A new installment of Call of Duty, one of the most influential first-person shooter series in history that, with this annual rate , increasingly shows signs of exhaustion in its formula despite offering us, year after year, games that always reach a good level.
On this occasion we have been able to test Call of Duty: Vanguard , an installment set in World War II just as the first titles of the saga were and that offers us a campaign full of clichés that will pass without pain or glory, a loaded multiplayer of content with a good map design and that we find very fun and a very interesting zombie mode , in addition to having these last two sections with a whole year of totally free content in the form of new maps, weapons and even a zombie campaign that will arrive over the next few months.
The multiplayer: 20 new maps!
The great pillar of Call of Duty: Vanguard and probably the most important is that of its multiplayer mode that arrives very complete at its launch, giving an example of how a video game of this style should come out in this aspect since it has, at the beginning, with 20 maps different accompanied by well-known game modes such as Domination or Confirmed Kill as well as new ones such as Patrol or King of the Hill to give a little more sauce and variety to a formula that is still as fun as the first day.
At the level of gameplay (both in the multi and in the rest of the modes) we find a delivery that drinks a lot from the restart of Modern Warfare (2019) with several types of race, the possibility of supporting the weapon to peek slightly after a cover to open fire with the enemy (and also the possibility of shooting blind), several ways to open the doors and a long list of characteristics that already seemed a success two years ago and that continue to do so now.
In fact, the biggest differences at the gameplay level with Modern Warfare are, obviously, the weapons, the casualty streaks , and, beyond this, it is the pace of the game that changes the most compared to the game of two years ago, counting with more frenetic action straddling what we saw in the 2019 title and in last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War . In addition, with respect to the beta, some of the things that did not convince us have been modified for the better, reducing the movement speed a little and slightly increasing the “time to kill”, that is, the time we need to kill our rival.
Along with the good multiplayer gameplay that we are loving, we believe that this time the maps are particularly inspired both at an artistic and design level, with a lot of variety both between them and within the maps themselves, with very well thought out for almost all types of weapons and some places in which for the first time we can destroy certain elements such as wooden walls, windows or doors, taking a tactical advantage that is noticeable during the first bars of the game. This destruction of scenarios is nothing revolutionary, but the points that we can break are very well chosen at the playable level. As we told you in our beta impressions, Patrol mode has also been quite fun for us in our games. It is a kind of “mobile” Hot Spot that we have to guard or take as it moves around the map as if it were a kind of “load” generating very interesting combat situations, although it is nothing that we have not seen in games like Team Fortress or Overwatch (with its cargo escort modes), while the King of the Hill mode replaces , so to speak, the Gunfight modewith clashes in arenas of 2 VS. 2 or 3 VS. 3 in which we will face other teams in individual games. Depending on the result of each one, our team will run out of lives and, in the end, there will only be two teams that will face each other to know who is the champion in games with good peaks of tension.
Another aspect that we want to highlight is the Rhythms . In this Call of Duty, we can play in games with four different rhythms that change the number of players with 6 VS confrontations. 6, 8 VS. 8, 12 VS. 12 … The problem with these rhythms is that there are maps in which has many players feels great … and others that suffer a lot and become too chaotic, and we believe that they are not well adjusted to each type of map or game mode, something that future patches can quickly correct in future patches thanks to the comments of the players.
In terms of multiplayer performance, we have found light and dark on PS5 that we did not find in the beta. We have played perfect, stable games without any disconnection or latency problems. In contrast, in others, we have found “lapses” and a performance that obviously affects the gameplay , something that we hope will be fixed as quickly as possible since In previous installments we do not remember these types of problems, so pronounced during the first days of play and that obviously affect the fun if we have games with these problems.
Let’s start by talking about the campaign that this year offers us, in which we will have to control various soldiers of a picturesque group of special operations that embarks on a dangerous mission to try to end the Phoenix project, the last great secret with which the Nazis want to turn the final part of a war they are losing.
In the first level, we will meet the five members of Task Force One, an international group of operations among which are Arthur Kingsley, Polina Petrova, Wade Jackson, Lucas Riggs, Richard Webb, five soldiers of whom we will discover their history through As the campaign goes by, being able to live missions on the Eastern and Western Front, North Africa and the Pacific, visiting some of the most emblematic battles in World War II.
The positive part of this is that we will have a good variety of very different landscapes in which to shoot and crush Nazis, although on the other hand, by focusing on so many different points and presenting us with five different stories , in reality the campaign does not end by focusing on the all in a single plot and offers us somewhat decaffeinated and quite predictable stories that do not contribute much to a main plot of the simplest that we remember in recent years.
The variety of situations does not accompany either . Call of Duty has been releasing very popcorn narratives and encrypted scenes year after year and that has meant that nothing surprises us no matter how spectacular it may seem, in addition to the fact that the AI at any level of difficulty still does not progress, continuing with its own erratic behaviors a couple of generations ago or that originality or variety in the missions is not the strong point of this plot either, which, yes, serves to pay tribute to several films or series about this war conflict that we will not discover so as not to spoil some Tribute that may be interesting for you.
One point that we want to highlight about the campaign on a positive level is its exquisite audiovisual finish , both for its soundtrack and for the great taste when it comes to the photographic montage and the artistic design of almost all the landscapes and environments that we are going to watch for about 7 hours long. No, the Vanguard campaign does not invent gunpowder and is full of clichés, but it will be delightful for our eyes and ears.
