By and large, Call of Duty: WWII is meant to be a gritty, realistic game, as portrayed in the trailer and described by Sledgehammer. Nonetheless, you may have noticed something unusual while watching the multiplayer trailer for the game, and that is the noticeable absence of the Nazi Swastika. Instead, it has been replaced by a plain cross symbol. Furthermore, you can play as any gender or race on any side, so in theory you can play as a black Nazi.
This has led some in the gaming community to ask about these divergences from historical accuracy. Sledgehammer co-founder Michael Condrey has addressed these questions in an interview with Eurogamer.
As Condrey explains, players are going to regularly wind up on the Axis team—roughly half the time. But as the game is about “putting you in World War II,” he didn’t want to rob players of the chance to play with an avatar which they feel suits them, whether that avatar is male or female, black or white, or any other ethnicity. Ironically, he feels it would have removed something from the immersive quality of the game.
So far as the Swastikas are concerned, they do show up authentically in the single-player game mode. But for multiplayer mode, Condrey said, “We want the community to play together. We want to be respectful of local customs and laws around the world. And frankly it’s a dark symbol with a lot of emotion behind it we don’t feel matches our multiplayer experience.”
From a marketing and inclusiveness standpoint, this makes a lot of sense. By keeping the controversial aspects out of the multiplayer game mode, Sledgehammer is ensuring that as many players as possible get to play and enjoy Call of Duty: WWII.