Review: Call of Duty: Vanguard (Xbox Series X)

7

Good

Call of Duty is a game that is almost a yearly fixture on our calendars. It mostly follows the same winning recipe, year after year, which is keeping its multiplayer base happy with new content. The other parts of the game often aren’t even played. or are looked at as an afterthought for fans, for that reason, I will be breaking this review up into three parts – single player, multiplayer and zombies. Feel free to skip to the part that you play most for our take on the installment we’ve been given this year. 

Single Player

The single-player component of the game is short and while cinematically beautiful and true to the times it takes you through, lacks a lot. It’s run, position, point, shoot and occasionally die. You play as part of a special forces unit tasked to end the Third Reich and as such, there are a lot of Nazis on the scene.  Your team is made up of one officer from each of the allied countries, Britain, Australia, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Each of these soldiers is so well brought to life by their voice actors who manage in some instances to lighten the mood of what is a very serious time in our history. 

Rinse and repeat for 6 hours and that’s it. It’s a short, cinematically and graphically intense campaign mode which most players will only get to one day when they’ve had enough of Multiplayer. 

The campaign starts with a bang as you make your entrance moving between fast travelling train carriages, killing off enemies left and right, some with some talented shooting, and others with some quick sneaking. As a team of 4 (although the AI aren’t very clever) you smash through the enemy defences and move on to the next front of WWII. Rinse and repeat for 6 hours and that’s it. It’s a short, cinematically and graphically intense campaign mode that most players will only get to one day when they’ve had enough of Multiplayer. 

Multiplayer

Ah, the best day of the year in a Call of Duty fan’s life. As I mentioned above, many players buy Call of Duty games at their full retail price, and then spend a year only playing this portion of the game. I can say that not much has changed, but this is the first time I can recall playing a multiplayer with so many maps in rotation. 

The maps themselves are one of the highlights of this mode, most of them are well designed, and each one calls for a different loadout. So every playstyle is covered in one or other map. The maps are also visually stunning, and very very true to the wartime era. I personally struggled eternally with seeing my enemies on the muddy brown and green-themed maps, but it all comes with practice. It also made me think deeply about the real fear soldiers in WWII must have felt, with camo being truly effective in a game, imagine in real life, in an active warzone.  

The maps themselves are one of the highlights of this mode.

The problem I had is that nothing feels new. I think the multiplayer mode for Call of Duty has long reached its prime, and dev teams are carrying it from game to game, with small changes to guns, skins, camos, killstreaks, and operators. This isn’t to say the game is bad, it’s fast-paced and fun, and the quick play mode is always mixing up your modes and maps so you never know what you’re going to load into. The grind to unlock the cosmetic side of things will have real fans pulled in and the battle pass will keep them playing for another year. 

That grind is not something the normal player will pursue. If you aren’t a sniper and want a camo, well 100 hip fire kills wont happen in this lifetime. Not in mine at least. Some of the others are more achievable, but it really takes time and a lot of grind and skill to unlock the most prestigious of skins. This is suppose is a way of showing your prestige on the battlefield, but to be honest, I don’t even look at what the gun that killed me looked like. 

It would have been interesting to see some changes, but I think that the decision here is that they have a working formula and this isn’t the time to change it. 

In terms of things that really got under my skin, can we talk about the menu? I am one of those people who need to clear a notification as soon as I see one. This menu is full of notifications that I have to clear, and then clear again, and again. It drove me up the wall. This is something that has come forward from the last game as well, so surely it should have been addressed by now.  I also experienced a few frame rate issues on the Xbox Series X, which I also experienced during the beta on my PS5. I am not sure how the PC version of the game is faring out there. 

For a hardcore player, I see many a battle pass being bought and completed over Vanguards lifespan, but for the casual player like me, it will be a once in a while pick up, as the grind is too steep for too little reward. 

Zombies

Vanguard’s Zombie mode gets the basics right, but has nothing else to it. It feels as if it wasnt ready for release but the yearly Call of Duty fever made it end up in the game earlier than it should have been. Was this mode supposed to be here?

Was this mode supposed to be here?

Zombies gets the setting right, with just enough spook to edge on horror. Wave after wave of zombies assault you and your friends to see how long you can survive. This time around, there’s a sort of base camp, where you can beef up your guns and buff yourself up with items named Covenants. 

Unfortunately these buffs (that are expensive) are less useful than the ones you may perchance find out on the battlefield. So there is no reason to buff up at the base camp. It feels like this mode has no point. There was no twist or turn or huge zombie boss to slay. 

If you’re in need of a mindless activity with friends, Zombies should keep you entertained for a little while. It was my least favourite part of the package. 

So, how does it fare all together?

Call of Duty: Vanguard is a typical Call of Duty yearly entry, with more of the same that works for those who love it. The graphics have stepped up, as you would expect for a “next-gen” title, but other than that, it is what you expect it to be. I believe that with all of the other shooters cropping up, Call of Duty will have to remix something soon to stay relevant. 

Good

  • Great graphics | Good gunplay | Realistic interpretation of the WWII era

Bad

  • Same, same | Some technical issues | What even is Zombies?

Summary

Call of Duty delivers to its hardcore fans once again but may be running out of time with its tried and tested formula of point and shoot.
7

Good

Lost Password