After almost a decade of war 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.
Call of Duty: WWII‘s competitive multiplayer component will 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 others in the series. The first announced mode, “War,” involves asymmetrical, strategic gameplay that sees both the Allies and the Axis working to take objective points. According to Condrey, the mode will feature object-driven conflicts. In essence, War will feature mini-stories that differ whether you are fighting for the Allies or the Axis.
In October, 2017, Sledgehammer games revealed a new mode, called “Gridiron,” in a statement to fan site Charlie Intel. The mode will be Call of Duty: WWII‘s take on the “Uplink” mode found in Advanced Warfare. Co-studio head Michael Condrey also revealed a London multiplayer map, which he said is a “standout” choice for several competitive modes.
In a June 2017 post on the U.S. PlayStation Blog, Condrey revealed that WWII will feature class-based multiplayer loadouts. Instead of creating a class from scratch, which CoD players have done in some form since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s introduced the “create-a-class” loadout system, WWII asks players to choose from a set of classes called “Divisions.”
Players can choose from five different “iconic World War II divisions” with their own combat training and skills, which should allow for easier strategy planning. Respawn’s Titanfall 2 took a similar approach, replacing much of its Titan customization with pre-made classes. Prior to the post, Condrey also confirmed on Twitter that players will be able to choose between male and female soldiers in competitive multiplayer.
Call of Duty WWII will also have a new social mode called “Headquarters,” which allows players to get together and connect in between battles. According to Condrey, Headquarters is where “you start your night, maybe you end your night — this is where you go to be social. Dozens of characters being able to interact in new ways.”
Condrey claimed that players can imagine a space like Orgrimmar from WoW, but in World War II, where players can interact, show off their gear, and even possibly practice their combat. When you level up, Condrey claimed that Headquarters will give you the opportunity to celebrate your accomplishment in a social place amongst friends. It’s unclear how extensive Headquarters will be, but Condrey boiled it down as a “social and activity-driven space that really showcases and celebrates your achievements and your personality.”
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 main protagonist, Jewish-American soldier Robert Zussman (Jonathan Tucker), and Red Daniels, 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 travelled 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 story centers around the brotherhood of 12 soldiers who make up the 1st infantry. Sledgehammer has also promised that in addition to the playable female Resistance fighter, the cast will cover a wider scope than previous Call of Duty games set in WWII. Speaking with GamesRadar, Sledgehammer co-founder Michael Condrey said, “There’s a German family and two sisters, there’s Crowley, a British officer, there’s Cormack, an African-American officer from another regiment.”
As World War II was fought between the Allied forces and the Axis powers, Sledgehammer wants the campaign to not just represent the United States and Germany, but all of the parties in the fight — a distinction that should be obvious, but hasn’t always come across in many World War II games.
Additionally, Condrey revealed that the game will take a nuanced approach with the Axis powers to show that not all of the soldiers fighting on the German side were Nazis.
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; you 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. Your squad mates will also be able to toss replacement ammunition your way in an effort to make the campaign feel more like a team effort, rather than a solo romp with a ragtag group of allies that don’t serve any meaningful purpose in terms of gameplay. There’s even the possibility that members of your division will die, outside of just scripted deaths, which will further complicate how you approach combat.
World War II, now with more zombies
“Zombies,” a mode that has become a yearly staple in the Call of Duty series, will also return as a cooperative mode. However, unlike previous entries, which have presented the Zombie Mode in a somewhat fun and campy style, Call of Duty: WWII‘s “Nazi Zombies” campaign has a much more like a serious horror movie feel.
Players are taken into the bowels of Nazi labs, where Nazi scientists are creating “the devil” himself,” and all sorts of horrifying undead corruption. The grasping hands and gnashing teeth of the corpse army emerging from the bowels of occupied Germany are anything but laughable. Hitler may have been trying to create a new army, but all has not gone to plan and it’s down to players to try and put a stop to it.
While there are no celebrity likenesses in this particular video, we’re told that there will be a star-studded cast. Actors like David Tennant, Elodie Yung, Katheryn Winnick, Udo Kier, and Ving Rhames will all make appearances, though in what guise is yet to be made clear.
As with all recent Call of Duty games, Activision will offer a season pass for Call of Duty: WWII‘s post-launch content. The $50 season pass will comprise four expansions for release in 2017, as well as new Zombies and War missions. Those who purchase it will automatically receive the “Carentan” map, as well. It was a hit in 2005’s Call of Duty 2, becoming one of the game’s most popular maps.
When can we play it?
Call of Duty: WWII releases for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on November 3. Activision ran a multiplayer beta for those who pre-ordered on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 back in late August, with a PC beta following in late September — this beta contained the maps “Pointe du Hoc,” “Ardennes Forest,” “Gibraltar,” and “Aachen,” as well as War mode.
Updated by Gabe Gurwin on 10-12-2017: Added information on “Gridiron” mode, new map, and beta content.