“Hot today, forgotten tomorrow. I’m not buying anything.” –James Marshall
Activision has stated that development on Call of Duty: WWII began long before negative reception to the franchise’s shift into future warfare began. The full title will release on November 3, and during the last weekend of September, an open beta was available for Steam players to try out. Offering five maps and four game modes, the beta was an opportunity for players to test the game out prior to its release. After installing the beta initially, I found myself unable to run it; the game would not load, and it was not until I reinstalled the title where the game would open. After entering my first few matches, it became apparent that the game has not been optimised fully for PC yet: frame rates dropped, the game stuttered, and death followed. When frame rates stablised, I began my own boots-on-the-ground experience, making use of the different divisions to get a feel for the gameplay. Call of Duty has always been more about small maps and fast-paced combat, as well as kill-streak rewards over the slower, more methodical and large-scale gameplay that characterises Battlefield 1. Maps feel like closed-off sets designed to give the sense of a well-designed paintball arena, rather than the wide-open spaces of Battlefield 1, and the numerous corners and hallways encourage a very aggressive, forward style of gameplay that rewards reflexes over strategy. Filled with details, from aircraft flying overhead and artillery, to muddy and damaged set elements, maps definitely exude a WWII-like atmospheric that, in conjunction with traditional movement systems, looks to return Call of Duty back to its roots. However, well-designed set pieces and premise can only carry a game so far, and the major deciding factor in whether or not a game is worth playing lies with its gameplay and handling.
During moments where the Call of Duty: WWII open beta was running with optimal frame rates, the game feels modestly smooth, although the Infinity Ward engine is definitely feeling dated. Movement is a little jagged and uneven, feeling somewhat sluggish. In a game where the goal is to move around in a high-paced environment and play the game aggressively to score points, the movement system is not particularly conducive of this particular play style, as I found myself getting stuck in geometry on more than one occasion, leading to death. Inconsistencies in movement and hit detection meant that the Call of Duty: WWII open beta felt like one protracted match on Prise de Tahure. I was dying to players coming from unexpected angles and places. Exacerbated by lag, I would open fire on players first, only for them to whip around and instantly nail me, suggesting that I had in fact been firing at air when my client put a player on screen. Performance issues aside, the chaotic nature of Call of Duty multiplayer environments and an emphasis on twitch reflexes with a high RPM weapon over finess means that Call of Duty: WWII‘s multiplayer certainly isn’t for me. This beta reminds me of my advancing age – long ago, I enjoyed close quarters combat for the rush it brought. With age comes decreasing reflexes, and I’m not able to keep up with the whipper-snappers out there now. The kind of gameplay I might have preferred a few years ago no longer feels fun to me compared to methodically picking off distant enemies and moving cover-to-cover.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Call of Duty: WWII introduces a new game mode called “War”, which is a close-quarters objectives-based match. On the “Operation Breakout” map seen in the beta, Allied Forces must capture a German outpost and then build a bridge, allowing their tanks to destroy an ammunition depot. German forces must prevent the Allies from succeeding. The game mode is admittedly similar to Battlefront 2‘s Galactic Assault, albeit a much smaller-scale version.
- I’m not sure if this were the case in earlier Call of Duty multiplayer games, but in Call of Duty: WWII, there are different classes players can spawn in as, from the jack-of-all-trades infantry class, to the more nimble airborne class that emphasises high speed gameplay. There’s also an armoured class that can equip heavy weapons, the mountain class that is suited for long-range sniping, and the expeditionary class that dominates in close quarters.
- Here, I equip the Bren LMG, Perrine’s weapon of choice from Strike Witches. However, despite its WWII-setting, I do not feel that Call of Duty: WWII is able to capture the Strike Witches atmospheric and aesthetic anywhere nearly as effectively as does Battlefield 1, despite the fact that the latter is set during World War One. This further stems from the very static, arena-like maps as opposed to the larger, more natural-feeling maps seen in Battlefield 1.
- I’ve heard folks complain that the STG-44’s sight to be completely inauthentic: while it is true that modern electronic red dot sights with LEDs were developed during the 1970s, the concept of a reflex sight has been around since the 1900s. Earlier sights either depended on ambient light to function or else had a built-in light source whose operational time was constrained by limited battery life.
