Gamers were delighted to hear that Call of Duty is returning to its roots by taking their fans back to battlefield of Nazi occupied Europe. This announcement also made me want to go back and play the last game in the series that took players to World War II. Hence, this Weekend Replay will be focused on Call of Duty: World at War.

Call of Duty: World at War was the fifth game in the series and the third that was developed by Treyarch. It may have been the last World War II game in the series but it had a tremendous impact in setting the foundation for what would become the Black Ops arch while introducing some of the series most popular features.

This reflection looks back at how the last traditional Call of Duty game set the foundation for the rise of the Black Ops series.

War Stories

Unlike Modern Warfare, the plot of World at War was more of a traditional one that focused on a soldier fighting during World War II. The primary setting was the Pacific Theater (the first for the series) and the Eastern Front of the war.

In the Pacific Campaign, players will take on the role of  Marine Private C. Miller as he participates in several of the island hoping battles. The first mission involves Millier taking part in the Makin Island raid then being assigned to take part in the Battle of Peleliu. The final mission of the Pacific Campaign has player take part in the famous Battle of Okinawa. In the Eastern Front, players take on the role of Dimitri Petrenko whose unite is pinned down during the Battle of Stalingrad. When the Nazi war machine begins to crumble, the Red Army begins a push to liberate their homeland while planning the invasion of Berlin.

Looking back; Modern Warfare may have redefined the military shooter genre but World at War was still a traditional game at heart. Players are taken to the familier battlefieds of the Eastern Front but also a new setting with the Pacific Theater. Vehicles are back as players first take command of a T-34 tank followed by the gunner of a PBY Catalina. At the same time it really took advantage of its Mature rating to decrepit a more brutal World War II experience. Finally one has to really appreciate the performance of Kifer Sutherland and Gary Oldman as the players commanding officer (two great actors I would be honored to have a drink with).

The only draw back to its single-player campaign was that it drew more inspiration from Hollywood than the actual battles it was based on. Enemy at the GatesThe Thin Red Line and Frank Carpa’s Why We Fight series are the obvious influences that could be seen. This is not a bad thing but just a departure from the more historical focused campaign seen in the original games.


Multiplayer War Stories

The games multiplayer feature took all the improvements made in Modern Warfare then tweaked it to accommodate the World War II setting. The gameplay options ranged from deathmatch to capture the flag while a ranking system was also included. The kill streak rewards are also included but also follow the games overall setting.


World at War lasting contribution to the series has been introducing Nazi Zombies, a mini-game that has grown to become a staple of the series. The gameplay has 1-4 players in a room having to work together while fight off a wave of zombies. The longer players survive, they gain access to new weapons along with unlocking new rooms in the level.

The feature was so popular that it has been included in every Black Ops game, Advanced Warfare and Infinite Warfare while Ghosts had it own version inspired by Zombies.  Future version of this mini-game would include a story that would explain how the zombies were created and what there purpose was.


Lasting Impact

World at War was the last game in the series that took players to the battlefields of World War II. Players either fought in the Pacific Theater as a US Marine or in the Eastern Front as a solider in the Red Army. It gave gamers one of last good World War II shooters before the genre faded away.

However its legacy didn’t end with a World War II setting as the game is best known for being the first game in the Black Ops series. Many gamers often forget that one of the best gaming story arcs started with World at War but the connection has been overlooked as the two games were radically different games that bond was lost.  To its credit, Black Ops II and Black Ops III were also radically different experiences compared to their predecessors.

Connecting the two games would be the return of Viktor Reznov, who uses Alex Mason to avenge the death of Dimitri Petrenko. The two work together to escape the Vorkuta Gulag before meeting up again in Hue City during the Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War. (Spoiler Alert) In one of the most brillent twists, gamers learn that Reznov died at Vorkuta but had programmed Mason to carry out his revenge.

Final Thoughts

Call of Duty: World at War was the last major shooter franchise to be set during World War II as other titles began to embrace the modern warfare setting. This would be a shame as Activision brought to new life to played out genre but at least they allowed it to go with a bang instead of a wimpier. The game took the lessons learned from the success of Modern Warfare and incorporated into a familiar setting but also took players to a new battlefield.

With the World War II genre making a comeback and Call of Duty: WWII coming out this year, gamers should go back and check out this forgotten gem in the series. Even though so many Call of Duty games have been set during World War II, none did it like World at War.

Did you play Call of Duty: World at War? If so, please share your thoughts in the comment section below. 


  1. It’s no secret this was the first game in Black Ops the game sold better than Modern Warfare and was better scored by critics. Stop pretending its some lost classic just for some cheap clicks!

  2. Honestly this was a better game than Modern Warfare 2, more action and they got creative since its WWII. Also I love killing Nazi’s so that was all fun.

  3. I prefer killing Nazi’s than the Japanese since the Japanese were not that bad. Sure they did some fucked up things but they never did the Holocaust! That is fact right there.

Leave a Reply