While each new annual Call of Duty release has continued to be among its year's top-selling games, there has definitely been an overall vibe over the last few installments that gamers were beginning to sour on the franchise. The massive backlash that followed the initial unveiling of last year's Infinite Warfare was a first for the series, with each previous entry met with almost universal excitement by fans. It sent a loud and clear message to publisher Activision: it was time to shake up the Call of Duty formula in a major way, and spaceships were definitely not the answer.
The Call of Duty series initially launched as a WWII-based first-person shooter, and it kept that setting until its fourth core installment-- the game-changing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Other than a one-off return to WWII with 2008's World at War, the CoD series has remained grounded in newer battle settings, only going as far back as the Cold War of the 1960s.
In addition to needing to make a major change to rebound from the negativity surrounding Infinite Warfare, CoD was also nudged to go way back into the past when its main competitor, Battlefield, did a rewind to WWI with 2016's Battlefield 1. All the stars had aligned for CoD to finally return to the war that started it all for the series.
Here is Everything We Already Know About Call of Duty: WWII.
16 Released November 3rd, Preceded by A Late-August Multiplayer Beta
The Call of Duty series has been an annual franchise for over a decade now, with at least one new game released every year between 2005 and 2016. Even with the major reinvention of the franchise, CoD won't be taking 2017 off-- Call of Duty: WWII is scheduled to be released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Those are the only three platforms that have been confirmed as a home for the game so far-- whether it is ported to other platforms later remains to be seen, but given that both the Wii and Wii U have had versions of Call of Duty, a Switch version shouldn't be ruled out just yet.
Those that pre-order the game won't have to wait quite so long to get their first taste, as a closed multiplayer beta will be live from August 25th through August 28th. However, that beta period will be exclusive for PS4 owners-- the other two platforms won't get their beta period until September 1st through 4th, at which time PS4 owners will also get their second chance to play the game early.
15 Mostly Takes Place During the Final Year of the War
Few WWII games ever attempt to span the entire war. Often, they take place in fairly specific time periods and/or locations, and usually rely on sequels and spin-offs to stray beyond the scope of the previous game.
For its latest trip to the Second World War, Call of Duty will largely focused on the final year of WWII, when the Western Allies took Berlin, Hitler (presumably) committed suicide, and Germany surrendered. While there is said to be flashbacks to previous points in the war-- possibly even playable ones, as in Black Ops-- the main story is going to primarily focus on the home stretch of the war and the victory of Allied forces over the Axis powers.
Whether that means that the game will end right when the war does, or if the story will conclude at some point before or even after Germany's surrender, remains to be seen.
14 "War" Is The Big New Multiplayer Mode
Mutiplayer has always been a major component of the Call of Duty series, and the case can be made that it's actually been the "main mode" of the games over its recent run of sequels. There are people who pour hundreds of hours into a CoD game and never even touch its single-player campaign/story mode.
That said, one of the biggest complaints about last year's Infinite Warfare was that its multiplayer modes lacked innovation and largely coasted on the foundation built by previous games. CoD: WWII aims to fix that in several ways, one of which is the ambitious new "War" mode.
This asymmetrical multiplayer mode will be objective-based and even have story elements, playing out almost as if each side is participating in a multi-tiered CoD solo campaign, only with and against other players. It is definitely looking to be one of the deepest and most multifaceted multiplayer modes ever seen in an FPS.
13 Custom Classes Are Out - Predetermined "Divisions" Are In
One of the staples of Call of Duty multiplayer since the original Modern Warfare has been various forms of fully-customizable character classes that players could shape almost entirely to their liking from the very beginning. In one of the efforts to make CoD: WWII more realistic and bring things "back to basics," custom classes are being replaced with having players choose from one of five real-life military divisions.
At the outset, players will choose between the infantry, airborne, armored, mountain, and expeditionary divisions. Each division will have various stats, firearm loadouts, and other special abilities that are unique to that division. For instance, infantry will have a bayonet charge as a melee attack, the armored division can use mounted machine guns, and expeditionary soldiers will be able to have explosive ammo.
Players will rank up within each division according to a preset list of skills and abilities. And of course, as suggested by the picture above, each division will have its own corresponding uniforms and physical appearance.
12 Main protagonist is 19-year-old "Red" Daniels
Though it hasn't been suggested that he's based on a real WWII veteran as many WWII FPS protagonists have been, Ronald "Red" Daniels should still be as compelling a character as the protagonists who came before him. At only 19 years old, the Texas native might seem young to head up the cast of such a dark and gritty war game, but such was the sad reality of WWII. The war was fought by thousands of men who weren't yet even old enough to drink.
Though there is said to be a 12-man squad at the center of the game's story that also includes Red's best friend Robert Zussman, other playable characters from different countries' armed forces will also play roles in the events of the game.
