Call of Duty: Black Ops (yes, the original) was the last of the series’ installments I played, and even then it was only because a good friend of mine knocked on my door one day with an extra copy in hand so he and I could play together. Despite my listless attitude towards the franchise and its Madden-esque cycle of releases (that development structure still fails to grab me), a lot of enjoyable tomfoolery between friends and strangers alike went down during my time with Black Ops…in 2012. I haven’t touched the series since.
Call of Duty: WWII is a return to (coveted) form and, simultaneously, heralds some of the biggest changes to CoD‘s most successful components. It’s been ten years since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare deviated from the World War 2 setting, but what I dislike about the game always seemed to be among its core tenets.
I’ve never been keen on the kill-death ratio community and the roaring egos that follow, and I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that I feel like I’m just controlling a camera perspective, not a character. This, too, has always been exacerbated by my casual approach to first-person shooters. The genre tends to rely on map familiarity, positioning, and communication for players to have the most impact in a match. Without the proper devotion of time, ignorance to these facets become the weakest link that all too often leads to that dreaded “Defeat” screen.
I’m not a CoD-guy. Or, at least, I wasn’t until this past weekend.
Those with proper Call of Duty: WWII beta codes finally went to (temporary) war against one another in a handful of maps and modes, including the all-new, narrative-driven, multiplayer experience: War mode.
For those with their CoD chops maintained, War mode affords the potential to mix player skill with emerging play-by-play narratives that evolve throughout a round. For others, such as myself, charging bayonet-first into a war zone of this magnitude is daunting. Still, I wasn’t deterred to lay my digital life on the line for my fellow squad mates, but logging onto the servers Saturday morning for the first time quickly changed my mind. My sorry level 1 profile nestled among a team full of players over level 20 made me realize something: I am not ready for war.
I ran straight to the Mosh Pit, a game mode that cycles through various game modes like Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Hardpoint. This “mixtape” mode acted as a veritable boot camp for the game’s beta event, introducing new and old CoD players to WWII‘s systemic alterations among three inevitably war-torn landscapes. After gulping down the remnants of performance anxiety, I donned my Expeditionary’s boots and queued up for a match. I’ve always enjoyed the feel of a good shotgun in a game, and the Expeditionary’s aesthetic paired with their fitting guerrilla tactics made it easy for me to choose between the divisions.
That, right there, is my shit.
After hours of learning each map’s layout, common enemy positions around choke holds, weapon range, damage potential, and the efficacy of varying weapon attachments, I officially remain “not good” at Call of Duty. That much hasn’t changed. What has changed, however, is my willingness to improve.
Once I focused less on navigating the labyrinthine trenches and more on what I was actually doing (read: trying not to die), I fell in love with the shotgun. Four incendiary shotgun rounds come with the package, too, empowering the presence of its wielder on the battlefield. If you’re not in a good position, the fire may just be enough to avenge your own death if you can manage to graze them. These incendiary rounds spawn with you with each life, so the Expeditionary division could be a new player’s best way to enter the fray without feeling completely useless.
Had it not been for the shotgun’s implementation, I would have frustrated myself with my performance. I still did (and will), but, by the end of the weekend, the source of my frustration started to shift. The kills that kept me relevant to the match’s outcome didn’t feel so rewarding anymore. The more I familiarized myself with each map, the more presumptuous to enemy positions I became. Because of my beloved shotgun, however, the accuracy of my premeditation didn’t matter. If I got the jump, I was the one left standing.
Regardless of player skill or balancing issues, my time spent with WWII taught me a lot. Right before the beta weekend ended, I jumped ship and started fucking around with the Infantry division’s carbine weapon. I wasn’t playing as “well” as I was with my trusty shotgun, but each kill came with so much more satisfaction. However few they were, they felt earned.
I’d love to believe that my skills had already improved, but my failure to perform with every other weapon type proved otherwise. Watching the kill cams confirmed it: I have much left to learn. Every gun is just as lethal as the last, it just needs the right pair of hands.
I am bad at Call of Duty: WWII. But for the first time, I want to remedy that.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”