Call of Duty Vanguard Review – Classic Fun, But Not Innovative
Call of Duty Vanguard is out now and despite going back to World War 2 along with its own issues, the CoD formula is still good for casual fun. The new game released, as usual, with a fairly short campaign, multiplayer and zombies game modes along with sharing content with Call of Duty: Warzone.
Call of Duty Vanguard Campaign Review
Vanguard’s campaign follows a non linear story focused on six (really, five) characters who form a secret team to take down Hermann Freisinger and his splinter group of Nazis both before and after the death of Hitler. Coming in just under 6 hours, the campaign is classic over the top Call of Duty action set pieces with just enough story to not get boring, with surprisingly decent character work that by the end of it may deserve sequels for further exploration. Compared to previous CoD campaigns, I’d say it’s sort of similar to the Modern Warfare trilogy (or even the 2019 reboot) both in terms of tone and character.
The campaign is split into 9 main missions, all of which will let players take control of each of the six team members as seen in the game’s main plot. Each of the ‘backstory’ missions explore pivotal moments in WW2 and while we’ve seen that before, I couldn’t help but feel a little surprised by just how much more interesting they can seem with the right kind of writing. This isn’t to say that the characters are as memorable as say Captain Price from MW, but I really wouldn’t mind seeing them again in a sequel. Like so many CoD campaigns before it, Vanguard mixes it up by including a variety of missions and combat situations that aren’t just corridor shootouts. There are stealth sections, aerial dogfights, an almost exclusively sniper mission, one on a moving train track, and more. Each of the playable characters have their own unique gameplay mechanics such as light parkour, or the ability to switch up throwable weapons, or even a ‘focus mode’ which can highlight enemies through walls and deep foliage. Thankfully, these mechanics aren’t overused and the non-linear nature of the missions make it so that you’ll never be using them so much that they’ll feel overpowered. The final mission (minor spoiler) sees the player take control of each character in succession which makes the otherwise dull endgame quite fun.
The campaign is also well polished as I never ran into any glitches or bugs, or any severe framerate drops. It’s safe, but that’s not a bad thing.
By the end of my 6-hour playthrough the somewhat abrupt ending left me a little disappointed, making it clear that Vanguard’s writers really want to tap into sequels/spinoffs. Call of Duty has had multiple sub-franchises with their own continuities within them for a long time, but I honestly think it’s about time we leave the WW2 era for at least a few more years.
Call of Duty: Vanguard Multiplayer Review
As any veteran follower of the series knows, the campaign can be a glorified tutorial for the real meat of the game that carries them for years on end – the multiplayer. While I personally don’t spend too much time in that mode to care about the progression meta-game, I also don’t mind jumping in for quick, fast paced shootouts testing my button mashing reflexes. My thoughts on the multiplayer mode are pretty much the same as I had during my time with the game’s beta period, which is to say it’s satisfying but not without its issues, which mostly boil down to mediocre map variety and visibility issues.
Other than extra game modes and difficulty options (tactical pacing modes), it appears that Sledgehammer Games has also listened to the feedback for control schemes on the console version of the game. In my beta impressions I noted that the DualSense controller feedback was too pronounced leading me to disable them during competitive play. The released version of the game seems to have nerfed the effect quite a bit so as to not be downright annoying. It appears that after a year of games releasing on the PS5, developers are finally aware of how much sensitivity players are really accustomed to when it comes to controlling their video game characters. It’s too bad that Sledgehammer (or rather Activision) still uses the same old UI which emphasises micro-transactions and battle passes over the game’s actual content.
Call of Duty Vanguard PC and PS5 Performance
The World War 2 setting is becoming quite tired now but developer Sledgehammer games has managed to carve out a campaign with enough ‘cinematic’ moments to stand on its own. These cinematic sequences come in the form of high-fidelity cutscenes, fully rendered at 24fps with heavy post processing effects which, jarring as they may be, are extremely fun to watch. The actual game itself runs at a consistently smooth 60fps which has become a franchise tradition, and of course that can be pushed further on PC even on mid-range hardware. Another highly polished aspect of the game is its sound design, which as expected from the franchise is quite well defined owing to the linear nature of its campaign. I did have a couple of occasions where the sound bugged out in multiplayer matches, but otherwise it’s decent.
On PlayStation 5 the game targets 60fps at a dynamic 4K resolution along with an optional 120fps mode at lower fidelity both in the campaign and multiplayer. Performance is rock solid but one thing that I don’t see too many people discuss about the CoD games is its use of HDR. HDR is used really well here in the WW2 setting, especially in missions set during evening/night time and the lack of the feature in its 120fps mode is what kept me glued to the standard performance mode for the majority of the campaign. There are some other neat tricks with post processing that make the image pop a little more such as the depth of field along with a host of accessibility options including a FOV slider on consoles.
As for PC, I only spent a minimal amount of time on mine which is rigged with an Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 Super and an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X. Playing at 1080p on the highest settings usually lets the game run around 70-80fps, and that’s without engaging AMD’s FSR or Nvidia’s DLSS solutions, which can easily push the fps counter over 100.
Check out the PC system requirements of Call of Duty: Vanguard and you’ll notice that storage requirements have been heavily reduced compared to recent instalments. That’s not something to give praise for, but at least it doesn’t mean I have to constantly delete other games on my console/PC to make way for new updates.
Call of Duty: Vanguard India Price and Editions – Worth It?
Call of Duty: Vanguard is available on PC, PlayStation and Xbox consoles in three editions:
- Call of Duty: Vanguard Standard Edition (PS4, Xbox One) – Rs. 3,999
- Call of Duty: Vanguard Cross-Gen Bundle (PS4 + PS5/Xbox One+ Xbox Series) – Rs. 4,999
- Call of Duty: Vanguard Ultimate Edition (PS5/Xbox Series) – Rs. 6,699
The PC version of the game is exclusive to the Battle.net store with the standard edition retailing for $59.99. If you want to nab a physical copy of the game in India, you’re out of luck until Activision appoints a new distributor for its games in the country. As for whether Vanguard is worth it for the price, that’s subjective. For CoD veterans who don’t mind forking over Rs. 5000+ for a yearly franchise, it’s a fair deal. It’s certainly better than Battlefield 2042 in many objective fields, although some may argue that both games speak to different audiences.
Call of Duty: Vanguard launches on November 5 for PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox One. IGN India tried out the closed and open betas of Call of Duty: Vanguard on PS5. You can buy Call of Duty: Vanguard on PS4 and PS5 from the PlayStation Store.
Call of Duty: Vanguard is a safe yet fun romp through an overly familiar setting that should be kept aside for the next few years. The franchise’s signature gameplay and over-the-top action is just as good as expected, but the lack of innovation is getting exhausting.