It is happening. After all those years of begging for change and protesting the road Call of Duty games have traveled, Activision has announced that Call of Duty: WWII will be a thing. Let us rejoice and celebrate the arrival of a franchise going back to its roots. It worked for Battlefield 1 and it will probably work for Battalion 1944 and, my God, it will surely work for Call of Duty: WWII.
Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but while Call of Duty: WWII will most likely be a good game and make a lot of people happy, there are doubts that this is the right direction for the franchise. There is no dispute that the current formula has grown stagnant, but taking a step back isn’t a sure-fire way to success, and there are aspects of recent Call of Duty games that work extremely well. Not only do they work well in the current formula, but they will be unable to work within the WWII setting.
So, amidst the praise and hallelujahs, we’ve had to think about what makes futuristic Call of Duty games work, and why going back to WWII may not be the resounding solution to the franchise’s issues. We believe that Call of Duty should steer the course and not go down memory lane, that there is merit to the Call of Duty games of recent years, which you will probably miss once they are gone.
15 No Exoskeletons
You know what wasn’t about (probably) during WWII? Exoskeletons. Yeah, everyone may be a bit down on them, but they’re probably one of the more innovative things Call of Duty has introduced to the franchise in Advanced Warfare.
Let’s just look at what they offer: You can increase or decrease the abilities which you have chosen to specialize in, which in turn, impacts on the way missions are completed, giving you a variety of choices when going about playing the game. It made the campaign mode a more repayable experience as a result. Which is brilliant, considering the criticism Call of Duty games have received for being samey and linear experiences.
Also, remember that April Fool joke when a ‘honk’ noise would sound whenever you boost jumped, slid, dodged or dashed? Yeah, you won’t get any of that when you’re slumming it in the trenches.
14 No Wall Running
Now, I get that this isn’t everyone’s favourite Call of Duty mechanic. But I’d wager you’ll miss it once it’s gone. Because let’s face it, your multiplayer experience in Call of Duty: WWII will be dull without wall running. There is no way they could bring it back either. How will can they realistically explain it as a concept that existed in the 1940s?
Mechanically, it works as intended, adding another level of strategy to online play and a sense of verticality to your movement. Some would argue that it is stylish for the sake of being stylish, but that’s a superficial way of looking at things. It is a ridiculously fun mechanic that, given the shift in era, Call of Duty won’t be able to implement in the next title.
I’m not suggesting that Call of Duty: WWII’s multiplayer won’t be a fun or successful experience – it just won’t be the same and, as mentioned, wall running will be sorely missed for it.
13 Fewer Uncovered Stories
Let’s just consider why the modern FPS moved away from the WWII setting? In simple terms, they ran out of stories. Now, let me be clear, I’m certain that there are many individual and intimate stories you can tell, but as a setting, it’s worn thin. We’ve been there, shot the Nazis and got the t-shirt. Once the novelty wears off, it will feel the same as always, just as it did when we became tired of the setting before.
The futuristic settings of recent iterations have allowed the developers unlimited freedom when crafting the narrative. The fiction they have created in recent years has no boundaries, a luxury they will not be afforded when we go back to WWII. The simple fact is that they are not anchored to locations and tropes we’ve seen before, and it will become apparent that the WWII setting was left behind for a reason.
12 Pale Imitator
Come on. Call of Duty is late to the party with this one. When Battlefield 1 took the leap back to WWI in 2016, it was a nice idea because we hadn’t been there for such a long time. Maybe if Call of Duty took that initiative first, instead of giving us Infinite Warfare, this list wouldn’t exist and I would be saying how great an idea Call of Duty: WWII is. But they didn’t take that step. Activision released Infinite Warfare, and after its poor reception, they decided to jump on the nostalgia bandwagon. That’s not innovative; it’s derivative.
As a result, Activision risks Call of Duty: WWII being considered the poor man's Battlefield 1. Now, the quality of Call of Duty: WWII will have a lot to say when shifting that perspective, but there's no avoiding the comparisons between the two.
11 Let's Go To 'Nam
Okay, so if Activision is determined to set this year's Call of Duty in a real-world conflict, why revisit WWII again. Civilization has been embroiled in many more conflicts other than WWII. Why not explore them instead? That way, they will still be able to deliver an experience in an entirely new setting altogether.
Vietnam has often been touted as a successor the sci-fi themed Call of Duty games in recent years. As a conflict, it is ripe with scenarios and stories to tell — it would feel fresh and new while delivering a more traditional vibe.
Let’s not go back too far with conflicts to choose. The Civil War should be ruled out. Have you ever seen anyone try to load a musket? It’s a pretty time-consuming exercise.
10 Less Modern Themes
For some, Call of Duty is all shooty-shooty-bang-bang, which is fine. If that’s what you want and that’s what you are into, then have at it and have a great time. But for others, they want a bit of meat to their stories.
While not famed for it, Call of Duty games in recent years have looked at complex themes which could just not be explored in the WWII setting, because the ideas and concepts they’re exploring just weren’t topical or relevant at that time. After all, the morality of putting zombies into exoskeletons in Advanced Warfare, and the ethical complications of using the dead for your own nefarious means just cannot explored in WWII. That sort of stuff didn’t happen – they’re not making Wolfenstein.
9 Putting Off Newer Fans
It is understandable that some people may want to have another WWII first-person shooter. To have an experience that harkens back to the golden days of the genre would be a dream for those people. But there are a lot of people other than those gamers, and they won’t necessarily remember those times.
Yes, I’m talking about the younger audiences that Call of Duty has attracted over the years. It is important that there is a game that is designed for their wants and needs too. Thematically, a WWII setting may not appeal to them in the same way because they haven’t got that nostalgia for the early Call of Duty games.
