Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Call of Duty: WWII - The Darkest Shore and The Shadowed Throne (2018) - Thoughts on the DLC 1 and 2 Nazi Zombies Maps

For the past few years I have done a blog post about the new Call of Duty Zombies map each time a new one has come out. However I never got around to doing a post about the first Nazi Zombies DLC map and so thought I would combine both the maps that have arrived in DLC into one post. What I really liked about the base map The Final Reich was that the instructions for the Easter egg (that gives you the ending to the level) was built into the core game itself with instructions given to you on what you should be doing next. It seems unfortunately that the developers took notice of the whining by the vocal minority of hardcore Zombies players and have removed these steps. Now no matter how well designed or fun the subsequent maps may be there is a nasty taste left in my mouth, and a bit of resentment towards Sledgehammer for removing one of the biggest improvements to this game mode.

Starting off with The Darkest Shore which came with DLC 1: 'The Resistance'. This map takes place on a Nazi sea fortress that is a medium sized rectangular map that contains cliff side bunkers, a mine cart section and an underground submarine pen. I was initially very pleased with this map, it has a fantastic intro cutscene that sees your four characters; Marie (Katheryn Winnick, Droston (David Tennant), Olivia (Elodie Yung) and Jefferson (Ving Rhames) arriving with a contingent of soldiers at the island in rowing boats. However before they are able to get to shore zombies burst out the seas and drag off everyone under the waves until it is just the heroes left alive. It starts off differently to usual in that before it starts proper you have to kill a mob of undead that are climbing out of the sea. To help you there is a free to use mounted machine gun, it was something different and went well with the preceding cutscene.

Where The Final Reich created its terror from the sections that played out in near pitch blackness here instead you have a thick mist that rolls in every few rounds. This mist makes it very hard to see enemies until they are almost on top of you, like the darkness this works well and makes things a lot more tense to suddenly have a corpse lurching out the pea soup at you. The mist also brings with it a new zombie type; the Meuchler that resembles a Dead Space necromorph, no surprise seeing as how the people behind that series built this mode. While the map is long rather than large you can use a mine cart system to quickly get around, this is also where you find the parts to open up the pack-a-punch machine.

Me and my best friend where very pleased with the instructions in the first map, we were finally able to complete a Zombies level and so were excited to do the same here. Unfortunately not only have the instructions been removed, but the steps you need to do to complete the Easter egg are at some points ridiculous. There are some fun parts, my favourite being manning an A.A gun to shoot down enemy planes flying over the island, however one stupidly tough part sees you having to guide a friendly zombie to various points on a map and then bouncing beams at various angles to hit specific objects. I'm not bad at the game, my friend is pretty great at it though, between us we just couldn't do this, it was beyond us, not helped by the fact the friendly zombie is very weak. This Easter egg stage really soured our opinions of this map and made me yearn for Infinite Warfare's Zombies mode. Sure I couldn't do any Easter eggs there but at least the maps were fun to play regardless of doing those, I had been glad that this was going back to being more gritty and scary but I find myself missing the bright colours and awesome music of last years Call of Duty.

Onto The Shadowed Throne which is the map that came with DLC 2: 'The War Machine'. This is a medium sized map that takes place in war torn Berlin, it includes a theatre, museum, church, sewers, streets and apartments, you start off in the sewers. The intro cutscene is a little bit dull this time around. Your four heroes arrive in Berlin via a huge zeppelin and notice the Russian army fighting in the city. The first stage of the Easter egg here has you activating a radio to get in contact with the Russians, interestingly occasionally you will see human soldiers getting attacked by the undead, though it seems impossible to save them from their predetermined fates.

This map reminded me a lot of Gorod Krovi from Call of Duty: Black Ops III which is no bad thing as I love that map. It is kind of square in its size so that you can get anywhere on the map relatively easily once everywhere has been opened up. It also has some cool melee weapons hidden around, this includes a trench knife, an icepick and my personal favourite; a spiked baseball bat that couldn't help but remind me of The Walking Dead's Negan. While I have not played enough of this map really yet it was still a big improvement on The Darkest Shore I felt, it is fun to fight through with the scenery reminding me of a few classic Zombies maps.

This is the first Call of Duty game where I have found myself enjoying multiplayer far more than the Zombies mode, a weird feeling to have, and a disappointing one to be honest. I love everything around the levelling for your characters here but the dark tone has removed some of the fun out of things, a reliance on more realistic elements makes me miss the zaniness of last years maps. The Darkest Shore and The Shadowed Throne are both ones that I know will grow on me with time, it is just a shame they don't immediately grab my attention.

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