Call of Duty: Vanguard’s Zombies Mode starts a new occult story

Call of Duty: Vanguard will mark the beginning of a new arc in the Zombie and Dark Aether storylines that have developed alongside the main narrative of the FPS game over the past decade. For this entry, Activision hired developer Treyarch to do the zombie mode, and the studio plans to tell a new, brutal story against the horrors of the Eastern Front of WWII.

The structure of the story, called The Beginning, involves the experiments at Project N Station that eventually burst a rift from our dimension into the Dark Aether – a plane of existence so terrible that it is indistinguishable from the biblical descriptions of Hell is. Nazi scientists recovered powerful artifacts from beyond the veil, and each of them is associated with a powerful demonic force: for example, the four-armed companion we saw in the teaser is known as Cortifex, the Immortal.

Joining Cortifex are Saraxis the Shadow, Norticus the Conqueror, Inviktor the Destroyer and Bellekar the Warlock. They all look like the kind of people the Ghostbusters might have encountered on top of a haunted skyscraper in New York. However, players can use their associated artifacts to use unique abilities that are effectively spells.

Here’s the full reveal presentation, which includes the new trailer:

Senior writer Tony Bedard says that the use of the artifacts creates a symbiotic bond between the player’s character and the Dark Aether entities associated with them. “It’s almost like being possessed,” he says, “except that beings cannot control their hosts – they can only offer guidance and their powers.”

However, a prominent Nazi officer who has entered into a connection with the good old cortifex has also gained access to the powers of the Dark Aether. With the resurrection powers of the Dark Aether Entity, the officer plans to settle some scores by marching an army of zombies back through Europe and to Russia, where he presumably plans to capture Stalingrad and win the war.

This is where Vanguard’s zombies mode takes place – in the devastated city of Stalingrad, sealed by Kortifex’s power. The team says they wanted a more “grounded” feel for the levels in Vanguard’s Zombies mode, and the presentation above shows some snippets of what you’ll experience this time around.

Get a detailed insight into the future of #Vanguard Zombies ▶ https://t.co/GDEki35rck

– Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) October 14, 2021

In addition to the standard grunt zombies, Treyarch has added “boom screamers” that run towards players and explode on contact, as well as giant “heavies” that carry belt-fed machine guns and are particularly difficult to defeat.

You start out in a forward base of operations in Stalingrad that has some upgrade stations from the start. As your team achieves goals, that base opens up, offering new opportunities to improve your skills and equipment, but also new threats.

One of the basic ideas this time around, Treyarch says, is to make zombie mode accessible to new players – you don’t have to have played any of the previous zombie experiences to jump into this one and blow up the undead, the studio explains.

Zombies Mode will be available on the Call of Duty: Vanguard release date next month.

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