Some have tired of the CoD franchise, but Activision are hoping a return to the second world war and a new multi-objective mode can revive it
You’re in France, 1944, six weeks on from the Normandy beach landings, and things are about to go badly wrong for the US 1st Infantry division. Allied troops converging on the sleepy French town of Merigny expected minimal resistance from the Germany forces stationed there, but the numbers are greater than reported and they have an armoured machine gun car. Your platoon needs to take the church at the centre of the village, but there’s a hell-storm of bullets and explosions to get through first. As soldiers run past, shouts ring out and explosions make your ears ring, you realise something pretty fast: Call of Duty is back where it began, and where it now seems to belong – amid the chaos of the second world war.
The Merigny encounter forms the basis of the Call of Duty: WWII campaign demo, shown off behind closed doors at E3. In this scene, lead protagonist private Ronald “Red” Daniels and other members of the 1st Infantry Division must edge closer to the town under heavy machine gun fire, creeping from wall to wall for cover and switching between familiar weapons of the era: the M1 Garand, the Karabiner 98K, the MP-40. Your first objective is to overrun the machine gun car then use it to direct suppression fire at soldiers in a nearby house, which eventually collapses under the onslaught causing a cascade of dust and rubble. It’s familiar action movie stuff, harking right back to the first three titles in the series, but there’s one key change: health no longer regenerates automatically – players now have to call for health packs from nearby medics – a feature designed to replicate both the camaraderie and the vulnerability of soldiers.