Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Reviewed on: Playstation 5
Also available on: PS4, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One, PC
Release: 5th November 2021
Price: $99 - JB HIFI
Call of Duty Vanguard is the latest installment in the polarising Call of Duty franchise. It's no secret that Call of Duty has become a franchise that you either love or you hate. I mean spend 5 minutes on any online gaming community and you'll no doubt see someone calling someone trash for liking COD. A stance that I strongly condemn by the way. I am more of the opinion, “let people enjoy what they enjoy”. For example, I absolutely loved some of the most disliked Call of Duty titles to date; titles such as Call of Duty Ghosts and even last year's Cold War. Are they perfect games? NO, not even close, but have I had some of the most fun of my gaming life playing them? Absolutely.
Vanguard though, is somewhat different for me than previous COD games. Usually I barely give the campaign a look in. In fact, until I started reviewing them, I skipped some of them entirely. Especially the earlier timeline installments. Usually, like most, I spend a large sum of my time playing online multiplayer or zombies, both of which are usually immensely fun especially when playing with friends. Vanguard is different in the fact that this time round, I'm not so much a HUGE fan of multiplayer or zombies, but I am somewhat surprisingly, thoroughly enjoying the campaign.
I tend to prefer the faster paced, more modernised shooter installments due to the caliber of weaponry and gadgets at my disposal, and while this is still true, COD Vanguard does a very good job of bridging that gap a little. My go-to gun the STG 44 gives a somewhere near modern weaponry feel, to what usually feels like a real chore, instantly adding to the enjoyment of the campaign. The story, which I won't go into to avoid spoilers, is engaging and well presented. The characters are also rather likeable and relatable (something recent Call of Duty titles have missed the mark on in my opinion). Vanguard delivers some of the most consistent and best campaign gameplay in recent COD history in my opinion.
Graphically, COD is always pretty good, despite what the haters might say. I am happy to say, this year is no exception. Despite ‘some’ glitches the game runs and looks great. Even though Vanguard uses the same engine as the reboot of Modern Warfare, I did expect a little better. We all remember that infamous Clean House mission from Modern Warfare as it's probably one of the best looking missions in the history of Call of Duty. I’ll go as far as saying it might be one of the best looking sequences ever made. Well, 2 years down the track with a new, much more powerful generation of console to play it on, there was never really this kind of moment in Vanguard, which is a little disappointing considering how far other games are pushing the graphical boundaries at the moment. One area in particular in which I was a little disappointed was the quality of the cutscenes. They were a little janky and seemed rushed, this was a little given what we've come to expect in 2021.
Now let's talk about zombies… I know that there’s going to be additions to zombies in the coming months, however, that doesn't change the fact that as it stands right now, Vanguard Zombies is terrible. There, I said it. I don't know what they were thinking when changing it from what it has been in previous years. Given how well received Onslaught was last year, I am extremely surprised they didn't push more down that route. Instead, they went down the route of killing zombies for artifacts, then using said artifacts to progress to the next stage etc. Each stage takes a maximum of 5 minutes and seems relatively pointless and boring. After pumping well over 100 hours into Cold War Zombies both solo and with friends, I am barely a couple of hours deep in this one and never want to play it again. In fact I've only pushed as far as I have for the purpose of reviewing it.