forward with outstretched rifle, bellowing out a desperate scream in pure rage. Airborne is another great Division for beginners with its focus on submachine guns, such as the Thompson, and its Division skill having the choice of adding a Suppressor to your weapon.
Perks return in the form of Basic Training. Lookout allows you to see enemies from further away and increases the minimap size, Forage is similar to Scavenger, resupplying by picking up ammo from your downed foes, but you can only pick one per Division. As you level up, you earn unlock tokens to spend on pretty much anything that’s available in your level, similar to Black Ops II.
Multiplayer modes are standard fare, Team Deathmatch, Domination, you know how it works; however, there was a new mode exclusive to Call of Duty: WWII; War mode was something different entirely and a ballsy addition to the standard Call of Duty setup. Two teams battle on a huge map, there is no time limit or kill limit, you simply fight until the objectives are fulfilled. Those objectives range from blowing up a Flak gun, building a bridge so your team can push forward to bombing an ammunition cache, all while the other team fights to defend them. It’s a fantastic addition and fits in nicely to the familiar Call of Duty formula that is very much present here. If you’re defending, forget standing your ground if the enemy has completed an objective, you can’t camp and pick off enemy players as a f@#&ing tank helps them push you back!
This is classic vintage Call of Duty, gone are the boosting and wall-running. Gone are laser weapons and orbital strikes. Gone are the standout costumes and colours. What we have is boots-on-the-ground combat not seen since Ghosts. Don’t worry though, it’s still multi-level, high and low, the diving ability returns which helps switch to prone whilst running. Call of Duty’s fast and frantic combat which is notorious for its quick thinking requirement is all in tact here. Its kick-ass, and I loved it. My time on the beta was eye opening, the realisation of what I’d missed. Sure, boosting was great, quickly stopping the enemy from taking A all the way from C was heart stopping, but here it’s just as much. Sprinting as quickly as possible. This is the Call of Duty I’d longed for since Call of Duty 3 which still sits proudly in my Xbox 360 library. The last great WWII game. I can’t wait to finally be able to take part in the D-Day invasions, the events that changed everything. The valiant and daring attempt to turn the tide of the war which, as we all know, did the job. Where else will Call of Duty: WWII go? Gibraltar and Pointe Du Hoc are the only two maps I’d played, giving me insight to what’s to come in the single-player campaign.
I can’t help but be excited for the full release. The cinematics of every Call of Duty campaign so far, mixed with the World War II setting, makes me brim with excitement. Yeah, I want a brothers-in-arms tale of survival and brotherhood, one that shares how soldiers felt about one another, but I also want realism. I want to feel the agony of war, the desperation of each battle. I don’t want a one-man army story, that’s been done too many times, I want to feel close to my squad as their lives are just as important as mine. The Private Beta comes to a close, but it showed us a lot of what’s to come. The multiplayer mode is very much intact here with perks and classes simply renamed but with enough changes to make Call of Duty: WWII feel fresh and new. The core gameplay is almost untouched. Weapons feel authentic and punchy; the graphics of today bring each location to life. I was blown away, excited that Call of Duty was going back to its roots, but now after playing the Beta, I’m even more so.