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New Zealand Is Furious At Vanguard's Historical Inaccuracy

New Zealand Is Furious At Vanguard's Historical Inaccuracy
Activision

Written by 

Tom Chapman

Posted 

2nd Sep 2021 16:40

Sledgehammer Games is taking the reins from Treyarch and rolling out the big guns (literally) for the next Call of Duty game. With Call of Duty: Vanguard marching toward its release date later this year, we've got our first glimpse at what's going on in this wartime epic.

Although no one in the fictionalised version of World War II is specifically named after actual heroes who fought in the conflict, several are based on real-life fighters. For example, Russian sniper Lt. Polina Petrova is based on Lyudmila Pavlichenko (the most successful female sniper of all time), and Lucas Riggs is supposedly a counterpart of New Zealand's Charles Upham. The problem is, Sledgehammer made Riggs an Australian.

What has New Zealand said about Call of Duty: Vanguard?

Considering Upham is one of the few to ever be awarded the Victoria Cross twice, it's safe to say he's something of a national treasure in New Zealand. Over 5,000 people lined the streets of Christchurch for his funeral in 1994, he had a Naval ship commissioned after him, and a bronze statue was erected in his honour. 

As reported by New Zealand outlet Newshub (via Kotaku), there are some who are less than happy with inaccurately portraying a character who is supposed to be based on Upham as Australian. "Charles Upham’s significance cannot be overstated", said Newshub. "No other combat soldier has ever been awarded two Victoria Crosses in all of history. That incredible achievement belongs to our country alone, Aotearoa New Zealand."

Further explaining why there are problems with making Riggs Australian, the site added, "It’s like turning Sir Edmund Hillary into an Australian, or Lorde, or Jonah Lomu. It’s an insult. At best, it’s ignorance; at worst, it’s a giant middle finger to us all". 

Who are the other Vanguard characters based on?

Aside from Pavlichenco and Upham, Vanguard's Sgt. Arthur Kingsley is based on Sidney Cornell (the first black man to land on D-Day), while Cpt. Wade Jackson is a hero from the Battle of Midway called Vernon Micheel. 

More than just Sledgehammer ignoring the Upham issue, the developer has actually responded to Newshub. Sledgehammer Creative Director David Swenson said: "As with all the main characters in the campaign, we drew a lot of inspiration from real-life soldiers. With Lucas Riggs, we drew a lot of that inspiration from Charles Upham, whose exploits embodied the spirit of all the Commonwealth forces serving in North Africa."

The fact that Upham is simply representing the "Commonwealth" instead of the actual country he helms from suggest it wasn't a mistake on Sledgehammer's behalf. Added to this, it doesn't sound like the Vanguard team is going to apologise any time soon. We'd guess the entire population of New Zealand currently has Call of Duty: Vanguard in its crosshairs.

 

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