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Call of Duty Vanguard Review


Developer: Sledgehammer Games

Publisher: Activision

Reviewed on: Playstation 5

Also available on: PS4, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One, PC

Release: 5th November 2021

Rating: MA15+

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.

Another area in which I was a little disappointed, albeit not as much as I was in zombies, is the multiplayer. Don't get me wrong, it's not awful, not by any means. But it's not superb either. The new maps are very well designed and fair. In fact, I'd say they are the best launch maps in a Call of Duty game for quite some time. However, for about the 300th year in a row, I feel that more needs to be done to prevent the overuse of snipers. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these “I hate campers” people, because let's be honest, when was the last time in a real war scenario we saw someone running round guns akimbo or beating people with a sledgehammer? So in terms of realism, campers don't bother me, it's probably the most realistic way to play the game. However, when you combine this with Sniper rifles, I start to lose it a little. Again, I know it's realistic, but I feel it ruins the pace and the fun of the game too much to be worth it (that's just my opinion, don't @me). Again, the guns do a good job of bridging that gap between the usual bolt action guns we get in WW2 shooters and the likes of modern warfare etc. This keeps that faster paced gameplay but still manages to feel like a WW2 shooter. My biggest gripe with the game however is the lack of distinction between operators and between teams. Too many times I ran into an enemy team mate, only to either realise he was an enemy and wipe them out, or be wiped out myself because I was unaware they were in fact an enemy. Personally, I am a big fan of Champion Hill mode. However, due to the fact that most of my regular COD mates are waiting to buy the game, I end up playing with random people, usually bad communicators or just, down right bad players.

Overall, this year's Call of Duty both surprised, and disappointed me. If you're getting it for zombies, I wouldn't recommend it. If you're getting it for a mix of multiplayer and campaign, then I'd definitely say give it a go. The multiplayer maps are great, the campaign is fantastic and graphically it is good, not great, but good.

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