After wrapping up my thoughts on Sea of Thieves, I knew what I had to talk about next.
For as much as I expected to love Sea of Thieves, I expected to dislike Call of Duty: WWII. It was a game I was interested in playing, but in more of an abstract “I bet the campaign will be fun, and hey, that new ‘War’ multiplayer mode seemed cool” way. Yet, once I started playing it – day after day I kept coming back to it, but not to the campaign! I was trying new multiplayer modes, new classes, and new weapons and before I knew it, it was all I was playing.
I slowly started to realize that after years of not ‘getting’ Call of Duty, thinking it too loud, too dumb, and aimed squarely at dude bros and prepubescent boys – that this release was finally clicking with me. But why? And how do you admit you like something that feels like so much of a guilty pleasure?
It seems Call of Duty: WWII picked up just enough from the original Destiny, and refined it even further, to get me over the initial hump of being bad at the game. I’d played other Call of Duties in the past – and attempted the multiplayer on and off – but none of them stuck. By slapping on the orders and contracts, similar to the bounties from Destiny, it gave me a short easy goal to work towards. String together enough of these small goals and suddenly I wasn’t getting killed immediately and could hold my own in gun fights – which allowed me to progress further, which allowed me to complete harder contracts with better rewards and so on. It created a very rewarding feedback loop that I still enjoy even after several months of playing it.
Getting over my views of Call of Duty as a dudebro game was more the fact that this game, despite being multiplayer, is incredibly easy to play solo – so as not to engage with the other players. The insufferable voice chat I’d heard horror stories about from previous entries was never more than two button presses away from muting. Matchmaking did an amazing job of lumping me with mostly similarly skilled players – sometimes I’d be at the top of the leaders boards, sometimes the bottom, but mostly in the Top 4 which felt right. I never felt blown out of the water and so I never seemed to run into the overly nasty players who come along with that skill level.
It’s also just fun. As I summarize in the video, I think something that can be easy to do when you are deep into a hobby is to think what is popular and successful isn’t good simple because it is popular and successful. I should know better than this, as I always try to avoid this trap in music – although sadly, I do think Mambo Number 5 is not that great of a song. (Catchy, but not at all a classic or even Top 10 musical guilty pleasures.) The point is though that fun and popular doesn’t need to mean bad and shallow. It really can just be fun and good and because of that popular. I’m glad I was reminded of this and I can’t wait to see what the next Call of Duty has to offer.
This time, I’ll be there day one.