With all the recent talk of Call Of Duty returning to its roots and recent alleged leaks of ‘Call Of Duty: WW2’ being the next game in the series, we can’t help but wonder what, exactly, would a current-gen, Second World War-set Call Of Duty look like? What areas would the developers (Sledgehammer are slated to be making the upcoming game) focus on, and how would this game differ from not only recent Call Of Duty iterations (aside from its setting) but also WW2-centred Call Of Duty games in the past?
Whether the next Call Of Duty game returns to the battlegrounds of the Second World War or not, it seems inevitable that conflict will be revisited by the series eventually. So let’s talk about what we expect to see from this (currently) hypothetical Call of Duty: WW2, and how recent advancements in the genre will affect the final product.
It’s, of course, a given that a new COD, running on modern consoles and PC hardware, will likely reach new heights of graphical fidelity. But think about what that really means for the experience. Aspects like mud and water, so integral to the feel of the War, can now be simulated much more realistically. Texture quality, particle effects, and physics have all improved beyond recognition when compared to the WW2 CODs of old. These new heights of realism aren’t just about the visuals, either. The Battlefield series’ recent foray into twentieth-century warfare with Battlefield 1 seriously upped the stakes in the audio department, taking immersion to the next level. It’d be great if a World War II Call Of Duty pushed this even further.
Normandy beach landings
Yep, this is probably on the cards again.
D-Day has featured a number of times before in games, most memorably in Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault, and of course in Call Of Duty 2, a game many still consider to be the series’ finest hour. I think, though, that despite the risk of repetition, any FPS developer would be salivating at the prospect of again bringing this archetypal battle to gaming, with the considerable benefits of modern technology. If a new wave of historical shooters is coming, it’s only a matter of time before this pivotal moment in the Second World War is recreated again. And with good reason. Ever since its iconic inclusion in the movie Saving Private Ryan, the Normandy beach landings have connected with viewers on a deep emotional level.
A new developer will be able to justify taking on this sequence not just by the potentially spectacular use of new technology at their disposal, but also because many gamers will not have experienced the Normandy assault before. There’s also the chance that the developers may want to put a different spin on an event that has been covered before by showing the battle from new perspectives, making it feel fresh for a new generation, the aim being to create a cultural touchstone that is as quintessential to the portrayal of WW2 in games as the Private Ryan sequence is to its portrayal in movies.
Multiple story vignettes
Battlefield 1 was again extremely successful (sorry, COD diehards, but it’s true) in the way it structured its single player component. The use of mini-campaign vignettes, each focusing on the journey of a specific character in a particular area of that conflict, was one of the most effective elements of the overall package. We’ve seen this approach before (the Call Of Duty series itself did three smaller campaigns in Call Of Duty 2) but Battlefield managed to nail the focus on human stories to make the War relatable to a modern audience, and do so in the most cinematic way yet seen from a historical shooter. Call Of Duty may take a cue from this approach by exploring World War II’s many fronts from the perspectives of different soldiers participating in the conflict. There are, after all, still a number theaters of war that have either been touched on only briefly in games, or not explored at all, and shedding light on these new battlegrounds would add a bit of much-needed variety to a setting which suffered from serious fatigue only a decade ago.
A focus on strong narrative
Even if COD shies away from this mini-campaign approach and goes with a single, more traditional character-led story confined to one theater of war, the new game must feel suitably cinematic -- something that should be easily achieved with the franchise’s typically generous production budget. And either way, it’s likely there will be a stronger focus on narrative than ever before. Call of Duty has been heading in this direction in recent times with its single player campaigns. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still an action movie sensibility to the ratio of story-to-action in COD games, with the balance tipped strongly for the latter. But with recent technological improvement to facial animation and the use of motion-capture in COD games, there’s been a definite increase in attempts to have gamers empathize with the lead characters. There’s been a noticeable focus on employing recognizable acting talent too, which adds extra credibility to the mo-capped performances and the overarching story. If everything falls into place, this theoretical World War II production could end up with the feel of a big budget war movie. And that’s what we all want, surely?
There are clearly many ways a new World War II Call Of Duty could go. And we probably won’t have to speculate much longer, either: Activision normally announces their Call Of Duty titles in the spring so the reveal should be right around the corner. Until then…what are your predictions for the next Call Of Duty? Will we see a return to a WW2 this time? Or could another, entirely different setting be on the cards? Sound off in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.