Activision and Sledgehammer Games recently unveiled Call of Duty: World War II. As the next game in the ubiquitous series, COD WWII looks to represent a return-to-form for Call of Duty after years of future combat, jet packs, and wall-running. Sledgehammer mentioned “boots on the ground” more times than I could count during the reveal.
While the COD WWII reveal trailer was chiefly focused on single-player content, I am mostly concerned with how the multiplayer will be affected in the upcoming game. Sledgehammer revealed some details about the multiplayer in the game, including a new Headquarters in-game social space and a seemingly-expansive War Mode. With these features and a return to boots on the ground combat, the game is certainly shaping up to be the best Call of Duty multiplayer experience since Black Ops II released in 2012.
While COD WWII looks immensely promising, Sledgehammer would do well to make other changes to the recent formula to bring the series back to its roots. They also need to avoid some of the pitfalls that they created with Advanced Warfare. To that end, I have three suggestions that could help ensure that the next Call of Duty multiplayer experience is a great one.
1. Keep the Map Design Simple
Call of Duty has long been known for having small- to medium-sized maps that result in frequent encounters and reactive gameplay. There’s a reason Treyarch has been the best Call of Duty developer for some time now, and it is because they understand how to design maps that encourage these types of situations. Sledgehammer would do well to emulate Treyarch in this regard. The best Call of Duty maps feature three lanes of potential engagement. There is one lane focused on close-quarters encounters, one lane for long-range engagements, and a middle area for brave players to charge through.
Large maps that don’t use the three-lane design result in matches that feel frustrating and tedious for this type of game. That is the reason why Call of Duty Ghosts is arguably the worst game in the series. In Sledgehammer’s last game, Advanced Warfare (also a bad game), the maps featured entirely too much verticality. With the renewed focus on boots on the ground combat in COD WWII, the developers should be able to avoid this particular pitfall.
2. Revise the Perks System
In order to ensure a balanced multiplayer experience, COD WWII should not include any “crutch” perks. A crutch perk in Call of Duty is one that is absolutely essential to use, no matter what your class setup may look like. Some examples of crutch perks would include Stopping Power from COD 4/Modern Warfare Remastered, Stalker and SitRep Pro from Modern Warfare 3, Toughness from Black Ops II, and Blast Suppressor from Advanced Warfare. Keeping in mind that this game takes place during the 1940s, a simpler set of perks would make sense. It would also make it easier for the developers to balance the perks, giving players more flexibility when they are developing their classes.
I also believe that COD WWII should see Pro perks make their return to the series. In earlier Call of Duty games, there were standard perks that could be upgraded through gameplay to Pro versions that granted additional abilities. In recent years, Call of Duty developers have instead removed Pro perks and instead granted players those abilities via weapon attachments. Keeping in mind that COD WWII is a historical shooter, weapon attachments will be limited. The developers can work around this issue by bringing the aforementioned Pro perks back for this game.
3. Cut the Dumb Stuff
In order for this Call of Duty to be successful, Sledgehammer needs to cut out the dumb stuff that has plagued the series for a few years now. This is a game set in World War II. It needs to be gritty, brutal, and visceral. There should not be soldiers running around with neon zebra camos on their guns, or doing the whip & nae nae dance after a match. Thematically, these types of customizations would not fit in the game world and would disengage the player from the experience. While appropriate for the already-outlandish Nazi Zombies mode, garish customizations simply would not fit with the multiplayer component of the game.
I must admit, my hype level is off the charts for COD WWII and I am confident in Sledgehammer’s ability to deliver a great entry in the series. If they are able to stick to basics and trim the fat that has bogged the series down lately, we could be looking at one of the best military shooters in recent memory.