War is inherently political, and games about war have struggled with that since the first copy of Axis & Allies shipped to hobby stores. Call of Duty has been no exception and when it was revealed the franchise was returning to the European theater of World War II, following the storied 1st Infantry Division, we asked if the franchise would deal with the conflict’s darker side. If this trailer is any indication, the answer is “Yes, yes it will.”
The trailer is all about the grimmer side of conflict, with American soldiers being presented with a series of choices. Follow the rules of war, or execute the German captured in the snowy woods of Belgium? Follow orders and leave your comrades, or go after them and damn the consequences? And there’s a commitment to history that some might find surprising. American GIs were, indeed, sent to death camps if they were captured during the Battle of the Bulge, and their religion was determined via their dog tags. For a series that’s been criticized for its treatment of war, it’s an unexpected choice.
While the franchise has dealt with the political reality of war before, most notably in the Black Ops entries, to the point of war criminals filing lawsuits over an honest depiction of their actions, the World War II entries were from a time in gaming where these things weren’t discussed. Just how Call of Duty confronts history as a franchise is something we’ll see November 3rd.