World War II took place in a dark, tragic time in this planet’s history. That point sometimes gets lost as video games rush to explore the war’s more exciting elements and in the process risk glorifying violence without examining the human toll.
Call of Duty: WWII, the next entry in the franchise with Sledgehammer Games as its developer (the team previously helmed Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare), looks like it is primed to reverse that trend. A new trailer, released by Activision this week to reveal the game’s single-player campaign, focuses on elements most historical shooters have glossed over or even ignored.
Activision notes that Call of Duty: WWII introduces players to Private Ronald “Red” Daniels, of the U.S. First Infantry Division. His first taste of combat occurs on D-Day, and Red is one of the lucky ones who survive that infamous amphibious assault. That means he and his squad mates have earned the privilege of fighting their way across Europe. They’ll advance through the Hürtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge, on their way to a final showdown in the heart of Germany.
The trailer, which we’ve embedded above, shows that things do not always go according to plan. There are numerous shots of the stuff you would expect: tanks rolling along a snowy road; soldiers descending a tree-lined hill, firing on a caravan of troops; planes roaring overhead while smoke and fire trail behind them like banners. This is a Call of Duty game, after all.
Joining those moments, however, are scenes of men standing in line near a train bound for a concentration camp. A German soldier examines his apparent captives, knocks one to the ground, kicks at his head. In another scene, ominous music plays as a man walks along a street with a quartet of swastika flags hanging on a far wall.
With movie-like visuals and a story that seems ready to spend more time exploring the human side of the war, Call of Duty: WWII is shaping up to be another memorable entry in one of the industry’s most successful franchises. It will be interesting to see if the developer’s ambitions persuade a few more players to start with the campaign before diving into the zombies or online deathmatch modes.