Activision officially unveiled Call of Duty: WWII Wednesday after a plethora of leaks. The upcoming PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC shooter will take the franchise out of the future and back to its roots for the first time in almost 10 years with a cinematic through some of Europe’s most famous battles.
Call of Duty: WWII will be launch on Friday, November 3. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners who pre-order the game will gain access to a “private beta” before the game’s release. PS4 gamers can once again expect to get all DLC first. Activision and Sony continue the timed-exclusivity agreement that will give those console gamers access to DLC packs 30 days before the other platforms.
The campaign will take players from the beaches of Normandy to other battles across Europe while telling the story of the brotherhood shared by enlisted soldiers from 1942 through 1945. Players will fight through historical locations in France, Germany, and Belgium as part of the United States Army 1st Infantry Division.
“The story we’re telling is unlike anything that we’ve tackled before,” Studio Head Glen Schofield said in the official press release. “It’s such an amazing journey of common everyday people who became heroes. We want to respect this great generation of soldiers, tell a realistic story set in a true inflection point in human history, and deliver the best experience of our careers.”
The description of two campaign missions were shared by Activision.
- Hürtgen Forest: An old-growth forest on the German border where Allied forces engage in devastating encounters. In the heat of battle, the German Army uses tree burst bombs that detonate at treetop level, showering soldiers with wooden shrapnel. When your unit is zeroed-in-on by hostile artillery, the forest explodes around you as debris rains down.
- Normandy: From inside a Higgins landing boat, your squad will storm Omaha Beach in a visceral audiovisual experience unlike any D-Day landing experienced in a game to date. You and your fellow soldiers must overcome the enemy defenses to serve as the tip of the spear for the Allied invasion.
The main protagonist is Private Ronald “Red” Daniels as he tries to survive the campaign. He’ll be supported by characters played by Josh Duhamel (Transformers), Jonathan Tucker (Kingdom), and Jeffrey Pierce (Bosch).
While the Private Daniels and the U.S. Army will get the bulk of the playtime, Sledgehammer Games also mentioned different perspectives such as British Army Intelligence Officer and a female leader in the French Resistance.
Sledgehammer Games went through great lengths to attempt to capture the authenticity of the World War II setting. The developers went to the actual battlefields, fired weapons and drove vehicles from the period, plus hired a historian to work with them.
The studio is also using photogrammetry techniques to make a more immersive and realistic experience. This is the same technique used by DICE to create the impressive visuals in Star Wars Battlefront.
Players won’t have only the Call of Duty: WWII campaign to battle against AI enemies, however. A new co-op mode is being added that looks like Sledgehammer’s spin on the popular Zombies mode. Sledgehammer hinted during the Twitch live stream that this might be a more horror-filled take on the mode versus the over-the-top and wacky ventures from recent titles.
Multiplayer sees a smorgasbord of changes thanks to the move back to a World War II setting. The move negates some of the crazy weaponry and skins from the recent futuristic Call of Duty titles. This puts Sledgehammer and Activision in the position to find new ways to innovate.
This includes a social area called “Headquarters” where players will be able to “rally and interact” with their fellow soldiers online. A quick image shown in the Twitch live stream of the event displayed a large area on the beaches of Normandy with dozens of players gathered, similar to the Tower in Destiny.
Sledgehammer is also introducing “Divisions” to multiplayer. This is described as a “new approach to Create-a-Class and character customization as you enlist in a division and progress through the ranks.
Finally, an all-new game mode called “War” has been confirmed with the promise of shifting battle lines in a narrative-driven match between the Axis and Allies.
Naturally, there will be multiple editions of Call of Duty: WWII. In addition to the standard edition, GameStop will offer an exclusive Pro Edition in the United States and select retailers in other countries. The $100 Pro Edition comes with the game, a collectible steelbook case, the Call of Duty: WWII Season Pass, and a limited edition baseball cap.
Call of Duty: WWII is a welcome change of pace for the long-running shooter franchise. All three development studios got stuck in a rut of releasing games set in the future. Hopefully, this is a signal that Activision has received the message and will begin diversifying the settings from one year to the next.
[Featured Image by Sledgehammer Games/Activision]