The strongest part of the Call of Duty series has always tended to be the multiplayer aspect. Since the original three games gave way to the Modern Warfare setting and online gaming took over, the plot has always been a bit hit and miss. While Modern Warfare and Black Ops both had fans among critics and gamers, Ghosts and Advanced Warfare were both seen as rather sub-par. Infinite Warfare was seen as a slight improvement, but it looks like things might be significantly more interesting judging by this official Call of Duty WWII story trailer.
Obviously it still features the normal visuals of any war story, with the typical guns and explosions. But the middle section features a Nazi officer asking “Wer sing die Juden” (Who of you are Jews), with one American soldier picked out and thrown into an open train carriage.
It’s rare for any World War 2 shooter to reference topics like the Holocaust and the treatment of Jewish POWs or civilians. And even more unusual for a triple-A title like Call of Duty to go there. In the past the CoD series did attract controversy for the No Russian level in Modern Warfare 2, which saw players take part in a modern terrorist shooting, whilst I think it was Medal of Honor:Frontline which had a short sequence with German soliders sitting around a campfire – and in which you could choose to shoot them or sneak past.
If the way Jewish-American POWs were treated is central to the Call of Duty WWII storyline, then it’s a brave and admirable decision. Whether or not it’s handled well remains to be seen. Recently Battlefield 1 walked a fine line between making an enjoyable game and creating a respectful interpretation of a relatively recent battle which had personal implications for the families of a lot of players.
The other question is whether it feels right to tackle such a weighty subject in a game which also includes a ‘Nazi Zombies’ mode? Will the 3 different ways to play feel so separate that they feel more like three completely different games with a more solemn singleplayer, the usual twitch shooting of multiplayer, and the irrverent chaos of zombies?
Just asking those questions reinforces the fact that this is the most interesting Call of Duty release in a very long time. Whether or not it’s a successful one in terms of the game, and sales, will be discovered very soon.
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