Beyond the Game: Innovation Brings New Challenges in Call of Duty: World War II
Beyond the Game: Innovation Brings New Challenges in Call of Duty: World War II

This article is part of our Beyond the Game series.

Call of Duty: WWII has recently arrived on store shelves and digital download servers, and for the most part it’s been a success, with fans drawn to the new emphasis on the boots-on-the-ground combat and battles at speeds of the newer, faster-paced Call of Duty games. But it’s not all wine and roses for Sledgehammer Games quite just yet. Technical issues have sadly plagued the game’s launch weekend, with problems beyond the typical lag and odd disconnect, such as random level resets, menu sluggishness (which can cause players to be deposited into game sessions they didn’t want to be put in), and being all alone in WWII’s new “Headquarters” feature.

While most of these issues are known problems, it's still a situation that needs to resolved as soon as possible. This is because the aforementioned “Headquarters” system that Sledgehammer is introducing for the first time in Call of Duty is quite literally an attempt to put something new into Call of Duty that isn’t “advanced movement”. So far, it hasn’t made a good first impression.

If the Headquarters system worked as intended upon launch, I’m sure many players would be singing a different, happier tune. After all, it has several features that enhance what has become the new Call of Duty experience, and – shock of shocks – made it more social. For instance, while the very idea of random loot boxes (called Supply Drops in-game) might be much maligned in the gaming community these days, the social features of Headquarters (in theory) make Supply Drops not only more accessible, but actually fun. Instead of using real money to buy Supply Drops, one can earn in-game currency to use to buy them instead in a variety of ways. Here’s a short list:

- Visit the Headquaters Post to get a “payroll” of Armory Credits (one in-game currency used to buy more Supply Drops) every four hours.

- Get Orders from Major Howard – they have tasks you can complete in-game to earn more rewards, including Supply Drops.

- Wager Armory Credits to get Contracts – they have greater rewards than Orders, although you lose your wagered Credits if you don’t complete them in time.

- Watch other people open Supply Drops in Headquarters – yes, you read that right, if you watch other people open Supply Drops in Headquarters, you can get more rewards.

- Commend other players by walking up to them and picking the appropriate option – this will award aSocial Score which can be used to unlock even more loot.

Supply Drops might never get a unanimously positive reputation among the Call of Duty crowd, but Headquarters features at least offer plenty of options to get Supply Drops without having to spend a dime out of your real-world wallet. And while Headquarters might sound like it was solely built around the idea of “selling” Supply Drops to Call of Duty players, it represents something much more – it represents true innovation within the franchise, an actual upgrade to the Call of Duty user experience. The social features within the Headquarters framework, including the ability to challenge specific players to one-on-one matches, offer ways to experience Call of Duty that haven’t ever been offered before in the franchise. It offers real immersion, or as real as Call of Duty is willing to get, anyway.

This is why the sloppy launch of CoD:WWII’s most new decorated feature might be so damaging. The negative reception of a new feature such as Headquarters might discourage future Call of Duty developers, including Treyarch and Infinity Ward, from exploring new ways of expanding the franchise.

I know what some players might be thinking – Call of Duty has a winning formula. Why innovate and try to provide new experiences when the old formula has worked so well? Why fix what isn’t broken? After all, the last attempt of introducing something new to the franchise, advanced movement, turned out to be extremely divisive for the Call of Duty community. Here’s the dirty little secret though; it’s not just players who get bored of the “same old, same olds” in the franchise. It’s developers who get bored too. Developers eventually tire of cranking out the same old game as much as many players tire of playing said same old game. While Call of Duty fans might be content at playing repeated iterations of the franchise, developers won’t have the same amount of heart in it. If developers are bored, and therefore not personally invested in the game they are creating, odds are they’ll make even more costly mistakes and technical glitches when it comes to developing future Call of Duty games. If the developers don’t have fun making the game, odds are players won’t either.

That’s why the Headquarters feature in CoD:WWII is so important, and it’s even more important that Sledgehammer get this feature fixed and working as intended. I’m sure neither Sledgehammer nor their publishers, Activision, intended for all these glitches to happen when WWII launched, and I’m absolutely certain Sledgehammer wants their new baby to work much better than the way it is as of the writing of this article. Sledgehammer is most likely hard at work around the clock to get Headquarters up and running how it’s supposed to. And I support their efforts. But not everyone realizes how important this new frontier in Call of Duty is. It should be top priority at Sledgehammer right now to make Headquarters work, and work well. The ability for Call of Duty the franchise to grow and evolve is quite possibly at stake.

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