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The first time I played War in “Call of Duty 3” on Xbox 360 I was hooked. Prior, I had never been able to find a first person shooter that I could truly get into playing. I mean of course I’d enjoyed classics like “Doom” and “Goldeneye,” but back then I could only play those games at school or a friend’s house. (Looking back now it’s hard to imagine a time when installing a violent FPS on a school computer was so overlooked). But back to CoD, it was wholeheartedly the franchise that not only got me into the FPS genre, but honestly made me consider myself a gamer. I became obsessed with playing War online and took every opportunity that I could to play it. In a nutshell, it was a pretty boss WWII game.Now I know a lot of you are thinking that the first two games were significantly better and you’re not wrong. I was able to play them on PC here and there and while I enjoyed them, I really liked console gaming better. I know, I know, PC is better. Blah, blah, blah. But hey, I was poor and a cheap used console was what I could afford. It’s hard to play on PC when you’re so used to a controller…

But then the beta for “CoD 4: MW” dropped and I was hooked. I suffered from the Tetris effect quite often, seeing the beta over and over again while I was trying to fall asleep. The same thing happened to me for “WaW,” “MW:2“, and even “Black Ops.” But after the first Black Ops released, the franchise started to drop in my opinion. Year after year I would go on to try the newest addition to the series and year after year I became less interested until I didn’t want to even give them a shot anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I would still try to play them, but I always ended up returning them or trading them in. The franchise was on a bell curve but I could never see it be on the rise again.
When the trailer dropped for “WWII,” I’ll admit that my interest was piqued, but I never thought it would be any good…

Boy was I mistaken. I cannot recall the last time that a gaming franchise turned themselves around in such a positive way. I will admit that I have yet to play the campaign and I have only played zombies twice. However, this is due to the fact that the multiplayer is so killer, I have had no reason to play much else. That said, this review will focus solely on the online multiplayer experience. Also, I’d say spoilers ahead, but come on guys, it’s multiplayer – what am I really spoiling here?

Headquarters

When you first boot up the multiplayer, you have to choose your division and get your feet wet a little. Then once you’ve decided what class might work best for you, you’re dropped into a place called the Headquarters. (I’ll get into divisions a little later.) The Headquarters is set up like a base for you to prep all aspects of your character. You can try out weapons, pick up contracts, and even practice score streaks. I’ll admit that when I first got dropped into Headquarters I was a little confused and thought that maybe I’d selected the campaign by accident. But once I started walking around and pressing buttons, I got the hang of it pretty quickly and it really grew on me.

The Headquarters is a little overwhelming at first glance. Here you can access any game mode, have target practice, buy contracts and weapons collections, pick up orders to complete in-game, practice score streaks, prestige your guns and divisions, create emblems, and call in supply drops that you earn. At first I thought it was stupid and I didn’t like it. I wanted my basic menus and not to have to run around to get what I needed. But after working through the challenges that you’re given and spending some time there, it’s actually pretty damn cool. I think it’s really awesome that you have the chance to try stuff out without having to test it out online or in a private match. Although they probably could have made it a little smaller and quicker to run between areas, it’s not as bad as the Neighborhood in 2K18, which is humongous, overwhelming, littered with microtransactions, and very confusing.

I love that when I want to grab some new contracts and open my supply drops it feels like I am actually doing something. In a way, it makes the game feel a little more real and immersive. I definitely would like to see this used again in a future title.

1 v. 1

There was an update added to the headquarters after I began writing this article which made it even better than before. Now when you drop in, you’re surrounded by other players in what is essentially a big lobby. You can walk around and see them call in their supply drops, interact with one another, and best of all you can play 1 v. 1 against them. In fact, I would argue that it is the best part of Headquarters now.

Discovering the 1 v. 1 arena was like stumbling onto something brand new despite its roots in previous CoD titles. You can walk up to the board, put yourself in the queue to fight, then watch the other players play in real-time while you wait. You can even view the arena from a few different vantage points. But you don’t have to wait nearby to drop in, you can walk around your headquarters, go through your menu and make changes to your soldier.

Divisions

At first I was confused about the divisions; I thought that once you chose one that you would be stuck with it permanently and that you could only use the weapons designated for that particular class – but I was wrong. In fact, not only can you switch between divisions, but you can also choose whatever weapon you would like to go with it! Similar to the old “Create a Class” slots, Divisions allow you to customize a lot of different options for your character such as primary and secondary weapons, attachments, grenades, basic training (perks), and field attire. Although the Divisions do not offer as many options for perks as past titles have, it grew on me for building characters for differing maps and game types. And much like your rank and weapons, you can prestige your division as well, which I will cover in the Prestige section.

Game Modes

I have to admit that I was wicked disappointed in the game modes that are offered up this time around. Of course you have your classics such as Team Deathmatch and Search and Destroy, but I felt duped by the addition of the War game mode. Before I get into War, I’ll cover the other game modes first.

