Call of Duty Vanguard: Review

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With Call of Duty Vanguard
With Call of Duty: Vanguard, World War II is once again the setting for the popular shooter series. (Image source: Activison)

With Call of Duty Vanguard, the CoD series has returned to its thematic roots. For the campaign, this means a successful staging of already known images.

Is the year over again? Call of Duty Vanguard not only replaces its predecessor Black Ops Cold War with a much shorter name but also switches back to World War II.

As usual, you get a bombastic single-player campaign, an endless zombie mode, and the core of every CoD, the multiplayer. While the first two modes are quite thin, the multiplayer is a real stunner in terms of content and playability (for the time being).

Vanguard’s Campaign: Nazis Do Nazi Things

In Vanguard, you’ll experience the birth of the special forces and in the course of the story slip into the roles of four different characters, each with a few playful idiosyncrasies.

The first mission of leader Arthur Kingsley fails, however, which leads to the capture of him and his team. During the interrogation you will learn the backstory of the British soldier Kingsley, the Soviet through missions sniper Polina Petrova, the American pilot Wade Jackson and the Australian explosives expert Lucas Riggs. According to these descriptions, some of the missions of the four individual characters are always canceled.

The antagonists are GESTAPO director Hinrich Freisinger, who is trying to find out what the Allies know about his secret Phoenix project.

During the interrogation by the specialist Jannick Richter, it turns out that there is a conspiracy among the Nazis.

cod vanguard charakters
The four main characters of the Call of Duty: Vanguard campaign. (Image: Activision)

The campaign is well-staged as usual and captures the atmosphere and thus the horror of the war in many places. Graphically, the campaign shines from the cutscenes to the weapon animations. The high level of detail contributes greatly to the immersion. Coupled with the great soundscape, this Call of Duty campaign is also a real experience.

If you love shooter games, have a look at Counter-Strike.

Unfortunately, the successful staging is a very short pleasure. Besides, the story doesn’t reveal much. Most of the time you play the single missions of the four main characters, none of which you will really get to know in the near future.

Because of the story of how the four got together, you will remain Vanguard guilty. The same applies to the motivation of the antagonists. At the end of the war, they want to save their own heads, protect Project Phoenix and do the classic Nazi things for that. They threaten, torture, and try psychological games while smoking.

cod vanguard flugzeug
This time you can also take a seat in the cockpit of an airplane. (Image: Activision)

Small spoiler: You simply won’t find out what exactly this secret project is. In the end, you come across tons of files that talk about places all over the world where Nazis want to do Nazi things, and the moment you think it’s going to really start, the credits begin. The whole campaign is far too long for a story that you will not live to see.

The bottom line is that you’ve seen it all before. The fact that you have probably rarely seen all of this so beautiful can only make up for it to a limited extent. As beautiful as the atmosphere is and as thrilling as the staging is, the story builds on something that doesn’t even exist in the end. Unfortunately, Vanguard misses the exciting narrative that Cold War used.

Call of Duty Vanguard zombies

The co-op add-on for a Call of Duty is usually the zombie mode. In Vanguard, he tells the story of the Dark Aether events from the Black Ops Cold War. There are, however, some differences in gameplay.

The zombie mode now has something like rogue-lite elements. From a hub in Stalingrad, you start various tasks on other maps through portals. After successfully completing it, you will return to the hub, unlocking new areas and upgrading your weapons, crafting equipment, and equipping yourself with perks.

cod vanguard zombies
For co-op fans, Call of Duty has the zombie mode. (Image: Activision)

However, there are only three types of portals and only three types of opponents. you have After about an hour seen pretty much everything in terms of content. Afterward, you can of course repeat the increasingly difficult portals in an endless loop until your team is dead or you activate the portal to exit.

By the start of the first season on December 2nd, that will be all the zombie mode has to offer. The hub mechanics work well and the gameplay itself is fun, it just gets very monotonous very quickly.

