Call of Duty: Vanguard hits shelves this week and in anticipation of its launch, we sat down with Sledgehammer Games' studio GM Greg Palstra for the lowdown on the multiplayer.
Sledgehammer handled development on 2017's Call of Duty: WWII so it's only fitting it takes the reins for the WWII-themed Call of Duty: Vanguard.
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One of the aspects I'm most excited about it is tactical destruction.
While Battlefield is known for its huge set pieces that come tumbling down mid-match, Call of Duty is taking a more refined, deliberate approach.
And it's this light touch (coupled with a visual refresh) that's going to enhance the classic World at War maps that long-time fans of the series will know – and love.
"[Tactical destruction] is very deliberate in where we use it," explains Palstra. "And that’s because the Call of Duty maps are…finely honed."
"Every sight line we know what’s going on, and we spend a ton of time making sure that all of our main pathways and everything else are there perfect.
"So the reactive environments are used in very specific, dedicated ways to open up new lines of sight, or open up new pathways within the map."
Palstra explains that it's "mainly around small arms combat details" – so "shooting out individual boards, and you are blowing up areas of a room".
As opposed to full blown carnage, "it’s much more adjustable and understanding what your actions do in the world."
That strategic level of destruction is coming to the classic World at War maps confirmed for the game.
While the nostalgia factor will be high for players who got stuck into the 2008 title, the tactical destruction will add a new layer that'll bring a new and meaningful change to the maps for series veterans.
"We have a few maps coming back that are in Vanguard. They’re popular maps, and that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to bring them back because they’re exciting – we love them as a team.
"And then the other side of it is there’s this level of nostalgia that you want to maintain and keep within the maps, but there’s also you want to bring something new to the map.
"We want to bring a fresh experience to our players, and these reactive environments do that awesome.
"They’re able to take areas that you know and love, and then change them up with a little bit of this new and exciting gameplay that goes with it.
"So in Castle, we have all these shoji screens everywhere that are now completely destructible throughout the entire map, and so you can go knock out little holes in them and open up new pathways there.
"And really adding a new level to that map that you haven’t really seen before, and giving you a bit of that nostalgia as well going through and remembering pathways, remembering certain areas, but also being able to take advantage of the new systems that we have within the game."
Delving into the reactive environments a bit more, Palstra explains that the gunplay forms a big part of making it impactful for the player.
"When you pull that trigger, having the muzzle flash, the recoil and everything feel great, we also wanted everything that the bullet was hitting to feel great as well. And so that’s where this reactive environment is coming from.
"So when you pull that trigger, fire that bullet, that bullet needs to have a reaction in the world, so everything that you’re looking at and everything that you’re shooting really wants to respond to you in a way.
"Whether it’s just a tiny decal, or the entire thing is blowing apart, or you’re blowing a hole out of a wall, or out of a door, or a window."
The reactive environments (or tactical destruction) will be implemented across all 20 Vanguard maps.
16 maps will be available at launch, with the rest to follow.
Call of Duty: Vanguard releases on Friday, November 5 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
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