Warzone's Vanguard event hints at a more immersive future for game reveals
The Vanguard event was a step towards a more ubiquitous marketing strategy.
Activision revealed the next mainline Call of Duty game, subtitled Vanguard, during an immersive special event within the battle royale standalone Warzone. The event went live on August 19, offering a hallmark experience for how to reveal a game.
We’ve experienced a few in-game Warzone reveals at this point, such as the Black Ops Cold War event, and the wild nuke of Verdansk that led into a 1980s version of the map. Both of these were fun in their own ways, but arguably missed the mark.
There was beauty in the simplicity of the Call of Duty: Vanguard reveal. It focused on cooperative play and gave players plenty of time to complete it — all things that previous events lacked.
Developer Beenox did a lot right in Vanguard’s reveal, but the most important thing it achieves is in establishing a bright future for live-service events going forward.
Cooperative events make for a more unified experience
While previous Warzone events featured some form of cooperation, they had a substantial competitive aspect to them, as well. This is something that makes sense, considering Warzone is a competitive game, but it certainly makes it more difficult to actually complete the event if other players are there to prevent you from doing so.
During the Black Ops Cold War reveal, players were tasked with visiting certain locations around the map, while other teams attempted to do the same. This meant you could get eliminated while trying to get through the event, which felt more like a roadblock than anything. Sure, you could respawn infinitely, but having enemy players against you meant you were more likely to be eliminated frequently, which is never fun.
The Vanguard event was entirely cooperative, featuring lobbies of 32 players all working towards the same goal: Destroy the armored train.
Seeing such large-scale cooperative play was a first for Warzone, and it felt more unified than ever. There were no frustrations of getting constantly killed by an expert player. Instead, the entire lobby worked together to reach a common goal, while helping one another out.
Teammates would supply ammo to one another, or drive an entire squad alongside the speeding train to take it down, resulting in a satisfying sense of comradery rather than a frustrating uphill battle.
Extending the duration of the event lets more players enjoy it
One of the other things previous Warzone events got wrong is the duration of time players had to complete it. Previous events would only last a day or so — sometimes less — meaning a portion of the audience would often miss the entire experience. This rings true especially since lots of in-game reveals would occur in the middle of a weekday while people were at work.
The Vanguard event still started in the middle of a Thursday but is set to last through the weekend, which is a smart move in ensuring as many players as possible can enjoy it. This is just a small step towards making in-game events as widespread and accessible as possible, which could result in more pre-orders for the upcoming game. That’s the entire point, after all, isn't’ it?
A simple premise allows a wider audience to complete the event
Warzone’s Vanguard event was simple. All players had to do was work together to blow up an armored train. While some were probably disappointed by its simplicity, it’s ultimately the best strategy to get as many players on board as possible.
Previous events were never overly complicated, but considering they were only available for a short time, it was easy to miss out on the entire experience due to too many moving parts. The Verdansk ‘84 nuke event played out over the course of multiple days and had several objectives baked into each phase that simply increased the barrier to entry.
There’s a way to add detail and complexity without actually making the gameplay portion of the events difficult to complete. The premise of taking down an armored train alongside 31 other Call of Duty fans is something most players can wrap their heads around and is one of this event’s greatest strengths.
While the Vanguard reveal wasn’t perfect, it’s a step in the right direction towards a more ubiquitous marketing strategy that will likely become even more prevalent in live-service games. Based on the way this event was handled, it’s likely a massive portion of the player base will be able to see it through.
Call of Duty: Vanguard will launch for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on November 5.