11 Major acting talent is being gathered for the cast
The Call of Duty series has culled some pretty impressive talent to lend their voices-- and sometimes, their likenesses-- to the games.
The list of people who have appeared in a CoD game includes Jason Statham, Giovanni Ribisi, Gary Oldman, Kiefer Sutherland, Keith David, Idris Elba, Timothy Olyphant, William Fichtner, Ed Harris, Sam Worthington, Michael Keaton, Michael Rooker, and Kevin Spacey-- who even lent his likeness which was featured prominently in commercials and promotional material.
Call of Duty: WWII will be adding to that stellar list with confirmed roles from Josh Duhamel (in-game likeness also confirmed), former Time Lord David Tennant, Ving Rhames, Katherine Winnick (Vikings), Udo Kier, and Elodie Yung (Elektra in Netflix's Daredevil).
And that's just who has been announced-- it's entirely possible the cast list will continue to grow as more information on the game is revealed in the coming weeks.
10 No regenerating health
A longtime staple of the FPS genre has been regenerating health, which sees some-- if not all-- of your character's health bar automatically refill after a few moments of rest between firefights. While it is often integrating into the game's lore in some logical way, such as special armor with the built-in ability to repair itself, there are many games that simply have regular human characters regenerate their health for no apparent reason. Call of Duty has been among the latter for much of its run-- until now.
Activision wants CoD: WWII to be an intense, nerve-racking experience that evokes the feeling of being engulfed in war as best as a video game is capable of. One of the ways it aims to achieve that goal is by taking away the characters' ability to magically heal themselves in a Wolverine-esque manner. If you are injured on the battlefield in CoD: WWII, the only ways to regain lost health are by locating health packs, or by having one of your squadmates physically come over to you and patch you up.
9 Ammunition can't be picked up from dead enemies
It's a trope as old as the FPS genre itself-- simply walking over the corpses of your enemies will automatically have you collect their ammo, keeping you in bullets with minimal effort. This is another comfortable trend that Call of Duty: WWII will be bucking.
Word is that you won't be able to pick up ammo from fallen enemies in CoD: WWII at all, which makes sense given the game's realism. After all, there really isn't much time during an intense firefight to squat down and pick the pockets of dead people for more bullets.
The developers of CoD: WWII don't want you to just be able to walk around while unleashing an endless hail of bullets-- there needs to be some thought put into how and when you use your weapon.
But fear not, as your squadmates can also share their ammo with you, giving you at least a little ammo boost when you need it. Whether their ammo supply is unlimited hasn't been confirmed yet, but we're guessing that you'll also have to conserve the ammo of your entire team, not just your own.
8 Major focus on character diversity
Here we are, approaching the 50-year mark that video games have existed in a mainstream fashion, and we have far too few games that feature heroes who don't have pale skin or XY chromosomes. Even games that let you create your own custom character often have few-- if any-- options to create anything other than a white male, beyond a few lazy token items like a 70s-style afro or miniskirts and high heels.
To represent the diversity that was actually present among the soldiers who fought in WWII, CoD: WWII will feature among the playable characters in story mode a female soldier from the French resistance, an African-American soldier from the still-segregated U.S. Army, a Jewish-American soldier, and various other soldiers who aren't just the typical middle-American white male troopers that tend to populate games of this type.
Now, whether or not the less-progressive segments of the gaming population will see this as a step in the right direction and not some cheap stunt to make the "SJWs" happy is a whole other story...
7 Toning down the huge, Michael Bay-caliber setpieces
Modern Call of Duty setpieces have been getting progressively bigger; almost are on a par with big-budget summer blockbusters-- buildings exploding, helicopters crashing into monuments, jet skis careening down mountains, and so on. It's a common cycle that video game franchises become trapped in, being forced to be bigger and louder than the previous game(s) until it gets to a point of absurdity that would bring a tear to Michael Bay's eye.
Often, the only way to get out of that cycle is to hit the reset button on the entire franchise, which in a way is exactly what CoD: WWII is doing. Going back to where the series got its start is something of a reboot for the franchise, and the developers are using that as an opportunity to get away from all of that bombast and bring the focus back to more realistic, personal, boots-on-the-ground action. It's a way to make players feel more like they are in an actual war, and not just an amusement park ride based on a war.
6 Multiplayer may integrate naval and aerial combat
While Activision hasn't said anything official about whether boats and planes will figure into multiplayer battles, there seems to be a conscience effort by the company to tease those things. Much of the multiplayer-focused videos so far - both in-game shots and target renders - have shown multiple instances of boat-based combat and fighter plans raining bullets down from the sky.