- I only spent two hours in the Call of Duty: WWII open beta on account of a cold that saw me sleep most of the weekend that the beta was running, but I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on too much. By comparison, when I played through the Battlefront 2 beta last week, I had largely recovered and so, put in closer to nine hours over the Thanksgiving Long Weekend. During the moments where I was feeling a little better, I hopped into a few matches and found myself outplayed at every turn.
- Averaging a KD ratio of less than 0.25 in almost all of my games, I’ve found the movement and handling in Call of Duty: WWII to be very poor. This is especially problematic, considering that Call of Duty: WWII is meant to be a fast-paced shooter where reflexes and high sensitivities are king: slow movements and aiming made it difficult to aim and fire, taking away from the run-and-gun style of play that Call of Duty emphasises.
- I’ve heard that client-side modifications were widespread during the open beta, allowing people to one-shot other players with instant headshots, or else gain awareness of where all of the other players were. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I would prefer a hardware ban for folks caught cheating as Blizzard has implemented in Overwatch: this forces all but the most resourceful of cheaters with deep pockets to think twice before using tools to bolster their in-game performance.
- On my end, I do not believe I encountered any cheaters. The biggest enemy ultimately ended up being the game performance itself: my hardware, while four years old, is no slouch with respect to performance. Nonetheless, I saw the game dip below 15 FPS during some moments, and I could only watch as other player lined up their sights and pasted my face into the walls. The lag, coupled with the fact that the beta did not even open made the Call of Duty: WWII‘s beta a little difficult to enjoy; the Battlefield 1 and Battlefront II betas were characterised by a straightforwards setup process where I activated the installer and then joined matches without any difficulty.
- From a visual perspective, Call of Duty: WWII looks average at best, especially when compared with some of the other titles available. Textures are a bit dull, and lighting isn’t terribly complex: in fact, I feel that the graphical fidelity of Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare: Remastered to be superior. While this is just a beta, Call of Duty: WWII does not inspire me to give the game a go, whereas Battlefront II‘s beta convinced me that, provided the loot crate system doesn’t completely suck, the game might merit a purchase shortly after launch.
- I saw some footage of Cr1tikal playing through the closed beta a month ago, and recalled his use of incendiary shells in the expeditionary class. In his video, Cr1tikal criticises the map design, and ultimately, makes extensive use of the shotguns to squeak by in a match before switching over to mountain class briefly. I was hardly surprised by the expeditionary class’ efficacy with incendiary shotguns and found myself doing much better than I had in previous rounds.
- Stationary weapons in multiplayer shooters are always a death-trap, leaving users exposed to attack from behind and snipers, but here, I use one of the mounted weapons to defeat another player from a distance. Despite the splintered wooden poles, shattered concrete bunkers, muddy ditches and remnants of sandbags, the maps in Call of Duty: WWII simply do not feel as though they are World War Two settings, but rather, feel like World War Two-themed settings.
- The under-barrel grenade launcher in older Call of Duty games was counted the “n00b tube” for its ease of use. Under-barrel grenade launchers are gone in Call of Duty: WWII, but the incendiary shells of the expeditionary class are probably going to be regarded as fulfilling a similar vein: despite dealing the same damage as a conventional shotgun shell, the incendiary shells apply damage over time by means of burning opponents hit, and because they replenish fully on death, they are an appealing weapon for beginning players who can gain a kill even after they are killed.
- During my time in the beta, I did not hear any complaints about use of incendiary shells and so, like Cr1tikal, I used them during the later period of the open beta. I’ve heard that the release version of Call of Duty: WWII will see several changes, and one of the top-most changes proposed will be reducing the damage dealt by incendiary ammunition.
- During one particularly lucky short, my pellets outright took out one opponent and burned another to land me a double kill. One feature in Call of Duty that I’ve never been fond of is the killstreak system, which rewards players purely based on how many kills they’ve gotten before dying. The most infamous killstreak bonus is the tactical nuke, which instantly wins a game for the team that the player triggers it on. Overall, I prefer Battlefront II‘s system, where playing the objective and actions helping teammates will unlock battle points that can be spent on perks.
