Call of Duty Vanguard Review
Hey Nazis, that’s something we haven’t seen in a shooter game in quite some time right? (Clearly, I am joking) Does Vanguard do anything to stand out from the crowd? Well yes and no… Call of Duty: Vanguard is a 2021 first-person shooter game developed by Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision. It was released on November 5 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. It serves as the 18th installment in the overall Call of Duty series and a sequel of Call of Duty: WW2. It establishes a storyline featuring the birth of the special forces to face an emerging threat at the end of the war during various theatres of World War II.
The storyline for the campaign is a bit different than what we have seen in previous entries of the series. This game focuses on the formation of an elite (and diverse) team of forces tasked with taking down a secret force of Nazis after Hitlers’ death. The beginning and end missions take place during “current” times during that campaign while every other mission is a flashback and origin story of a member of the rest of the team, which feels a little weird. The backstory is always good, don’t get me wrong, but almost the entire game is backstory which you would think would have me more invested in the characters, not less. But I never really got to know much about the characters and what motivates and drives them. I guess I am just looking for too much in a Call of Duty story, but you would think being one of the top-selling franchises of all time, they could invest in a few good writers. As always the sound engineering, facial animations, and gameplay are top-notch. I was just yearning for a bit more substance. The campaign is pretty short again which is a bit of a letdown when they could have done much more with that team.
Multiplayer as always is the focus of Call of Duty and Vanguard is no exception. Team Deathmatch and Domination are here, alongside new modes such as Champion Hill, a sort of mini team-based Battle Royale organized into short elimination rounds. The combat as always is very quick and if you are new to the online world of COD, well you will hop in, live for about 4 seconds before someone riddles you with bullets and comments something about your mom. If you are a veteran of multiplayer, you know what to expect here. Most of the maps are very traditional three-lane set-ups, with varied themes from around the world. No doubt they will continue to add more maps, game styles, etc as the seasons progress.
The cooperative Zombies mode returns in Vanguard, developed by Treyarch in collaboration with Sledgehammer Games. The mode is considered an expansion of the Dark Aether story and acts as a prologue to Black Ops Cold War‘s story. At launch, the game features a new game mode titled “Der Anfang” which combines aspects of round-based survival gameplay with the objective-based gameplay of Outbreak and Onslaught, both new game modes introduced in Cold War. Gameplay elements from Cold War return in Vanguard, such as Essence and Salvage as currencies, and Dark Aether-powered field upgrades, in addition to classic Zombies gameplay items like perks and the Pack-a-Punch machine. A new gameplay feature, the Altar of Covenants, grants players randomized buffs in every match, allowing a variety in combat builds. Post-launch updates for Zombies are slated to feature additional objectives for Der Anfang, as well as the main quest for story progression, as well as new Covenants and field upgrades. While the Zombies mode has almost some rogue like elements to it, I hope they deliver on future updates to this mode as after a 1-2 hour long play loop, it does get old.
All in all Call of Duty is exactly what I expected it to be after all these years. Good not great, I’ve never been a hardcore fan of the multiplayer modes but they are solid as usual from them. Where I typically spend much more time in is campaign and zombies. The campaign while short and sweet is an interesting enough time to stick through with varied personalities and abilities of your team, just feels odd it’s almost all via flashback. Zombies has some great bones (pun intended) but falls short in content, but is promised to be expanded on upon updates.