Interview: Sledgehammer Games’ Narrative Designers Talk Call of Duty Vanguard’s Campaign

We recently got the chance to chat with Narrative Designer, Alexa Ray Corriea and Associate Narrative Designer, Belinda Garcia from Sledgehammer Games about the upcoming World War 2 shooter, Call of Duty Vanguard, and the engaging narrative that binds four unique characters together.

What sets this WW2 story apart from previous WW2 campaigns within the franchise? 

Belinda Garcia, Associate Narrative Designer:

World War II is a well-trodden story. Everyone has had their take on World War II. And with our campaign, we really wanted to highlight different fronts and different perspectives of people that had a hand in the war. It was a world war and so we forget that it was fought on multiple fronts by different kinds of people, people that weren’t soldiers, people that were soldiers. And so what our campaign does is bring together sort of a ragtag group of people that have different backgrounds and show our players what different people can accomplish when they come together and have one central goal.

Alexa Ray Corriea, Narrative Designer:

I think that where we are sending people, in addition to who we are sending, is really unique. We have North Africa, we’re going into the Pacific, Stalingrad, and then the D-Day invasion. We have a paratrooper, we have Polina, our lady sniper. We’ve got our hotshot American pilot and our demolitions expert from Australia. And they’re all from different parts of the world, also fighting in different parts of the world. It’s just, it’s a real true globe-trotting adventure.

What new or existing gameplay features are you excited to see in the narrative? 

Belinda Garcia, Associate Narrative Designer:

Each character has a specific way that they operate and play within the campaign. You get to play as all of them. And they all have different strengths and different personalities. So I think players being able to jump to the campaign in that way and have insight into each of our characters, each of their stories and how they work together. I think I’m most excited for people to experience that. They’ll be able to experience the game from four different perspectives.

Alexa Ray Corriea, Narrative Designer:

Yeah. It’s actually pretty impressive how wildly different all of these characters play. I don’t want to reference something that hasn’t been shown yet, so I’m going to play it safe, but they’re all very different. Every level is sort of like a fresh start when you’re in the campaign. Keeps things interesting.

While fans are aware that Call of Duty: Vanguard bases this narrative on the birth of the modern special forces, what inspired this direction in the story? 

Alexa Ray Corriea, Narrative Designer:

I know that we’ve seen a lot of the bigger World War II stories before. And I believe when working on Vanguard and talking about this, it’s sort of a smaller story on a grander scale. It’s something very different. 

Belinda Garcia, Associate Narrative Designer:

The team was really inspired by the unique stories that there were off the main battlefield, the people that were part of special forces and what the birth of special forces meant. 

Alexa Ray Corriea, Narrative Designer:

Vanguard is inspired by history, but not beholden to it. We really wanted to call attention to all of those different areas of the globe and people who contributed to the war effort, who maybe don’t get the spotlight very often or that we don’t talk about too much. So in a way we’re not just telling a good story, we’re telling people more about the war and giving them different perspectives and opening their eyes a little bit to everything else that happened during that time.

Previous story-based trailers have highlighted some impressive and cinematic set-pieces. How will these sculpt the story and build the characters through the duration of the campaign? 

Belinda Garcia, Associate Narrative Designer:

I think what I love most about the campaign is that we do travel to different biomes. We get to see Stalingrad at its highest, at its most beautiful. We get to see Bougainville, we get to see Midway, we get to see the Pacific, we get to see beautiful oceans and all those kinds of landscapes. We get to go to North Africa. Because World War II has happened in the past, usually it’s shown in a certain type of lighting or a certain type of filter to make it seem like it happened a long time ago. What the team did on this game is made sure to make these different biomes feel very vibrant and colourful to make it seem like it’s happening in the present tense, that we’re with them and learning about what they’re learning about and in real-time. And I think that’ll really come through in the campaign.

Alexa Ray Corriea, Narrative Designer:

The challenges of building a narrative campaign around big set pieces and big, beautiful locations is that how do we make this more than just a cool set-piece and a stepping stone? How do we make it one complete chain of events? I think we’ve done a really good job with Vanguard. The teams worked really hard to make sure that everything is beautiful and vibrant, and also that each set piece presents a moment in our character’s life that has become core to who they are. It is a moment or it is an event that really lets the player know, okay, this is why this character is this way. This is where they grew into their own. This is where Butcher saw the potential in them to join special forces. So it’s more than set pieces. It’s a string of really important moments.

Call of Duty Vanguard releases on all major consoles on November 5.

Matthew Arcari

Matthew Arcari is the games and technology editor at The AU Review. You can find him on Twitter at @sirchunkee, or at the Dagobah System, chilling with Luke and Yoda.

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