The latest title in the long-running Call of Duty franchise is here, and it's taking gamers right back to where the franchise began: World War II. Before we get to the gritty, gory fighting, let's take a moment to enjoy a brand-new addition from developer Sledgehammer Games: Headquarters mode, where gamers can to go open up virtual loot boxes and show off their winnings in front of up to 47 other players at once.
Virtual unboxing in the new HQ
The Headquarters is the brand-new social space in Call of Duty where players can go to pick up special contracts to accomplish, test their shooting skills on a firing range, see what the game's various kill streak rewards actually do, and battle other players in a 1v1 fighting pit. Players can also open up loot boxes at the Headquarters, which come flying out of the sky when summoned as a supply drop.
Players can spend real-world money to acquire loot boxes in Call of Duty: WWII, but they can also earn them by performing various activities within the game itself. And the game encourages everyone to participate in the unboxing process by making it a part of a separate "social score," which players can increase by completing quests to open loot boxes or inspecting other players' gear, for example. The higher your social score, the better the chances you'll get something rare and awesome when you open your own loot boxes.
We don't see anything wrong with publisher Activision's desire to encourage social gaming. And it can be fun to watch a friend get a super-rare cosmetic item from one of these randomized loot boxes. That's not to say that Activision's implementation is perfect, however.
PC Gamer's James Davenport describes: "Earning crates through a social score feels gross, like we're being encouraged to feel envy, especially because it's paired with a system that rewards friendly player behaviors. I like seeing what other people dress their soldiers in, but the result is something like a dystopian future mall where we're rewarded for buying useless items with useless items. It feels harmless, and that's exactly what worries me. "Being rewarded for material envy would be fine if you couldn't purchase supply drops with real money, and even with the option, supply drop voyeurism still isn't quite as concerning as Activision's recent patent that uses matchmaking to set players up with prettier people. It just feels like the first step in normalizing something similar."
Now, about that campaign...
We have been waiting for years to storm the beaches of Normandy on a current generation console, and Call of Duty has finally delivered. As you may expect, the charge is every bit as squeamish as your favorite war movies (and gaming experiences) tend to illustrate. If you survive—and as the Call of Duty franchise has shown, you never really know what may happen to the character you're controlling—you still have anywhere from six to eight hours of gameplay to get through before you finish the campaign. Buckle up, soldier.
Nazi zombies are back
There's no denying that war is a pretty serious setting, but it's great that Call of Duty has never taken itself too seriously. Yes, that means the game's zombie-killing mode is back. This time, you can team up with your friends to blast apart hordes of evil Nazi zombies with Tesla-themed weaponry—just as awesome as it sounds.