Call of Duty: WWII was officially revealed earlier today, and while the trailer and dev chatter from the livestream gave us a few details—namely that there will be boots on the ground, viscerally—some other publications were able to preview the game ahead of the reveal. We weren't one of them, but I've scoured the information out there from IGN, Polygon, and others to put together a summary of the most important details.
What's the release date?
Call of Duty: WWII has been in development by Sledgehammer Games for three years, and releases on November 3, as is the nature of Call of Dutys. Prior to release there will be a closed multiplayer beta of some kind for pre-orderers—on PS4 first—and the multiplayer will be playable at E3 2017, the first E3 in a long while to be open to the public.
19-year-old Ronald 'Red' Daniels takes the lead in what Activision insisted during today's reveal is an "authentic" story of brotherhood on the battlefield—like with some kind of band of brothers, perhaps—with "intense, visceral, boots on the ground gameplay."
Daniels is from Texas, because every World War II story needs someone to say "You're a long way from Texas, farmboy," and CoD: WWII delivers on that front. According to Polygon's preview, he'll serve under Pierson and Turner, who have conflicting philosophies about war, and other characters will include "female resistance fighters, a soldier in an African-American unit (the U.S. Army was still segregated in WWII), a British officer and even a child."
It sounds like CoD: WWII is at least depicting the war with greater scope than the series has previously, with more investigations into the many civilians and combatants who died or suffered through it—according to , the game will depict "things like racism, religious persecution, and sexism." And according to Glixel's interview, Sledgehammer has been working with historian Martin Morgan on these details.
"[Morgan] told us all these profoundly moving stories of sacrifice and atrocities and heroism," Sledgehammer co-founder Michael Condrey told Glixel. "From the beginning of the war to the end, this whole thing affected millions of lives. We really wanted the game to get in touch with the personal stories."
Until I see it for myself, I'm skeptical of the supposedly historically authentic approach that Activision is pushing—Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was also called "authentic" and it had spaceships. Though I can nearly guarantee that someone in CoD: WWII will whisper to us about taking the one on the left, while they take the one on the right.
But regarding the goal of presenting a more horrific tale and a more vulnerable soldier, all the previews indicate that CoD: WWII will have no regenerating health. "Instead, you have to limp over to your medic and ask for help," writes IGN. "Same goes for ammo—according to developers, if you run out, you’ll have to rely on your squad to toss you more."
“You have to worry about every bullet,” Sledgehammer's other co-founder, Glen Schofield, told Polygon. “You’re not the superhero. You can’t just stand there taking seven bullets, ducking, shooting again. It’s refreshing for us to deal with recruits who aren’t Tier One warriors, to show that vulnerability. They’re naïve. It’s been a really cool challenge creating this different kind of gameplay.”
I'm not sure how that's much different from Call of Dutys past. Even with the jetpacking abilities of Infinite Warfare, on hard mode I was largely required to hide and timidly pick off enemies, occasionally running away from grenades. I've never felt like a superhero in CoD to begin with, whereas Titanfall and Bulletstorm definitely have that effect.
Details were sparse at the reveal event, but we know a little about what CoD: WII will bring to the multiplayer side of things. Expect all the usual modes, of course, as well as the new War mode.
War is a "story-based asymmetrical battle between teams with different objectives," reads , and one of the scenarios will be the Normandy invasion, as you'd expect. We've yet to hear much more than that—such as how many players will be involved—but I'm hoping for Red Orchestra 2-style battles with 32 to 64 players.
The image above, a still taken from the two second multiplayer preview at the reveal, shows a lot more players than we're used to seeing on a team. However, that doesn't necessarily tell us that CoD is going bigger. Also announced today was 'Headquarters,' a social space—with no significant details beyond that.
Progression will be a bit different, too, with a new 'Divisions' system which sees players enlist in Divisions, naturally, and "progress through the ranks."
Expect a proper multiplayer reveal to come at E3 in June, where it will be playable on the show floor.
All we know for now is that CoD's now-necessary Zombies co-op mode exists, and will see players battle the Third Reich's evil experiments in undead army recruiting. Glixel's preview possibly hints at something else co-op related, though maybe it's just vague Zombies hype:
"We've got something special with co-op," Schofield told Glixel. "Very much a Sledgehammer thing. Original story, dark, new enemy—we can't wait to show more."
All in all, Sledgehammer and Activision's narrative about Call of Duty: WWII has mirrored CoD reveals past: it will be authentic, gritty, there will be boots on the ground, it will be innovative. There's always an expert consultant and real human stories. So while there are some promising ideas—and I think heading back to WWII is a good move—I'll hold off for now on any sweeping declarations that CoD has reinvented itself or that it's the new Spec Ops: The Line. We'll keep this post updated as we hear more, especially from E3.