Few months back, I have reviewed the very first map pack for Call of Duty: World War II, titled The Resistance. And back then, I was hell-bent on reviewing it from the perspective of competitive play, as that’s what Call of Duty, as a franchise, has always been about. However, since then it has dawned on me that Call of Duty, is not the same game I played back in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s. And while it may largely feel the same, and looks similar to some of the older titles, it is no longer as competitive as it used to be.
I looked at the previous map pack through the lens of mid to top-tier competitive play, and by doing so I have come to a conclusion that all three core maps of The Resistance, were simply not good enough. But as I have already stated above, it was incorrect of me to do so, as Call of Duty is no longer ‘the’ competitive game on consoles. And due to that fact, I have decided to look at the recently released War Machine DLC from a much more casual, and Sunday-player friendly angle
The War Machine map pack has been released on the 10th of April 2018, on PlayStation 4, and it features – just like the previous DLC – three core maps, one war map, and one zombie mission. And unlike all the pieces of content which have been released for World War II’s predecessor, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, this particular map pack doesn’t feature any new weapons, multiplayer skins, or any other bonuses, it simply adds new map to the general pool. And in order to gather a complete understanding in regards of this content pack, it is important to dissect it, and assess it piece by piece.
The very first map, and probably the most incoherent of them all is the map called Dunkirk, which as the name suggests is situated within the French seaside town of Dunkirk, which during the titular conflict, underwent the now infamous evacuation. And while it is visually pleasing as it features a plethora of interesting visual effects such as active rain, and sun glare, it ultimately doesn’t make much sense from the game design stand point.
Dunkirk is divided into two parts. The first part of the map, features tight, borderline claustrophobic streets, which force the player to result to close-quarter combat, as within this particular part of the map, the enemy is always metres away. The second part of the map on the other hand, is much larger than the first, as it takes place on a beach littered with various pieces of debris, and few vehicles here and there. In fact, the beach-based portion of the map, is a lot like Call of Duty 4’s Bog, and on its own, its great – but the problem lies in the fact that the beach is only a portion of the map, and one which puts all who occupy it at a severe disadvantage.
Dunkirk’s beach is completely open, and position slightly lowered than the streets. And this means that all who are position on the street level can easily pick off anybody who spawns on the beach. And worst of all, the street-based portion of the map features a building which gives the player who occupies I a Birdseye view of the beach. And if that player also happens to have Kar 98, or any other sniper rifle for that matter, he is likely to win the game for his team. As by killing the enemy team over and over again, he allows his team to take controls of the streets, and force the enemies to spawn on the beach, and get slaughtered over-and-over again.
In short, Dunkirk is simply not a very well throughout map. On one hand it provides one with great, fast paced, close-quarter sections, which lead to some great and thrilling gameplay. But on the other, it also serves one with a large open space, which forces one to play at a much slower pace. And while alone, those two portions of the map are more than fine, they unfortunately are rather shambolic when put together. And it is more than likely that most players will try to avoid it, whenever it will show up in the voting menu.
The second map of this DLC, is much more successful than the first, as it simply makes sense. Thematically, this particular map is centred around a facility responsible of production and launch of V2 missiles, and due to that fact, the map itself is titled V2. And unlike Dunkirk, it feels like a relatively well designed, and coherent product. As there is no disparity in gameplay across the map, and as a whole, V2, is centred around a singular, and concrete idea.
V2 is centred around the idea of vertical level design, meaning that those who control the higher ground, are in advantageous position. And as the luck would have it, the highest accessible platform on the map is situated right in the very middle. Meaning that yes, you might have an advantage when occupying the launch platform, but at the same time the opposing team is not doomed like in case of Dunkirk. As whenever you are stationed on the very top, you can get killed from literally any angle – no exceptions.
The aforementioned hot-spot, while not as high as the one of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s Rust, gives the map a similar dynamic. Yes, it may not be the biggest map, but it doesn’t force one to resort to submachineguns and shotguns alone. As the map’s general level design, which is centred around the elevated hot spot, allows the players to use any and all weapons. As whether you are fighting to defend the platform, or to win it back, you will always need a rifle, sniper, or a launcher.