- Despite the closed, arena-like maps, the Operation Breakout map has long, open avenues that are well-suited for sniping. The Commonwealth rifle proved fun to use: it’s a one-hit kill bolt action rifle, and coming from the likes of Battlefield 1, where I’ve acclimatised to bolt-action rifles lacking a straight-pull bolt, this weapon wasn’t too far removed from my usual play-style. I never did get around to learning the performance attributes of the different weapons, and I didn’t make it far enough to unlock most weapons. Instead, I looted weapons from other players to give them a whirl.
- Medals are earned in Call of Duty by performing specific actions or scoring kills in a particular manner. They will confer a boost in XP, and are similar to the ribbons of Battlefield, appearing at the top of the screen. I believe they were introduced in Black Ops II, although as mentioned earlier, I’m only vaguely aware of game mechanics in Call of Duty titles and I find the game engine to be quite out-dated.
- Some folks have asserted that Call of Duty: WWII is a blatant rip-off of Battlefield 1 for featuring similar features, including the bayonet charge and for returning things to a World War setting. At the opposite end of the spectrum, others claim that Call of Duty: WWII will cause Battlefield 1 players to switch over on account of limitations in the latter’s gameplay. Quite honestly, while Call of Duty: WWII is quite unique in both game mechanics and time period, I found that I have more fun in Battlefield 1. After one particularly tough match, I returned to Battlefield 1 and perform considerably better than I did during the Call of Duty: WWII open beta.
- My last match during the Call of Duty: WWII beta was spent in a match of domination with the airborne class and the starting M3 submachine gun. I attached the suppressor to it and snuck around the map to get kills. Capture points trade hands numerous times during domination, and one thing I noticed is that in Call of Duty: WWII, the submachine guns do not appear to have an improved hip-fire accuracy.
- One of the most infamous constructs to come out of Call of Duty is the notion of a “360 no scope” and “quick scope” moves. While considered to be trick-shots with little practical advantages in a real game, folks on the internet suggest that people of middle school age take the move quite seriously and consider it a viable tactic. Regardless of whether or not this is true, one thing is for sure: until the PC version of Call of Duty: WWII is optimised, trick shots will be very difficult or even impossible to pull off.
- After this match ended, I decided to call it a day and went back to sleep with the aim of fighting off my cold. Two weeks later, I’m back to my usual self, although an occasional cough continues to persist. I usually get sick twice a year: once before winter appears in full, and once before spring completely displaces winter weather. I’m hoping that this means winter is upon us; it’s certainly been colder as of late, although forecasts show pleasant weather over the next while. Overall, I would say that I had much more fun with the Battlefront II beta than this one, and while the campaign looks interesting, I’ve got no plans to purchase Call of Duty: WWII at the moment.
Playing through the beta reaffirms the reasons behind my decision in not playing Call of Duty multiplayers, but having tried the Call of Duty: WWII open beta, there are a few things that Call of Duty does well; my favourite is the instant spawning back into a match after death. The quick time to kill is also great for high-speed engagements, even if it is hampered slightly by the movement systems. However, compared to Battlefield, which has a better movement system and larger maps that accommodate all styles of gameplay, I cannot say that I’m won over into Call of Duty‘s multiplayer aspects. The single-player elements are a different story: until Battlefield 1 introduced its war stories, Call of Duty games had consistently more entertaining campaigns, and I am looking forwards to seeing just what Call of Duty: WWII‘s story entails. From what has been shown so far, it’s a return to the European front in the later days of the Second World War, featuring a modernised take on the D-Day invasion. Overall, I am not particularly inclined to purchase Call of Duty: WWII close to launch, or at any point soon, for its multiplayer content. If the single-player campaign is impressive, I might purchase the game some years later during a Steam Sale – the game certainly does not feel like it is able to offer the value that would make buying it at full price worthwhile, but I’m always game for a good war story, even if it is a shorter one.
