Publisher – Activision
Developer – Sledgehammer Games
Genre – First Person Shooter/Action
Originally Released – November 5th 2021
Series – Call of Duty
Certificate – 18
Platforms – PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One/X/S, Miscrosoft Windows
Just like clockwork, the autumn release of a new Call of Duty title is here and after racking up a decent amount of hours in the single and multiplayer modes, I have gotten to know this Activision title quite well. That being said, it will not take long for any Call of Duty faithful to familiarise themselves with this latest instalment. Read on for our official Call of Duty Vanguard review, dissecting the single-player, multiplayer and zombies modes, avoiding spoilers and not giving away any narrative details.
Image source: Call of Duty
Call of Duty Vanguard Review
2021 marks the year of Call of Duty going back to its routes, again. The boots are on the ground as you slog it out in the Second World War as Vanguard serves as the sequel to 2017’s Call of Duty: WWII. Call of Duty never shies away from its cinematic influences, with over-the-top, action movie-style visuals being a mainstay of the series.
Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds (2009) is a clear inspiration for the game as you control a small band of expert soldiers on a mission to dismantle the Nazi war machine. spearheaded by two high-ranking Nazi officers, chief interrogator Freisinger and the quietly sinister Hannick Richter are the targets. Each member of this group has their unique advantages and skills. One example being Jackson’s ability to spot enemies in conditions that would render them difficult to see. A nice feature that adds a layer of variation to each character.
Beginning with a boom, you begin the single-player campaign on the roof of a speeding train as you gun down Nazis to the left, right and centre. The satisfying and snappy gunplay is back in full force as you zip in and out from enemy to enemy with ease. This sets the tone of the game as that high-paced bullet storm that we have come to expect. Furthermore, the overall visuals and graphical output are second to none and a real industry apex. From the smoothness of your movement, realistic fires and explosions and facial animations are a spectacle to behold.
Image source: Neowin
Call of Duty Vanguard falls a victim to a regular phenomenon with the annual release cycle of the series. The multiplayer mode has everything you have come to expect and love for some years. The addicting, fast-paced showdowns between two sides have returned with nothing new on offer. As expected, getting kills and completing objectives earns you experience points (XP), XP levels up your character, allowing you to unlock and upgrade weapons. Vanguard is certainly fun but just a bit ‘samey’ by this point. Not a high or low point, just somewhere awkwardly in the middle.
The good points of the single-player gameplay are shone brightly, the fast, arcade-style running and gunning is as exhilirating as always. Not a surpise but definitely worth commending the developers on their consistency. The multiplayer mode has a clear winning formula but it would have been nice to see something new.
On a plus note, the maps are largely a success. While there are recognisable inclusions, like World at War’s Castle, they are well-designed, detailed and offer players a chance to experiment with different playing styles. Notably, without being disadvantaged when a map calls for a particular style, such as sniping versus close-range scenarios. Eagle’s Nest, Numa Numa and Gavutu are personal highlights as spawn points seem balanced and the layouts and designs are creative and visually dynamic. If you want to see how the visuals stand up, check out this 4K gameplay footage of Eagle’s Nest.
Image source: Call of Duty
Call of Duty Vanguard continues the connection to its 2017’s predecessor with the first inclusion of a zombies mode for the first time since the aforementioned title. Zombies have eveolved significantly since its inception in World at War, transforming from a simple but sweet survival mode to completing simple objectives and eventually to a long and fairly complicated list of tasks. Vanguard does not do much to innovate.
Getting the basics right, you and several friends take to a bizarre but wonderful hellscape of Stalingrad where swarms of the undead, growing in numbers and speed with each passing round, try to rip you apart limb from limb. That box is certainly ticked.
The gameplay revolves around a hub zone where you can craft weapons and apply Covenants, which are effectively perks you can use to power up your character. This mode also includes four distinct abilities: a damaging energy mine, a damage buff for you and your party, a speed dampening vortex an invisibility field, Every upgrade station you encounter requires an in-game currency that you earn from completing challenges. These include escorting a floating skull through the chaos, activating obelisks or surviving onslaughts of zombies. It is fun but it gets stale, quickly.
There it is, our Call of Duty Vanguard review. This breakdown could be considered slightly short for a AAA title of this magnitude but that is because there simply is not a lot that Call of Duty Vanguard does differently from any other title in the series. This comes as a pro and a con. It gets a lot of things right, namely the factors that are typical of a Call of Duty game but its biggest downfall is not attempting something new or fresh.
It is a slightly bizarre situation whereby Vanguard is not a bad game by any stretch, it combines everything good in a Call of Duty game. It simply tries nothing to break the mould. Call of Duty is a series that has struggled to find an identity, unable to shrug off the expectations of the 2007-2012 era games but still riding the wave of success established by those same games. Every year since 2012’s Black Ops 2, the fans have longed for a return to the golden age and unfortunately, they will have to wait a little longer.
If you are yet to check out Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War, here is our official review.