Call of Duty is parachuting back into World War II. Call of Duty: Vanguard , the next entry in Activision’s multibillion-selling video game franchise, inserts players into pivotal battles including the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Midway, and Operation Tonga on the eve of the D-Day invasion. In the game (out November 5 for Microsoft Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 5 and PS4, and PCs on Battle.net), you get to know – and fight as – four different characters who eventually team up as the first special forces squad for a mission against the Nazis in Berlin. Special operations forces such as SEAL Team Six grew out of Allied experiments with small squads chosen for specialised missions in World War II. In developing the single-player story campaign, Sledgehammer’s creative team worked with historians including Marty Morgan, author of D-Day: A Photographic History of the Normandy Invasion who served as technical director on the studio’s 2017 game Call of Duty WWII . “We were really inspired by these first special forces operators and they seemed like such interesting characters that we wanted to explore,” says David Swenson, creative director of the game’s single-player story campaign for development studio Sledgehammer Games. Call of Duty: Vanguard ’s story is fiction, but “even though we are not beholden to history, we are rooted in history”, Swenson says. “It feels realistic and authentic.” Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War – patriotism gone too far After Sledgehammer finished Call of Duty WWII – the top-selling game of 2017, generating more than US$1 billion in revenue by the year’s end – the studio wanted to create another game set in that period. “We kind of came out of that just scratching the surface, where we felt there was all these new stories,” says Vanguard director Josh Bridge. Call of Duty: Vanguard has a new story with no connection to the 2017 game and “feels like a different take on World War II”, he says. The Sledgehammer team showed part of a mission from the game involving one of the main characters, Sgt. Arthur Kingsley, a British paratrooper attempting to land behind enemy lines in German-occupied France on the night before D-Day. You get a cinematic first-person panorama as Kingsley parachutes out of a plane after it takes a hit and now has an engine afire. Explosions and smoke pepper the sky as bombers drop payloads and fighters try to shoot them down. Kingsley hits the ground, landing in an eerie, dramatically lit battlefield scene with German troops aiming their flashlights as they search for downed paratroopers. Kingsley is based on a real-world paratrooper, Sgt. Sidney Cornell, known as the first Black paratrooper to land on D-Day. The other members of the squad are inspired by real-world soldiers, too. The character Lt. Polina Petrova, is a Russian sniper who defends the city during the Battle of Stalingrad. She is based on Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who earned the title “Lady Death” of the Red Army and is the most successful woman sniper in history, credited with 309 kills. “There are lots of cool opportunities to play as these different characters in these different locations,” Swenson says. “They are all brought together into Berlin at the end of the war on their first special forces mission.” The Call of Duty franchise has produced the top-selling game of the year 10 of the last 12 years, according to The NPD Group. Beyond the single-player game, Call of Duty: Vanguard content will be coming to the free-to-play online multiplayer game Call of Duty: Warzone . And Vanguard will have its own Zombies adventure, which crosses over with the Zombies game from last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War . A new multiplayer Champion Hill mode was described as a mix of battle royale and the Gunfight mode from 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare .