CoD WW2's New War Machine DLC Belies the Fact That the Community is Already Moving On

CoD WW2's New War Machine DLC Belies the Fact That the Community is Already Moving On

Call of Duty: WW2's expiration date is getting close.

The clock is ticking on Call of Duty: WW2. The War Machine DLC, which launched yesterday, feels like the last hurrah before hype for Black Ops 4 fully kicks into gear.

This may be a strange thing to say about what has been by most measures a successful release. Call of Duty: WW2 was one of 2017's best-selling games, easily besting the flaccid Infinite Warfare. It managed to earn a billion dollars in sales. It received solid reviews.

And yet the Call of Duty community seems ready to move on. All eyes are on the big reveal for Black Ops 4, which is due to take place next month. Black Ops has long since supplanted Modern Warfare as the most popular game in the series, so that may not be too big of a surprise, but there has nevertheless been a sense that WW2 has been just okay.

Indeed, Call of Duty: WW2 has suffered a rocky road from the start. According to sources, it was originally going to be a sequel to Advanced Warfare 2 before shifting its setting to World War II, leaving Sledgehammer Games with less time than usual to get it out the door. When it arrived, its ambitious online lobby didn't work for months.

Call of Duty: WW2's HQ was neat. It also didn't really work at launch.

More recently, Sledgehammer founders Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey departed the studio in a surprising shakeup. While both executives will remain with Activision, they had an active hand in Call of Duty's development. Whether for better or worse, their departure no doubt had a significant impact on Call of Duty: WW2's support.

Looming over everything is the success of Fortnite Battle Royale and PUBG. The explosion of the battle royale genre has sucked the oxygen out of the shooter space and sent developers scrambling to take advantage. Its dominance has almost certainly cut into Call of Duty: WW2's long-term shelf life.

Mostly, though, Call of Duty suffers from annual release fatigue. While still extremely popular with casual audiences, its annualized schedule has taken its toll in subtle ways. Problems like hit detection have lingered for a long time, and even popular modes like Zombies have started to feel a little stale.

From the start, Call of Duty: WW2 was more about looking backward than forward. Its very first mission—the D-Day Invasion—was a callback to the days of the PlayStation 2, when World War II shooters still reigned. It was conceived as a piece of nostalgia to both respond to the success of Battlefield One and placate the fans clamoring for a return to World War II.

It was successful in raising a certain sense of nostalgic excitement when it was first revealed. But when it was eventually released, it was hurt by the initial server mess. Worse, it suffered from being what one Youtube called a "watered-down World at War." A 37-minute diatribe titled "Why is Call of Duty: WW2 So Bad?" garnered nearly 3 million views on Youtube.

This isn't to say that Call of Duty: WW2 has had absolutely nothing to add. The multi-phase War Mode was a great idea, even if most players seemed to content to stick with standbys like Team Deathmatch and Zombies. Later on, Prop Hunt was good for a laugh. The War Machine DLC currently has everyone getting creative and painting their guns.

But it has slowly but surely sunk under the weight of battle royale's popularity, years of annual releases, and well, boredom. The War Machine DLC is apt to give it a bit of a nudge with updates to Zombies, as well as novelties like flying missions, but it's likely to be short-lived. In a month, everyone will have forgotten that Call of Duty: WW2 even existed.

Call of Duty's Wilderness Period

It's been an odd generation for Call of Duty. The series is still selling as well as ever at retail, but it hasn't been in the zeitgeist for what seems like forever. Entries like Ghosts, Advance Warfare, Infinite Warfare, and now WW2 have all proven to be false starts. Call of Duty is leaning on past glories harder than ever now, and Call of Duty: WW2 is emblematic of that.

The series will continue to own its particular space for the forseeable future. Along with FIFA and GTA, it's one of a handful of games that you're apt to see on every casual gamers shelf. Black Ops 4 will be one of the biggest releases of the year.

Black Ops 2 is arguably the last truly beloved Call of Duty.

