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A behind-the-scenes look at Vanguard’s Campaign

A behind-the-scenes look at Vanguard’s Campaign

Call of Duty: Vanguard is not just about World War II—it is how the world as we knew it could have been destroyed after it.

Call of Duty’s legacy, through several of its games, is entrenched in World War II. Sledgehammer Games, the lead studio for Vanguard, had its own perspective of the war through Call of Duty®: WWII in 2017.

In Vanguard, although most of the missions take place in a conflict whose story is told on multiple fronts, they reflect how five ordinary soldiers became heroes, ultimately resulting in what the game’s Campaign is all about: the origins of the original Special Forces—Task Force One—stopping what could have destroyed the world long after the war was over.

The rise of Special Forces from every front

The game begins at its climax: as a newly recruited Operator within the budding Task Force One, you are en route to a heavily fortified U-boat facility. There, you must infiltrate the complex and obtain vital Axis military intelligence—stemming from something code-named Project Phoenix—before it is smuggled out of Germany.

Your squadmates are five soldiers whose individual actions helped turn the tide of World War II across four major fronts: Private Lucas Riggs in the North Africa Campaign, Lieutenant Wade Jackson from the Pacific, Lieutenant Polina Petrova who defended her home country on the Eastern Front, and your leader—Sergeant Arthur Kingsley of the British Army’s 9th Parachute Battalion.

Through Vanguard’s Campaign, you will live out the moments that made them heroes and learn how they came together to spearhead Task Force One. You will also get to know the concept of international “Special Forces,” and ultimately, what brings them face-to-face with the man who is spearheading Project Phoenix: the ruthless Nazi Officer Hermann Wenzel Freisinger.

Behind the scenes of Vanguard’s Campaign

Sledgehammer Games gave a glimpse into their studio—also on multiple fronts, with locations across the United States, Canada, and Australia—and how they told this original story based in World War II.

After retelling some of the familiar moments of World War II—Normandy and the actions of the United States’ “fighting” 1st Infantry Division—in 2017, Sledgehammer was ready to return to this pivotal global conflict with a broader perspective. When speaking to their historical advisor about the Vanguard storyline, the concept of massive tide-turning battles that shifted the direction of the war and took place around the globe took hold.

“You had battles happening on the snowy landscapes of Stalingrad, over the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, and in North Africa,” said David Swenson, Vanguard’s Campaign Creative Director.

Though tens of millions were involved in the war effort, individual actions still accounted for major contributions. “We’ve got the backdrop of these epic battles in diverse locations,” Swenson said, “but we’re also focusing on the personal stories of those who fought in World War II. These are the stories we wanted to tell.” 

Those individual stories are the Operators who ultimately make up Task Force One—including Polina Petrova, one of the characters in the game’s Campaign whose story was drawn from tales of World War II.

Petrova is based on several female Soviet snipers whose confirmed kill count was in the hundreds. “Famous amongst her people and infamous amongst the Germans,” Swenson said, when speaking to one of Petrova’s inspirations, “she is to this day the most successful female sniper in history.”

To take on the stories of these characters, Sledgehammer Games employed a diverse group of writers, each with their own skill set and perspective on the war.

“In doing a story on World War II,” Narrative Lead Stephen Rhodes said, “a place that’s been well-trodden in video games, using that history and that pivotal moment in time as a springboard to tell unique, interesting stories is one of the most exciting parts of the Vanguard campaign.”

“In World War II,” Associate Narrative Designer Belinda Garcia said, “you assume that it’s always on the front lines. I think what our narrative does really well is show that the war was fought everywhere. It was fought in civilian places, and it affected people at home. It affected their loved ones, and it affected all these people that may not have wanted to play a part in the war but had to.”

Narrative Designer Alexa Ray Corriea also reflected on the team’s commitment to the game’s characters, citing a mission that wasn’t quite right until a rewrite session turned into a memorable moment during the game’s development: “A bunch of us sat down to rewrite the mission, and over the development process, we all sort of ended up owning a character. We’re almost role-playing the level as we’re going through it, and we came up with a much stronger script. This team is really something special.”


Call of Duty: Vanguard is available for purchase on the Battle.net Shop.

Rise on every front.

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