As per usual, you have your Standard and Hardcore modes which offer up a variety of options for online gameplay. In standard, the list is quite long and includes such modes as Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Capture the Flag, Domination, Free-for-All, etc.

Although there are so many to choose from in Standard mode, it’s pretty typical in that it still takes quite a bit to kill your opponents on these maps. Aside from headshots, I could pump my enemies full of lead and still end up dying first. The reload actions and gun swap actions are all pretty slow, which means that accuracy is key. That said, I switched over to Hardcore a lot so it provided more “I shot you first” situations. Now connection speed is likely a factor in a lot of these situations considering my current setup, but there were still a lot of frustrating moments that are reminiscent of past CoD titles; I was really hoping that the health would be adjusted some to make this more fun and less angering.

As aforementioned, I spent a lot of time switching over to Hardcore mode to make gameplay a little bit less frustrating. The HUD goes away, clearing up a lot of room to see your surroundings, and no kill cams makes everything go really quickly and smoothly – although there were several times that I wish I could have seen how I died. The nicest part about Hardcore mode was that clicking the thumbstick to stab or hit an opponent would result in a kill. In Standard mode, you have to have the Infantry Division selected in order to Bayonet Charge your opponents, killing them instantly. I hate that Standard mode made me click it twice because it often times resulted in me getting myself killed despite hunting down people from behind.

My biggest beef with Hardcore, though, is its glaring lack of modes. I would love to have seen them add Capture the Flag, Gridiron, and War to the list, if not more. It seems ridiculous that they don’t have more options.

Speaking of Gridiron, I expected a little bit more out of this mode. I ended up playing it a few times to try and close out some of my challenges, but overall I didn’t find it all that fun. It mostly seemed like Team Deathmatch with a nominal objective added to it.

Now to talk a bit about War. First of all, I am fairly ticked off about this mode existing in its current capacity. In the past, WWII themed CoD titles had a game mode called War which was very different from this one. Before, you would have a set of stationary flags that you were to capture and hold, pushing your way to the final flag and dominating the map. These excursions would often times last quite a while and be riddled with kills and deaths galore. It was amazing. However, the introduction of Domination killed this game mode off, with its last appearance in “CoD: WaW.”

When I saw War on the list of modes, I fist pumped and exclaimed a loud, “Yes! Finally!” However, once I chose the mode I realized very quickly that something was amiss. For starters there are no flags to capture and hold, but rather objectives to either defend or attack. Then there are apparently areas that I am not allowed to enter or else death ensues. I grew extremely frustrated and ended up backing out for quite some time before trying again.

Once I gave it a second chance, I was able to figure out what my objectives were, what areas of the map I should be on, and how to meet each objective. The game tells you to keep your mics on and communicate with your team, but I didn’t really find this a necessary tool. I had several excursions in War where I heard no other players and we dominated – let’s be real, this is still Call of Duty after all. After figuring things out I decided that the mode was really friggin’ awesome, and I ended up playing it a ton. My biggest problem was really the lack of a Hardcore mode and more maps to play. If they could fix those two things, it would be the best thing a CoD title has added since Nuketown.

Overall, I’d say the game modes ended up falling a little short of the mark.

Maps

Title after title the multiplayer maps have been a bit of a joke for the last several years and I was assuming that this game would be no different. However, I was floored at how map after map was just as fun as the next, with few being on my ish list. Gibraltar, USS Texas, Ardennes Forest, and Flak Tower were among my favorites. The maps were a blast to play, offering enough cover to navigate with strategy, but not so much cover that camping was a consistent problem. I could always flank a camper if need be, attacking from behind.

I did think that Gustav Canon was pretty awful, providing so much room for camping that playing as anything aside from a sniper was almost a pointless, fruitless effort. It was way too open out in the middle, meaning that moving from place to place did not provide nearly enough cover to navigate from one end to the other without fear of getting sniped.

I also had some beef with the London Docks map for a while until I learned how to navigate it better. It just seemed like it was full of pointless paths and dead ends. Once I figured out the common paths that other players were taking, then the real fun began and dominating the map became a much easier task.

The War maps were pretty good as well, but like I said before, they really should have added more to choose from to add some variety to the game.

Overall, the maps were a definite plus for this title.

Split Screen Experience

My husband and I play a lot of split screen together so this was a key aspect for myself. I had very few complaints aside from the following glaring flaws. First and foremost, who the heck decided that when you walk over another weapon that it should pop up directly in your line of sight??? When I first started playing split screen, I thought we’d never do it again because it was so massively annoying, especially in Standard mode where your HUD is already overrun with mostly useless information.

My next complaint goes back to the Headquarters. Since you are given your own Headquarters to roam through and do important tasks such as pick up commands, prestige, and open supply drops, you’d think that you’d both be able to navigate it split screen – especially since they finally fixed it where you are there with other players in real time. But noooo, of course not. Why make an obvious feature when you can ignore how it is vital to certain aspects of gameplay? In fact, if I needed to prestige a weapon or division, we would have to back out of the game altogether, go to my profile on the PS4, then I could access my Headquarters, but of course now he couldn’t. It was extremely ridiculous.