Call of Duty, GamingBeta, Call of Duty, Call of Duty: WWII, First person shooter, FPS, Game, Gameplay, personal reflection, Review, Steam
“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” —Theodore Roosevelt
I’d expected to only play Battlefield 4‘s multiplayer intermittently after purchasing it, but back during May, DICE began rolling out the “Road To Battlefield” programme that saw the release of all of the DLC for free: beginning with “Dragon’s Teeth”, the DLC became freely available over the course of the summer, and so, I eventually picked up “Final Stand”, “China Rises”, “Second Assault” and “Naval Strike”. I’ve only played a handful of the new game modes and maps, but the greatest addition the DLC conferred to my experience was the inclusion of new assignments and their corresponding unlocks, as well as new maps. I recall when I’d picked up Battlefield 3 Premium and marvelling at all of the new features — the excitement there had been in gaining access to new maps and unlocks, as well. However, this time, the complementary DLC come from a promotion leading towards Battlefield 1. In the time since my last Battlefield 4 post back in March, I’ve ranked up around twenty levels and add thirty-four more hours in multiplayer, bringing that total to seventy-two hours. “Dragon’s Teeth” had come out in May, and I recall many an hour spent in the Sunken Dragon map armed with the MP-412, trying to get kills on opponents while in the water in order to unlock the Unica 6. Several long and difficult matches later, I’d succeeded, and proceeded to the next assignment, which involved using the Unica 6 to score twenty headshots. After numerous deaths, the Desert Eagle was finally unlocked, and has since become my favourite heavy pistol. Although the road to obtaining the Desert Eagle was a tricky one, it was also marvelously rewarding to succeed.
This is the sort of experience that has given Battlefield 4 such longevity: on occasion, I drop into a match now and equip a new weapon to try out, unlocking new attachments and accessories for it. In the occasional match, medals and awards pop up to alert me that I’ve completed some assignment I’d not even heard of before, unlocking new weapon skins or even weapons in some assignments. The unlock system in Battlefield 4, being a more refined upgrade to Battlefield 3‘s system, always finds a way to give back to players for investing time into the game, as well as for being adventurous, and in doing so, continues to encourage players to return, either to work towards unlocking all of the weapon accessories in order to make the weapon something they enjoy using, or else promote altering one’s playstyle with a new weapon. At this time, I’ve unlocked all of the shotguns, as well as all but one of the assault rifles and pistols. There are other weapons, such as sniper rifles and designated marksman rifles, that remain to be conquered, but even once everything is unlocked, there remains the weapon mastery challenges (get 500 kills with a weapon) to be completed. The sheer diversity of things to do in multiplayer well beyond completing objectives means that there’s always room to play Battlefield 4, and over the foreseeable future, I will likely alternate between Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 1 depending on whether or not I’m seeking a more modern experience, or Strike Witches in the Frostbite Engine.
Screenshots and Commentary
- I threw down enough resupply crates and ammo pouches such that the resupply medals were my most received medal after the suppression assists. In Battlefield 4, the support class had access to LMGs, along with DMRs and carbines, and for the most part, I particularly enjoy using LMGs for their high ammo capacity. The M249 became my favourite LMG in both Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, handling superbly with low recoil.
- Here, I earn my first-ever chain link ribbon after trying out the game mode for the first time. These screenshots date back to May, during which I would have been in the middle of working for my thesis paper. I did take a few hours off each day to play Battlefield 4 and found out about the free DLC programme while looking up whether or not there would be any events for double XP.
- “Dragon’s Teeth” was the first of the DLC to be offered free of charge; its theme is conflict-ravaged urban settings, and my favourite map is probably Propaganda, which is set in Pyongyang in North Korea. Besides Soviet-style apartments, there’s a statue of the North Korean leader and large billboards. I had a fantastic time on this map, but it appears that games set on DLC maps tend to be more specialised, rather than the conquest or TDM I’m most fond of playing.
- If memory serves, I went nine and twenty-nine during the one conquest match I tried unlocking the Unica 6: the assignment involves getting five kills while swimming and opening the flood gates. Both objectives proved quite difficult, as the other team had superb defense: I was sniped or died to campers hiding out in the towers where the controls where while trying to open the gates. Even after succeeding, the five kills while swimming were a challenge, since players simply shot me out of the water. I eventually succeeded with the fifth kill, finishing the assignment and earning myself much fist pumping and yelling.
