Call of Duty and World War II: A Brief History

Call of Duty: WWII returns the series to its iconic roots later this year. While we wait to find out more about the new game, we take a look back at Call of Duty’s amazing history with the setting of World War II.

by Kevin Kelly on April 21, 2017

The original Call of Duty was released back in 2003, set in the middle of the most brutal conflict in human history. The debut game spawned one of the most popular franchises in history, which has taken players across multiple theaters and through different eras, and today we are proud to announce that Call of Duty is returning to its World War II roots with Call of Duty: WWII

Call of Duty

Developed by Infinity Ward, this is the game that started it all. Ambitiously focusing on the importance of an entire squad of soldiers, Call of Duty’s slogan was “In war, no one fights alone.” Throughout the game, players fight alongside their fellow soldiers across the backdrop of some of the most well-known engagements at D-Day and beyond.

Call of Duty introduced concepts that would become staples in the franchise, like allies with AI, who would fight alongside, and “shellshock” when an explosion takes place, blurring your vision and producing a ringing sound while slowing down the action. The game launched to wide critical acclaim, including being named Game of the Year by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences.

Call of Duty begins in 1944 with the war in full swing, captapulting the player through multiple storylines and campaigns, into different roles and uniforms of the Allied forces. The game begins with the American campaign as you step into the boots of a member of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in basic training, and takes you to the eve of D-Day. You’ll drop into Normandy and join a mixed unit as you begin to engage the enemy and fight your way across France.

In the British campaign side, you play as Sergeant Evans of the 6th Airborne Division, also dropping into D-Day during the very early hours of June 6, 1944. Evans links up with Captain Price from the 6th Airborne Division, notable for his appearances in multiple Call of Duty games, as well as being the grandfather to Captain Price of Modern Warfare fame. Evans battles through France alongside his fellow soldiers, onto a German battleship, and ultimately into Germany, taking part in a variety of crucial missions.

The Soviet campaign drops you into the Battle of Stalingrad as you take Russian Private Voronin through Stalingrad, into Red Square, and all the way to Berlin. Along the way, you commandeer a tank, avoid snipers, and join the 150th Rifle Division as they storm the Reichstag on April 30, 1945.

Call of Duty: United Offensive

United Offensive was the first expansion pack for Call of Duty, released in 2004. This PC expansion returns players to the American, British and Soviet campaigns, this time playing as a different group of soldiers, and visits some of the most famous battles from WWII, including the Battle of the Bulge, the Battle of Kursk, and the Invasion of Sicily.

While continuing to expand the franchise and explore more of WWII, United Offensive was more than just an expansion, it was a full-featured game with robust and innovative multiplayer. It also added features that would again become a standard part of Call of Duty, including the ability to sprint and to ‘cook’ grenades before throwing them, as well as adding drivable vehicles and much larger maps to multiplayer.

Call of Duty: Finest Hour

Call of Duty: Finest Hour was released in 2004, just a few months after United Offensive. This game starts off on the Soviet front as the player controls Red Army Private Aleksandr Sokolov as he battles his way through Stalingrad. Later missions take you to the British campaign as PPA Commando Edward Carlyle fighting with his unit in North Africa, and then the American campaign with 1st Infantry Lieutenant Chuck Walker as the Allies look to regroup after the failure of Operation Market Garden.

Call of Duty 2

Call of Duty was followed by Call of Duty 2 in 2005, with Infinity Ward returning as the developer. This title continued the WWII setting, putting the player once again into the uniforms of multiple servicemen from the American, British, and Soviet campaigns, and onto the front lines where they fight alongside their fellow soldiers.

New missions take place across settings like the Invasion of Normandy and the Battle of Stalingrad, and for the first time the series heads to North Africa where players take part in the Second Battle of El Alamein, a turning point for the British Eighth Army and the Allies. The game culminates with the Americans crossing the Rhine River and beginning to push into Germany.

Call of Duty 2 brought back Captain Price from the original game, and greatly expands on the British campaigns from Call of Duty and United Offensive. He serves as your commanding officer when you play as Sergeant John Davis of the British 7th Armoured Division in North Africa.

Call of Duty 2: Big Red One

Call of Duty 2: Big Red One was Treyarch’s first development for release in 2005. For the first time in a Call of Duty game, gameplay was focused on a single group, the United States Army’s 1st Infantry Division, nicknamed “Big Red One” as the patches on their uniforms feature a large red number one.

Throughout most of the game the player takes the controls as Private Roland Roger, fighting from Africa to Germany as a member of Fox Company in the 1st Infantry, getting promoted to corporal and then sergeant along the way. Throughout the journey, you’ll take part in historic engagements like the Battle of Oran, Operation Husky, and D-Day.

Although you play mostly as Roger throughout the game, the storyline focuses on the bonds between him and his fellow soldiers as you watch them age, get promoted, and in some cases, not survive the missions.

Call of Duty 3

Treyarch made an immediate return in 2006 to develop Call of Duty 3. This game focuses on what happened after the Allies pushed beyond the beachhead after the Invasion of Normandy on D-Day, and follows a single, large-scale campaign as forces begin to push deeper into France. Players step into the boots of soldiers in the American, British, Canadian and Polish armies across a variety of missions set on continuing the Allied advance and fighting-off counterattacks.

Sergeant James Doyle and Major Gerald Ingram, members of British Special Air Service, return from Call of Duty: United Offensive to continue their service in Call of Duty 3. This game added special close-quarters combat sections featuring hand-to-hand combat, and introduced classes to multiplayer for the first time.

Call of Duty: World at War

The franchise took WWII to an entirely new theater of action in 2008 with Call of Duty: World at War, developed by Treyarch. World at War focuses on both the Pacific Theater and Eastern Front during the war, and follows the American and Soviet campaigns.

In the American missions, players assume the role of Private Miller, taking part in the Battle of Peleliu and beyond, while the Soviet missions take you to the Battle of Stalingrad and introduce you to Private Dmitri Petrenko and Sergeant Viktor Reznov, names familiar to those that have played the Black Ops series.

This was also the game that introduced the world to Treyarch's now infamous Zombies. Originally included as an Easter egg, this mode was greatly expanded upon with World at War’s subsequent map offerings.

Call of Duty: WWII

This year Sledgehammer Games joins the WWII ranks of Call of Duty with Call of Duty: WWII, which will bring the series back to World War II after nearly ten years. We can’t wait to tell you more about Call of Duty: WWII, so be sure not to miss the reveal livestream at 10:00am Pacific on April 26. We’ll see you there, soldier.

For more intel about Call of Duty: WWII, visit and follow @CallofDuty and @SHGames on Twitter.