But there was a time when Call of Duty was an event. The original Modern Warfare was a megaton shooter that fans played for years afterward. Modern Warfare 2 dominated the headlines with controversial missions like "No Russian." Somewhere along the line, all of that got lost. Call of Duty's shelf life started to get shorter. Black Ops 2, which was released way back in 2012, is the only recent Call of Duty to have any real staying power.

What we're seeing are the long-term effects of annualization, which is reflected in everything from the need to rely on established technology to increased bugginess. Call of Duty: WW2 had some nifty ideas, but it ultimately struggled under the pressure of hitting mandatory release dates, which was evident in the fact that one of its major features simply didn't work out of the box. And as a consequence, players are bouncing faster than ever.

So while The War Machine DLC is a nice bundle of new content for those who have stuck around (and play on PS4), Call of Duty: WW2's expiration date is definitely getting close. And that is likely to have consequences for the franchise's long-term prospects going forward.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Kat Bailey

Editor in Chief

Kat Bailey is a former freelance writer and contributor to publications including 1UP, IGN, GameSpot, GamesRadar, and EGM. Her fondest memories as a journalist are at GamePro, where she hosted RolePlayer's Realm and had legal access to the term "Protip." She is USgamer's resident mecha enthusiast, Pokemon Master, and Minnesota Vikings nut (skol).

Read this next

Call of Duty 2019 Will Be Revealed Tomorrow

Tune in to see the future of Call of Duty.

Famous Athletes Have Already Played the Unannounced Call of Duty 2019

All you have to do to play the new Call of Duty game early is to be a world-class athlete.

Call of Duty Blackout Map - Locations List, Best Places to Drop

Here's everything you need to know about the map in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's Blackout battle royale mode.

Recapping a Brutal Day at Activision Blizzard: 800 Layoffs While Activision Touts Record Financial Results

Activision Blizzard announces record profits, then promptly lays off 800 employees.

More Opinions

Kunai Is The Best Feeling Platformer I've Played Since Dead Cells

This tiny robot samurai wins with precise platforming action.

Apple Arcade Brings Game Pricing Concerns Back to the Forefront

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Will successful subscription services turn into their own walled gardens?

Apple Arcade is Way Cooler Than You Think. Here are 10 Games to Check Out

Apple Arcade has dozens of neat games, so we highlighted 10 from its launch lineup that are a bit under the radar.

At Last, FIFA 20's Career Mode is Interesting Again - Review Impressions

Some much-needed improvements have a major impact on FIFA 20's much-maligned career mode.

More on PC

Kunai Is The Best Feeling Platformer I've Played Since Dead Cells

This tiny robot samurai wins with precise platforming action.

FIFA 20 Review: This Year's Version Takes to the Streets, But It's Strongest on the Pitch

A brand new mode and some much-improved gameplay highlight an ambitious update for FIFA.

Spiritfarer's Art Director on Encouraging Relaxation, Exploration, and Just Chilling on a Boat

How Spirited Away led to a cozy management sim about the afterlife.

Borderlands 3's First Limited-Time Event Will Be a Free Halloween Ghoul Hunt

All Borderlands 3 players will have a few weeks to scoop up some creepy loot and take down a boney boss.

Apple Arcade Brings Game Pricing Concerns Back to the Forefront

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Will successful subscription services turn into their own walled gardens?

Untitled Goose Game Review

What if Agent 47 was a rude goose who was down to clown?

More FPS Games

Borderlands 3's First Limited-Time Event Will Be a Free Halloween Ghoul Hunt

All Borderlands 3 players will have a few weeks to scoop up some creepy loot and take down a boney boss.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Beta Start Times - Dates, Platforms, How to Access the Beta

Here's our guide covering the Call of Duty Modern Warfare beta dates, as well as all global start times, platforms, and how to access the beta.

Apex Legends Season 3 Start Date - Crypto, Charge Rifle, Battle Pass Tiers - Everything We Know

Here's all the details we have on Apex Legends Season 3: Meltdown, including the start date, new Crypto character, Charge Rifle, and more.

Call of Duty Mobile Release Date - Android, iOS, Price, Battle Royale

Here's our guide on the Call of Duty Mobile release date, Android and iOS download details, battle royale news, and more.