Hands-on with Call Of Duty WWIIâ€™s new multiplayer
When Activision and Sledgehammer Games revealed that 2017′s Call Of Duty would take the franchise back to the Second World War, the optimism among fans was clear.
This era of combat is the game’s roots – the original PC game was an epic tour of the European front – and several other memorable instalments have been set in the same period.
After several years in modern and futuristic combat, the return feels welcome, and in the game’s multiplayer the change is particularly noticeable.
The best way to describe WWII is wonderfully manic. The maze of trenches, war-battered European villages and snow-covered forests are a rush to encounter when you’ve become used to space stations and other structures.
At the height of the action, this Call Of Duty feels similar to another COD classic – World At War – but lightyears further forward visually.
The modern day consoles mean the set pieces and settings for WWII’s multiplayer are bigger and busier than previous games.
We also got a hint as to how the gameplay has changed this time around – a new Bayonet Charge prompt appears when you’re sprinting towards an enemy for example, but there is doubtless more to come.
The biggest change to multiplayer though is undoubtedly the new Divisions system, which replaces that of creating a class.
In WWII, players will choose one of five “iconic” military divisions that each have specific training and weapons skills.
The result is noticeably more natural fluidly between teammates when you stick to similar divisions – as well as more mismatches when you have the misfortune of running into a more heavily armoured enemy.
There’s also the new War Mode. This is a heightened tactical experience that calls for greater team co-operation in order to win.
The mode essentially has a narrative running through it, made up of four objectives that chronologically unfold. One team must attack key points one at a team, while the defending team must fall back to the next rally point.
Another layer of interest is that each of these objectives isn’t just to capture a landmark – players are asked to rebuild bridges, blow up ammo supplies and defend command posts.
This mode more than the others has a real feel of momentum to it. Claim one of the objectives early when attacking and you can pile pressure on your opponents.
It feels like how realistic combat of this nature might play out, leaving you felling almost powerless to the onslaught at times.
It is far too early to judge Call Of Duty WWII based on around 30 minutes of multiplayer, but what is for certain is how strong the franchise is when set in this era.
Visually it is hugely impressive, and the multiplayer strikes a good balance of frenetic gameplay, without making you feel quickly out of your depth.
The early signs are of a return to form for one of gaming’s biggest names.