After almost a decade of warfare taking place in the present day, the near future, and the not-so-near future, the Call of Duty franchise will finally return to World War II in the appropriately titled Call of Duty: WWII. Created by Advanced Warfare studio Sledgehammer Games, Call of Duty: WWII takes players into the vicious European conflict during the last year of the war, and replicates many of the deadly battles that eventually led to the downfall of Nazism and Germany’s surrender. Here is everything we know about the game so far.
Knocking on Hitler’s door
Call of Duty: WWII‘s campaign is set in the European theater of World War II, and follows the United States Army’s 1st Infantry division, though other supporting characters, including a female French resistance leader, will also feature prominently in the story. The bulk of the narrative takes place between 1944 and 1945, though the game will also show earlier events.
The game’s story will send its protagonists, including Jewish-American soldier Robert Zussman (Jonathan Tucker), and something of a “heel” played by Josh Duhamel, to many of World War II’s most famous battles, including the “D-Day” invasion at Normandy, Hürtgen Forest, Belgium, and other locales. Sledgehammer Games traveled to each location during the development process in order to capture the smallest details of environments, and conducted “painstaking historical research” to ensure that it’s the most realistic World War II campaign ever created.
The announcement trailer for Call of Duty: WWII paints a much different picture of the D-Day invasion than 2005’s Call of Duty 2, which also featured a D-Day level. The sky is hazy, darkness seems to envelop the landing craft making their way toward the shore, and an ominous feeling of death is present. This is part of the art direction that Sledgehammer refers to as “dark and beautiful,” meant to cause players to have a more emotional reaction to the game than past Call of Duty titles, and the team believes that the game is historically accurate enough to teach a new generation the basics of the war in Europe.
Back to basics
Going along with the return to World War II — where the series began — Activision and Sledgehammer are emphasizing what it calls “boots on the ground” combat. The game will focus on precise gunplay over the theatrical — at times ridiculous — weaponry and set pieces found in recent Call of Duty games, such as Infinite Warfare and Black Ops III.
Many of the series’ classic weapons will return to make that happen, as well as building on the authenticity seen in other areas of the game. The M1 Garand rifle, the famous standard-issue weapon used by the U.S. during the war, makes its return, complete with the classic “ping” sound effect as a clip is ejected. Automatic German weapons like the MG42 machine gun and the STG44 will also make an appearance.
One feature that has been a staple of the Call of Duty series for more than a decade — regenerating health — will not return in Call of Duty: WWII. Instead of simply avoiding damage or even picking up health packs to stay alive, you must now call for a member of your squad to come over and care for you manually. Ammunition will work similarly, and won’t automatically pick up ammo the way we’ve seen in the majority of first-person shooters over the last few generations of consoles.
Call of Duty: WWII‘s competitive multiplayer component will also focus on the fast-paced, grounded action seen in the campaign, but Sledgehammer has also introduced a few new features that should help to separate the game from other games in the series. The first announced mode, “War,” is an asymmetrical mode that sees both the Allies and the Axis working to take objective points, while “Headquarters” is a new social mode that allows players to get together and connect in between battles — the first real attempt for the Call of Duty series to recognize that soldiers didn’t fight at absolutely all times during the war.
“Zombies,” a mode that has become a yearly staple in the Call of Duty series, will also be making its return as a cooperative mode. Sledgehammer’s first horror game, the mode will see Hitler attempting to create an army in the final stages of World War II, which, as we’ve seen in Rebellion’s Zombie Army Trilogy, doesn’t go particularly well.
When can we play it?
Call of Duty: WWII releases for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, on November 3. Activision will run a multiplayer beta prior to the game’s official launch for players who pre-order the game. The beta will launch first on PlayStation 4. In the meantime, Activision said it plans to show more of the game E3 2017 this June.