CoD Vanguard turns Kiwi war hero into Aussie character, and New Zealand is pissed - Dexerto
Call of Duty

CoD Vanguard has turned Kiwi war hero into Aussie character and players are furious

Published: 3/Sep/2021 5:58 Updated: 3/Sep/2021 7:05

by Isaac McIntyre


Call of Duty Vanguard is just around the corner, but it’s already rubbing feathers in the player base for one surprising reason ⁠— a major detail regarding one of its four “Vanguard” characters, Aussie hero Lucas Riggs, to be exact.

The Riggs character ⁠— reminder, Australian ⁠— is based on an incredible World War II hero, Charles Upham, the only person to ever receive two Victoria Crosses.

Upham was an inspiring figure for the British Royal forces.

His legendary exploits in the worldwide conflict include assaulting a German Machine gun post by himself, and rescuing wounded allies while under heavy fire from the enemy.


Sledgehammer Games decided Upham would be the perfect soldier to model one of their four Vanguard heroes, Lucas Riggs, on. He, along with Russian sniper Polina Petrova, British paratrooper Arthur Kingsley, and American pilot Wade Jackson, are the main characters in the new Call of Duty campaign.

That all sounds excellent, except for one problem; Upham was from New Zealand, not Australia, and the swap has left New Zealand pretty furious.

The Lucas Riggs character is already causing major Vanguard backlash.
Sledgehammer Games
The Lucas Riggs character is already causing major Vanguard backlash.

⁠New Zealand Call of Duty players have already taken to Twitter, Reddit, and across the internet to voice their displeasure at the change.

One annoyed Kiwi fan, Hush1der, wrote, “It’s sad that you guys made Lucas Riggs an Australian. A massive f**k you to all your fans in Australia and New Zealand,” while others were more tongue-in-cheek, saying: “Looking forward to Lucas Riggs storyline, based on that amazing AUSTRALIAN soldier Charles Upham.”


On Reddit, another fan claimed it was “an insult to New Zealand, and an insult to all the idiots who buy Call of Duty and don’t know what New Zealand is.”

One fan, CommanderNZ, said they were simply disappointed: “As a New Zealander and someone who has always gone to the ANZAC memorials every year, this highly disappoints me. I hope they change this glaring oversight before release.”

New Zealand media aren’t too happy either.

One publication, Newshub, wrote: “Charles Upham’s significance cannot be overstated. No other combat soldier has ever been awarded two Victoria Crosses in all of history. That incredible achievement belongs to our country alone.


“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.”

Charles Upham is a legendary figure across New Zealand.
Charles Upham is a legendary figure in New Zealand folklore.

To their credit, Sledgehammer Games has already responded to the growing Lucas Riggs uproar, but (a little less to their credit, maybe), it doesn’t look like they’ll be doing much about it; there won’t be a change pre-launch.

Here’s what the Vanguard devs told several media outlets, including Dexerto, in response to the Newshub article on Riggs/Upham started picking up steam.


“As with all the main characters in the campaign, we drew a lot of inspiration from real-life soldiers,” the Call of Duty Vanguard campaign developers said. “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.”

So, it seems like Sledgehammer is well aware of the growing player backlash, but won’t ⁠— or even can’t, at this stage ⁠— change the CoD Vanguard story.

Sledgehammer Games confirms Lucas Riggs will be staying Australian.
Sledgehammer Games has confirmed Lucas Riggs will be staying Australian.

And I mean, look, at the end of the day as an Aussie writer, I love any character representation that we get in movies, games, and television series.


But really, do we need it at the expense of our cousins across the Tasman?

We Aussies have plenty of our own heroes, including the 96 soldiers awarded the Victoria Cross. 20 of those were even awarded across multiple theatres of war in World War II, from Egypt to New Guinea.

In fact, here’s a comprehensive list:

  • Charles Anderson
  • Albert Chowne
  • Arthur Roden Cutler
  • Tom Derrick
  • John Edmondson
  • Hughie Edwards
  • Jack French
  • Jim Gordon
  • Percy Gratwick
  • Stan Gurney
  • Richard Kelliher
  • Edward Kenna
  • Bill Kibby
  • Bruce Kingsbury
  • Jack Mackey
  • Ron Middleton
  • Bill Newton
  • Frank Partridge
  • Reg Rattey
  • Leslie Starcevich

Sledgehammer could have picked any of them to create Riggs from. Or, even better, simply made Lucas Riggs a Kiwi, just like his incredibly heroic inspiration.