Vanguard Review

After a few days with the new Call of Duty Vanguard I can honestly say I’m surprised. And I do not mean surprised because of how good the game is, but instead the complete opposite. I thought for sure we’d get a new experience since Treyarch had upwards of two years to produce a next generation first person shooter. What did we get instead? A fast-paced arcade-like shooter that no one asked for. This game can’t figure out if it wants to be futuristic or a World War II-based shooter and that’s just a couple problems on the list of many for this popular AAA title. 

Vanguard’s New In-Game Mechanics

Let’s start with what I would consider to be one of the more appealing changes in Vanguard, the mechanics. For the first time, in maybe forever, Call of Duty is turning away from the more tactical, realistic approach, and are now giving us a game that feels more arcade-like. It’s difficult to explain what I mean by this, so if you’ve ever played the Battlefield games over the years it’s weirdly similar to those games in feel, if that helps any. 

There was always this separation between the two rival titles that allowed me to switch between them with ease. I no longer have that luxury because Vanguard feels exactly like I said – A Battlefield game. Now that doesn’t always translate to good gameplay and the reason why that would be the case is the map design. In order for the arcade-like play style to work, you need maps that mesh well with it. In Vanguard, though, you are given some of the worst map layouts in the history of Call of Duty. They don’t translate well, and you ultimately end up in quick firefights within seconds of spawning, regardless of the combat pacing or game mode you choose.

As mentioned above, one way the game tries to counter this problem is by way of a new map pacing system. You’ll notice that when you select a game mode you have the option to toggle through 3 different combat pacing types, which include:

  • Tactical: These are your more traditional 6 v 6 style maps, for a more calculated and tense experience. 
  • Assault: This pacing style is more for the players who enjoys larger-scale warfare with a balanced time to engagement and high-action combat. 
  • Blitz: This play style is more for the insane. If you enjoy that chaotic, crazy, target-rich experience then grab yourself a SMG and enjoy some Blitz combat pacing.

Although this is a great integration into the game, you’ll notice that the pacing sometimes doesn’t mesh well with the description in which it says. I think that’s something that can be altered in future patches, so I’m not going to sit around and bash that aspect of the game too much. Outside of the new pacing maps, you also have 8 game modes to pick from. 

If you were to filter out the different modes, you’ll notice that there’s your traditional modes like Team Deathmatch, Domination, Kill Confirmed, Search and Destroy, Free-For-All, and Hardpoint. You’ll also see a new mode called Patrol, which is very similar to the Annex mode in Gears of War if you’re at all familiar. If not, it’s a mode where you capture and hold the moving zone to earn points for your team. 

The eighth mode at launch is a mode you won’t see in quick play because it has its own tab in the multiplayer menu. It’s called Champion Hill and you’re able to play both Duos and Trios. The mode is simple: you and your team of two or three will match up in a lobby against other teams of two and three. The last team remaining wins the match. 

Should You Buy Call of Duty Vanguard?

It’s a game that a lot of people will be playing, so if you have FOMO, then I’d suggest purchasing it. Even with that said, I do believe most people will run into issues with this game. You’ll notice that the spawns make absolutely zero sense for starters. The maps are designed so that you’re either walking down a long area that’s being overlooked by multiple different people from each direction, or you’re in an enclosed area fighting for your life because around each corner is a new opponent that is spawning into the game. 

You’ll get angry at this and move on to another game mode thinking it’ll fix the problem. You may even change the pacing up in hopes that’ll help, too, but it won’t. This is one of the most annoying aspects of Vanguard and I think it’s key for each player to understand that this an issue expected with most first person shooters at launch. 

My fear, though, is that Call of Duty wanted to showcase this type of style which may result in patches not adhering to the majority of people’s complaints. I also think the maps themselves need to be heavily altered and don’t foresee many changes in that regard, either. 

The maps and spawns may be terrible, but what about everything else? The guns all feel great and the graphics and textures look good as well. You’ll notice that the graphics mimic the graphics of last year’s Cold War, which may be a concern to some while others may find it enjoyable. I say that because although the graphics “pop” you may also think, at times, that they come off cartoon-like and corny. 

With other shooters releasing next week, I personally will be putting Vanguard aside and moving on to something I believe will be better in all aspects, which shouldn’t be too hard to find. Vanguard missed the mark for me this year and although it’s worth picking up, I don’t believe it’s a game with too much replay value down the road. 

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