Staying the course
Call of Duty: WWII had one DLC to its name until today, which cemented the formula of three maps, one operation, and a zombie romp. It’s a nice little change of pace despite the fact that every single subseries is overrun by zombies now, but overall Sledgehammer has done a decent job in its four years with Call of Duty.
The War Machine is a testament to Sledgehammer’s commitment to staying the course — for better or worse.
Call of Duty: WWII: The War Machine (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)
Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Released: April 10, 2018 (PS4) / TBA (PC, Xbox One)
MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs)
Egypt is one of those locations where you knew the eyes of some designer lit up once he told everyone else that it was relevant during World War II and they could create a map there. It’s the one that you’d expect to be the shining jewel of the DLC, and from an aesthetic standpoint, it is.
Garnished with lovely load screens showcasing various bits of the map and British encampments, this desertscape has the allure of a well-fought battle, with overturned tanks and fires to go along with its sunny majesty. Egypt is very small, with only one real temple to run through and no room to explore The Great Sphinx, but its tumultuous trenches make for some fun mid-sized objective matches.
Like a lot of maps from Sledgehammer iterations it doesn’t hit its top-end potential due to its limited scope, but when it comes up in the rotation I’m happy enough to finish out a round on it.
Dunkirk ticks all the right boxes. The iconic Jean Bart statue? Check. A mixture of window-laden structures and beach locations? Done. It’s also timely with Darkest Hour and Dunkirk up for Academy Awards recently, and I dare say that this is one of the most “World War II-ey” maps so far, including those present in the base game.
Thematically it makes for some dramatic objective battles, though I really could do with bigger maps on the whole. This one really deserves the sprawling, epic treatment. But given that it’s inline with what you’d expect so far from WWII, it works.
I had World at War (still my favorite Call of Duty) flashbacks with V-2 and that alone makes it my favorite of this pack. Taking place in a German rocket facility in Peenemünde there’s plenty of places to hide both indoors and out, and it has a sense of scale to it, like you’re not going to get picked off immediately after respawning.
I dig the whole dichotomy of light and dark, as one side of the map is littered with smoke and rubble, and the other is host to a beautiful spot of sunshine. Its gimmick of battling over a missile in the center (with a sniper perch and missile exhaust-releasing button) also creates some tension in objective play.
Husky, the operation that takes place during the Invasion of Sicily, is an appropriately pivotal moment. It’s immediately gratifying too, as the attacking team is required to steal intel from its defenders, who have access to tripwire explosives from the get-go. The structures in Husky are master-crafted, with multiple points of entry and plenty of room for sneaky play. Variety is the name of the game, as it turns into a capture-the-point joint and then a giant aerial dogfight.
Whenever I hop back into WWII I usually find myself in operations. They’re a great way to take a break from the grind of constant team deathmatch while allowing me to live out my dream of bigger maps.
A burning Berlin is a good backdrop for the latest zombie episode The Shadowed Throne. Finally they nailed the war-torn map concept, as previous locations tended to have a more uniform faux look to them. Berlin’s labyrinth is deliberate, but nearly every location has a direness to it. It’s not the most exciting map but once you dig into it you’ll start to appreciate the strength of WWII‘s zombie mode.
It’s such a small thing that no one will care about outside of annual Call of Duty players, but the addition of new war mode maps help add a little bit of zing to these DLCs. Zombies might not be as kooky as it was in the past with Seth Green and Ray Liotta cameos, but the move to a grittier angle has paid off with some really memorable enemy designs. For once the zombies actually feel terrifying.
WWII‘s DLC is slipping into a comfortable skin, which is great if you’ve already nabbed your season pass, and meh news for everyone else.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]