Call Of Duty: Vanguard's Der Anfang Zombies Map Is Underwhelming, But Here's How It Can Improve
Treyarch's hybrid Zombies mode misses the mark, but there are post-launch changes that can save it.
Call of Duty: Vanguard is now available with the new Zombies map Der Anfang. Treyarch took a different approach to Zombies this year, as Der Anfang is not a standard round-based map, and instead it is designed as a hybrid between round-based and the objective-based style of Black Ops Cold War's Outbreak. Unfortunately, the launch of Der Anfang brings a barebones experience, which feels lacking after coming from a content-rich year of Zombies with Black Ops Cold War.
Der Anfang dials things back by simplifying the weapon rarity system, removing the mode's iconic "Wall Buys" weapon feature, and by offering more simplistic perk upgrade tiers. It also lacks Wonder Weapons and any substantial Easter eggs.
Assuming that Treyarch doubles down on Der Anfang and expands the map with new playable areas, similar to the progression of Outbreak in Black Ops Cold War with constantly expanding map regions, there is plenty of room for this new mode to grow. Here are some suggestions for ways Vanguard's Zombies mode can improve.
More content and features
More content sounds like a no-brainer, but Zombies feels very empty at launch. The only new feature Vanguard added with Der Anfang is the Altar of Covenants, which allows players to earn powerful buffs to equip as they progress in higher rounds. I think this new feature is fine, as players can earn abilities that help with saving ammo, dealing extra damage, and reviving allies, but ultimately Covenants are not game-changing enough to make up for all the aspects of Zombies that were stripped away this year.
However, there are a few features that could be added into Der Anfang to better enrich the experience. One being to bring back the Trials machines from Black Ops Cold War, which gave players the option to complete timed objectives for random rewards. The more challenges completed, the greater the rewards. This was a great way to get a Pack-a-Punched weapon, extra points, and power-ups like Double Points or Max Ammo. Of course, the mode needs more zombies spawning for the Trials feature to work, but we'll discuss how to fix the mode's lack of zombie killing in the next section.
Der Anfang could also benefit from gaining new enemy types. This could be something like reintroducing past enemies such as the Mimic or hellhounds, or adding something new and unique to Vanguard's storyline. As it stands, there are only three enemy types in Vanguard Zombies, and a bigger variety might help spice things up. Maybe even something on a larger-scale like mini-boss events.
The map also lacks any Wonder Weapons, and maybe we'll get something unique to use when the Easter egg quest finally arrives with a later seasonal update, but it would be nice to at least have the Ray Gun added into the Mystery Box.
Personally, I think this hybrid mode would be more successful if players had more to do on the map. I really hope Treyarch can find interesting ways to make more things happen in Der Anfang. Outside of completing one of the three objectives, there's really not much else to do on the map unless you walk around listening to all the hidden intel. Der Anfang needs side objectives similar to Outbreak's world events. The world events ranged from mini-bosses to surviving and getting kills in a specific zone.
Der Anfang also suffers from a pacing issue. At the initial announcement of Der Anfang, I was excited and intrigued. I love both round-based maps and Outbreak, so I was curious to see how the pacing would fair for this new mode. With the maps being much smaller than the enormous Ural Mountains Outbreak regions used in Black Ops Cold War, I thought the pacing would be a bit faster on Der Anfang. However, there are very few moments where the pace ever ramps up outside of doing objectives, and much of a player's time in Der Anfang lacks any real urgency. Often, the zombies just loiter around the Stalingrad starting area until players provoke them.
Having laid-back zombies was fine for Outbreak as a casual mode, because players still had the option to play round-based maps for something more intense. But with the lack of standard maps, Der Anfang needs more action and urgency. I think this could be improved a bit simply by increasing the spawn rate of the zombies and making them more aggressive around the starting hub. At the moment, the game just feels too safe until you select an objective.
Additionally, it would be helpful if Treyarch added Black Ops Cold War's Rampage Inducer feature, which allowed players to interact with a canister that jacked up zombies' aggression. All enemies gained increased movement speed and spawn rates up until round 20, and this allowed for faster game progression and made surviving tougher. Having this in Vanguard would let players choose if they want this more casual experience, or give them an option to crank up the dial on Der Anfang's action.
More ways to play Der Anfang
I understand that Treyarch wanted to do something different this year, making a hybrid mode of round-based and objective play, but Zombies feels so limited as is with Der Anfang. And it's a shame, because despite the mode being patched together with bits of multiplayer maps such as Red Star and Hotel Royal, the revamped map design brings an eerie vibe well-suited for Zombies. I really love the atmosphere Treyarch created here, but mostly, it just makes me wish I could try other Zombies modes on Der Anfang.
Cranked would be a great option for an additional mode, because it's one that adds quite a bit of urgency. Black Ops Cold War introduced Cranked mode to Zombies, which functioned similarly to the multiplayer game mode of the game name. Cranked Zombies required players to continuously fill their "cranked timer" by chaining zombie kills together in order to stay alive. If a player stopped killing and filling the meter, they would eventually explode and end the match.
Additionally, some players enjoy the challenge of smaller survival maps, so having the option to play standard round-based matches within Stalingrad's square would be welcome.
And finally, because I'm forever campaigning for the return of Black Ops 2's competitive Grief mode for Zombies, this could also work for Der Anfang. Grief was a mode that pit two teams of four against each other for survival against zombies. Players couldn't shoot and damage their opponents, but they could work to sabotage their efforts of survival against the undead. It's a mode that was played on the smaller survival maps in Black Ops 2's Zombies like Town and Farm, so it would likely work with Der Anfang's Stalingrad hub. Grief mode brought strategy and teamwork that was unique to Zombies, and there was often a lot of hilarity when sabotaging opponents. Players could block access to a crucial door or perk machine, or throw bait that lured zombies in their direction. Der Anfang would benefit from the competitive chaos of Grief.
Side Easter eggs
It's a bummer not to have a storyline quest at launch this year, but Zombies maps usually arrive with small Easter eggs in addition to the main quest. Der Anfang seems to be devoid of any Easter eggs. I'd love to see Treyarch add something like a hidden song, which is something featured on many of the past Zombies maps. Or a hidden quest to unlock the Ray Gun, instead of just adding the Wonder Weapon to the Mystery Box. It would just be nice to have more reasons to explore the map.
Vanguard Season 1 is set to bring updates to Zombies on December 2, but it's unclear how much content is arriving. Treyarch released a blog post before launch that mentioned a new objective is coming for Der Anfang, additional Covenants, new weapons, season challenges, holiday-themed updates, and more. Hopefully these Season 1 updates can bring some impactful changes to Der Anfang.
Make sure to check out our recent interview with Treyarch, where the developers explained why Der Anfang wouldn't receive a main story quest until sometime post-launch and discussed other major map decisions for Vanguard Zombies. Also, check out our tips and recommended loadouts for surviving high rounds in Der Anfang.
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