I’ve always enjoyed playing Call of Duty single-player campaigns. I was rather disappointed when some titles from the series, like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, didn’t have one. This year, Call of Duty is making a comeback with Vanguard, and its WW2-themed story campaign. It follows the world’s first Special Forces unit, having one member from each of the four Allied countries: USA, Australia, Britain, and the Soviet Union.
The story starts with the entire squad trying to infiltrate a heavily guarded enemy base. The secrets held there are crucial to how the war would turn out. I’m not going to give out too many story details since I want you to experience it on your own. But let’s say that something unfortunate happens during the covert mission, a thing that also shifts the way the story is being told. Each team member will now be sharing the spotlight in a sort of flashback sequence.
Each team member has its own story missions, shaping up their character and building up the storyline. What I really enjoyed is the fact that not only the story and locations are varied based on the protagonist, but also the gameplay is slightly nuanced. Depending on the squad member you will be playing with, you will be able to slow time, distract enemies, or use added movement capabilities that make the game much more dynamic and fast-paced.
It’s like getting a lot of mini-games inside of Vanguard, all of them counting towards the final goal. I can sincerely say that I rarely encountered boredom while playing this campaign. You’ll get to test your sniper skills in the battle of Stalingrad or fly fighter jets and dive-bomb battleships. Sounds amazing, right? It sure is, and while not every aspect is perfect, it still manages to offer quite an experience.
But not everyone enjoys playing the Call of Duty campaigns, or any other singleplayer game for that matter. But don’t worry, this year’s multiplayer is as strong as it gets. Sure, the annoying respawns are still there, and sometimes you’ll just spawn in front of a well-armed enemy. But as I mentioned in my preview of the game, the gunplay is solid and very responsive. It’s easy to pick it up and learn new weapons, and even get some good results out of it.
There’s a new feature I enjoyed called Combat Pacing. Imagine that you come home tired from work and feel like playing something quick and fun. Then the Blitz pacing is what I recommend you try. It pretty much increases the team’s size and will make it easier to find or be found by enemies. But if you’re not in a rush and you are committed to building up an attack strategy, then the tactical mode is a more right fit for you. I would recommend playing them all in the beginning, just to get the gist of it. You’ll see from the first matches which mode is more suited for you.
Another Battlefield-like addition is the destructible elements such as walls, cardboard boxes, other objects. This was added in the game to should discourage camping, but sometimes it’s not enough. Good camping spots are less frequent now, but the annoying snipers will still be shooting you from across the map with no issue. I guess there’s no other way of fixing it other than straight-up banning some weapons, which nobody wants.
The Zombies mode in Call of Duty was never one of my favorites, and in Vanguard feels even more like an afterthought. The mode has evolved a lot since it was first released in 2008, but is it enough to get people to play it for more than a couple of weeks? An element of randomness was added this year, making levels a bit more unpredictable.
There’s also a new hub, from where you can pick up weapons, level up your perks, and jump from one portal to another. This means that if you only like playing the Blitz mode of the game, you can rinse and repeat until you unlock everything. Each time you try to open a portal and start a new adventure, the entire team is asked if they want to proceed or not. This can generate a bit of frustration when you play with a random team that doesn’t really respond to the confirmation popups.
Since there are only three modes in the Zombies campaign, the gameplay starts to feel stale a lot quicker than the multiplayer or single-player campaign of the game. Sure, there are more than a few hours of fun packed in there, but I don’t think it’s enough to keep people interested in the long term.
For the first time in over ten years of playing Call of Duty I’ve fallen into the trap and bought a Battle Pass. I do not enjoy switching between skins for operators or weapons. I did however, find myself having enough COD points to buy it without any extra cash. It’s nice that you unlock much more things than non-paying players. It’s cool that Activision allows you to get enough Vanguard points to buy another pass by just leveling.
The only thing that I didn’t like about the Battle Pass is that it’s bugged. Sometimes you have to restart the game to see your real progression, sometimes it just completely resets. It’s all over the place and it shouldn’t be since people are paying more for it. It also feels very grindy and will require you to play countless hours to unlock the coolest things which. These items of course, are awarded towards the last levels.
All in all, Call of Duty Vanguard is an amazing singleplayer experience, with a more than decent multiplayer component. It plays and feels better than its competitors, especially Battlefield. The only other hard-hitting title out there right now is Halo: Infinite, but that’s offered for free for anyone and it’s really hard to compete with that. I would recommend you get it just for the story and maybe wait for a few weeks before jumping into multiplayer if you want to get the Battle Pass too.
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