It may not have been the original entry in the series, it may not even have exploded Call of Duty to the mainstream in the way its predecessor Modern Warfare did, but, to this day, Call of Duty: World at War – released exactly 10 years ago on 11th November 2008 – remains the Call of Duty franchise’s most chillingly powerful and visceral entry to date.
The smash success of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in 2007 – selling over 2 million copies in America in November alone – left its successor with big shoes to fill. The fact that World at War would return the series to a WWII setting, following the overwhelming critical success of Modern Warfare‘s contemporary setting, only piled further pressure on the development team at Treyarch Studios to deliver a tight, engaging gameplay experience. By most accounts, they succeeded.
Although not quite as commercially nor critically successful as its predecessor, World at War still performed well with consumers and critics alike. Set in the closing years of the war in the European and Pacific theatres, players took control of both a Soviet lieutenant and a U.S. marine across a hauntingly memorable single-player campaign. The multiplayer took the innovations of Modern Warfare and balanced them, crafting a brutal, visceral experience that could be shared with players across the globe. But it was in its Zombies mode that World at War shone brightest, and where it had most influence on the series as a whole.
Originally included as a bonus mode for those who completed the single-player campaign, the unique horror and tension provided by fighting off waves upon waves of undead soldiers ensured that Zombies proved a sleeper hit among fans. Subsequent maps for players to fight off zombies on added extra mechanics and grew the Zombies fanbase, with the game mode enjoying so much success that it would be featured in seven of the next nine installments in the Call of Duty series, including this year’s Black Ops 4. Featuring such a successful and influential game mode, and delivering tight gameplay and storytelling throughout, there’s no doubt that World at War stands as one of the peaks of the Call of Duty franchise.
Remind yourself of this exhilarating classic by watching the launch trailer below.