Call of Duty: WWII Beta Impressions – This Is War

With the Call of Duty: WWII private beta finally coming to a close earlier today, and after pouring in hours playing it, it’s time we weigh in on what we think of this year’s Call of Duty so far. Bear in mind that this is indeed a beta, and as such, things will change in the final version that might make some of the things mentioned here either irrelevant, or different from our experience playing it. Sledgehammer themselves have already listed down a few things that will change from the beta to the final version of the game.

Everything Old Is New Again

First off, Sledgehammer Games is, for better or for worse, breaking free from the “Pick 10” customization system popularized by Treyarch. Instead of mixing and matching perks, weapon attachments and the like, you can now choose a “Division” and a “Basic Training” skill. It does seem simpler than in past Call of Duty games, and maybe that’s Sledgehammer’s point.

However, it remains to be seen if this Divisions system will be deep enough to give each player the way they want to play. Will Basic Training have another tier (Advance Training?? Will we be able to equip more than one (chances are nope). While the beta cap was set at a relatively high 35, it still wasn’t enough to give us a firmer sense of whether this new take on class customization will be a step in the right direction. 

It might seem like a counterproductive move by Sledgehammer, but old-school Call of Duty fans will remember that in past entries, you can only choose one perk from each perk slot, have a few attachments and that was it. It wasn’t as crazy customizable as the Pick 10 system, and this might be what Sledgehammer is going for. That said, newcomers might feel a little off and restricted. Let’s hope Sledgehammer has enough Basic Training and customization options to allow gamers to play the way they want to.

Chocolate Sauce 360 No-Scope With Some SMG on the Side

After hours of playing Domination and War (COD: WWII’s new mode, which we’ll talk about in a sec), a few things have been made crystal clear when it comes to gun balancing, weapon variants, etc. Firstly, it goes without saying that we didn’t see the full slate of weapons and equipment that’ll be available in the game. However, having said that, unless Sledgehammer heavily tweaks the gunplay, it might not matter.

In the private beta, matches were dominated by people using SMGs, with the War mode being a sniper’s paradise. That’s essentially it. You won’t see a lot of assault rifle users since SMGs will melt them face up, and don’t get me started on the LMGs (light machineguns). They are slow to aim, slow to reload, doesn’t do enough damage, and the list goes on. It’s like LMGs are a poor man’s assault rifle, and with the “Sleight of Hand” perk (the one that lets you reload fast) now sectioned off as a “Basic Training” ribbon, you’re now forced to pick that unless you’re OK having to wait a long time in between reloads and be a sitting duck. It’s gotten to the point that I rarely see anyone use an LMG regardless of game mode, and I don’t blame them. I tried it, and it just made the game slower, clunkier, and just annoying. Sledgehammer has not said anything if LMGs will be buffed come November, but man, that should be a no-brainer.

Another problem I encountered? Quickscoping. Quickscoping is back and with a vengeance. Even if you’re not a good sniper, try using the Commonwealth sniper weapon and see how easy it is to one-shot anyone. Sure, some might be happy with this change given it lends itself a lot to montages, but for the others? Prepare to get annoyed repeatedly.  

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Other than those qualms though, everything seemed in line. There wasn’t one weapon that was the “god” gun that everyone gravitated tom but almost every gun seemed to be a tool of destruction in the right hands. Equipment, grenades are spot-on as well. The blast radius and damage aren’t too significant, nor are they fart bombs that do nothing but annoy people. Having to choose whether to carry a tactical grenade or anti-infantry ‘nade is a bit limiting though. Sure, you can use a Basic Training to circumvent this, but I really doubt anyone would settle on that little boost given the other Basic Training skills are way better.

Lastly, unless I’m mistaken, your teammates’ concussion grenades affect you as well. I don’t think it’s just me, either. This needs to go, Sledgehammer! It needs to go ASAP.

War on the Battlefield

The biggest addition to Call of Duty: WWII isn’t the tweaks to the Pick 10 system, nor is the era-specific weapons. Nope. The biggest change Sledgehammer implemented in COD: WWII is a new game mode called “War,” and it just might be what gives the game that extra push into “must-try” status. 

Think of War as Call of Duty’s take on DICE’s Battlefield’s Conquest and Rush modes if the two rolled into one for each match. It’s a six-on-six match that has one side defending, with the other attacking. Regardless of the outcome, teams switch sides and when the match ends, each player’s overall stats are calculated minus the deaths (thankfully!). It’s hectic, objective-based, scorestreaks are deactivated, no kill/death ratio is present, which pushes you to work as a team — in short: it’s the anti-thesis of what Call of Duty multiplayer is! But boy, does it work! Sure, you have your usual kill-whores that do not care about the objective, there’s some spotty map design that could prove game-breaking when seasoned players dip their toes in for a long time, but for the most part, it works. 

If you ever thought that Call of Duty relied on the scorestreak meta-game to be fun, then this is proof that it doesn’t need to. There are no scorestreaks in War, you have to build walls, turrets and more to help your team, and that’s it. There’s no virtual dick-waving of having the most kills, and deaths are an afterthought if you want to win. For me personally, I played this mode the most and there’s only one map available in the beta even! I wouldn’t be surprised if this mode is carried over in other non-Sledgehammer developed COD games.

Split in the Middle

Sledgehammer is in the unenviable position of if they stick too close to the COD formula, people will complain and say they just copy and pasted another studio’s work. However, if they deviate too much (which is what they seemed to do in COD: WWII), then longtime fans will complain that they’re deviating too much from what works. 

So far though, I enjoyed what I played in the beta. Sure, there’s more for improvements when it comes to map design (almost every Call of Duty game has this issue), but Sledgehammer gave the COD brand a much-needed wake up call — especially after three straight futuristic iterations. 

The big question here is: will Call of Duty fans buy whatever Sledgehammer is selling? We can’t say for sure, but for me, if the studio can keep the progression fresh, have more depth in how Divisions and Basic Training work, and maybe give weapon tweaking a fair look, then they’re on the right path to win the war.

Stay tuned for our videocast final impressions of the Call of Duty: WWII private beta sometime tomorrow, as well as more features on the game in the days and weeks to come.


Call of Duty: WWII private beta code provided by Activision for preview purposes. COD: WWII is set for release this November 3 for the PS4, Xbox One and PC.

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