Even when shooting for realism and historical accuracy, the developers behind the Call of Duty games have never been known to shy away from fantasy.
When Activision released the announcement trailer for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare back in 2016, it caused quite a splash, although not for any of the reasons the game developers were hoping for. It quickly became one of the most disliked videos ever uploaded to YouTube, with many hailing the release as the final straw for the series.
The Call of Duty games have been hailed in the past as some of the greatest first-person shooters in the medium’s history, but as each new title appears, the franchise has undergone some noticeable changes. Over the years the developers have moved steadily away from their roots in real-world history, preferring to focus on futuristic warfare instead.
When Infinite Warfare reinforced this trend yet again, many in the gaming community were frustrated, and felt that their repeated calls for a more realistic setting had simply been ignored.
Now, just one year later, Call of Duty: WWII seems to be on course to set the record straight.
The game was officially announced on the 21st of April, 2017, and the first trailer appeared online five days later. Returning to the Second World War, it will be the first installment to be set during that conflict since 2008’s Call of Duty: World at War, released almost a decade ago. The finished product won’t be released until November, of course, but so far the reaction has been extremely positive.
Yet even in a game that clearly aims to anchor itself in gritty historical realism, there will still be the opportunity to explore a much more fantastical theme.
Once again, “Zombie mode” will be making an appearance. In fact, the inclusion of undead enemies in previous entries in the series has actually been a consistently popular move among many players, despite the widely held belief that the franchise has drifted too close to the realms of science fiction.
Zombies first appeared in the franchise back in 2008, making their debut as an expansion to Call of Duty: World at War. However, they became increasingly popular after returning in Call of Duty: Black Ops and its two sequels.
In the Zombies game mode, up to four players must battle to survive wave after wave of undead adversaries, usually themed around whatever geographical region the mission takes place in. Having become a mainstay of the franchise, it only makes sense that Call of Duty: WWII should come with this same feature.
Officially entitled Nazi Zombies, trailers for this expansion are already online, and they offer a thrilling look at what is to come. The developers behind it, Sledgehammer Games, have actually worked on previous titles in the horror genre, such as Dead Space, their acclaimed 2008 release.
They have also worked with Activision in the past on other Call of Duty releases, although this new addition to the franchise may be a little different.
While similar expansions in previous games in the series have certainly been scary, the developers behind Nazi Zombies are hoping to focus much more on the horror aspects this time, making the game a genuinely terrifying experience.
Everything from the audio effects to the design of the zombies themselves has been crafted to raise the tension and place primal fear at the heart of the player experience.
Cameron Dayton, the creative director of Sledgehammer Games, described their latest work as “the scariest version of Zombies that you will have ever seen”, underlining their focus on the horror genre. Backing up that sentiment, executive producer Jon Horsely assured fans that everything in the game was intended to be “in the service of building tension and creating fear”.
While there’s no shortage of games involving the walking dead, Call of Duty: WWII’s Nazi Zombies expansion looks set to offer a unique experience, blending the polished mechanics of a military first-person shooter with a genuinely terrifying horror experience.
Dayton made this especially clear while passing on a little advice for newcomers to the series, saying, “I’m going to recommend, for first-time players, do not turn the lights off.”
Call of Duty: WWII is released on the 16th of August, while Nazi Zombies will be available from the 3rd of November.
Cover Image captured from the trailer video