Longtime CoD rival Battlefield has made a name for itself by actually allowing players to pilot planes during multiplayer matches, sometime that CoD has shied away from-- aerial combat in CoD has largely existed by way of aerial strikes that players can call in, and controlling only the weaponry from an aircraft that is being piloted automatically be the AI. Whether this will change in CoD: WWII remains to be seen, as does whether or not warships will factor into multiplayer in any major way.
All we know is that Activision is sure intent on making us wonder about and discuss both of those things, and there has to be a reason for that.
5 Won't focus only on the United States and Germany
Despite the fact that it was called a "World War" for a very obvious reason, most WWII games tend to focus primarily on the United States' involvement, and their battle against German forces. At most, soldiers from other countries might make an appearance here and there, or a game might feature a section where you have to fight troops from non-German nations-- but by and large, WWII games have been games about the U.S. versus the Nazis.
While the infantry division at the core of CoD: WWII's story is a group of American soldiers, the game promises to have an increased narrative scope. The war will be seen from the perspective of many of the countries involved in the war, both Allied and Axis nations.
Among the revealed playable characters are people from France and Britain - and that's just what has been confirmed at this point. We are being led to believe that the more we hear about this game, the more nations are going to be revealed that play a role in the events of both the main game and War mode (which will also feature battles and theatres of operation that the story mode won't cover).
4 Explores the complex social and political issues of WWII - on and off the battlefield
World War II was about a lot more than just trying to take down Hitler and the Nazis, even though that's what most WWII games tend to boil it down to.
CoD: WWII is going to tackle some of these issues, including racism (the U.S. Army was still segregated during WWII), sexism (the conflict between women being needed during WWII and the men who didn't think they belonged on the battlefield), and religious persecution. To expand upon that last item, CoD: WWII is said to be addressing the Holocaust and its aftermath much more head-on than most WWII games do.
CoD: WWII is also going to show how not all German soldiers were technically Nazis, and the complicated nature of the non-Nazi segment of the Germany military.
Beyond simply tackling controversial aspects of WWII for the sake of doing it, CoD: WWII is aiming to explore the "personal" side of the war, and how it affected the lives of everyone it touched on a more intimate level - beyond simply being a war against the bad guys.
3 Squadmates can die (and stay dead) during missions
Naturally, there are going to be predetermined points during Call of Duty: WWII's story where your fellow soldiers will die. But in this game, there is more to characters dying than something to tug at the heartstrings during an emotionally-charged cutscene.
While the actual details about it are still vague, Activision has confirmed that your AI partners in the game can be killed in combat-- and when they die, they will remain dead. Whether this means generic, nameless AI partners that can be "replaced" in the next mission, or whether important characters can die and change the course of the story, remains to be seen.
What we do know is that you need to be careful not to let your squadmates die during a mission-- if you do, that's not only one less source of supporting fire, but as mentioned previously, that'll be one less person to get ammo and health from. It might be conceivable to start a mission with a full squad, only to find yourself flying solo and facing a major uphill battle halfway through.
This is one still-mysterious component of CoD: WWII that we're dying for more clarification about.
2 "Headquarters" - a new socially-focused mode for up to 48 simultaneous players
With the knowledge that many people use Call of Duty games as a social experience, CoD: WWII is going to introduce a huge new mode that is built entirely around the social aspects of the series.
Headquarters mode will be playable by up to 48 people at once and act as a massive hub for people to gather between matches. Meant to represent the camaraderie between soldiers even when they aren't on the battlefield, Headquarters will act as a virtual meeting place, allowing players to interact, engage in practice matches and virtual firing ranges together, and even get together to watch in-game award ceremonies when friends earn various achievements in the game. Imagine actually being able to watch a virtual celebration of one of your buddies getting to Prestige rank and you're on the right track.
We can certainly expect even more information about this interesting and ambitious mode/social hub as the game gets closer to release.
1 Zombie Mode Will be the deepest - and scariest - it's ever been
At the time, a lot of people saw Call of Duty: World at War as something for a step back for the series after being reinvented with Modern Warfare. However, there was one aspect of the game that fans almost universally loved, and that was the zombie mode.
Initially focused specifically on "Nazi zombies" given the WWII setting, various subsequent CoD games have brought back a form of that zombie mode, and it has remained a fan favorite. In going with the other aspects of Call of Duty that CoD: WWII is rethinking, zombie mode will be getting a similar refresh when its newest incarnation debuts in the game this November.
First and foremost, this won't be the intentionally campy zombie mode of games past that would have silly cameos from the likes of David Hasslehoff. CoD: WWII's zombie mode is going to be much darker and have a more horror movie-like feel, aiming to actually scare players.
In addition, the mode itself will be much deeper and be closer in complexity to the main game, feeling less like a side game to mess around in and more like a legitimate game mode.
Are you excited for Call of Duty: WWII? Let us know in the comments!