The Zombies Mode is already a classic in the Call of Duty saga and has been, for quite some time, one of the funniest contents of each installment that, depending on the year, could even “strain” perfectly as an independent game within the CoD of turn, telling his own story that has been developing in recent years.
With Call of Duty: Vanguard , Treyarch wants to give us an experience halfway between what we saw in Modern Warfare and Black Ops: Cold War , offering us equal parts freedom to explore, a more guided and “corridor” part, a lot of action and a high replayability thanks to Der Anfang, the way the zombies are released this year.
In Der Anfang, we will have to face the undead led by Oberführer Wolfram Von List, who has reached a pact with a “demon” to obtain the power of the dark ether and resurrect all the Nazi troops that have fallen in the city of Stalingrad. The central core of this game mode. To explain it, Der Anfang is a kind of roguelike in which we will start in a small square in the Russian city and in which we will have to access specific portals of the Dark Aether to fulfill different objectives in various points of the earth, having to travel to Paris to eliminate a good amount of zombies or to the Japanese camp of Shi No Numa to protect a kind of orb from giving you a couple of examples.
To face the undead we will have, in addition to the great arsenal of weapons that we have both in the campaign and the multiplayer mode, with special powers that will grant us mysterious entities through some artifacts, abilities that we will have to choose in our weapons set up before starting the battle. In addition, during each game of Der Anfang, we can also sacrifice our “hearts” to obtain a series of random notable improvements, giving variety to each game that will be different from the previous one.
Another interesting point is that, after returning from the place where the portals take us in each mission, we will see how a new part of Stalingrad is unlocked that we can explore and free from the zombie threat and, also, each time we start a game in Der Anfang will restart our progression by restarting the loop with new powers or different missions, increasing the replayability of each game and offering us, from our own experience with this mode, a lot of fun, fast-paced action and thousands of zombies to slaughter with some of the weapons most emblematic of the Second World War.
Finally, we want to comment that in December the zombie mode will receive a “campaign” thanks to which we will be able to learn more about the history of the Dark Aether and the mysterious plans of Oberführer Wolfram Von List to try to subdue the world after the fall of the Third Reich.
A fully customizable arsenal… and lots of content for the future
We do not want to miss the opportunity to talk about the arsenal of weapons that Call of Duty: Vanguard offers us to strike down our enemies in the campaign, multiplayer and zombies mode, with all kinds of rifles, submachine guns, machine guns, grenades, rifles. precision and all kinds of lethal weapons to spread terror on the battlefield. In addition, as usual, we can customize each of these weapons to adapt them to our style of play, levelling them up individually to be able to change muzzle, sight, stock, grip … and even the type of ammunition used by each one, in addition to having the classic advantages or “abilities” of each installment of Call of Duty.
In addition, Activision has a lot of content planned for the next Vanguard year, starting with a first preseason and season that will arrive with new maps for multiplayer, a new location for Call of Duty: Warzone that will integrate all the Vanguard weapons, or a “campaign” for the zombies mode that will be released in December, all without having to pay a single $.
A great technical finish
Something in which Call of Duty has evolved in recent years is in its technical section. This time Vanguard once again shows that Activision has taken a step forward in this regard, offering us an impeccable artistic level in the three-game experiences and also a remarkable graphic finish with both lighting effects such as shots, shadows, the textures of all the elements or the possibility of, finally, being able to destroy some elements of the multiplayer maps.
We have played Vanguard on PS5 and the truth is that we cannot fault the performance , running almost every time at 60 fps , with some small drops in certain moments of a lot of graphical stress that future updates can probably fix it the launch patch that has not yet been released. was present when we tested the game. In addition, we also played the beta from a few weeks ago on PC obtaining a very good performance of 144 fps quite stable at 1440p with maximum graphics on our team with a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, Ryzen 5900X processor, 32GB of RAM, NVMe SSD and Windows 10, being able to enjoy NVIDIA DLSS technologies to improve performance and NVIDIA Reflex to reduce latency for multiplayer games.
The soundtrack is an absolute delight in sound, and the footprint location problems that we saw in the beta seem to have been resolved (at least in the PS5 version). However, we are not as satisfied with the audio of the weapons or explosions that it seems that have fallen a couple of steps in quality and fidelity concerning the deliveries of the last two years, a shame because an excellent job had been done in this regard, especially in Modern Warfare.
Call of Duty: Vanguard is a very complete installment of Call of Duty, full of content that we believe will be especially popular with fans of the multiplayer side who will be able to enjoy 20 very well-designed (launch) maps and gameplay on horseback in rhythm between what we saw in the last two installments to which we must add the destruction of certain elements of the scene very well chosen on each map.
The zombies mode is released with Der Anfang. This very replayable and quite frantic roguelike will have us smashing zombie heads at all times, and that has been quite entertaining for us, being, again, one of the most interesting “additions” of this delivery, something that compensates with an exquisite campaign at the photographic level but which at the playable level is far from surprising or offering variety, with many mistakes from the past such as an AI that still does not evolve or a story that does not quite hook us.
Therefore, we believe that we are facing a fairly complete and very enjoyable delivery with a small Achilles Heel in its campaign that is compensated with a very fun playable formula and with a lot of content to have fans of the saga stuck in front of the screen for another year waiting for a rumored Modern Warfare 2 that we hope will put all the meat on the grill and allow a saga with symptoms of exhaustion to continue growing.
We prepared this review with a digital review key for the PS5 version of the title provided by Activision.