Call of Duty Vanguard Interview - Returning to WW2, Gameplay Balancing, and Season Two

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Call of Duty Vanguard continues moving forward but if you’ve been watching the news, it’s been one hell of a week for Call of Duty’s future. Following news that Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion, fans have wondered whether it’ll become Xbox exclusive.

We’ve seen talk suggesting this won’t happen, but until that happens, Vanguard’s carrying on. Developed by Slegdehammer Games, Call of Duty’s latest annual entry launched last November, taking us back to World War 2 for the first time since 2017’s WWII.

Splitting a campaign between World War 2's numerous theatres, Vanguard’s development continues through its multiplayer, with Season 2 arriving next month. Wanting to learn more, Gfinity recently spoke to Josh Bridge, game director at Sledgehammer Games, who answered a few of our questions.

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Starting on Vanguard’s campaign, we asked whether its lead characters were based on true stories, beyond Sergeant Sidney Cornell. Bridge advised that while “each of our characters are fictional, inspiration from several real-world stories for each of them” shaped these moments, driving that campaign journey home.

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As part of this, that took Sledgehammer back to World War 2, having previously developed Call of Duty: WWII. So, why did they tackle this again? Bridge replied:

After completing Call of Duty: WW2 (2017), it felt like we scratched the surface of these true stories through all the research and advisors we worked with.A lot of which we didn’t have time to tackle with the 2017 game. This gave us a lot of creative excitement to return to the era to tell a story about the birth of the original Special Forces via an international crew of soldiers.

Evidently, Sledgehammer strived for a more realistic approach, though for content parity, we’re told weaponry remained similar between the campaign and multiplayer. Elaborating later on, Bridge informed us that realism “tends to come from the detailed animations, weapons and sounds,” but it doesn’t appear to have been their main priority.

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Instead, Bridge tells us that gameplay was balanced around “providing a fun match.” AI improvement also factored in, and we were told “one of the largest investments that we put into AI was increasing the numbers of combatants at any one time.” Accordingly, that provided something that'd “really deliver on the large-scale battles” during this campaign.

With that in mind, we followed up asking about Vanguard's return to the IW8 Engine, which has new tweaks. Asking what had changed and what they’re pleased with, Bridge informed us that they’re “really proud of how 10 attachment gunsmith turned out,” also citing a “ton of small improvements” like how ADS speed changing attachments affects your guns.

Moving onto multiplayer, we queried how Sledgehammer developed combat pacings, asking whether it was tricky creating maps that effectively catered to these. Interestingly, Bridge says that instead of building maps for different options, they based player count per pacing “around how it felt to play each map with certain player counts.” As such, numbers were adjusted on set metrics, including “how well spawns were working and time-to-action.”

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Call of Duty: Vanguard - Das Haus
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As for Das Haus, we’ve previously seen players calling it “chaos,” advising that people are spawning and dying within seconds. Asking if this was a deliberate choice for greater intensity – or whether there’d be further balances updated – Bridge stated:

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Das Haus is meant to be similar to shipment, with it giving up much of the tactical side of CoD in service to minimal time-to-action. In tactical combat pacing it’s easier to hold certain areas, while in blitz it’s pure chaos. We’re constantly improving spawns and time-to-action in all maps, modes and pacings but Das Haus will always be more chaotic than most other maps.

Finally, while Season One’s running a little longer than originally anticipated, we questioned what else we could expect. Bridge confirms they’ve already made stability improvements with Packet Burst, highlighting improved spawn logic and tracking too.

Telling us more's to come before Season 2, future update plans include “smoke reduction on Incendiary Rounds, reduced screen shake, bug fixes for Attack Dogs and Perk protection from Attack Dogs, Shotgun nerfs, and improved map diversity in Quick Play.”

Evidently, there’s a lot in store in Vanguard's future and we're grateful to Josh Bridge for taking time to speak with us. We’ll keep you informed with Call of Duty’s next developments, as and when they happen.