You can point to Battlefield 1 and say that hasn’t alienated any of their audience. Maybe it hasn’t, but Battlefield didn’t stray as far from its origins as Call of Duty has, so the core audience weren’t as fervent for a return to the good old days. So yeah, just think of the kids.
8 Less Creative Weapon Design
Weapons based on lasers are fun. Admit it, we all love that pew-pew sound that they make. What is great about Call of Duty games in futuristic settings is that they can plausibly include these weapons with little explanation given as to why. Narratively speaking, their existence is facilitated because the game is set in a world of advanced technology.
Weapon design in world-war FPS games has been worn thin. We’ve seen it all before and given that Call of Duty: WWII will be restricted by its setting, we aren’t going to see anything new in this regard.
I’m not suggesting that Call of Duty games are defined by the selection of weapons at your disposal, but each iteration offering new and innovative weapons gives each release something distinct and more exciting than the last.
7 Nostalgia Isn't All That
We all love the stuff that made us happy when we were kids. Good old nostalgia, eh? It is a universal feeling enjoyed by all humankind, and It’s even more prevalent with video games, which play a large role in making kids happy.
Nostalgia kicks in when we become jaded by anything we like. We start to look back at perceived ‘better days’ and wish for them longingly. Then, if human behaviour tells us anything, people usually resent the thing they want when it is eventually granted to them.
It’s natural, you remember those halcyon days much better than they were, and when something popular from yesteryear is reproduced and repackaged for the modern day, it just feels a bit off. You start to think that whoever produced the product just didn’t understand what made it successful in the first place – but they did. It’s just that we remember things differently.
6 Futuristic Is Distinctive
Despite this list, it is hard to dispute that the world war setting is seeing a popular resurgence. Battlefield 1 and Battalion 1944 are examples of developers picking up on a popular trend and running with it. It is for this reason that Call of Duty should have stuck to their laser-guns and pursued the Sci-Fi, futuristic setting. Maybe gamers would have been annoyed if they had not announced Call of Duty: WWII but what we will see now is an FPS market with a myriad of incredibly similar titles.
It is important in a time when all video game releases are starting to feel as though they mix and blur together, then we have a franchise that feels distinct to others of the same genre. As tired as recent Call of Duty games have become, taking it back to a setting which has been explored twice by other video games in the last year isn’t the answer. As such, Call of Duty should stay the course and play the long game.
5 Cash Cow Over Creativity
Regardless of how I feel about Call of Duty: WWII, it is safe to say that it will make a lot of bank. While they may be a good thing for Activision, fans of the franchise may be hurt in the long run as there is always the risk that they may not put the effort in.
The consensus is that commercial success of Call of Duty: WWII is a sure thing. People have clamoured after it for so long, and Sledgehammer may play the safe card and deliver an experience that we are all familiar with and reminiscent to previous iterations of the game. This becomes problematic as it doesn’t encourage innovation. We won’t get anything new or more exciting than we’ve seen previously, which could only serve to hurt the franchise.
Storming the beaches of Normandy may be exciting but we’ve done that before in video games, and there is no need to go down that path again.
4 No Space Combat
You’re probably never going to go to space. Unless you work for NASA and are training to be an astronaut, I’m confident that you’ll never leave the earth’s atmosphere. For that reason, using video games to explore locations that we will literally never get to experience is what makes them great. Chances are, unless there is a dramatic twist, Call of Duty: WWII will not let you go to space either.
What recent Call of Duty games have got right in recent years is the sections set in outer space. They are exciting for there is no other reference point for you to relate to. You may also not be able to physically relive famous WWII battles in Call of Duty: WWII, but you could go to their locations if you like. Which is cool but it’s not quite space, is it?
I hope you’re not reading this fifty years from now from your colony on Mars, otherwise, that will make me look a bit silly.
3 Less Exciting Flight Combat
Fighting in flight is a great component of Call of Duty titles, and will probably work well in Call of Duty: WWII, but will it be as great as it’s futuristic brothers? My guess: Probably not.
For one, Call of Duty titles set in futuristic timeframes provide scope for the technology to be more outlandish in design, allowing you to travel at speeds which spitfire pilots could only aspire to reach. They provide an adrenaline rush unattainable when flying in planes based on technology designed in the mid-twentieth century.
This, coupled with the lack of space combat, could ultimately deliver flight combat sections that are lackluster experiences that end up following a rinse and repeat methodology.
2 Sci-Fi Is The Way Forward
Dystopian, science fiction is a pretty hot genre right now and it would be remiss for Call of Duty to neglect this fact and go back to historical warfare. While we are amid a boom for the world war FPS game, this may only serve to be a brief fad. Science fiction, on the other hand, is evergreen.
I’ve touched on how this could be the best way to keep Call of Duty distinctive to its contemporaries, but it is also the best way to keep the franchise fresh so they can explore ideas and themes that are currently topical. We live in strange times, politically, and culturally, and the sci-fi genre has always been the best way for storytellers, and game developers, to explore the times in which we live. We may not get that opportunity by stepping seventy years into the past.
1 Just make Advanced Warfare 2, eh?
Come on. This is what the people really want. Sledgehammer’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is arguably the best addition to the franchise, and we would be silly to think that more of that wouldn’t be a good thing. It would be a sign that Activision really does want to push the Call of Duty franchise forward and the only way to do that would be to build upon the most successful iteration of the series, rather than to revisit the past.
Just think about the improvements Sledgehammer could bring to the other entries on this list if they went down this avenue instead. Sure, a lot of what we’ve covered have not been executed perfectly in previous games, but that is the point of refinement. To take what you’ve already done and innovate upon those ideas and not throw them away for a shot at the glory days would be the best place to take the Call of Duty franchise.