Call of Duty: Vanguard’s launch is just a few weeks away, and the Zombies mode just received a worldwide reveal. While Sledgehammer Games developed Vanguard’s campaign and multiplayer, Treyarch returns to helm a brand-new Zombies experience with a more sinister narrative in the Dark Aether storyline.
Treyarch revealed that Vanguard’s new Zombies narrative begins with the map “Der Anfang,” which is German that translates to “The Beginning.” This new narrative serves as a prequel to Black Ops Cold War’s Dark Aether storyline, revealing what happened before the events at Die Maschine’s Projekt Endstation.
In Zombies, Vanguard’s operators are called to Stalingrad in response to a distress call sent by Professor Krafft, a demonologist blackmailed into the service of Nazi forces. There the operators must work to defeat the Nazi commander Oberführer Von List, who has used a mystical artifact to bond with the Dark Aether’s God-like creature Kortifex the Deathless. Using Kortifex’s power to reanimate the dead, Von List plans to use an army of the dead to single-handedly win World War II for the Third Reich.
Von List’s desire to use these otherworldly and demonic-like Dark Aether entities, introduces several God-like creatures to the Zombies storyline:
- Norticus the Conqueror, who once led Kortifex’s armies in the Dark Aether, but now they’re sworn enemies
- Saraxis the Shadow is a witty, wicked trickster who sees humans as playthings
- Inviktor the Destroyer is the ultimate frontline fighter, at home in the thick of battle and always out for blood
- Bellekar the Warlock is a master of Dark Aether rune magic, fascinated by humans and their warlike ways
Treyarch says players will learn more about Vanguard’s Dark Aether entities as they progress through Der Anfang’s story, but Vanguard’s operators gain abilities from interacting with the Dark Aether’s mystical artifacts. These abilities share the same names as Black Ops Cold War’s Field Upgrade abilities, with Ring of Fire, Aether Shroud, Frost Blast, and Energy Mine abilities returning. Presumably the abilities will work similarly to Black Ops Cold War, granting unique temporary abilities with cooldown timers.
The setting for Der Anfang leans heavy into the fantasy and the occult with the Special Forces operators trapped inside a containment spell conjured by Kortifex. Cut off from the outside world, they must fight against Von List’s undead soldiers across various World War II settings. Some of the locations will be familiar to players, including the ruins of Stalingrad, the rooftops of multiplayer’s Hotel Royal beta map, and parts of World at War’s Shi No Numa Zombies map.
Der Anfang also isn’t your typical round-based Zombies map. Treyarch describes this Zombies experience as more of a combination of the classic round-based maps with the objective-based gameplay mechanics introduced in Black Ops Cold War’s Outbreak mode.
Players can choose to complete one of three objective types: Blitz, Transmit, and Harvest. Completing an objective will award both Essence and Salvage, which return as in-game currencies from Black Ops Cold War. Additionally, players are rewarded with a Sacrificial Heart item, which is used to gain buffs at the new Altar of Covenants. The Altar of Covenants are a new element to Zombies, which offer players a wide variety of randomized upgrades to choose from. So, players are incentivized to do objectives, as the more objectives a player completes, the further they can upgrade weapons, armor, and abilities.
Many typical Zombies features return with Der Anfang, including the Mystery Box, weapon Wall Buys, Monkey Bomb lethal equipment, and more. However, Treyarch says that matches will remain fresh with the objectives, their locations, and the Altar of Covenants being in randomized each match.
Black Ops Cold War’s Exfil feature also returns, allowing players to end their match with extra rewards instead of just surviving for endless waves of undead. And Treyarch says that most matches can end with a successful Exfil in about 20 minutes.
Vanguard’s Der Anfang might be disappointing to hardcore fans just looking for a traditional survival map, but hopefully both fans of standard and Outbreak modes can enjoy. Der Anfang will arrive with the launch of Call of Duty: Vanguard on November 5.
There’s also a reveal trailer, which leaked on YouTube earlier today, that gives players a first look at the eerie ambiance of Vanguard’s Zombies with red eyed Zombies, demons, and satanic runes. The demonic trailer vibes are well-paired with a remix of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy.”
Call of Duty: Vanguard will launch as Activision Blizzard faces a lawsuit from the state of California over alleged harassment and discrimination against women.
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