Call of Duty: WWII Private Beta Shows Why CoD is the Top Shooter in the Market. Zhe Germans are coming. Go Hide your Sense of Humor!

The Call of Duty: WWII Private Beta going live for the weekend is a big moment for many Call of Duty fans. Whether introduced to the original Call of Duty in 2003 or the most recent Infinite Warfare, the return to World War II has piqued the interest of those wanting a return to its tried and true boots-on-the-ground formula. Will it prove to be the game fans have come to expect? Will it be more than that? This is a chance to see if this is the Call of Duty people have been looking for.

The Private Beta only showcases the multiplayer aspect of Call of Duty and anyone who has played a Call of Duty knows that’s the biggest part. The campaign story is always important and with the push for taking it back to WWII, the campaign also looks to be pushing the game in new (old) directions. At the end of the day, though, the multiplayer will be the thing most played for any fan of the series. The good news — Call of Duty: WWII still feels like Call of Duty, through and through.

Call of Duty: WWII proves that it consistently maintains the excellence of modern shooters fans have come to know and love. The thing that feels the most surprising is how improved the gunplay feels. It’s reminiscent of the Halo series, taking everything learned from all previous games and constantly improving upon it. It just feels good to shoot a gun in this game. Everything from blatantly spraying while praying to taking quick aim down the sight to pop off an opposing team member in the head. Whatever weapon being fired does it with precision, accuracy (to the player’s ability) and a beautiful “cu-chink” of a stripper clip ejecting from an M1 Garand. Every gun, bullet and explosion has impact that matches exactly with the force expected from Call of Duty. It might be even better than Halo 5… *waits for a slap to the face* It’s also this gunplay that shows just how meticulously they’ve crafted weapon design. Certain guns do need some tweaking, such as shotguns with incendiary rounds. Example: an opposing team member shouldn’t be able to blow someone away from a distance that a shotgun just wouldn’t work at, or being shot at point blank only to catch fire and not have the other person also catch fire from their own blast. Knowing that fire can spread but doesn’t spread in certain ways is off putting. Weapons aren’t the only thing showcasing the care put into this Call of Duty.

The matches are fast-paced, tight and the level design of the three maps plus the War map being showcased fit well within the Call of Duty paradigm. Those used to Battlefield might feel the maps to be to claustrophobic, which could be off-putting for large map purists. The maps have a design that anyone who knows shooters can get behind. They might be almost too well crafted. Within a few matches vantage points become obvious, hidey holes make themselves known and navigating the maps in Call of Duty like fashion is obvious from how players are moving about. Call of Duty remains a torrent of bullets from all directions while constantly having to be on the move only pausing for the briefest moments while aiming down the site. More than once a kill made against the player can feel cheap and might rub some the wrong way. During one of my first matches, I turned a corner only to have someone pop off a sniper round right into my chest no problem as they were also turning the corner. It would have been a perfect time to use the bayonet (that the game too often reminds the player of), but it felt cheap getting killed that way. This is still a beta, things will probably get tweaked, but moments like this happen often enough in other scenarios that it can be grating.

While both the gunplay and level design feel tight, some cracks in the WWII façade show rather quickly. No matter what the match or what side is being fought on, it does not feel like being in WWII. It feels like being in Call of Duty with a WWII skin pack. The most glaring thing is that the team names are Allies vs Axis, which is partially appropriate, but even Battlefield doesn’t shy away from who was fighting who. If taking on the role of a German soldier, anyone will know they are a Nazi, that’s literally who was being fought in WWII. To bring up a point made already, it feels like shying away from exactly what the war was about. Every match played I’ve never once thought, “oh, I’m in WWII,” just “yup, this is Call of Duty.” Which could lead to some players not digging on how the game has re-re-invented itself. They might have gone back to WWII but the impact of such a historical moment in world history falls flat. The campaign will have to make up for this exponentially if Call of Duty: WWII wants to prove it’s the WWII game it says it is.

The one thing that did make it feel like being in an actual battle turns out to be the new mode called War. It takes what Battlefield 1 has done with Operations and gives it the Call of Duty charm even accompanied by mechanics from the Zombie Mode. Whether holding back the enemy or gaining ground, each of the four objectives is different enough that concentrating on specific task at hand becomes a must. This means repairing walls, planting/defusing bombs or building a bridge. These tasks make the fight feel worth it instead of just killing as many opposing team members as possible, even if there is some historical contextualization. The new war mode might be the best addition to Call of Duty’s multiplayer. It sticks with its guns while also adapting and that is what will keep pushing Call of Duty forward, even while going backward.

The Call of Duty: WWII Private Beta is a solid reminder of just why Call of Duty maintains its position as one of the top shooters in the market. Call of Duty: WWII has gone back to its roots and taken everything it’s learned from itself and others to create something that any fan of the series is sure to love. Now it’s about holding on to players who might be making their return and getting them to stick around. Call of Duty isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and knowing that an improved Zombies is on the way with the feel of Call of Duty: WWII certainly has a draw.

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