We can say that the new Call of Duty: Vanguard “fell” at a somewhat unfavorable time, both for the publisher Activision Blizzard and for the series in general. The company’s problems with allegations of sexual harassment and employee abuse are already notorious, and Call of Duty, after a well-deserved dose of adrenaline from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), has begun to pick up again. … Repeat. An example of this is the fact that, this year, the series returns, again, to the battlefields of the Second World War.
Perhaps many other players who have watched the evolution of the series from the first Call of Duty to the present, have not been able to hide a question mark: what other moments, never seen before, of this world conflagration will be highlighted in Vanguard ? And that’s because, during almost two decades of Call of Duty, I feel like I’ve already seen them all (and some recycled several times). Well, the impression that the Sledgehammer Games studio left on me is that the producers put the issue a little differently, focusing not on what parts of the war are highlighted, but on how they are presented.
Thus, the premise behind the Vanguard campaign reminds me of a Wolfenstein game rather than a Call of Duty game. The war is almost lost to the Germans, and a separatist group of Nazis is preparing to take refuge in the Reich somewhere underground, where it can recover and return, at the right time, stronger than ever. The plan must be stopped, and members of an elite group of Allied armies are tasked with this goal.
Thus, during the campaign, players have the opportunity to get acquainted with each of these heroes, through special missions. They resume the well-known battles of the war, presented from the perspective of each protagonist, and emphasize the special abilities characteristic of these fearless fighters: the charismatic British leader of color, who can give orders to his subordinate soldiers; the Russian sniper, able to slip quickly through narrower spaces or climb vertical walls more like Lara Croft; the American aviation pilot, hard to control, but able to see his enemies through the walls and look at them quickly, slowing down time; but also the Australian explosives expert, who can blow up enemy vehicles using different types of explosives.
The specific levels of each of these heroes, although based on real events from the war, have nothing in common with the realism factor. Each of them is a small Rambo, capable of shooting down whole armies on his own, and this kind of approach can be considered less authentic and disrespectful to the bloody events of World War II. Personally, I tried to break away from historical realities as much as possible and to perceive Vanguard as I did with the Indiana Jones movies or the Wolfenstein series.
And I’d be hypocritical to say that I didn’t like the 5-6 hours of the single player campaign in Call of Duty: Vanguard, punctuated by a series of extensive and well-executed cinematic sequences. Especially the levels in Stalingrad with Polina Petrova, the Soviet sniper, a character who could even benefit from her own dedicated game in the Call of Duty series.
Multiplayer and Zombies
In addition to the solo campaign, Call of Duty: Vanguard also brings the elements for which, dare I say it, most players return, year after year, to the titles of this series. Obviously, it’s about the multiplayer portion, both with the competitive modes and with the zombie co-op approach. And, considering the success of this series for many years, the manufacturers have chosen to add small improvements to the existing formula, avoiding to change it substantially.
In other words, if you liked the multiplayer modes of previous Call of Duty games, Vanguard can’t go wrong: it includes no less than 16 well-made maps from the moment of launch, along with four other maps dedicated to a new one. game mode: Champion Hill. This new mode seems to incorporate elements of several types of multiplayer shooters, with teams facing off on relatively narrow arena maps, with the possibility of spending the money earned, between rounds, on upgrades or extra lives.
Players also have the option to select the type of multiplayer battle they prefer using the new Combat Pacing setting: Tactical prioritizes slower gameplay with fewer players, while Blitz throws you into more crowded and hectic games. with more players, and Assault is trying to find a balance between the other two options. Otherwise, things will be extremely familiar to Call of Duty players, with tons of weapons and upgrades that can be unlocked as you level up, along with numerous character skins.
More important changes, and not necessarily for the better, have been made to the Zombies co-op component. Specifically, if you are a beginner in Nazi undead, structuring the Zombies mode might be a bit more logical and help you become familiar with this kind of game. Now you have a HUB map from which you can access, through portals, various challenges that involve survival in the face of the living dead. The problem is that these objectives are repeated very often, lacking the narrative progress that Zombie players were accustomed to in previous titles of the series. In other words, what Vangaurd has to offer is more of an introduction to Zombies mode and less of a significant evolution for experienced players.
Presentation and conclusion
In terms of presentation, we can say that the new Call of Duty: Vanguard holds up the “graphic banner”, but does not stand out as much as Modern Warfare did, for example, two years ago. For example, Vanguard no longer includes any visual effect based on Ray Tracing, being content to represent everything as spectacular as possible, but the priority is framerate. Thus, in addition to the usual 60 frames per second, on the new generation consoles you can climb the “bar” up to 120Hz, the performance being unexpectedly stable and the graphics sacrifices lower than I expected.
However, playing on PS5, during the solo campaign I encountered some short temporary freezes. These appeared both during the gameplay portions and during the cinematic sequences, desynchronizing the sound of images. Also worth highlighting are the acting performances of well-known names such as Laura Bailey or Dominic Monaghan, who have lent their voices and physical appearance to the characters in the game.
In the end, despite the initial impression, I can’t say that this Call of Duty: Vanguard left me indifferent. To my surprise, the single player campaign was more successful than I expected, and the multiplayer stays at the standards that previous titles have accustomed us to (maybe less the Zombies mode). In other words, if you’re a Call of Duty fan, Vanguard won’t turn your back on you, but it won’t disappoint you either.
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