Vanguard’s Multiplayer

After its predecessor Cold War disappointed with too little scope, Vanguard does just that better. With a total of 20 maps at the launch, developer Sledgehammer Games delivers more than twice as many maps as Cold War. In addition, with Champion Hill, there is also a completely independent mode in which you can compete against other teams in a kind of gunfight tournament and which offers a significant change from classic multiplayer.

But even with that, there is plenty of variety, thanks to the new “Combat Pacing”. You can play the maps in the variants “Tactical”, “Assault” or “Blitz”, which means that the number of players changes. While you will find the well-known “6 versus 6” in “Assault”, in “Blitz” there can be up to 24 game ends depending on the map size.

cod vanguard gunsmith
You can now choose ten attachments per weapon at the armorer.

Of course, more players mean more kills and therefore more experience points. Since every weapon has a good 70 levels, you need a lot of them. At each level, a new essay from a total of ten categories is waiting for you and, unlike Cold War or Modern Warfare, you can use all ten. As always, your loadout is completed by a secondary weapon, two pieces of equipment, and three perks. Vanguard returns to the more popular killstreaks compared to Cold War.

You level yourselves not only through weapons and ranks but also the operators. They got in Vanguard their own progression system. Each operator must first be unlocked via a challenge and can then go up a total of 20 levels.

In doing so, you unlock cosmetics and other things that do not give you an unfair advantage over other players. In addition, each operator has a favorite weapon, which you get when used in combination with the operator’s extra experience. This innovation motivates all characters to unlock and use them, but in total with weapons and challenges, there is a whole lot of things for which you have to gain experience.

cod vanguard operator level
Every operator in Vanguard can rise up to level 20 and offers unlocks for cosmetics and experience for the favorite weapon

This brings us to a small problem. For casual gamers, in particular, it will take an extremely long time to unlock everything and meet all challenges. There are just too many. In addition, there are currently a lot of bugs in the challenges.

The activation of other crosshairs is not recorded at all and the game does not register your progress in other challenges either. Some can even not be fulfilled, for example, because you should do kills with a special attachment that does not exist for the weapon in question.

Vanguard has a very short time-to-kill (enemies die after very few hits) that may be too fast for some of you. Due to the comparatively high sprint out time (the time you need to switch from sprint to shooting) you are currently always at a disadvantage if you move a lot over the map and the opponents tend to wait. This should definitely be readjusted.

Our conclusion

Let’s first tick off campaign and zombie mode. In the campaign, you can expect the usual bombastic and great staged war events. Unfortunately, a lot is neglected here and that doesn’t necessarily mean the playing time.

The five to seven hours are normal for Call of Duty, but Vanguard missed the chance to make something bigger out of the exciting characters. Instead, the four main characters get their introduction, and just when the story picks up speed, it’s over. There’s nothing new to see here, and Cold War has shown how good a deviation from the standard Call of Duty campaign can do. Hardly anyone will remember this story in a few months.

The zombies run into another problem besides your gun barrels. The new approach is much more accessible, which, however, will not appeal to die-hard fans. Regrettably, there is a lack of content everywhere. There is hardly any variety in terms of opponents and tasks and the most important thing, the puzzles for Easter eggs, is completely missing.

Fortunately, the heart of every CoD has really succeeded: the multiplayer. Thanks to a large number of maps, there is something for everyone, the “pacing” variants ensure variety and those who have had enough of normal multiplayer get a significantly different gaming experience thanks to Champion Hill. There are enough weapons for every style of play and thanks to the wide selection of attachments you never get bored.

There are actually several load-outs and attachment combinations for a weapon that is actually playable. In terms of multiplayer, Sledgehammer Games really hit the mark. When it comes to challenges, there are still some bugs that should be tackled quickly, as they sometimes limit the progress of the game. Overall, Call of Duty Vanguard will be able to make the community very happy thanks to a strong multiplayer.

Finally, call of duty: vanguard release date was on November 5th, 2021