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Call of Duty: Vanguard’s Zombies won’t have a main quest at launch

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Treyarch may be showing strain after playing big roles in three of the past four CODs

a spooky, demonic altar with a horned skull whose eyes glow in a blue flame Image: Treyarch/Activision

Call of Duty: Vanguard will, like six of the past seven titles, include a Zombies mode. After all, Nazis and zombies have been like peanut butter and jelly for COD multiplayer since 2008. But the mode’s main quest, which lays down this year’s narrative, will follow the game’s Nov. 5 launch by more than a month, Treyarch said on Monday.

Treyarch did not give a release date or window for the Main Quest. Instead, on Dec. 2, “new Zombies content & features will begin to roll out in Vanguard,” the studio said. “Players will also encounter some other surprise elements later in Season One that will set the stage for our upcoming Main Quest.

“This Main Quest will be tied to the arrival of an unexpected ally after Season One,” said Treyarch’s blog on Monday. Season One of Call of Duty: Vanguard begins Dec. 2. The first season for 2020’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War also began in December and ran until late February.

Treyarch, which introduced Zombies with Call of Duty: World at War in 2008, led development for last year’s Black Ops Cold War. With Vanguard, the studio will have had a major hand in developing three of the previous four Call of Duty games. Fans assumed this level of work is the reason Zombies’ Main Quest will be AWOL at launch.

“Going from getting 2-3 years to work on the next game to then being forced to pretty much make three games in a row,” one commenter said on Reddit. “It’s not a laziness problem, it’s a time constraint problem.”

“[Black Ops 3] had the highest selling DLC of all time and it was Zombies,” said another. “Ever since then Activision has worked the shit out of Treyarch to the point where they just don’t have the time to make decent games anymore.”

From 2012 to 2019, Activision rotated development leadership among three studios — Treyarch, Infinity Ward, and Sledgehammer Games — giving each three years to make a game. For 2020, Activision assigned Treyarch to lead development of Black Ops Cold War when the collaboration between Raven Software and Sledgehammer Games became dysfunctional. Sledgehammer is now in charge of Vanguard, and therefore the World War II arc of the Call of Duty series.

On Wednesday, the official Call of Duty website published a post-launch roadmap that called for the “next chapter of Dark Aether” at launch and “new Zombies updates,” on Dec. 2. The most recent Zombies chapter was Pyrrhic Victory, which arrived Oct. 7 with Forsaken, the final round-based Zombies map for Black Ops Cold War.