Call of Duty: Vanguard pays respects to the 'Press F' meme

call of duty vanguard
(Image credit: Activision)

The great legacy of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the near-future shooter released in 2014, is a meme: Press F to pay respects. The widely derided in-game prompt occurs during an early cutscene in which the player attends a funeral for a fallen comrade. Conan O'Brien skewered the scene during a Clueless Gamer segment in 2014, and five years later we included it in our list of the 69 biggest, weirdest moments in the past decade of PC gaming.

The internet spun that narrative misfire into gold. Memes emerged, and so much more: Twitch streamers ask for Fs in the chat on a regular basis; this guy built a massive F button that you can slap like a game show buzzer; we pressed F for Adobe Flash after the final update went live; it even has its very own, impressively detailed Wikipedia entry.

"Press F to pay respects" has persisted in ways that very few memes do, and now, as was foretold—a meme that will never die, because the day it does we will all press F in its memory and it will rise again—it has returned to our consciousness courtesy of none other than Call of Duty: Vanguard. Players can earn an achievement in the game, called "F," by blowing themselves up with their own grenade.

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For somewhat less dramatic confirmation, F is in fact listed among the game's achievements and trophies.

The achievement is a fun little meta Easter egg, but what I really like about it is the way Sledgehammer, which developed both Advanced Warfare and Vanguard, is poking fun at itself: Both the achievement and the meme are self-inflicted injuries that will never really go away.

F also reappears within Vanguard as an interactive option. I could be wrong, but I suspect that without the limp dramatic gravitas, we will continue paying respects long into the future.

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Thanks, Polygon.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.