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Game review – Call of Duty: Vanguard (PS5)

By Damian Seeto, Wed 10 Nov 2021

Even though the Call of Duty series has followed the same formula for years and years, the franchise still makes millions of dollars every year. Ubisoft may have given us a break from Assassin’s Creed this year, but 2021 still sees the release of Activision’s Call of Duty: Vanguard. 

The Call of Duty franchise has already covered multiple different time periods in its long history, so Call of Duty: Vanguard takes the series back to World War II. In this game, the campaign is led by a group of special soldiers needing to find out what the Nazis have been planning in secret. 

The campaign in Call of Duty: Vanguard is quite unique as you play as four different soldiers throughout the six-hour gameplay length. The characters that you can include Arthur Kingsley, Polina Petrova, Lucas Riggs and Wade Jackson. 

Whilst the team is captured by the Nazis in 1945, the campaign goes back in time to show us how the special soldiers fared during the other important moments during World War II. The cool thing about allowing you to play as different characters is that each of the missions feel different, and they stand out compared to other Call of Duty campaigns from past games. 

For example, Arthur Kingsley is a leader, and he can boss around non-playable characters for a brief moment to attack a specific area. Polina Petrova is a sniping expert, and she’s fun to play because she can jump to higher platforms like Lara Croft does in a Tomb Raider game. 

Wade Jackson is a pilot, and he is able to control a plane during his brief mission. I have to admit, it’s a bit rigid to pilot a plane in this game, although I admired the variety in gameplay that it provided. The most boring character to play in this game is Lucas Riggs. He’s an explosive expert, but his missions are mostly just boots on the ground. 

While it is fun to play as multiple characters in the campaign, the sad thing is that the experience is too short. You don’t get to know the characters for very long, and then you’re already onto the final mission. That being said, the final mission is still fun even though I wished there was more gameplay. 

I understand Call of Duty games are made on a tight schedule, but it would have been cool if the campaigns were longer than six hours or so. However, this is unlikely to change since most players buy Call of Duty games for the Multiplayer mode. 

Speaking of Multiplayer, there are tons of new maps that you can play. For the core game modes, there are 16 maps that cover many areas of the world during the 1940’s. An additional four more maps are included in the game with the new mode called Champion Hill. This mode lets you play as duos and trios in a round-robin style of tournament. 

Aside from Champion Hill, several of the older game modes have appeared in previous Call of Duty games. These game modes include the likes of Team Deathmatch, Free for All, Domination, Kill Confirmed, Patrol, Hardpoint, and Search and Destroy. All of these game modes take place on little to medium-sized maps, so you will see a lot of other players running around at all times. 

Sadly, you won’t see any big-scale maps that you might get in Battlefield video games. None of the Multiplayer game modes allow you to drive/pilot any vehicles, which is a bit of a shame. You are mostly just on the ground running and shooting while killing other players. All of the action is fast-paced so you won’t have to worry about a low population count on the maps. 

The killstreak rewards are pretty cool from the ones I earned so far. There is a guide bomb that you can drop onto the map and even a radar system that can track enemies. My favourite reward though is when you can suit up and kill lots of enemies with a powerful flamethrower!

Another thing I like about Call of Duty games is that Vanguard also allows you to play with bots offline. Using bots is a great way to get to know the maps and practice your skills before you try your luck with real human players. It’s too bad not many other game publishers offer AI bots for their multiplayer modes…

The final game mode that players will sink their teeth into is Zombies.  In the Zombies mode, you are transported into a hub area called Der Anfang. After that, you can enter portals in Der Anfang that take you to other different areas where you do side-missions. These side missions include surviving waves of zombies, collecting stuff, and even escorting a floating orb character. 

Aside from some minor differences, there’s not much else I can say about the Zombies mode. You are still just blasting endless zombies, and the experience still feels the same as other games in the series. A part of me still misses the Spec  Ops missions from the Modern Warfare series as they provided more variety in the gameplay department. 

In terms of presentation, Call of Duty: Vanguard looks pretty good as it should since it’s a AAA release. The campaign is where the game truly shines as the backgrounds look realistic and the character models are all highly detailed. Not to mention you can play the game at 4K at 60fps if you are playing on PC, PS5 or Xbox Series X. 

While Call of Duty: Vanguard may not reinvent the wheel, it’s still a respectable entry to the franchise. Some COD veterans might not like the game’s multiplayer offering this year, but the short campaign and Zombies modes are still enjoyable to play. 

Verdict: 8.0/10

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