Call of Duty Vanguard Review: Is This Game Just…Bad?

Image credit: Activision

Since the launch of the game, Call of Duty Vanguard reviews from the community expressed a multitude of mixed opinions, splitting the opinion of nearly everyone that has played it.

Its sales have dropped a whopping 40% from Cold War last year. They’re actually the lowest since CoD 4 way back in 2007, which came around as a shock to everybody.

Now, this could have been due to the little time that they had to promote the game, as it did seem like it was announced pretty much the day before it dropped.

But I’m not sure that’s telling the full story.

After seeing multiple negative reviews for the game, I wanted to go through each main game mode and give you my honest thoughts and opinions with the intention of advising you whether or not to buy this game in the end.

In this Call of Duty Vanguard review, I’ll be looking at the Campaign first, then moving on to Zombies, then rounding it all up with the Multiplayer.

Campaign

The Call of Duty campaign is something that most people pay fairly little attention to, but can always be relied upon to provide a good half a day’s worth of fun. The entire thing lasts for about six hours.

Following on from Cold War and Modern Warfare, Vanguard’s campaign is yet again, pretty underwhelming in terms of length.

With only 9 missions in total, it really was over before you knew it. At least within those 9 missions, there are a lot of varied locations and some really nice lighting and design.

What lets them down the most however is the repetitive nature of them; You’re basically at a shooting range with multiple different background scenes playing out.

There are a couple of missions where the developers have tried to mix up the fighting mechanics, like The Battle of Midway, or Operation Tonga, but this actually makes them more awkward and messy.

The worst example of this is in the mid-air fight in the Battle of Midway where the plane is near impossible to control and it gets very tedious, very quickly. 

The biggest strength of the campaign comes in the acting.

The very solid cast definitely helps with the immersiveness of the story, however, we don’t really get to see enough of them to really get invested in what’s going on properly.

After playing through the first mission, you’re quickly caught, and thrown into a Nazi jail cell. From there you then play through each character’s back story, but it just feels so rushed.

I’d have definitely liked to have more of a character arc for each person.

We get told that Wade is arrogant and that Polina is stubborn, but don’t get to witness too much of it to be able to form our own opinions.

With the extremely diverse squadron, there could have been so much more to it. For example, Arthur’s struggle with being a black soldier in the 1940s or how Polina was looked down upon for being a woman who wanted to fight.

Whilst they do touch on these aspects briefly, if we’d seen them as underdogs more than we did, we may have been that much more invested in the storyline.

I appreciate you can’t properly explain an entire backstory in a couple of missions, but they could have done a lot more in my opinion.

In Polina Petrova’s story, we meet her father, and then 10 minutes later we’re all supposed to be absolutely distraught that he’s been killed. I mean, we didn’t even know him for that long to miss his presence. At that point, we might as well get a sad cutscene for every fallen troop in the campaign.

Looking at the actual gameplay, it’s just not great. The AI is incredibly inconsistent. One minute I’m getting crossed up by the championship-winning squad of Atlanta FaZe and die instantly, and the next their controller has died and they’re sprinting downstairs to get more batteries.

It all just feels like a beta in my opinion. As for big moments in the story, there aren’t many. The fight with Steiner is essentially a risky game of tag, which is pretty boring and glitchy. 

Overall there’s not much more to say than it’s a CoD campaign. The fighting is always going to be an afterthought to the cutscenes – they need content for the adverts after all. It’s not bad for what it is, but it does feel rushed and pretty disappointing compared to what the community is normally used to. 

Zombies

Vanguard Zombies is fun.

Once you’ve got through the initial challenges to unlock all the areas for each perk, there really isn’t much else to do.

The starting courtyard that you’re dropped into is actually quite good, it’s spacious, and has everything you need to continuously slay waves upon waves of zombies.

But this would have been great had there been other areas to move onto and explore.

In Cold War we had the ability to teleport to a different realm with an entirely different map to explore. You could quite comfortably fend off 100 rounds of zombies just in Stalingrad alone if Vanguard had adopted the same principle. 

Another issue is that the game revolves around challenges.

You complete a challenge to unlock an area at the start, but after round 6 you’re completing challenges just to progress to the next wave of Zombies.

In my opinion, it’s monotonous and dull.

It really does feel like a demo of the new game, teasing you into wondering what the next stage of progression is.

There have been some updates to Zombies since its release, but they didn’t address any of the issues that people were asking for.

The developers added new challenges, new weapons, and a new objective, which didn’t add much to the mode at all.

The challenges that they make you do are a nice idea, but they’re not executed brilliantly, especially the Transmit ones, which glitch the player out whenever you go near the orb.

To be brutally honest, they’re just not fun. They get boring. It’s a pretty miserable experience. Again, don’t want to sound like a broken record here but I feel that they could introduce a wider variety of these challenges to spice it up a bit.

Going from the outbreak game mode in Cold War to this just feels like a big step back.

The maps were huge and detailed, the weapon and ability upgrade system actually worked and was engaging. In Vanguard, we just have a watered-down version with none of the upgrade features in it at all.

If the level progression and size of Stalingrad didn’t already make Zombies really easy, some of the overpowered weapons and perks make sure of it.

Shotguns are pretty ridiculous in Vanguard overall but are exceptional in Der Anfang.

More specifically the combat shotgun, which can seemingly one-shot any zombie without a problem.

With the Death Blow covenant added onto this, you’ll struggle to get downed. Aside from the Death Blow though, the covenants are fairly useless.

