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Call of Duty: Vanguard’s campaign is about how the international special forces came together to stop a Nazi resurgence as World War II came to an end. It’s about how the world could have gone the wrong way.
In Vanguard, although most of the missions take place on multiple fronts, they tell how five ordinary soldiers became heroes, ultimately resulting in what the game’s campaign is all about — the origins of the original special forces — Task Force One.
The game begins at a climax. As a newly recruited special forces operator within the task force, you are en route to a heavily fortified U-boat facility. You must infiltrate the complex and obtain vital Axis military intelligence — stemming from something code-named Project Phoenix — before it is smuggled out of Germany.
SS Oberst-Gruppenführer Hermann Wenzel Freisinger
We’re finally getting a glimpse of the game’s bad guy. The main antagonist of Vanguard’s campaign is Hermann Wenzel Freisinger, an ambitious and arrogant Nazi officer working at the Gestapo’s Berlin Headquarters. He is chief interrogator of the SS and the secret architect of the mysterious Project Phoenix.
Born as an only child to a wealthy family with a long history of military service, Freisinger served as a courier and information analyst during the later years of the Great War. Following that, he served in the military police and then the Gestapo, rising quickly through the Nazi Party through his cunning and tactical wit.
Ruthless and charismatic, Freisinger makes everyone in the room feel special, but uses this charisma to manipulate people into telling him what he needs to know. He is always trying to maximize what he can gain out of an individual, be it a colleague or an enemy, analyzing and remembering every tiny detail about them to get what he needs.
Freisinger’s goal is to live up to his family reputation within the military and continue the great lineage of his namesake. He does not see much value in winning individual battles, as he understands that to win the war, you must outsmart and outmaneuver your opponents. Ultimately, Freisinger is willing to sacrifice anything — and anyone — to ensure that Project Phoenix is realized.
Rising on every front
Your squad mates are five soldiers whose individual actions helped turn the tide of World War II across four major fronts: Private Lucas Riggs (played by voice actor Martin Copping) in the North Africa campaign, Lieutenant Wade Jackson (played by Derek Phillips) from the Pacific, Lieutenant Polina Petrova (played by Laura Bailey) who defended her home country on the Eastern Front and took down hundreds as a sniper, Sergeant Richard Webb (played by Simon Quarterman), and the leader, Sergeant Arthur Kingsley (played by Chiké Okonkwo) of the British Army’s 9th Parachute Battalion. Webb is one of Kingsley’s companions in the British Army.
These operators represent some of the dozen playable character’s in the game’s multiplayer mode.
You will fight through the moments that made them heroes and how they came together on Task Force One. And then they will come face-to-face with Freisinger (played by Dan Donohue).
While 2017’s Call of Duty: WWII retold familiar moments of World War II, Sledgehammer approached this game by focusing on where the massive tide-turning battles took hold, battles that shifted the direction of the war, and that took place around the globe. And then it zeroed in on heroes who became the forerunners of modern special forces soldiers.
“You had battles happening on the snowy landscapes of Stalingrad, over the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, and in North Africa,” said David Swenson, Vanguard’s campaign creative director, in a statement. “We’ve got the backdrop of these epic battles in diverse locations, but we’re also focusing on the personal stories of those who fought in World War II. These are the stories we want to tell.”
Russia’s Polina Petrova, played by voice actress Laura Bailey, is based on several female Soviet snipers whose confirmed kill count was in the hundreds.
Here’s Sledgehammer’s descriptions of the game’s five special forces heroes:
Sergeant Arthur Kingsley
The leader of Task Force One, Kingsley was born in the Douala region of Cameroon before attending University of Cambridge and enlisting in the British Army. A man of nobility whose parents encouraged his multilingualism — he speaks English, German, French, Portuguese, and Bantu, both the Equatorial and Northern dialects — Kingsley saw politics always being discussed at the dinner table, and as a kid, his mother would read him his favorite book, The Three Musketeers, every night.
While Kingsley is a natural-born leader, he fears falling into the traditional patterns of the British Army, over-deliberating at times when his soldiers may be faced with a life-threatening situation. He cares for those who serve beside him, and Kingsley works every day to not only protect them, but also earn their respect.
To his core, Arthur is a kind soul with a warm but mischievous smile. He takes things to heart and harbors deep empathy for those close to him. He loves the comfort and warmth of his home life and family and longs for peace time to return. However, Arthur harbors a deep resentment. Despite understanding the wrongs of the world, he is unable to right them. To that point, he has a strong sense of loyalty to fight against the Nazis to help protect his home and put an end to the dangerous ideas Nazism propagates.
