What’s Call of Duty WW2 like in 2021? Ahead of the release of Vanguard, let’s check out Sledgehammer’s last game from 2017.
Ahead of the release of Call of Duty Vanguard on November 5, I thought I’d spend some time over the weekend playing through Sledgehammer Games’ most recent outing in 2017’s Call of Duty WW2. How does it hold up in 2021, and what’s it perform like on Xbox Series X?
I went into Call of Duty WW2 with vague memories of playing it upon release. It was the first WWII-based Call of Duty game since 2008’s amazing World at War, and there was unsurprisingly a lot of hype around the game when it hit Xbox One.
Strangely, I don’t remember all that much about it from back in 2017, but that’s probably because of how many games I’ve played since then (including Call of Duty games). And with the release of Modern Warfare in 2019, many Call of Duty games before that year have joined somewhat of a forgotten era in the franchise’s history.
That’s a tremendous shame, because Call of Duty: WW2 is probably the best post-Modern Warfare trilogy Call of Duty game up to that point in time. Since the release of Modern Warfare 3 in 2011, we had the underrated but mostly forgettable Ghosts, three great albeit familiar Black Ops games, the fun albeit jumped-the-shark Advanced Warfare, and the colossal mess that was Infinite Warfare. The Modern Warfare Remastered release was great upon launch, but the game’s smothering of modern-day COD mechanics and features had a big impact on the nostalgic drive of the experience.
Then came along Sledgehammer’s Call of Duty: WW2, and while the game lacks historical consistency, has a bit of a messy UI, and was initially saturated with loot drops and microtransactions, the core game and gunplay is insanely satisfying.
First thing off the bat, finding a game on Xbox Series X in 2021 is quick and seamless. Unlike Modern Warfare Remastered, Infinite Warfare and Advanced Warfare, in which I can’t find a single game without sitting waiting for 10+ minutes, I am able to find a match in Call of Duty: WW2 almost immediately, at least in Team Deathmatch, Domination, and select 24/7 lobbies.
The good news is that you don’t need all of the DLC content and maps to find lobbies: word across Reddit and a few other fan forums is that having the DLC installed actually impacts your ability to find a game. I’ve never had an issue finding a match playing during AEST daytime and nighttime, meaning there should be players online regardless of your time zone across the globe.
In some cases, matches had low headcount with maybe 4-5 players across both teams. But these tend to get filled out pretty quickly and rarely last for the entirety of a match. Quickscoping can be a major pain on certain maps, namely Gustav Cannon and Valkyrie, but aside from that, the gameplay in Call of Duty: WW2 truly feels like the most “pure” COD experience in more than a decade. It feels like “traditional” COD, and if you’re an old-school player from the 2000s like I am, I think you’ll appreciate Call of Duty: WW2 more now than you may have when it was released.
Then there’s War Mode, a multi-round mode in which teams try to complete narrative-driven objectives whilst the opposing team defends said locations. It’s tougher to find a match for this mode but once you do get in, it is an absolute blast to play. I really hope Sledgehammer brings this game mode back in some way in Vanguard.
After returning to Call of Duty: WW2 in 2021, I’m even more excited for Vanguard now. I have a really keen interest in the WW2 era in gaming, and whilst I can acknowledge a distinctive lack in historical accuracy, I feel that Sledgehammer really nailed the wider gameplay experience in such a way that it’s easy to overlook that downfall. Here’s hoping Vanguard can reach similar heights.