- One of my favourite features in Battlefield 4 is the whole notion of “assist counts as kill”, which I find to be a mechanism that appropriately rewards players for dealing a majority of the damage to another target before someone else finishes them off. It is especially satisfying when one is killed before they can get the kill, only to have “assist counts as kill” pop up on the screen, awarding credit for having done the bulk of the work for another teammate to finish them.
- I predominantly play TDM in Battlefield 4, but in general, Conquest is my favourite game mode, bringing large-scale battles to life as teams try to capture and hold objectives in order to deplete the opposing team of tickets. Its smaller counterpart, Domination, is most similar to King of The Hill in Halo, although there is more than one hill and the hills do not move. In this particular game, I’m playing on a remastered version of Battlefield 3‘s “Operation Metro”, which I spent many hours playing during the days of Battlefield 3.
- It was a Herculean task to get twenty headshots with the Unica 6 in order to unlock the Desert Eagle: I normally roll with the MP 412 Rex, which has a higher firing rate and for which I’ve got the green laser sight for to improve hip fire. I count on getting two body shots in close quarters in order to best an opponent while using a sidearm and so, never bother aiming for the head. However, a combination of luck and the occasional unaware player meant that after some effort, I finally unlocked the Desert Eagle.
- I primarily like the Desert Eagle for its aesthetics, and for having the fastest reload of any of the so-called “hand cannons” in Battlefield 4, and my most-used pistol is the MP 412. For the lighter pistols, I used the M9 the most extensively. I am a huge fan of pistols, and typically have a blast on the pistol only servers, but in ordinary servers, a good pistol can be a fantastic complement for one’s primary weapon: a hard-hitting pistol goes great with shotguns or PDWs, while something like the G18 or 93R is a fantastic backup for bolt-action rifles.
- I haven’t gotten a KILLTACULAR since my days of playing Halo 2: Vista, which was defined to be getting four kills, each within seven seconds of one another (or, four kills within twenty-eight seconds) until now: using an anti-tank rocket, I blew up a vehicle carrying four occupants here. In Halo 2 on Lockout, I became so familiar with the spawn points so that I could use a sniper rifle and battle rifle in conjunction with plasma grenades to clear out the opposing team’s players as they spawned, eventually earning me the covetted killimanjaro medal (seven kills, each within seven seconds of one another).
- The engineer class in Battlefield 4, like Battlefield 3, finds most utility on games where there are plenty of vehicles. I usually roll with the repair torch for the sake of being able to rapidly repair friendly vehicles, although I remember chaotic matches where I make to equip an anti-tank rocket, pull out the torch by mistake, then proceed to walk up to the vehicle and begin damaging it with the repair tool, eventually causing it to explode.
- Thanks to the antics of Girls und Panzer, I usually try to flank enemy armour to destroy them, but the main battle tanks in Battlefield 4 are also effective against lighter vehicles and infantry. The combination of double XP events in conjunction with capturing objectives while in vehicles has allowed me to unlock almost all of the accessories for the tanks: I’m only three short at present. My typical loadout for a tank is the default loadout, but it strikes me now as strange that I’ve not altered the tank as the defaults have worked so effectively.
- Dragon Pass in the “China Rises” expansion has some of the nicest scenery in Battlefield, and here, I get a spot bonus as I run through the rice paddies and karst rock formations of the Guilin valley. According to the time stamps on my screenshots, after May and June, I stopped playing Battlefield in July, since I was in Cancún for the ALIFE 2016 conference. After I returned, my goal was to finish revising my thesis such that it was submission ready.
- At the end of July, I submitted my thesis, but during a tense week in early August, my thesis was rejected for formatting issues. However, after three attempts, my submission was finally accepted, and so, in early August, I resumed playing Battlefield, recalling one particularly hilarious match where one fellow going by the name of Mars732 continually spouted profanity when I got him with the SPAS-12.
- Even after acquisition of new DLC, I still think that my favourite maps of Battlefield 4 are Zavod 311: the forest environment and abandoned T-54/55 factory is an excellent environment that suits a variety of play styles. Here, I unlock the RPK-74 as a reward for completing the “Powder Keg” assignment, and further recall another assignment where I had to get one M320 kill, one pistol kill and one defibrillator kill in one match. Players recommend getting the three assault rifle ribbons first, otherwise the kills won’t count, but I jumped in a little late, and neglected to get the ribbons beforehand. So, I hastened to get eighteen kills with the assault rifle, and after a tense match, I unlocked the L85A2.
