Call of Duty: World at War Multiplayer Hands-On

Perks, XP, and level upgrades all make their way back to the 1940s.

Given the benefit of hindsight, we can look back at Call of Duty 4's incredibly popular online multiplayer and see what a big factor the addictive XP and perk system played in its success. At the time, so much fuss was made about the move to modern day weapons and hot zones, and while that certainly played a role, what really pushed CoD4 to the top was its bold refusal to let the player's experience grow stale. That's good news for Treyarch as it looks to borrow these features for Call of Duty: World at War, the series' return to World War II. We took a hands-on spin through World at War's multiplayer component to see how Treyarch intends to adapt the formula for 1940's warfare.

Castle is the Japanese garden-themed map.

At the very moment you dip your feet in World at War's multiplayer offering, the structure holding everything in place feels warm and familiar. For every kill, assist, and goal completed in battle, the game throws a handful of experience points your way to progress through a series of military rankings, each new level unlocking a new upgrade. Complementing holdover perks, such as extreme conditioning and martyrdom, are a smattering of new unlockables that fit within the framework of WWII weaponry. To name a few: shades gives you protection against the blinding effects of flares, gas mask reduces the disorientation suffered from chemical weapons, and flak jacket helps you withstand close-but-not-too-close grenades.

Despite the absence of modern technology, upgrading your guns remains a big focus of the leveling system. Rifle barrels can be done up with old-fashioned glass scopes and bayonets to offer some insurance against running out of ammo, while shotgun barrels can simply be sawn in half to provide an extra bit of thump for each blast. With the return of vehicles, you'll also be able to upgrade your abilities on mounted turret guns--perhaps none more effective than the water cooler ability, which reduces the amount of time it takes a machine gun to overheat.

Enhancements to the leveling system extend into the long term. Committed players who find themselves turning over the clock again and again by going prestige will now see a slightly more tangible reward for their labors. In addition to the flashy prestige icon situated next to your user name in game lobbies, you'll be given achievement points and gamer pics (or trophies and PSN avatars--take your pick) for compulsively climbing the military ladder. Of course, changes have also been made to very short-term rewards, with vicious packs of German Shepherds replacing helicopters as the third-kill-streak reward in battle (radar and air raids remain the first two).

If perks and XP are the familiar glue linking battles together, individual matches are where you'll see World at War sway more toward the unexplored. New gameplay modes abound, including a revamped take on War from Call of Duty 3. Teams play tug-of-war on a series of five flags, but Treyarch has introduced a momentum system where kill streaks increase the speed at which your team captures flags, giving you the opportunity to blitzkrieg your way through flags at two and three times the normal speed. But just as with the perk system, these additions live side-by-side with such CoD4 favorites as Domination and Ground War.

Roundhouse is a dirty, industrial Berlin map.

Likewise, vehicles feel different from their most recent appearance in the series. Gone are the nimble motorcycles and jeeps that allowed players to zoom across maps like frantic bumblebees. Now, you'll be using heavy-duty tanks to slowly creep across ruined battlefields as opponents focus on rocket launchers or sticky grenades to peel away at the steel-armored plating acting as the safety net between you and death.

Cycling in and out of our session were five maps spanning the distance between burned-out Berlin streets and Pacific beaches. Castle is a map that takes place in a Japanese garden complete with cherry blossom trees and ornate wooden architecture. Courtyard is a map similar in appearance, though it is unlike the relatively flat and dense castle. It offers more vertical diversity with sprawling stairways and raised buildings in which snipers can hole up. Makin is the beach map taken from the introductory campaign level, a nighttime collection of wooden huts flanked by dense jungle on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. The two Berlin levels are Roundhouse and Dome. Roundhouse is a blown-out mess of rubble that was once a collection of railways and industrial facilities, while Dome is a similarly run-down husk of classical European architecture.

According to Treyarch multiplayer lead David Vonderhaar, each map has been designed in such a way that you're never more than one full sprint away from the action. For the most part, that design philosophy holds true. Makin might be the most chaotic map with its sparse wooden huts, which provide both ample sight lines and paper-thin cover. Roundhouse might be the most slow-paced map with its fallen collection of stone buildings, though the two tanks patrolling the rubble tend to make open areas pretty messy.

The big wildcard in multiplayer is the introduction of fire-based weaponry. Molotov cocktails and flamethrowers (unlockable at level 64) have a distinct tendency to slosh around the normal ebb and flow of battles. A large group of teammates might be making good progress through the flags in War, but if an opponent strapped with a flamethrower comes storming in to light them up like Christmas morning, he can collect a kill streak that instantly turns the tide in his team's favor. While this fire can be intimidating, it does seem like an interesting new addition. Time will tell if the flamethrower is a bit overpowered, though.

