Call of Duty: WWII has finally arrived for PS4, Xbox One and PC, bringing Activision's annual shooter series back to World War II for the first time in nearly a decade. But is the new game a worthy return to Call of Duty's roots, or just an uninspired rehash?
Fortunately for Call of Duty fans, early reviews of the game seem to point towards the former. Critics are largely high on WWII's cinematic campaign and back-to-basics multiplayer, though some reviewers have called out the game for sticking to closely to the formula.
Note that many Call of Duty: WWII reviews are still in-progress, as some critics are waiting to see how the game's multiplayer holds up in a real-world setting. With that in mind, here are some early verdicts on one of the most anticipated shooters of the year.
GameSpot's Miguel Concepcion gave Call of Duty: WWII a glowing 9 out of 10 review, giving major praise to the game's emotional story, innovative multiplayer additions and satisfying zombies mode.
"As one of the most comprehensive and filler-free Call of Dutys in recent memory, Call of Duty: WWII successfully capitalizes on the series' strengths." - Miguel Conception, GameSpot
"[Campaign] is a substantial, six-plus-hour trek where intense close-quarters combat complements spectacular showcase events, brought to life through excellent visuals and sound design."
"Naturally foregoing the future tech and superhuman mobility of the last few CoDs, the return to mid-20th-century combat is especially welcome in WWII's adversarial multiplayer."
"Between the cluttered user interface and the checklist of available objectives, Headquarters feels overwhelming at first."
"[War mode] proved involving and satisfying, no matter the side, which makes the limited selection of three sorties the one drawback of this otherwise stellar mode."
Russ Frushtick of Polygon says Call of Duty: WWII returns to its roots with mixed results, noting that its emotional story line is at odds with the ultra-violent gameplay, and that its campaign treads familiar ground. His thoughts on multiplayer are still pending.
"Rather than serve as a reboot, Call of Duty: WWII is more of a redundancy." - Russ Frushtick, Polygon
"Feeling semi-powerless when you're low on health with no healing items stored adds a nice level of tension to otherwise typical scenarios."
"Just about every mission feels like déjà vu, as if I'd played it before in another game, be it Medal of Honor: Allied Assault or, hell, even the first two Call of Duty games."
"Unfortunately the rest of the cast manages to blend into a forgettable mash, even though it's clear that a late-game turn for one of them is designed to show some unearned depth."
IGN's Miranda Sanchez also focused exclusively on the campaign for her review-in-progress, though she was much more positive on it.
"The campaign is a great primer that shows how well Call of Duty's combat adjusts back into a historical setting for the first time since 2008's World at War."
"It's refreshing: it felt good to be a little grounded, vulnerable, and have a clean HUD for once."
"WW2’s weaponry is effective but very few items felt special or unique –- this game isn’t rewriting history, so it's pretty much all weaponry we've seen before. "
"Though infrequent and usually not essential, the times I had to sneak around and thrust a knife in enemy throats often went terribly wrong."
In his GamesRadar review, Leon Hurley focused largely on the purer gameplay experience afforded by the series' return to World War II. Like Frushtick, he wasn't very high on the campaign.
"More accessible and enjoyable than [Call of Duty] has been in years." - Leon Hurley, GamesRadar
"It’s wiping the slate clean on guns and gear that really reinvigorates things this year."
"There are still scorestreaks and gadgets but it's a more level playing field in terms of advantages."
"The much hyped mechanic where you need your teammates for ammo, health and so on also feels like an idea in need of a home, rather than a necessary new concept. It's fine when it works, but if you need a medical pack and the health guy's not around, then you basically have to go off looking for him."
"Weirdly, for a story about one of the most famous wars in history, this does a poor job of telling you what's actually going on."
Game Informer's Daniel Tack gave Call of Duty: WWII a strong 8.75 out of 10, praising the game's satisfying gunplay and big set pieces while echoing the common sentiment of the story being a bit clichéd.
"For old-school fans of the franchise tired of laser beams and jetpacks, the title provides an epic return to form to classic warfare." - Daniel Tack, Game Informer
"The [Headquarters] social space is an awesome inclusion that makes your downtime interesting, and I can't see going away now that the door is open."
"Sneaking and sniping with the Lee-Enfield in the Mountain Division or unloading a bucket of incendiary shotgun shells into the enemy as Expeditionary is exhilarating."
"Nazi Zombies is the scariest iteration of the mode that has graced a Call of Duty title, boasting some jump scares and an absolutely occult vision of the Final Reich."
"The characters in your squad are forgettable cardboard cutouts, a throwaway cast that seems like a slipshod assemblage of Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and Platoon."
"The standard gunplay and endless killing fields often feel like a slog, taking down hundreds of enemies and moving to the next defensive position. "
Image Credit: Activision