Even as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, Call of Duty games will continue releasing. Considering the issues surrounding Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War (BOCW), Activision could have shelved this year’s installment to give the developers more time to work on the game.
Nevertheless, there will be a new Call of Duty game releasing toward the end of 2021, currently in development by Sledgehammer Games. At first, it appeared that the next Call of Duty – reportedly titled Call of Duty WW2: Vanguard – was to be set in an alternate past wherein World War II did not end in 1945. Rather, the purported details claimed that the game would take place in the 1950s, similar to the Wolfenstein series, albeit with the latter series taking place throughout the mid-to-late 20th century.
However, Eurogamer and its sources disputed the validity of an alternate past Call of Duty title and instead claimed that Vanguard will be a traditional World War II shooter, just the second in the last 10 years. With Sledgehammer having developed the last World War II Call of Duty title – the aptly named Call of Duty: WWII back in 2017 – it makes sense that Sledgehammer wants to go back to World War II.
Regardless, Call of Duty 2021 will be set in World War II and use the engine found in Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2019). That said, what will the game look like and what can expect in this installment?
Right off the bat, expect a game to look and feel similar to the grittiness and somewhat realistic gameplay found in Modern Warfare (2019). By all accounts, Modern Warfare was seen as a return to form as the character’s movements and the look of the game felt more true-to-life compared to the previous Black Ops offerings.
By using the Modern Warfare engine, players should have an easier time transitioning from Vanguard to Warzone, provided Activision continues to integrate both games as it did with BOCW. Considering Activision’s plan to connect future games to Warzone as it has with present games, Vanguard would probably allow players to carry over weapons, skins, progression and such to Warzone and vice versa. This might be difficult, however as the latter takes place in the current day while the former is in the 1940s.
Additionally, with the original Verdansk map set to be retired for good and a new map – reportedly set in the 1980s – on the horizon, 2022 could see a new Warzone map set in the 1940s somehow. This is delving a bit too far into the future, but it would make sense if this were the route Sledgehammer were to take. Considering the relative difficulty of having a 1940s-themed map, it also makes sense if the 1980s-themed Warzone map remained until the following installment is released.
Conversely, it would also make sense if this iteration features another American protagonist. Still, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility if Sledgehammer were to include other campaigns as well since World War II was a world war after all.
Though the American campaign is arguably the most well-known and most-covered aspect of World War II, being able to play as multiple characters from different countries – akin to past Call of Duty games – could potentially work well. Showcasing the horrors of the Pacific War or the desperate measures Russian soldiers took during the war could be a much-needed change of pace.
The gameplay should be similar to WW2 in that players will not have regenerating health and will have to rely on their teammates for support like ammo, healing and so on. The multiplayer should remain similar to WW2, as Sledgehammer did overhaul the multiplayer experience somewhat, introducing a social space for players to interact, new weapon classes, and more.
Furthermore, expect there to be some sort of Zombie mode or secondary game mode. Sledgehammer’s previous two installments – the aforementioned WW2 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – both featured Zombies in some capacity, so it would make sense if Vanguard continues the Zombie narrative started in WW2.
The menu should look similar to what current Call of Duty menus look like: a three-option vertical arrangement showcasing Vanguard, Warzone and the previous Call of Duty title — which in this case would be BOCW. Because of the previously-mentioned focus to integrate all current and future Call of Duty games, it would not be surprising if this layout remains for a while longer.
All that being said, it is important to note that aside from the name, engine and setting of Vanguard, everything else is speculation. Typically, news about the next Call of Duty title gets released toward the middle of the year, so until that time, players will have to keep an eye out in order to see any news of Vanguard. Nevertheless, expect Vanguard to garner a lot of attention as it comes closer to its purported release date sometime in late 2021.