Village is the beach hut map.

When Treyarch announced the continuation of CoD4's massively multiplayer online-like bells and whistles in World at War, we readily admit that we were initially skeptical. However, after several hours of seeing how these features have been retrofitted for WWII, we'll happily say that skepticism was ill-founded because it all works surprisingly well. Although the overall leveling structure remains largely intact, the addition of new perks, weapons, modes, and vehicles lends a distinct air of freshness. That word may seem like a bit of a paradox considering the return to the series' old stomping grounds, but if there's one thing we learned while fighting it out with the aid of perks and fully customized weapons, this isn't the same World War II you've already seen.

You can expect to see Call of Duty: World at War arrive on all major platforms on November 11.

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Discussion

268 comments
sk8oridie44
sk8oridie44

I don't see why this game is 8.5. This game is an improvement over Call of Duty 4 (COD4), at least in multiplayer wise. I honestly don't like the snipers, but that shouldn't mean it's not a good game. This is a great game and I love how they always fix the glitches and lags and PAYS A LITTLE ATTENTION ON THE PS3 SIDE FOR ONCE (unlike COD4). Well, can't wait for Map Pack 2. Oh and in my heart, I will always like COD4 better. AND can't wait for Modern Warfare 2. I have high expectations of that game. -One Love

david1233
david1233

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Kspeed_VSC
Kspeed_VSC

THIS game deserves a 9.0 pontuation

Kspeed_VSC
Kspeed_VSC

If someone is looking for a first person shooter this game would be a great option

d3emondav3
d3emondav3

UAEARSENAL: You are totally right! I loved Call of Duty: WaW, and it deserved a 9.0. It's fresh, gruesome, and addictive. GTA 4 had very nice graphics, but same old thing as previous games. Finally, Fable II deserved a 9 (or 10) as well. It had great art, and the only thing that I disliked is that it had a handfull of bugs.

jz12b
jz12b

"The Bad: Familiar setting Familiar game mechanics Familiar guns." Are you kidding me?!?!?! Were the game designers supposed to invent weapons that never existed, in fictional countries, with different, unproven mechanics? This review is bogus.

UAEARSENAL
UAEARSENAL

Hey.it dont deserve 8.5 i think it must be 9.5 or 10 u think 10 for gtaiv dont deserve 10 and cod5 deserve it !! !!! ! ! !! ! also fable2 ^-^

elmstterror
elmstterror

No review yet? I'll review it, its BOSS! Anyone want to test their abilities against me, I'll smoke them. 360 tag Elm ST Terror

yichun4
yichun4

Yeley IGN gave it a 9.2

RJ3rules
RJ3rules

so you can't have guests online for this COD either?

dnathug
dnathug

Just just my call form EB, they have my copy, see you guys online

Yeley718
Yeley718

I've pre-ordered it. and GP gave it a 9.1 so i think its going to be a great game. to bad ign and gamespot haven't come out with reviews yet, GP said "COD5 is one of the best WW2 shooters ever made.

Hawaiianc
Hawaiianc

not say its bad or good but i hope people will be on cod:waw multi then on gears.... i mean im just saying and hopeing

XxJDUBxX025
XxJDUBxX025

the online beta was all beautiful, i want to play it now, to bad i have to wait untill midnight to get the damn game

MAX_RAMBONE
MAX_RAMBONE

Man I'm missing the online beta so much :-(

Timmy_Gwar
Timmy_Gwar

If WWII was a person, they would be lying dead and bleeding with not a single bone left unbroken, because we 've beaten them repeatedly with the butts of our Thompsons. Upgrade the multiplayer rewards for CoD4 and it would appease pretty much everyone I say. I mean how usefull is a bayonet when the other guy has a shotgun anyways?

decima1870
decima1870

Oh no PS3man sorry you picked the wrong system!

yoyo5454
yoyo5454

World at War is worse than Call of Duty 4 even though they added achievements to online and have vehicles, it won't bother me to wait until Christmas to get it.

