Initial Verdict: It’s been awhile since I jumped into a multiplayer lobby for COD but you pretty much know what to expect from the franchise at this point. We jumped into Call of Duty Vanguard Multiplayer Early Access and the nth installment in the series has been given a new paint job and you do have newish toys to play with as you mow through your opponents but it is pretty formulaic at this point. Does that mean that fun is diminished in any way? Nope.
The new games modes — particularly Patrol — was a blast to play even if I had potato aim. There are a couple things to tweak, which I hope will get sorted once it becomes official available but this franchise has had such a storied run for a reason and I can’t wait to jump back into the fray.
We’re still a couple of months out from the official release date of the newest entrant to Activision’s COD series — Call of Duty: Vanguard. Truth be told, it’s been a long time since I fired up this first-person shooter but jumped at the chance to test out the Multiplayer modes ahead of time to see what’s new with the series and if this would be a game I could sink some time into. A bit of a disclaimer though is that I may have missed out on some of the nuances because of my absence in the franchise and I will be talking about mostly the gameplay modes and the maps we were able to check out.
Game Modes and Maps
As you can see in the screenshot above, we were able to test out four different game modes on four different maps with two lobby variations or what they’re calling Combat Pacing system.
In a nutshell, you’ll be able to choose between Tactical (6v6), Assault (between 20 to 28 players), and Blitz, which involves 28 to 48 players. As for the game modes we were able to test out, you do have the staples that we’re used to seeing from the Call of Duty series: Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, and Domination. Search and Destroy will also be available in Vanguard but has been left out of the session we got invited to.
The newest game mode to be introduced in Vanguard is called Patrol. It’s based on Hardpoint in which teams score points by holding a controlled area but the fact that it’s now constantly moves really pushes the action.
The map for the Tactical lobby on Patrol was Gavutu, which was along the shoreline on an island with outposts and a wrecked ship in the middle. There are plenty areas to flank opponents, post up for sniping, and possible choke points to hold enemies at bay.
For Blitz, it was Red Star which was a snowy plaza in a war torn town. The amount of players in Blitz made this absolutely insane — in a fun way. Again, there were a lot of little hallways that run-and-gunners would appreciate and expansive areas to look for peeking heads through windows.
Switching gears to a classic game mode — Team Deathmatch — this was held on a map called Hotel Royale and, if you love CQB combat, this is the map for you. There are bars you can use for covers, rooms to zip around, and just enough levels to make you wonder if someone’s gonna get the literal drop on you from a glass ceiling.
Kill Confirmed brought us up to a map called Eagle’s Nest, which is a mountain top HQ. I wouldn’t really recommend sniping in this area; unless you’re an absolute boss at quick scoping. This map has a lot of nuance to it with long hallways you can defend, tight areas where you can have fun with a shotgun, and a perimeter with a lot of entry points into the main area.
Confession though I did fall a number of times here trying to attempt to flank only to fail miserably.
I wasn’t able to try out Champion Hill which I’ve been seeing a lot online but if you want to check that out, our friend, Gian, from Gadget Pilipinas was able to run through the gauntlet, which you can watch in the video above.
Gunplay and Customization
Like I said, it’s been awhile since I’ve logged a serious amount of time of the franchise to really notice what has changed when it comes to the handling of the many choices you can have in your arsenal. But I think the folks at Activision and the developers who have helped them in this installment and the whole franchise have this down pat by now.
I don’t think some of the attachments that you can add-on to your weaponry are historically accurate (not sure if the guns are from the same era as well) but this is a video game and I didn’t mind having “dated” versions of modern sights slapped on to them to aid my already potato aim.
There’s a lot of ways to min/max all these options for sure and, like always, you’ll need to put in time and effort to unlock all the possible combinations.
If you haven’t noticed from the screenshots, I did play this on the PlayStation 5. While I was concentrating on not getting shot, the game looked absolutely incredible and felt extremely smooth. There was very little time for me to stop and admire the handy work in terms of graphics but I think Sledgehammer Games and the other studios that worked on this did a fantastic job. Although I do wish I had a display that could give me better refresh rates to appreciate it better.
Either way, for me, Call of Duty Vanguard felt like riding a bike in a town I haven’t visited in a long time that’s been modernized (Yes, even if the timeline is during World War 2). There’s a lot to take in with all the new systems that I wish I could have explored more but it have me wondering if I should pre-order the game and cannonball back in. They do have to work on spawning though as there were a number of occasions that I’ve just popped back on the map only to get mowed down by a bunch of enemy troops. This mostly happened while playing Patrol.
The good news is that there is the Call of Duty Vanguard Early Access happening exclusively for PlayStation this weekend (September 10 to 13). There’s another round happening the following weekend as well. On September 16-17, those who have pre-ordered the game (regardless of the platform) will have earlier access before Activision opens up access to everyone on the 18th to the 20th. This should give us a little taste before we decide to purchase the game that has a November 5 release date.