Lieutenant Polina Petrova
Born and raised in Stalingrad, Polina Petrova is a soldier not by choice, but by a need to defend her country.
Stalingrad was her childhood home, one where she lived many happy memories, including hunting with her father and brother. Although she lost her mother a decade prior to the war, her reality was even more impacted by the brutal Axis invasion of Operation Barbarossa. Using the sharpshooting skills, she learned from her family, Petrova’s story is one of vengeance and retribution for all that she and her community lost.
Petrova is a woman of few words, but when she speaks, it is with purpose and often leaves a powerful impact. She’s content in her own company, only opening up to those she trusts and respects deeply with sharp and educated wit. Although she barely shares what is on her mind, her actions speak for her opinions. Often, she takes matters into her own hands and never waits for anyone else, especially when her thirst for vengeance takes over and puts her in a blind rage.
Whether by words or action, Polina is driven by a desire to see her home free from Nazi invaders, and she is not afraid to put this personal pursuit above her duties.
Private Lucas Riggs
Lucas Riggs prefers actions over words, and although his personality is far from explosive, his method of dealing with threats is highly combustible.
A child of sheep farmers just outside Melbourne, Australia, Riggs worked with his family to tend the herd and collect wool. When World War II began, he didn’t hesitate to sign up before conscription was even implemented. He was ready to see more of the world and fight a greater evil than the occasional petty mobster in his area.
Riggs can be described as an enigma — he would not take offense to this distinction, as he understands people just as much as others understand him.
To his allies, Riggs is a gentle giant, often being the life of the party, but not one to seek the spotlight. To his enemies, Riggs is an intimidating and brutal warrior of honor. He stands up to wrongdoers and those who start conflicts with blunt force, ironically done via his specialty within the Australian Army: explosives.
Ultimately, Riggs is the definition of passion within a soldier. Valuing his fellow squad mates and country above all else, he wants to show the world what Australians are made of.
Lieutenant 1st Class Wade Jackson
A product of New York, pilot Wade Jackson is more at home in the sky than he is on the ground, and he is adamant on doing all his own stunts, even if the mission does not call for it.
Growing up in Brooklyn as a first-generation American, Jackson is a rebel who often finds himself first to a fight, especially if it’s about respect for his family. Bright, yet not engaged with traditional schooling, Jackson discovered his love for speed at the age of 16 through an afterschool repair club. He and his friends often took the vehicles at the shop for joyrides on the newly opened Interboro Parkway, where he would be the only daredevil able to tame the road’s dangerous curves at high speeds.
His newfound rigor for adrenaline paid off after high school, when he was accepted into the Navy’s enlisted aviation cadet program and earned his pilot’s wings in a dive bomber. Since then, he has become a true force in the Pacific.
Charismatic and enthusiastic, Wade enjoys a challenge and relishes the prospect of showing off his natural talents in the spotlight to prove he’s the best. He is egotistical and considers himself special, believing he can fix every problem through bold action.
As the daring hotshot of the group, Wade would rather be a lone wolf, but welcomes competent team members if they don’t get in his way.
Sergeant Richard Webb
Although he shares the same rank as his squad mate, Arthur Kingsley, Sergeant Richard Webb is Kingsley’s right-hand man, friend, and confidant.
Webb grew up in a family of academics, following in his parent’s footsteps in pursuing a professorship track at the university where they worked. In doing so, he had no intention of fighting in World War II; he felt secure that his graduate work would make him exempt from service. However, the draft called for him and he reluctantly joined the army.
He knows his country needs him for the war, but he sees no honor in the duty. Rather, he sees soldiering as a job that must be done if the world has any hope of life returning to normalcy.
With no illusions of glory nor passion to volunteer for a high-risk assignment, Webb often takes a cautious and calculated approach to every conflict, using his intelligence based in realism to come to a correct decision. Indeed, Webb believes his choice is always right, and his stubbornness derails discussions just as much as his perceived pessimism for how a situation could go wrong.
Webb’s defining moment is during Operation Tonga, where his style of leadership and that of Arthur Kingsley reaches a breaking point. What happens then — and Webb’s ultimate decision to join Task Force One — is up to you to discover in Vanguard’s campaign.
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