The latest entry in the yearly Call of Duty series, Call of Duty Vanguard is now available for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One and PC. This year the series returns to World War II with some new multiplayer modes, gameplay tweaks and beautiful visuals.
Let’s take a look at Call of Duty Vanguard and see how this year’s game stacks up!
Call of Duty Vanguard Details
Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PS5, Xbox One, PS4 and PC
Reviewed on: PS5
Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Genre: First-person, shooter
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
A solid but unmemorable campaign
Call of Duty has come a long way. While the previous campaign in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War had a generally reasonable campaign, Vanguard promises a new but familiar experience. There is no denying that Call of Duty tries to deliver a fun spectacle and Vanguard is no exception. The levels are picturesque and immersive, putting you right in the backdrop of World War II.
The unique aspect to this year’s Call of Duty campaign is that you are part of a band of brothers force who’s assembled to fight Hitler and the Nazis. As this task force, it’s up to you to fight for their lives through a slew of enemies. While the campaign is interesting, it never strays off the beaten path. The characters you play as feel powerful and in some instances almost too powerful. If you are a Call of Duty campaign purist, you aren’t going to be disappointed—though the campaign isn’t what this game will be remembered for.
While playing through the campaign mode I experienced an odd pausing glitch. Randomly the game would pause for a second or two. This was frustrating and diminished the overall experience of the campaign, hopefully this can be fixed with a patch.
A new but familiar experience
In regards to gameplay for the sake of speed, intensity and familiarity—there is less emphasis on realism. The setting of Call of Duty Vanguard feels like an afterthought at times. For example, guns are perfectly tuned, dot sights on your weapons are commonplace and you can slip and slide your way around the map with ease.
However, this is a Call of Duty game after all and there is an expectation from fans for a game that delivers a somewhat familiar experience, regardless of the setting. The implementation of the gunsmith feature in this game is very much welcomed. I didn’t realize just how much fun it is to tinker with your weapon and make it work just the way you like.
The WWII era never looked and sounded so good
Visually, Call of Duty Vanguard is gorgeous. The game runs in 4K at 60fps and there is even a 120fps mode with a lower resolution. While 120fps mode is nice, you can tell a difference in the graphic quality between it and 4K 60fps. As I mentioned earlier, there is a pesky bug that while playing the campaign causes the game to freeze for a second or two randomly. Hopefully this is something that can be resolved with a patch.
The sounds are electrifying and even with all the action going on around you, there is still a high quality to enjoy. The audio is crisp and it feels jarring in an immersive way—this is especially noticeable when wearing a headset.
The bread and butter of Call of Duty games, multiplayer
It’s no secret that multiplayer is the bread and butter of all Call of Duty games. Multiplayer modes like Team Deathmatch and Zombies have been a staple of the series for quite some time now. And, it’s these modes that are the real reason people return to Call of Duty year after year. Call of Duty Vanguard uses the Call of Duty Modern Warfare engine and gives players a different feel from the Call of Duty World War II game from 2017.
Hats off to Sledgehammer for launching Vanguard with 16 multiplayer maps. For comparison, Call of Duty World War II had 10. Visually, there are few maps that stand out as a visual spectacle—having more maps is always welcome. Walls are now destructible, which adds a new element to the game but didn’t make a noticeable impact on my overall experience.
One of my favourite new game modes in Call of Duty Vanguard is Champion Hill. You are partnered with one or two other players, given a shared number of lives and are pitted against other teams of two or three players in mini Team Deathmatches. Between each match, you are given money to upgrade your gear and weapons. Once your team runs out of lives, it’s game over. However, if you manage to survive until the end you are crowned victor.
Zombies, more engaging than the main campaign
The story here is pretty interesting and in my opinion even more engaging than the main campaign. The dialogue is corny and super cliché but that’s what makes the ridiculousness of Nazi zombies work so well. Progressing through the zombie campaign isn’t as challenging as previous entries since your objectives aren’t cryptic.
The difficulty level never spikes and ramps up gradually as it should. The zombies you face are unique enough and overall this mode is a great addition and turns Call of Duty into an entirely different shooter. If you’ve played Strange Brigade, then you have an idea of what I am talking about.
Call of Duty Vanguard offers a solid campaign and entertaining multiplayer modes
Overall, Call of Duty Vanguard offers a surprisingly fun return to World War II. The main campaign is a decent experience but I wouldn’t say it’s anything that stands out from the norm. Vanguard’s multiplayer feels like it’s in a different class from the campaign mode.
The game’s multiplayer modes definitely deliver a solid experience and are the reason to pick up the game. Champion Hill is my favourite new multiplayer mode, it has a battle royale feel to it that is very addicting. Call of Duty Vanguard Zombies is as fun as ever and gives the entire game a totally different feel to it.
If you are a fan of first-person shooters, enjoy a decent campaign but come for the multiplayer then you’ll more than enjoy Call of Duty Vanguard.
+ Launches with 16 multiplayer maps
+ Solid campaign
+ Beautiful 4K graphics at 60fps
+ Zombies mode gives the game a totally different feel to it
– I experienced random pauses for a second or two during gameplay in the campaign
– Gameplay at times feels out of place for the time period
– No innovative use of the PS5’s DualSense Controller
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF CALL OF DUTY VANGUARD
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5