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Call of Duty: Vanguard’s Zombies mode revealed, gets creepy reveal trailer

Here are the first details and trailer for Treyarch’s latest World War II take on zombies

Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Zombies are back with this year’s Call of Duty: Vanguard. Activision, Sledgehammer Games, and Treyarch launched a trailer for the mode Thursday morning, offering players their first look at some old-school zombie-slaying action. While Sledgehammer is developing the majority of Call of Duty: Vanguard, the Zombies mode will be a Treyarch joint — the studio behind the original undead experience, dating all the way back to 2008’s Call of Duty: World at War.

With a return to the World War II setting, it looks like we’re going to get some more occult action in Vanguard’s Zombies. The trailer shows a Nazi captain named Von List using a special relic to gain new knowledge and the ability to raise the dead. We see players using WWII-era weapons, jumping into portals, activating crystal swords, placing rings of fire on the ground, and listening to Billie Eilish.

In a blog post for the Zombies mode, Treyarch offered some additional details. The first map in Vanguard is Der Anfang (“The Beginning”) and takes players to Stalingrad in 1944. For those tuned into the Zombies story, a separate Q&A with a handful of Treyarch developers confirmed that Vanguard will offer some new details on the Dark Aether storyline. Players, alongside a demonologist and four “entities,” will battle Nazi officer Von List and Kortifex the Deathless as they try and summon soldiers from beneath Stalingrad.

Players will be able to teleport to different areas to complete unique objectives, like the Hotel Royal or Shi No Numa — a previous Zombies map set in a swamp. Players will return to their Stalingrad base to upgrade perks and Pack-a-Punch their weapons. The aforementioned entities are also at war with Kortifex, and will join players via special artifacts, offering new abilities to take into other portals.

A tank Zombie with a machine gun stands by a burning windmill in Call of Duty: Vanguard Image: Sledgehammer Games, Treyarch/Activision

In addition to the familiar, Vanguard’s Zombies adds the Altar of Covenants, a new randomized perk system. After players return from a portal to upgrade their gear, they can sacrifice a new item to the Altar of Covenants, which will grant them a random ability, like Brain Rot, which can turn Zombies into allies. Players will get a different collection of perks each time they play, so Zombies matches should always be slightly different.

Like in Black Ops Cold War’s maps, players who complete all the objectives can leave the battlefield to get a big XP bonus. But those that want to stay and try to survive as long as possible also have that option.

The Zombies mode took a different turn during the development of Treyarch’s most recent entry in the franchise, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. Namely, the maps are now all free updates for players, rather than expensive DLC packs. The developers have also added Zombies modes like Outbreak, which mix up the round-based formula a bit. It’s currently unclear if the studio will experiment with other modes or release the maps for free in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

Zombies will feature full cross-play across console generations, and players can make progression on Vanguard’s Battle Pass through its Zombies mode.

Call of Duty: Vanguard launches Nov. 5 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

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