Call of Duty: WWII, This Generation’s Saving Private Ryan?

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World War II. The greatest generation.

In the American point of view, these words evoke much more than just the people and the event, it’s much more then that. World War II is perhaps the last conflict that we, as Americans got involved in and fought for a just cause in a belief that we would defeat Fascism, for a free Europe and for Democracy- we and the rest of the Allies were on the right side of history. The people who served, including my granddaddy grew up during the 1920’s and the Great Depression; following the war, they would settle down and build America’s middle class during the 1950’s and the 1960’s.

As such, World War II is a constant setting for both movies and books, but in videogames we have managed to move on to greener pastures as World War II is the “already been there, done that.” of videogames and you might say that for it’s contemporary and futuristic settings, some point following the release of the most revered and frankly, a complete masterpiece of a game that is “Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare.” we just happened to move on to a place that has taken on the same role as the WWII setting did two generations ago.

This Wednesday, Call of Duty is returning to it’s roots and origins after a nine-year old hiatus with Call of Duty: World at War back in 2008. At this point, I don’t know anything about it except for a reveal livestream that is set for Wednesday and it seems to focus on a group of American soldiers from The Big Red One infantry division as they land at Omah and fight through the Normandy campaign and eventually breaking out of Normandy. Activision released a piece of artwork that seems to tease the tone and direction of the game:

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As you can see from the picture above, it might be the main character of the campaign and the campaign focuses on his squad as they fight through Normandy. Players could get to know them through a 6 or 8 hour campaign, and truly get invested and feel for these characters, and this narrative could be deep and quite emotional as compared to previous Call of Duty’s and quite a contrast between Battlefield 1’s War Stories.

The last Call of Duty that was set in World War II was World at War which released back in 2008. While the war is still relevant with movies like Hacksaw Ridge, the setting as a whole just fell out with gamers except for a select few like myself who clamored and knocked doors down to get us back into World War II and put some freshness back into the FPS genre.

World War II, personally to me is one of the greatest conflicts that we as a nation and the world participated in to defeat evil and is the kind of history-defining moment in the history of the world that will always be relevant and never get old and it’s a moment that provides endless material for you to enjoy, be touched, feel emotions and the good thing about is that every generation interacts with that moment in time through different media. Those men and women lived through the war and fought in it, their children were immersed with the war because their parents fought and lived through it and people like myself, born in the last two or three decades of the 20th century experienced World War II through the work of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks: Films like Saving Private Ryan and the greatest piece of cinema ever made Band of Brothers.

We stormed Omah Beach in Medal of Honor:Allied Assault, Medal of Honor:Frontline and fought through the Normandy campaign in Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, took out the guns at Brecourt and stormed Pegasus Bridge in the early hours of D-Day in the original Call of Duty.

This current generation doesn’t have any milestones or relations with World War II like we did, films in the past decade include Inglorious Bastards, The Pacific, Hacksaw Ridge, and Fury but nothing as been more revered and enshrined in a bulletproof glass like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers and you might say the same with videogames. Call of Duty, Call of Duty: United Offensive,Call of Duty 2, Day of Defeat, and Brothers in  Arms are the enshrined in a bulletproof glass pieces of entertainment that ended up being masterpieces in the videogame landscape and ended up paving the way for videogames much like Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan ended up paving the way for military movies. This current generation doesn’t have anything like that, of that nature to callback too and it would be great to see Call of Duty:WWII end up being this powerful piece of entertainment that not only paves the way like the originals did but end up being part of the enshrined case that holds all of the greatest games and movies about WWII that we look back on.

I know that it seems stupid to look at Call of Duty and say those sentences because of the series looks like now but I have hope that Sledgehammer Games does this installment justice and ends up being an honest return to WWII so that it can give Call of Duty a wake up call and return to a good form. If Sledgehammer and Activision play their cards right then perhaps Call of Duty:WWII will bring this generation in touch and appreciate what these men did during one of the most deadliest conflicts in recent human history.

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