If you’ve played a Call of Duty title before, then you’ll be quite familiar with the World War II setting. However, Call of Duty: Vanguard has a campaign set across four separate frontlines on top of its iconic multiplayer modes.
Vanguard, from Sledgehammer Games, is the latest entry in the annual franchise, and yes this is the fifth one that’s set during WWII (and it likely won’t be the last). With impressive graphics, and in-your-face action scenes that feel like they’ve been pulled straight out of a Michael Bay film, Call of Duty: Vanguard doesn’t stray from its popular gameplay formula.
Recent Call of Duty campaigns have been quite entertaining, and the same goes for Vanguard. It kicks off in 1945 on a Nazi train, while you and your Alliance special forces team sneak into a Nazi submarine base. Here you’re captured and tortured by Dominic Monaghan (Merry from The Lord of the Rings movies), while the story then goes back in time and introduces each member of this special forces unit.
“We’re introduced to many different members of the squad, each with their own special abilities.”
We’re introduced to many different members of the squad, each with their own special abilities. There’s Arthur Kingsley, the British leader of the squad who can command team members. Polina Petrova is a Russian sniper who climbs up walls to reach vantage points. Wade Jackson is an American fighter pilot, and Lucas Riggs is an Australian explosive expert who lays on the accent thicker than the onions at a Bunnings sausage sizzle.
As your Suicide Squad of WWII heroes is captured and interrogated, squad leader Arthur narrates why each member of the team is important, and what special skills they hold. As you’ll be going back and repeating key moments in each member’s life, each area is set on a different frontline of the war. As Petrova, you’ll be at the battle of Stalingrad climbing to rooftops avoiding bombs and setting up sniping vantage points. Wade’s opening mission is at the battle of Midway, and will be an aerial dogfight and bombing style of mission.
It wouldn’t be Call of Duty game though without its popular multiplayer. Whether you’re a yearly veteran, or you’re picking it up for the first time, the multiplayer here is as accessible as ever. Surprisingly, besides having iconic WWII weapons there are also modern attachments like red dot/holographic sights and a WWII version of the RC car from previous Call of Duty games that can explode near enemies.
There are some destructible environments here too, where if you’ve got an enemy player hiding out inside a building, you can bash through any soft/wooden walls and surprise them. If you’re a fan of previous WWII Call of Duty titles there are also some levels pulled straight from 2008’s Call of Duty: World at War, which reminded us that yes, Call of Duty has been going for forever!
The ‘zombies’ mode also returns in Vanguard, however its fairly basic. It’s not as basic as the original from Call of Duty: World at War, but it also isn’t as in-depth, creative or involved as last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
Some strange decisions have been made in Vanguard. After each multiplayer round, players can vote for a team MVP, a little like in Overwatch which rewards players, sure, but you’re basically forced to sit and wait not just for the team to vote, but for a timer to expire before returning to the lobby. Also, we played this on Xbox Series X, and in the campaign and multiplayer there were some noticeable framerate drops.
Weapon and explosion damage in Vanguard is also quite hit and miss. There also aren’t enemy factions like in other WWII shooters such as Battlefield V. Vanguard’s multiplayer is basically a red team and a blue team, and players just use whichever operator they’ve selected. Finally, while its fantastic that Call of Duty is completely crossplay with all consoles and PC (more games need to do this), when playing against PC players it’s easy to get destroyed in a firefight, which can frustrate some players (thankfully crossplay can be turned off).
If you’re a fan of the previous Call of Duty titles, then Vanguard will provide you with your yearly fix. Its multiplayer is fast paced and great for playing with friends on all platforms, just as it has been since Modern Warfare released back in 2007. Its single player campaign is loud and over-the-top like a Fast and Furious movie. Zombies, while more basic this time around, breaks up the repetitive gameplay of the multiplayer and offers some welcome cooperative gameplay.
Call of Duty: Vanguard is available now on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4 and Xbox One.