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Call of Duty

World War II is Overdone in Video Games

Olivia Richman

I get it. The drama, the tension, the hatred, the widespread violence, the technology, the fanaticism. World War II is interesting — there is no denying that. It’s sad and harsh and everything terrible about this world. But there are tales of triumph, of glory, of redemption. Of revenge.

Call of Duty Vanguard World War II

Are FPS games using World War II as a crutch? (Image via Activision Blizzard)

So why don’t many gamers get excited about games based in World War II? It’s done too much.

I never thought I’d call World War II unimaginative or boring, especially as a Jewish person. But I am starting to feel like WWII is being exploited for easy interest in otherwise generic and uninspired FPS games. Let’s maybe leave World War II to the cinematic, open world games that actually take the time to dive deep into the people behind WWII, the complex stories and struggles. Let’s think of another topic for FPS games going forward.

Call of Duty: Vanguard is the newest shooter to be based in World War II. The campaign follows Lieutenant Lucas Riggs, who is stationed in Libya as part of the Australian Rats of Tobruk garrison. If I went on, it would feel like one of those videos where time passes and the person continues to spout lines of gibberish. The Second Battle of El Alamein. Major Henry Jamms gets punched. Riggs goes to prison. Lieutenant Wade Jackson is a pilot fighting in the Battle of Midway. Plane is shot down by Imperial Japanese Army soldiers. But he is rescued. Polina Petrova is a nurse. She attempts an assassination. It goes on and on until all of these people (and more) sort of collide. Secret Nazi program. Train. Global Nazi covert operations uncovered. Bunkers.

But it all boils down to this in multiplayer — you are a person holding a World War II-era weapon on a map based on a war-torn country during that time period and there are bunkers and WWII-era vehicles.

I remember when Vanguard was revealed, portions of the gaming community immediately thought, “World War II again? Are they out of ideas?” Well, seeing as Call of Duty is released every year, I’m going to say, “Probably.” But I honestly don’t think the game is downright terrible or anything, especially not for including WWII references. It’s just underwhelming.

Call of Duty has done World War II before. In fact, the first eight games (excluding Modern Warfare) are about WWII. That means from 2003 to 2008 it was all about WWII. Then Battlefield went to WWII in Battlefield 1942. Then again in Battlefield V, which EA stated was “World War II as you have never seen it before” which sounds oddly exhilarating and exciting when it’s supposed to be about death camps. Still, good game. Then there is Battalion 1944, Medal of Honor (four times), Hour of Victory, Days of War, and a bunch of other FPS games.

Battlefield V

Like what more is there to say? Yes. Nazis are bad. I like shooting them in video games.

But if we are going to have more World War II games, I don’t want them to be FPS titles anymore. They should be strategy games or story-driven games, or RPGs. Anything that explores a different side to WWII other than killing Germans and having maps set in the 1940s.

In an interview, Slitherine Director of Marketing Marco Minoli stated: “World War II had a very fast technological advance over a very short period of time … It went from horses to nukes. There are many different kinds of World War II games, encompassing all levels of command. That is, the operational, strategic, and tactical.”

WWII has everything people want (which feels weird to say). It has so many countries involved. It has brainwashing and evil governments. It has suffering and fear and anguish. It has torture. It has people to clearly hate. It has impressive technology. It has high-stress storylines and choices that will have your heart pounding. It has espionage and assassinations and secret groups rising up.

But does any of that truly matter in an FPS set in WWII? Not really.

Isn’t everyone sick of shooting an M1 Garand?

WW2 weapon

I want FPS titles to bring something new to the table. It seems like there are only two options right now: World War II and the future. What about Vietnam? What about the Iraq War? What about the Cold War? What about the Korean War? The Crusades? World War I? The French Revolution? Civil War? Revolutionary War? Mexican-American War? Godzilla vs. Kong? Are these wars not GOOD ENOUGH for you, Activision Blizzard?

I think it’s safe to say that FPS titles are getting boring. Overwatch understood this and made up their own war, the Omnic War, and people cared about Overwatch until Blizzard messed up. Halo Infinite has its own war and that game is dominating the FPS scene right now despite only releasing a day before publication.

Let’s get creative.