Call of Duty WW2
Soldiers defending in War Mode. Activision

Today (25 August) the Call of Duty: WW2 'Private Beta' begins, giving players around the world a taster of the blockbuster franchise's return to World War 2. Focusing on the multiplayer, the beta will give fans a chance to try out the new War Mode.

The beta includes this large-scale mode, as well as Team Deathmatch, Domination and Hardpoint. Players will be able to duke it out across three maps: Pointe Du Hoc, Ardennes and Gibraltar.

The exclusive PS4 beta starts today and runs until 6pm UK time on 28 August. A second beta available to Xbox One owners as well as PS4 begins on 1 September and ends on 4 September. No PC beta has been announced at the time of writing.

At Gamescom this week, IBTimes UK got some hands-on time with War Mode, and the standard Team Deathmatch that will be released alongside it.

We'll start briefly with Team Deathmatch and discuss how WW2 feels after years of the series venturing further and further into science fiction, with its wall-running and human augmentations.

The good news is that the lack of superhuman abilities doesn't feel like a loss, or a notable exclusion. The better news is that WW2 feels like a natural successor to the original games in the series, which were also set during the war, despite the many years between them. Perhaps most reassuringly, the M1 Garand is as satisfying as ever.

So, on to War Mode.

Inspired by EA's Battlefield series, War Mode offers players a multi-tiered conflict based around attacking and defending certain points. What these points are depends on the specially-designed maps they're on.

So in Operation Breakout, included in the beta, players are asked to capture a building, then build a bridge, then capture an ammo depot and finally escort a tank.

Each point feels different in terms of how it plays too. To capture the first point players just need to occupy and clear the space, to build the bridge they need to press a button at a certain point. Escorting the tank becomes a push and pull between the sides, similar to escorting payloads in Blizzard's Overwatch.

They're small gameplay things, but the how the points are tailored to the maps and how they differentiate creates and aids a cohesive narrative that runs through each map.

War Mode's design encourages players to think about selecting the right loadout for each situation, which feeds into the new Divisions system. This is the class system, giving players a choice of loadout by selecting Infantry, Expeditionary, Airborne, Mountain and Armoured.

There's then a level of customisation after that, depending on items the player has unlocked.

It's a little more tactical than some Call of Duty modes and feels like something fresh for the series. It's also different enough from Battlefield 1's Operations to feel distinct, with tighter areas of play and smaller teams.

Refreshingly for Call of Duty there isn't a focus on death counts either. At the end of each game a player's performance is given a score dependent on kills, defensive kills, builds and demolitions.

Those latter two relate to walls and barricades that could offer protection or a new route through enemy terrain. These litter the map, and could be crucial to victory.

PS4 players will have a chance to sample War Mode, Team Deathmatch and more if they join the Private Beta. Access requires a code, which you can get by pre-ordering the game set to release on 3 November.