Sure, they help you a bit here and there, but you really won’t notice much of a difference if you never touch them.

Whilst on the topic of the mode being easy, being able to rank up each perk 4 times will have you near enough invincible regardless of what weapon you are using.

Also, the points progression system carried on the same line as Cold War, where you only get points for an elimination and critical elimination, except, instead of 90 and 115 points, you now get 20 for a standard elimination and 30 for a critical.

This makes it so much more of a grind to get essence, and just feels like you’re shooting for hours and hours with no real reward.

The Pack a punch now costs 7500 for tier 1, 15,000 for tier 2, and 30,000 for tier three, meaning you’re gonna have to spend hours shooting zombies just to upgrade.

In terms of the storyline, there really isn’t much to report.

Zombies up until now has had a deep and intricate narrative the whole way through, but seeing as Der Anfang translates to ‘The Beginning’, I wouldn’t write it off just yet.

But overall this game mode is shocking. It’s taken so many challenges out of the Zombies we all loved, and as I said at the start of this article, it just made the whole experience feel like an arcade game that we have to put a dollar into to continue, except that dollar is actually $80.

Multiplayer

The game was actually released with 16 multiplayer maps, which is definitely a positive, as the more recent CoDs have launched with around 10 maps in total.

Some of them could be great, but the new addition of the destructible scenery in Vanguard actually ruins the flow of them completely.

There are just too many camping spots and angles to be shot from, and you can see player’s name tags and giant red diamonds above their head through tiny gaps – you’ll often find yourself aiming at player’s names, rather than bodies that you can’t actually see due to poor colors and lighting.

Speaking of ruining the flow of maps, the squad spawn system in Vanguard only adds to this issue. Considering some of the maps are pretty sizeable, players should not be spawning on top of each other mid-game.

The game also launched without a ranked mode, which is baffling to be honest, given the absolutely huge competitive scene around the game.

With there being a pro Call of Duty League which had a $25million buy-in for each team that launched just two years ago, you’d think they’d have put at least some form of a ranked playlist in at launch.

This clearly hasn’t been the priority for years as Modern Warfare never had a ranked mode and Cold War only had a pretty terrible version of it, which was released halfway through the year.

It has been confirmed that there will be a ranked mode in Vanguard. And while this will please CoD fans, it would have been nicer if this was added at the start of the game.

At least we’ve got the new game mode Champion Hill though. That was fun to play – in the alpha. Has anyone played this since?

With the number of attachment slots for each gun being increased to 10 instead of 5, it does feel like you can make any gun extremely good.

The TTK in previous CoD’s has always varied. In some, it was pretty fast while in others not so much.

In Vanguard, however, is on its own different level.

Being able to add hollow point rounds to your gun also allows you to do more damage per shot to the limbs, which combined with the vital proficiency, means that any player can get an insane TTK on almost any gun.

No one wanted a decent skill gap anyway, right?

The lack of a decent skill gap has actually been an issue for a while, especially amongst the pros, which has seen some of the smaller pros and streamers moving over to Halo Infinite.

It also doesn’t help that the game just isn’t that fun.

Not having any trophy systems in multiplayer means that grenades are out of hand. Mix that with Stun grenades now doing 20 damage instead of 1 and that makes for some miserable gameplay.

Small changes like all gunfire being invisible on the radar regardless of the use of a suppressor adds to the misery also. You can use the ‘Radar’ perk, which shows the unsuppressed fire on the minimap, but in previous CoD’s, this was just part and parcel of the game.

In terms of other perks to use, practically all of the good ones are in the first slot, with both Ghost and Cold-Blooded appearing there. Not good for balanced classes at all.

Matchmaking this year is based on EOMM, which stands for Engagement Optimised Match Making, which, in short, will put you in either a really easy lobby, or a really hard one. This is designed to make you carry on playing as you’re constantly getting that high, then a low, which is addictive.

What I will say for Vanguard though is that the movement mechanics feel great. Based on the hugely popular Modern Warfare engine, flying round the map is actually really smooth. It does add some skill back into the game which the TTK had previously eliminated. 

Overall, the multiplayer feels like it’s lost its touch. I think the issue with gaming in general these days is that the competitive scene makes so much money, so they want to drive people towards being interested in that when in reality, a large amount games’ fan bases just want a game to play casually when they’re chilling at home.

Most of these companies are yet to find a balance and it’s killing the consumer’s desire to play. We can only hope that they will figure it out soon.

Final Thoughts

Out of the three-game modes, I’d have to say that Campaign is probably the best, which doesn’t exactly put the game in a good light seeing as it’s only a 6-hour experience and is miles off being perfect.

It feels like since Cold War struggled to transfer over to Warzone, Vanguard has been made with the ease of integration in mind, almost like a very expensive DLC that no one wants to play.

Even aspects such as grinding out the different camos are now a bit pointless since most of the good-looking camos are now locked behind paywalls.

Warzone really is a double-edged sword in that regard.

On one hand, it’s completely revamped CoD and introduced a tonne of old players back to the game, but it’s also causing Vanguard’s Multiplayer to suffer a lot, which the more hardcore fans of the franchise are disappointed with. As for the campaign, I just believe that this was a pretty standard one for CoD, but Zombies, well… we won’t get into that again.

If I were to give you my honest opinion of whether you should buy this game, it’s a no. Don’t spend your $80 on a DLC-like game.

Perhaps wait a few months and pick it up if they release a tonne of new features and content in the upcoming seasons.

Oh, and if you want to hear my review of the game in video form, refer to the video below.

0 comments

Leave a Comment