Fourteen years ago, the series began with a first-person World War II shooter that took players into Germany as the war wound down. The new title will do the same, this time enlisting the player in the 1st Infantry Division as Allied forces take the beach at Normandy, then move across France toward Berlin.
The game won't be on sale until November, but Activision released this trailer as part of Wednesday's reveal of some game details:
The return to World War II comes after the latest "Call of Duty" installment, "Infinite Warfare," sent players into outer space for futuristic combat. It received less love from critics than previous versions.
"There was an issue with them trying to go almost too far out" from the strengths of prior versions, said Brandon Sivret, an Air Force officer, game store owner (on and near Fort Bliss, Texas) and executive officer at MilitaryGamers.com. "I think that was their biggest mistake.
"With a lot of these things, they're kind of becoming the 'Madden' of [first-person shooters]. There's an expectation where their fan base expects certain things from them."
The back-to-1944 approach, Sivret said, will fix some of these issues, as will other portions of the game that were announced Wednesday: A "Headquarters" mode that will allow players to socialize outside of regular gameplay, for instance, struck Sivret as the right move for a franchise that wants to take advantage of player interaction but remain true to an in-game setup that's not very teamwork-centric.
And then there is the matter of the undead:
Developers had little to say about the "Nazi Zombies" beyond the image, but Sivret said more reveals on that content, as well as multiplayer functionality, will help game-buyers decide whether to continue with, rejoin or separate from the franchise.
"I don't know if it will drive their decision, but it's something that solidifies 'Call of Duty' fans to be 'Call of Duty' fans, versus 'Battlefield' " or another series, he said.
More details on the multiplayer mode are expected to be announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, in Los Angeles in June.