Call of Duty: Vanguard, with its more traditional gameplay, return to the Eastern front and Pacific theatre, and some serious gore, all comes together to make it feel like the Call of Duty: World at War sequel fans never got. While it’s not the first time Call of Duty has returned to World War 2 in recent years, Sledgehammer’s latest installment in the series looks like it could seriously appeal to fans who couldn’t get enough of Treyarch’s beloved 2008 entry in the franchise.
This year’s Call of Duty is so far ticking all the boxes players expect. Players are digging in to Call of Duty: Vanguard’s multiplayer beta, trying out the game’s new semi-destructible environments and experimenting in the new Champion Hill mode. A recent campaign gameplay reveal showed that the game’s signature action set-pieces are back, with a globe-trotting campaign that will include levels set in Russia. A new WW2 Pacific Warzone map, developed by Raven Software, will be coming too, bringing some of the Pacific setting found in Vanguard’s core game to the free-to-play multiplayer battle royale. And Zombies will return too, developed by Treyarch.
It all certainly seems fairly standard for a new entry in the Call of Duty franchise, and WW2 isn’t exactly a fresh, new setting for the series. But with that being said, Call of Duty: Vanguard feels closer to Treyarch’s World at War than it does Sledgehammer’s Call of Duty: WW2, and that’s something that could make this year’s entry in the series stand out.
Call of Duty: World at War proved to be the first and only (until Vanguard’s release later this year) time a Call of Duty game focused on the Pacific theatre of World War 2. It also put a heavy emphasis on the Eastern front, making for a unique entry in the series that, when combined with the level of gore and brutality on display, has yet to be replicated years later. Call of Duty: Vanguard looks to be inspired by World at War in a major way. Not only does it feature both the Pacific theatre and Eastern front, but, as revealed in the game’s beta, it puts an emphasis on gore in a way the series rarely has before. Of course, recent releases like Black Ops: Cold War and Modern Warfare feature gore too, but things feel different in Vanguard, where standard bullets can sever enemy limbs and players are often reduced to bloody stumps, much as was the case in World at War.
Sledgehammer’s new entry in the series is also a return to the more classic gameplay in the series. Gone is the Divisions system seen in Call of Duty: WW2, replaced by a more traditional perk and weapon customization system that will make players feel right at home. Classic killstreaks, like the attack dogs, which were missing in Sledgehammer’s previous WW2 shooter but first made their appearance in World at War, return as well. Combined with recreated versions of iconic World at War multiplayer maps like Castle and Dome, and Vanguard feels like a World at War sequel in all but name.
The icing on the cake is that Treyarch is returning for the game’s Zombies mode, which will continue the Black Ops: Cold War Zombies story. Nazi Zombies made their franchise debut in World at War, and Zombies went on to become key part of the franchise in subsequent entries. The fact that Treyarch themselves are contributing to Vanguard by crafting the title’s Zombies experience is yet another way Vanguard shares more than a little DNA to World at War, and that’s worth getting excited about.
Whether it’s reimagined World at War maps, Treyarch’s involvement, the return of the Pacific theatre and Eastern front, or the level of blood and guts on display, Call of Duty: Vanguard is channeling Call of Duty: World at War in a big way. Fans may have never gotten a proper WW2 sequel to World at War, but Call of Duty: Vanguard looks to be picking up the mantle and running with it, which should excite longtime fans of the series.
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