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Call of Duty: Vanguard’s first gameplay footage tries to capture the horror of war

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Sledgehammer Games tries to capture the terror of Stalingrad

The first gameplay footage for Call of Duty: Vanguard makes it look as much a horror game as a World War II shooter. The footage premiered at Gamescom Opening Night Live 2021 on Wednesday.

Vanguard’s first campaign footage comes from a level in the game set in Stalingrad, with the character Polina Petrova, who’s voiced by Laura Bailey. The level starts with Polina sneaking around an apartment complex and finding weapons wherever she can. After she grabs a knife, she kills a German soldier and steals his gun, fighting her way outside.

As the level continues, Polina finds a sniper rifle, her signature weapon, according to screenshots, and starts taking aim at the German soldiers invading Stalingrad. During the fighting we see Polina mount her weapon on pieces of the environment, similar to the mechanic in Modern Warfare, and sneak up on enemies for stealthy takedowns.

After one particularly chaotic fight, Polina gets smashed in the face with the butt of a rifle and the entire demo swaps back to one hour in the past, when we can see the streets of Stalingrad before they were reduced to rubble and fire by German artillery and soldiers. After a short walk through the streets, German planes fly in and begin strafing the roads with gunfire. The trailer comes to a close just as Polina tries to escape a crumbling building and gets knocked unconscious — probably leading to the events we saw earlier.

This gameplay showing is just from one of Call of Duty: Vanguard’s levels and theaters of war. On top of the Eastern Front, the game will also take players to new perspectives in the Pacific, North Africa, and the Western Front during its campaign mode. Activision has also previously announced that Vanguard will have Warzone integration, including weapons and a new map, a Zombies mode made by Treyarch, and of course, a new multiplayer experience.

Call of Duty: Vanguard is scheduled to be released on Nov. 5, on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

Ahead of release, Call of Duty: Vanguard publisher Activision Blizzard faces wide-ranging allegations that it maintains a toxic workplace environment that is particularly hostile to women, pays them less, and subjects them to sexual harassment, and that perpetrators are not meaningfully punished, according to a lawsuit filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing in July. You can read more about the allegations against Activision Blizzard in Polygon’s explainer.