LifeisXbox’s ‘Call of Duty: Vanguard’ Review | Like every year, Activision brings us a new installment of Call of Duty, an FPS that needs no introduction and at this point, it’s already an acquired taste. They are all good shooters and, while not all aim to be the game of the year, it’s undeniable that they boast a quality-assured floor. This is possible thanks to a group of rotating studios that are in charge of developing each game, always with the support of other Activision subsidiaries established around the world. This year it was the turn of Sledgehammer Games, which comes from the mediocre WWII, and prepared Call of Duty Vanguard to start on the right foot.
This is a very important installment for the franchise ecosystem and that is why it’s vital that they have migrated the experience to the Modern Warfare (2019) engine but, beyond the fantastic base on which it is built, Vanguard stands out in its own right.
Quote: “The game reaches levels of quality that I have rarely seen in an FPS”
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion from the writer.
What we liked!
- A game that promises a lot | Call of Duty Vanguard takes us back to the Second WW, but this time it uses it more than anything to take advantage of the historical context, leaving the prominence to the operators. The proposal is built on three pillars: the film campaign, the online multiplayer and the zombie mode. The first two developed by Sledgehammer Games (with help from subsidiary studios, of course) and the third by Treyarch veterans. Each mode offers a solid and well-developed experience that appeals to a certain type of player, while remaining accessible to the general public.
- A cinematographic campaign at a very good level | The campaign begins with an impressive action scene on top of a train in which Vanguard shows off its graphic engine, with rain effects and a compact sound design. As we progress, we will meet the protagonists of the story, the disparate war heroes that make up the Vanguard special command group, and we will learn about the nature of their mission. The story is told through flashbacks, so we can play a series of spectacular missions that put the protagonists in the crosshairs of Captain Carver Butcher and guaranteed them a place in Vanguard. The rest of the narrative is supported by high-quality cinematics, with a strong emphasis on photorealism, which serve as a link between the missions and keep us interested at all times.
- An incredible development | The development of the campaign mode is impeccable, there are no dull moments or windows of peace that invite us to stop playing. But beyond the good rhythm of the game, the missions are varied, fun and the gameplay adapts to each protagonist. When we put ourselves in the boots of Lucas Riggs, part of the Australian contingent nicknamed “The Rats”, we will be able to carry several lethal equipment at the same time and the mission will take us to the events of Tobruk and El Alamein in 1941. While Polina’s missions, Petrova will be full of nooks, infiltration and German snipers. Polina can climb walls, moves faster when passing through narrow redoubts, and has a personal vengeance story. Thus we will get to know each of the protagonists while, in the present, a Nazi officer starring Dominic Monaghan interrogates us and the end of the war is looming with the fall of the Third Reich, the despair of the german army and everything. The final mission is spectacular, full of explosions and epic moments, and it makes us play a part with each of the protagonists.
- A multiplayer according to the game | The multiplayer section was created on the skeleton of Modern Warfare (2019) and expands several concepts introduced in that installment, but stands out due to a good dose of content and it’s own improvements. For starters, it includes everything the fantastic Infinity Ward installment did right: the armory system, projectile physics, tactical sprint, and perks for both operators and weapons. All this has been improved, from the amount and type of accessories that can be equipped, through the weapon cover and support system, to the section for operators who now have favorite weapons and a separate progression bar. But it also spreads the classic multi with the addition of the combat rhythm and the new modes: Patrol and Champion’s Hill.
- Multiplayer is the star of the game | The multiplayer is, once again, the highlight of the proposal and Vanguard’s is full of content. To start with, we have 20 maps that propose different styles of gameplay, from the huge ones to be installed with a precision rifle to the compact ones full of passageways ideal for frenzied shootings. rhythm of combat changes map development a lot, but the destructible environments and Sledgehammer’s emphasis on creating alternate paths add a lot to creating varied games. it’s still early to talk about the exploitable points on the maps, during my 30 hours with the multiplayer I found all kinds of players camping and taking advantage of remote places, but never to the point of feeling that they were achieving an unfair advantage or impossible to overcome . I’m generally happy with the initial map offering, not just because of the layout, the placement of the covers, and the breakable elements, but because they feel different from what we’ve been playing last year in Black Ops Cold War.
- A remarkable technical section | As for the technical section, I don’t have much to complain about, but it’s also true that I played it on Xbox Series X, so there should be no performance problems. Visually the game reaches levels of quality that I have rarely seen in an FPS and it is undoubtedly above any Call of Duty so far. When I passed by certain ruins in Russia (I am not going to spoil any surprises for you) I could see with my own eyes why it was promoted as a “Photorealistic Campaign”, but the cutscenes are also at the same level of quality. The sound design is up to the task, in the campaign it perfectly accompanies the action and in the multiplayer the sound of the footsteps marks well the position of the enemies, unlike what we played in the last beta.
- A more than promising future | It would be unfair to judge Call of Duty Vanguard on its future, but I can’t analyze it without taking it into account either. Not only does it bring a whole lot more launch content and improvements over previous titles, but it also has a responsibility to revitalize Warzone with the integration that will arrive at the beginning of December. Based on my time with Vanguard, I am confident that it will improve the battle royale experience and the transition will be so much easier as they both use the same engine. But if I have to base myself on what it offers today, a week after its launch, this is a solid and polished product whose only weak point is the saturation of its user base.
- A zombie mode that is fine but not much | The last pillar of the proposal is the Zombies mode, once again by Treyarch, which returns with a familiar but polished formula to the extreme and expands the Dark Aether saga as a prologue to the Black Ops Cold War mode. For now it has only one mode, Der Anfang, which puts us in a central hub full of zombies from where we can access different portals that will activate the next wave. The gameplay closely follows what was stated in the previous title, but this time we can choose the type of objective we want to complete, from surviving waves of zombies or escorting an energy sphere to the end of the level, to gathering runes to saturate obelisks. The mode remains simple and fun, ideal for playing with friends when we don’t feel like competing but want to keep leveling up the Battle Pass, unlock Operators, and upgrade our weapons.
- A single sticking point | The most difficult point is the streaming of textures, a new technique that helps to reduce the size of the installation by downloading in real time the necessary resources (according to the chosen graphic quality) in a temporary file. At the beginning I had a couple of problems with “Packet Burst”, which according to my research could be due to the streaming of textures, however in the almost 30 hours that I have accumulated in multiplayer it has not been a problem again. At all times Vanguard looks good, at a constant 60 FPS and doesn’t present bugs that break the game or crash the console, as it did during the launch of Black Ops Cold War.
What we disliked
- I expected a lot more about the zombies mode | It is true that on paper it sounds very good, and in fact the experience is by no means boring. The problem is that everything ends there, and after playing for about 4 or 5 hours everything will be repeated, repeat and repeat. Obviously, in the future with all the additional content they have planned, this is going to change, but I found this mode a bit basic and with little history, taking into account the zombie modes of previous games.
How long to beat the story | 6-8 Hours.
How long to achieve 1000G | 35-40 Hours.
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