CoD: Vanguard Zombies Will Bring Major Perk Changes And No Main Quest At Launch


Call of Duty: Vanguard is just days from launch, and a November 1 blog post from Treyarch details more information on Zombies mode, which includes major changes to the iconic perk system. Additionally, the developers reveal that Vanguard’s Der Anfang map will not launch with a main storyline Easter egg quest.

More Dark Aether Abilities

In the recent worldwide reveal for Zombies, four Dark Aether entities were revealed for the launch of Vanguard. These entities share their unique abilities with the playable operators through the use of ancient artifacts. The new blog post confirms that additional abilities would arrive post launch, but further details were not provided.


Now Playing: Call of Duty: Vanguard | Zombies Reveal Trailer

At launch, players can expect four artifact options:

  • Dragon of Saraxis: Spawns an Aethereal explosive, dealing massive damage to enemies who set it off
  • Mask of Bellekar: Cloaks player in Dark Aether, masking their presence from enemies for 5 seconds
  • Sword of Inviktor: Sparks a ring of Aethereal flame to boost damage for anyone within its radius for 15 seconds
  • Horn of Norticus: Summons a frigid vortex, damaging enemies with the initial blast and slowing those that enter

New Narrative Voices

In addition to the gameplay benefits of using the Dark Aether artifacts, these Dark Aether entities will add to the dialogue experienced in Der Anfang. While the narrative will primarily be driven by the voice of demonologist Gabriel Krafft, who guides players through the map objectives, Oberführer Von List, Kortifex the Deathless, the other Dark Aether entities will provide their own unique commentary throughout the game. Players will likely want to try out all the different artifacts, as there will be dialogue unique to each artifact’s Dark Aether companion.

Altar Of Covenants Details Revealed

Treyarch’s newest Zombies feature, the Altar of Covenants, provides players with a variety of randomized upgrades to choose from. These upgrades are purchased with the Sacrificial Heart item, which is awarded to players each time they complete one of the map’s objectives. Players can have up to three Covenants equipped at a time, and the selection of available Covenants randomizes after each completed objective.

Covenant examples
Covenant examples

Players will get access to 11 unique Covenant upgrades at launch, each with multiple rarities for a total of 32 upgrades to explore. The initial set of upgrades includes:

  • Bloodlust: Melee attacks do more damage and heals the player
  • Resurrectionist: Revive allies faster
  • Brain Rot: Chance to turn enemies to allies
  • Cryofreeze: Chance to slow enemies
  • Death Blow: Critical kills return bullets to the clip
  • Ammo Gremlin: Stowed weapons refill ammo from stock automatically
  • Dead Accurate: Consecutive hits on the same enemy do more damage
  • Splatterfest: Enemies killed by explosions may explode
  • Unholy Ground: Deal more damage while stationary
  • Cull the Weak: Deal more damage to slowed or stunned enemies
  • Mother Lode: Chance to keep Equipment after using it

Major Perk Changes

Treyarch has revealed major changes to the Zombies perk system for Vanguard. Players will gain access to new map areas as they complete objectives, including access to the map’s perk fountains. For the first time in Zombies history, the base perk is free to acquire. However, the game does have upgradeable tiers to make the perks more powerful. This is similar to what players saw in Black Ops Cold War, but the tiers will be upgraded in-game by purchasing with Essence points in each match, whereas Cold War perks only needed to be upgraded once using a currency of Aetherium crystals earned from match rewards.

Once a player activate the free tier 1 version of a perk, they’ll need to pay 2,500 Essence for tier 2, then 5,000 for tier 3, and 7,500 for tier 4. Each upgrade will increase a specific base stat, with higher tiers providing bigger buffs.

These are the five perk fountains confirmed for Der Anfang:

  • Fiendish Fortitude: Increases health
  • Diabolical Damage: Increases critical damage
  • Venomous Vigor: Boosts health regeneration speed
  • Demonic Frenzy: Boosts reload speed
  • Aethereal Haste: Boosts movement speed

In another first for Zombies perks, players will keep the base-level perks they’ve acquired if they’re downed. Normally, getting knocked down in Zombies mode means losing all perks, but since the first tier is free, players will be able to hold on to those after being revived. However, additionally purchased perk upgrade tiers will be removed and need to be repurchased.

Pack-a-Punch Changes

Players can still upgrade weapons at the Pack-a-Punch machine, however the initial upgrade cost will increase with the launch of Der Anfang. Instead of the previous 5,000 points cost for the first Pack-a-Punch level, the costs now start at 7,500 points for the first upgrade, then 15,000 for the second, and 30,000 for the final upgrade.

Weapon tiers are now defined by their Pack-a-Punch level, which are marked by four colors:

  • White: Unpacked
  • Blue: Pack-a-Punch level 1
  • Purple: Pack-a-Punch level 2
  • Orange: Pack-a-Punch level 3

Also new for Vanguard Zombies, Pack-a-Punch weapons can now drop as loot from Vanguard’s special Sturmkrieger enemy types or be awarded from the Mystery Box.

Post-Launch Content

Vanguard’s Season 1 of post-launch content begins on December 2, which is set to bring new content and features to Zombies. The seasonal update will include a new objective for Der Anfang, additional Covenants, new weapons, season challenges, holiday-themed updates, and more.

Unfortunately, Zombies mode will not launch with a main storyline quest this year. Treyarch says players will encounter some surprise elements later in Season 1 that will set the stage for the upcoming main quest.

In other Vanguard news, PlayStation’s blog revealed several exclusive perks for those who purchase Call of Duty: Vanguard for PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5. These perks include double XP events, extra custom loadout slots, five additional tier skips with the battle pass bundle, and more.

Call of Duty: Vanguard launches on November 5 for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, and PC. The new game will launch as Activision Blizzard faces a lawsuit from the state of California over alleged harassment and discrimination against women.

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