Despite the rant I just went on, I had an even bigger problem with split screen: lag. For whatever reason, my husband’s screen (since he was typically player 1) would sometimes experience very obvious lag issues while mine appeared to run fairly smoothly. In fact, it was such an issue, that he ended up giving up. He had played all day long and had few latency issues. His character moved with precision and speed and he could aim down the sights very smoothly. However, once I jumped in, he noticed that his character’s movement and reaction time had slowed, so much so that he even had to turn the sensitivity up to make up for it. It was wholeheartedly frustrating.

Prestige

I never usually have the opportunity to prestige my character in CoD, but it was refreshing to have the options to prestige my weapons and my divisions for additional features and unlocks. I loved that prestiging a weapon once allowed me to add my clan tag to that weapon, and the second prestige added a kill counter. The only oddity about the kill counter was the fact that the count on my weapon was higher than my count in my challenges by just a handful of kills. Does anyone else know why that is, because it certainly baffled me.

Having multiple prestige options added a lot of life to the game and I would love to see this continue in future titles.

Overall Gameplay

I’ve already talked about a lot of different aspects of the game but there have been several things that I have yet to cover. I am going to cover a few of those things here, but if I leave anything out you want to know about, leave a comment for me.

First let’s talk about a CoD staple, the Kill Cam. For years now, I have been used to the Killcam being the final kill in a match. I didn’t always like this though, because when you play more tactical games the Killcam isn’t always the best moment of the game and a lot of times doesn’t even matter. In this installment of the series, the Killcam shows a set of kills that are typically triple kills, quadruple kills, or sometimes higher. The cam slows down for the preceding shots, and goes back to normal speed for the final kill in the set. A lot of times it does show some pretty cool moments. Although for me, I still wish it would show epic flag captures in Capture the Flag. (Brag time: One match in a matter of seconds I had killed the enemy flag carrier, recaptured my teams flag, and leaped to my home base in the final second before a scorestreak bomb exploded on me, winning the round and the match. Come on now, how crazy would that have been on the cam?!?)

Another major aspect of CoD has always been spawning. Let’s face it, no matter what algorithms they use, they never get this right. So often I would spawn next to a spawn camper or worse yet, next to the person who had just killed me. I will admit that these issues aren’t as bad as previous titles, but are still frequent enough to be rage-inducing. There were numerous matches that I straight up left because of spawn issues. HEY ACTIVISION: STOP SPAWNING PLAYERS NEAR ENEMIES! THIS CANNOT POSSIBLY BE ROCKET SCIENCE!

Aside from the issues seen on split screen, lag didn’t really affect gameplay on my end much. On occasion I could see players move in weird patterns, almost sliding from place to place, but it didn’t happen frequent enough to be a real problem, not on single player anyways.

The weapons were alright I guess. For some reason I seem to recall being much fonder of the weapons and how they fired in “WaW,” but maybe I’m just being nostalgic. I did like that I could unlock epic versions of weapons but found this to be a rare occurrence for someone like me – a person with a job and a family. I’m guessing those who have more time on their hands can probably get to these weapons a lot faster, but it was no skin off my back.

Lastly, I want to cover challenges. The one thing that drives me to do anything at all in CoD has been the challenges ever since they were introduced a decade ago. It is awesome to try and pick out something to work on and alter your gameplay accordingly. This time around the challenges range from your weapons and game modes into your divisions. There are even daily, weekly, and overall challenges that change with time. Plus, if you want a really difficult challenge, you can use your in-game credits to buy contracts. But be careful, they are timed and some of those time limits are quite short. Regardless, the challenges are still a lot of fun, but I sure do wish they’d bring back some of the challenges such as prone and crouch shots. But I guess if they were always the same, it would be no different than buying a new edition of a sports title every year.

Final Word

All in all, I’d have to say that “CoD: WWII” multiplayer is the best one I have played since they released the king of CoD multiplayers, “MW2.” (This goes without saying, but let’s be honest, can any CoD every beat out “MW2?” I doubt it.) Regardless, this game is well worth buying at its given price point and that’s without taking zombies or single player campaign into consideration. I haven’t been this pumped about CoD in ages. (I love the “CoD 4 remaster” from last year, but the lobbys are all ghost towns these days). That said, there seem to be a ton of people still playing WWII despite other competing titles on the market such as “Battlefield One” and “Battlefront II.” Despite all of its flaws, there are enough positives to tip the iceberg, making it worth every penny.

Side note: I know that I have missed a lot here, including multiplayer zombies, but if I covered all aspects then my editor would have to publish a book instead of an article.

If you’re itching to know my thoughts on other parts of the game, multiplayer or otherwise, shoot me a comment and I’ll let you know what I think. Cheers!