- After a year of playing Battlefield 4, I finally witnessed the Levolution event naturally occur during one conquest match on “Siege of Shanghai”, when the central skyscaper’s support columns were damaged by tank fire sufficiently for the entire thing to collapse. I was on a mission to finish the “Make a Dent” assignment, which unlocks the MP7. Getting the anti-vehicle ribbons was not a difficult task, but the portable anti-air kills proved more difficult. I was completely unsuccessful with the Stinger missiles, but in a later match, a lucky shot with the Igla netted me a nice double kill, unlocking the weapon.
- Unlike Battlefield 3, the DMRs in Battlefield 4 deal much less damage and require three shots to kill even in close quarters. Quite a force to recon with in Battlefield 3, I found that they’re not as useful in Battlefield 4, being outperformed by higher fire rate weapons in close quarters and lacking the accuracy to be effective sniper weapons at longer ranges. Still, there are some days where I’ll feel up to trying them out, and I’ve unlocked a handful of attachments for the RFB that make it slightly more usable.
- As I hardly ever play the recon class at long ranges, the marksman ribbon is something I’ve not seen during my game time until now. I’m not particularly good with sniper rifles in general, and consequently, have not unlocked many of the weapons. In Battlefield 3, the DMRs and bolt-action rifles were under the same category, so I usually just rolled with the M417 and had a blast two-shotting folks at close quarters.
- After a friend suggested I try out the M240B, I immediately took a liking to the weapon and got fifty kills over the course of two TDM matches, unlocking the support expert title and the associated RPK-12. I’ve now reached expertise for both the medic and support classes, leaving only the recon and engineer classes left to master. However, having spent a “mere” seventy-two hours in Battlefield 4, I’m still a long way from unlocking everything.
- Shotguns see limited utility for most game modes, but on “Operation Locker”, they’re beasts to be reckoned with. Insofar, my favourite shotguns are the SPAS-12 and the 870 MCS: I have been called a “shotgun n00b” before for making use of shotguns in TDM, although I’m unfettered by the remarks; TDM is where I go to focus on farming kills for weapon unlocks, and over the past week, I attempted the “Road to Battlefield” challenge, which asked for twenty-five M1911 kills.
- I’d not actually used the M1911 up until that point, and so, had no attachments for the weapon. Instead, I ran the weapon with no accessories, managing to perform quite well with it and earning me the moniker “pistol n00b” by some players. I’m not bothered, since doing so allowed me to complete the mission, earning me a cool weapon skin and dogtags for Battlefield 1, as well as a gold battlepack for Battlefield 4 (I got two knives from this drop, so I was quite pleased with the outcome of that assignment).
My performance in Battlefield 4 is primarily objective-driven: in most matches, I play to capture points, arm or defuse MCOMs, or else do what is necessary to win a game, even if it means my KD ratio takes a hit. This particular play-style comes from my personal preferences in how I approach problems in reality; it’s acceptable for me to take a few hits here and there provided that the team overall is doing well. Consequently, I will utilise my class to its fullest to assist my teammates in a match, and on several occasions, have reached close the top of the scoreboard despite having what would considered be a poor KD ratio (less than 1.0). This is because I’m more interested in capturing points, healing and reviving teammates, resupplying teammates and repairing vehicles than I am with kills in objective driven matches. To offset this, I play team slayer in order to accumulate kills and unlock weapon accessories. Over the course of the past few months, I’ve also played in a squad with my friends: that was an immensely enjoyable experience where our team won one of the two conquest large matches we played. The first one, we were able to mount a comeback, and the second one was a closer game that we’d narrowly lost. Playing with friends is a vastly different experience than playing solo, although in all cases, I have the most fun where I’m able to help my team out. Now that Battlefield 1‘s out, I’ll probably be dividing my time between this and Battlefield 4, which means that my time in Battlefield 3 has drawn to a close.
Battlefield 4, GamingBattlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield Series, Battlefield: hardline, DICE, FPS, PC Game, reflection