PS3man2893
PS3man2893

why is there no beta for ps3? My friends with Xbox downloaded it from the marketplace. It makes me mad they neglected to have one for the ps3.

swisdwag
swisdwag

Don't get me wrong, it'll be a great game but what will we all do with our copies of CoD4? There will literally be no need to play it with this new installment that is basically the same game in a different time setting. World@War is definitely more violent with the dismembering and whatnot. It'll be awesome until CoD5 next year :/

jacndax
jacndax

After playing the Cod5 WAW Beta I think that it's very similar to cod4 and thats why I think it will be so successful. In Short the beta is great, looking forward to November 11

eamerrob
eamerrob

Agreed, MrLions is a retard

Supertramp20
Supertramp20

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

MrLions
MrLions

I just got done playing the beta right now and all it made me do is feel like playing CoD4 online. It's exactly the same game, just crappier graphics,perks,weapons are replaced,and you can shoot peoples arms and legs off. Oh how I wish this game will fail but it won't I know it won't. Your being tricked people, it's not a new CoD its CoD4 in a different time setting!!!

swisdwag
swisdwag

After playing the beta I can honestly say that this game is exactly like CoD4, almost too much like it. What it is; is CoD4 in WWII. I'm thinking Infinity Ward actually made the game and just let Treyarch put their name on it. Seriously, it's too much like CoD4. Could be a good thing...could be a bad thing.

Ticklethis275
Ticklethis275

This game looks ok. Id have to play it before i buy it.

bekem77
bekem77

we havent got beta in psn ...:( but it looks awesome !!! :D

ihopNESS
ihopNESS

THe Beta Is Awesome!:D Try It!

djmillard2
djmillard2

@flyerscup: the guns and single shots do go by how fast you shoot. The people in the vids just blow hard @#$%. You can unload a pistol clip only as fast as you can press the trigger. :D

djmillard2
djmillard2

the beta is great. I recommend this game to all.

swyatt1234
swyatt1234

This game looks so bad, it would be a waste of money

Jumbo120788
Jumbo120788

The Beta plays surprisingly well. I'm also liking the levels in this game my only gripe is the graphics feel outdated but hopefully they were polished after they released the beta.

Angre_Leperkan
Angre_Leperkan

Hopefully, Treyarch does good with this... God knows they didn't do good with COD3... Like, at all. Like, Completely, completely, failed. Still, Split screen multiplayer was pretty entertaining. STILL FAILED. Good Luck Treyarch.

Steel_Rain777
Steel_Rain777

Yeah I'm planning on selling Socom Confrontation for this....That game was a total letdown and i advise everyone to avoid it. This game really took me by surprise, it look really good so far. Even though I wish they kept it modern combat, I think the hook will be the awesome multiplayer, Now i got this and R2 to play online :)

gamzrsweet
gamzrsweet

Playing the beta this game is awesome

shemrom
shemrom

My bother nick is wounding about if the game will have too many perks, mostly useless, that it will make the game a bit stale. I don't think so though, I welcome all the new perks and the flame thrower

OmNiSlasHVrs5
OmNiSlasHVrs5

No one complains when we see yet another future themed gun game, with the same imaginary takes on weapons and scenery. Yet when I game returns to a war that actually happened, a period in time where millions were killed, people complain that it is stale. If you don't like WWII stay away from the COD series, that is the time periods in which its games take place. Get over it.

mentzer
mentzer

Has there been ANY PS3 footage shown yet??

lister82
lister82

After playing the beta for cod5 i personally couldn't get the hang of using the WW2 guns after playing cod4. I didn't really care that much for the guns cause i couldn't really relate to them that much compared to cod4 weapons. I knew such guns as the M4, AK47, P90, desert eagle etc, from other fps i had played and from TV shows/Movies, i knew the guns and it was fun using them, But in Cod 5 the Thompson, MP40 and such didn't tickle my fancy at all. For those who like ww2 guns or enjoy using them like in Cod 3 Multiplayer, this'll be great for them as its Cod4 with ww2 maps, guns and new perks.

yichun4
yichun4

Man I cant wait so long to get this game nov 11 cant be so far...can it?

yichun4
yichun4

Redhaze how can you hate this game

redhaze02
redhaze02

im getting tired of all these gaywods at my school talk about call of duty 4, i just hope this one sucks so they will shut up

crabwalker23
crabwalker23

yeah cant wait for this to come out!!! everything in COD4 and something xtra

flyerscup715
flyerscup715

This game is going 2 b insane. The flamethrowers r going 2 b awesome, nd there is alot more levels until u prestige, as indicated by the article stating u unlock flamethrowers at lv 64, this game is goin 2 b awesome, the only thing is that in the vids, the pistols and singleshots dont look lyk they adapt 2 how fast u can shoot, but goes at a constant speed which sucks 4 ppl lyk me that have a trigger-finger.

EQShaman
EQShaman

killing nazis will never get old. got mine pre-ordered