Call of Duty: WWII takes the series back to the semi-modern warfare of the Second World War for the first time since 2008’s World at War, but in abandoning the franchise’s increasingly futuristic trajectory, the gameplay has had to change. Exoskeletons and nano-bot-fuelled superhuman advanced movement is gone, which decreases player escapability. An arsenal of familiar weapon categories play to their expected ranges (for the most part), instead of the lasers and other bizarre sci-fi shooters of recent titles. Amid the return to a focus on shooting trumping abilities, I have some quibbles with what I experienced in the recent multiplayer beta.
Here’s a list of nine things that developer Sledgehammer Games should consider tweaking or changing before the final release of Call of Duty: WWII on November 3.
Dolphin diving in a head-to-head fight is still a viable trick in Call of Duty: WWII, and it flies in the face of the more grounded setting and gameplay. Dolphin diving, or drop shotting, is when a player holds prone to fall beneath the aim of an enemy and shoots them on the way to the deck. It wouldn’t be so bad if the transition from standing to prone wasn’t impossibly fast, and also lets the drop-shotting player fire the whole way through the standing-to-prone animation. If Sledgehammer removes the ability to shoot during the animation, this should curb the divisive tactic.
The opposite of the drop shot, the jump shot, was also problematic in the Call of Duty: WWII beta. Players strafing around a corner, launching into the air, and spraying you to death midair always feels cheap. As with the dolphin diving, it contrasts with CoD: WWII’s grounded setting. It also is a more extreme way of taking advantage of the peeker’s advantage online phenomenon. Sledgehammer could let players shoot while midair, but greatly reduce the accuracy, or limit/remove the option for players to shoot while jumping to deter the use of this trick.
Bullet penetration is a great mechanic in shooters like Counter-Strike, Rainbow Six Siege, and even Call of Duty. It’s not great when you get shot through objects that a bullet shouldn’t penetrate. Soft cover should absolutely remain penetrable, but solid metal posts or (certain) brick walls shouldn’t allow the same kind of ballistic penetration. In a game that has such high lethality, and with the removal of advanced movement because of the historical setting, giving players the option for escapability is more crucial than ever in CoD: WWII. Having seemingly solid cover turn out to be as useful as a tissue-paper roof in a meteor shower doesn’t boost escapability, and promotes frustration.
Unlocking new guns in a Call of Duty game is usually a thrill. What’s not thrilling is using your hard-earned in-game currency to unlock an inferior shooter. The problem is, during the beta, there was no way to tell whether a locked weapon would have better or worse stats without coughing up a token to unlock it. Different stats do force you to adjust your play style, but hiding weapons behind higher player ranks implies that they’ll be better. When they’re not, it’s disappointing. When you have to spend something to find out they’re worse, it’s infuriating. Giving players the option to see the stats of the weapon would help stop this buyer’s remorse.
Vaulting is a great way of getting over waist-high cover which, in older games, would render a path inaccessible. The problem with vaulting in the CoD: WWII beta is it often ended in a quick and unstoppable death. You can’t use your weapon while vaulting – yet you can while dolphin diving or jumping, hmm – which encourages players to camp out of the line of sight of vault points to score easy, uncontested kills. There’s a recurring theme here: deaths that feel cheap are bad. There were certain vault points that you could exploit by timing your jump to get over them with your weapon up, but Sledgehammer should consider letting players fire while vaulting. Reduce the accuracy, for sure, but with so few entry points to particular parts of the map, turning the vaulting options into a camper’s paradise is a recipe for rage quitting.
In the all-new War mode, respawning concerns are less of an issue because of fixed spawn zones and clearly defined out-of-bounds areas. In the other modes, not so much. Because the maps feel a smidge on the large size for the 12-player max counts in the beta, it was weird to sporadically suffer from bad respawns and instant deaths. For instance, there were times I spawned with multiple enemies around me, and others when there was just one behind me. In both instances, I died immediately. In the same breath, there were some conservative map spawns that had me respawn far away from combat, which meant I spent a lot of time sprinting around trying to find a fight. Some tweaks to the respawn algorithm to find a balance between the two would be appreciated.
Having a low time-to-kill (TTK) value is part and parcel of being a Call of Duty game. That said, this gives players few opportunities to escape if another player gets the drop on them (like in bad-respawn situations). Lifting the Treyarch-championed slide mechanic – where the sprinting player taps crouch to slide – would help to boost survivability in the low TTK game world. Even if players can’t shoot while sliding, they at least have a chance of breaking the aim of their opponent. As it stands, trying to sprint between cover points tends to result in death if the opponent that has you in their sights has halfway decent aim.
Footsteps were too quiet in the beta. For me, that includes across speakers and 7.1 surround headphones. Footsteps absolutely should be drowned out by nearby gunfire. But when it’s quiet and you get killed by some sprinting goon behind you, it smacks of unfairness if you didn’t hear their stomping approach. Either the range on the footsteps is too short, or their volume needs to be boosted. Overwatch and Battlefront II make enemy footsteps louder and hearing steps in quiet moments of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is crucial to getting the drop on a flanking foe. Sledgehammer should consider tweaking the range and/or volume of the footsteps to offer more audio intelligence to players in CoD: WWII.
For the most part, the PC version of the Call of Duty: WWII beta was a great port. Outside of some of the smaller fixes that Sledgehammer has already acknowledged here (including much-needed anti-cheat), there’s one big request that went unaddressed: latency values. Colourised bars that are representative of latency values, and not in a clearly translatable way, are frustrating and unnecessary. Hell, adding latency values would be a great feature for the consoles, too, even if the colourised bar system is more common on console multiplayer. Similarly, a server browser to complement automated matchmaking would be great for consoles and PC, plus, while I’m dreaming, mod support would be rad, too.
Call of Duty: WWII recently went gold, which means any changes that Sledgehammer Games makes will have to go in a day-one patch. What changes would you like to see included in the day-one patch for Call of Duty: WWII?
Nathan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Sydney and shooter specialist. Track him down on Twitter.