After eight straight main games that mostly explored modern-day conflicts or future sci-fi shenanigans, Call of Duty is going back to its roots.
Just revealed today following last week's announcement, Call of Duty: WWII is a clear return to the World War II setting that initially defined the series, albeit with all the modern trappings we've seen in recent entries – including, yes, the familiar Nazi Zombies co-op mode.
Call of Duty's been on a bit of a skid the last few years, so the historical return seems well-timed. But will this reignite the shooter series for fans, or just be a tepid flashback that can't match the classics? We'll find out later this year, but here's what we know right now.
1) It'll have all the big moments
Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and other shooters seemed to mine World War II for all of its major moments a decade ago, which is at least partially why Activision's series imagined up new conflicts to portray instead. But now, after all these years away and with fresher tech, it's time for another excursion.
Based on what was shown today in the live stream, we will definitely storm Omaha Beach at Normandy in what will surely be the most immersive and unsettling D-Day recreation to date. You will also help liberate Paris and participate in the Battle of the Bulge.
If it's an iconic World War II event, then we'll probably play through it here. While the main storyline takes place in the European theater between 1944 and 1945, the campaign will also include key moments from between 1940 and 1944 to help set the stage.
Oh, and one interesting note: health won't regenerate anymore, and you'll have to get an assist from a medic to get back in fighting shape. That's a surprising twist for the series.
2) There's a human element
Possibly striving for a Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan vibe, you'll have a group of fellow soldiers alongside you in the campaign that you'll get to know and battle alongside in the Fighting First. One of them, Sergeant Pearson, is portrayed by actor Josh Duhamel (Transformers). You, personally, will play as young Ronald "Red" Daniels, who's getting his first sight of war at the age of 19.
Call of Duty's tone has definitely become grittier and more intense over the years, and some of that seems intact here, but the developers also promise more of a respectful homage to the real-life soldiers in WWII. It'll also showcase the horrors of war, including The Holocaust on some level (via Mashable), along with racism and sexism.
Narrative subtlety isn't necessarily the series' strongest suit, maybe we'll get some emotional complexity here. On the other hand…
3) Nazi Zombies return
Yep. On one hand, it's obvious: Nazis are the main antagonist of World War II, and there's plenty of incentive to want to take them out in as many modes as possible. On the other hand, it sort of sabotages the whole idea of historical accuracy and being a respectful recreation.
Call of Duty wants to have it both (or all) ways, however, and there's little doubt that it will be entertaining. Right now, we haven't seen the Nazi Zombies mode in play – Activision will do a big reveal later this year for the standalone co-op mode, and given how robust and startlingly massive the Zombies mode has become over the last few games, we should expect something huge.