The Call of Duty train has arrived at its station for another year, which works out nicely as the first level is set on a train. This time round Sledgehammer games are at the wheels and with that they bring an excellent single player campaign but left me a little disappointed on the multiplayer front.
This year’s story has you working as part of a team of elite fighters, all with their own stories fighting a common goal, defeating the Nazis.
After the first level you’ll begin to learn more about each of the team’s past and it’s here where the game starts to get really good. Each character has their own unique ability, for example Kingsley is able to issue orders to his team to attack or perform a certain action, while Jackson is able to focus and see silhouettes of his enemies then quick scope allowing him to take down enemies quickly. Polina has quick movement and is able to climb and move around parkour style. While Riggs is able to hold multiple types of explosives and has an aim marker when throwing them You are are rewarded via achievements for making the most of everyone’s abilities and they do help you get through the game, especially on Veteran difficulty.
Each of the levels take you back to different stages of their careers to help explain why they are where they are now. I really enjoyed every level, whether you were dogfighting in the air or sneaking your way through the jungle, each level brought something different to the experience. The levels were well paced, full of action and they are arguably some of the best COD levels I’ve ever played.
It’s not all plain sailing though, in an attempt to reduce the file size of this year’s effort Sledgehammer has introduced Texture Streaming, high resolution textures will be loaded in when they are needed over your internet connection. The problem this seems to cause is four or five seconds of lag when starting new sections of a game, which isn’t great considering how powerful consoles are these days (I played this on and Xbox Series X).
You are able to turn this off and live with the default textures, you can also limit how much the game is allowed to download if you have a metered connection but preferably I’d rather use more disk space to store them for as long as I need.
With the surprise release of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer and Battlefield 2042, Sledgehammer needed to do something special with their multiplayer offerings and unfortunately it’s a little disappointing. Apart from the Introduction of Champion Hill mode the multiplayer doesn’t feel like it has improved at all.
The maps overall are pretty good, I really enjoyed playing on Demyansk and Numa Numa but to be honest there weren’t any maps I disliked. There are a wide range of weapons and attachments to use and create your perfect loadouts with and of course there is a Battle Pass if you want some fancy skins in your inventory.
The biggest change to multiplayer this year is the Introduction of Champion Hill, a multi-arena survival tournament, where tactics and strategy combine with quick-action, close-quarter gunplay. Everyone gets a quick explanation of the mode, receives $500 of in-game Cash, and is placed at the Buy Station Area. Over the next minute, players use this Cash to upgrade their weapons or purchase new weapons and equipment or add Perks and Streaks to their Loadout. The squads then fight on one of four maps against a random squad. Within an individual Combat Round, the squad that wins the round gets a $1,000 Cash bonus awarded to each member. Squads are eliminated if they run out of lives.
To get the most out of this mode you really need a close squad of friends who are willing to communicate, otherwise you’ll have to hope for a team of randoms that are willing to work together. Without this you are in for a hard time, matches are quick however so you can get back in the action quickly.
Zombies are also back, the four-person co-op mode continues and expands on the Dark Aether story first experienced in Black Ops Cold War. Set in World War II in the ruins of Stalingrad, this new incarnation of Zombies takes players to the darkest corners of the occult, where mortals bond with Dark Aether entities to gain immeasurable power.
This years version just feels a bit light compare to previous edition of the game, however there appears to be a big content drop arriving soon which is due to add more content so we’ll see. I did love the doom-esque vibes from the game.
Aside from the fantastic campaign I was left underwhelmed by the multiplayer, I’m sure over time things will improve but it seems like there was a rush to get this out before Christmas and they’ll just add to game over the next year, only time will tell.
Call of Duty: Vanguard
- Fantastic Campaign
- Lightweight Zombie Mode
- Some performance Issues