Out of all three maps, which can be found within this DLC, V2 is without a shadow of a doubt the most fun to play. And that’s simply because it allows one to play in any which way he/she desires. You want to take the high point, and defend it with an LMG? Go ahead. You want to slither like a snake in the tunnels underneath it, and eliminate enemies who desperately try to climb it? No problem. Or maybe, you want to hide within the shadows, and snipe all who occupy the high-ground with surgical precision? You’re welcome to it. You can simply do whatever you want, and still have fun. And for this very reason, V2, might just be one of the best maps in the game.
The third and final core map of this particular DlC, as the name suggests, takes place in Egypt. And while it may not be as successful in stimulating the player as V2, it is surely the most fluid, and interesting map of the content pack. And while it’s setting may feel a little fantastical, and way too far out of the box at times, it ultimately does more good, than bad for one’s perception of it.
Egypt, unlike the two previous maps, is more like the battlegrounds we are used to. It is divided into lanes, and it mostly concentrates on assault rifles, submachine guns, and last but certainly not least shotguns. The outskirts of the map, as you might have already guessed, favour the use of assault rifles, whereas the more central portions of the map are all about short-range firearms. And while you can still do some damage while running through the central catacombs with a rifle, you are most likely going to get mowed down by a somebody who is sprinting with a Thompson in his/her hand.
The introduction of the War Machine DLC, has also brought in the rework of some of the game’s core mechanics. And the changes made to sprinting and divisions, ultimately elevate Egypt to the higher level. And that’s because they allow this particular map to introduce new playstyles which were previous unattainable. And some of you will be more than happy to hear that the good ol’ run-and-gun is back, as infinite sprinting and changes made to the airborne division, allow one to sprint across the map, and mow down enemies without stopping.
Egypt in terms of quality and ingenuity, places right between Dunkirk and V2. It features some genuinely intriguing level design, and its fluidity is unmatched by any other map which can be found in the game – but it falls short of V2’s excellence. But on the other hand, its constituency, and concrete approach to level design, make it a much better proposition in comparison to the rather unpleasant and unnecessarily overcomplicated Dunkirk.
Operation Husky and The Shadowed Throne.
Some of you may be surprised by the fact that a zombies’ map, and a war map are bundled together in a single section, as seemingly those two have nothing in common. And while this is true gameplay wise, it is ultimately false when it comes to general design, and execution. And both these maps, share exactly the same flaws, imperfections, rather lazy corner cutting, which at this point, should not be the case.
Both the abovementioned maps, are iterating upon the portions of the title which are beloved by many. And the vast majority of players, including myself, are usually can’t wait to play the new zombies, or the new war map. As those two modes, could ultimately be seen as the quote-on-quote meat of the Call of Duty: World War II end-game. However, both newly introduced maps, Operation Husky, and The Shadowed Throne, feel incredibly lazy, and uninspired.
Operation Husky, visually, looks great. However, it does very little to iterate upon the mode, or even the previous map. The first portion of the map, is nothing more than capture the flag, which can be found within Operation Griffin. The second point is centred around the idea of King of The Hill, which can be found within Operation Breakout. And the third and final point, features aerial battles. And while those seem to be innovative on paper, they are nothing more than incredibly simple form of deathmatch.
The abovementioned operation comes across as incredibly lazy, as it simply recycles portions of other maps, and the title’s multiplayer, and stings them together into as single map. And while this is rather disappointing, it is nowhere near as saddening as the newest zombie map The Shadowed Throne, which is both incredibly simple, and miles behind its predecessors. And yes, there is nothing wrong with simplicity, but this is only the case when such is supported by ingenuity. And The Shadowed Throne, feels more like the maps of Call of Duty: World at War, than those of Black Ops III.
Yes, The Shadowed Throne features an easter egg just like all the other maps, but a scavenger hunt for random items is not enough to incite one into playing for any prolonged period of time. And while the previous map, The Darkest Shore, wasn’t ground breaking in any way shape or form it did feature some interesting ideas such as fog and the seeker which came with it, or the system of mine-carts. And unfortunately, The Shadowed Throne has none of that.
Ultimately, the two maps which should serve as the high points of this content pack, are ultimately some of the lowest. And while they are both neither offensive, or insulting to the player, they are simply boring. And as much as I’d like to say that Husky’s dogfighting is incredible, or that Shadowed Throne’s ester egg is mind-scrambling. Then I have to give credit where credit is due, and underline that The War Machine content pack is ultimately carried by the core multiplayer maps, and if not for V2 and Egypt, then this particular DLC would probably receive a lower score than its predecessor.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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