Call of Duty Vanguard is out now on all major formats, and we’re back with World War II, in what’s not a chronological storyline, and not just as the one character, since you’ll play as all the different people in the story, set during different years within the war, going back and forth in time, and bear in mind this story is all based around real people during that time.
NOTE: The Campaign section (PS5) is reviewed by Dom Robinson, and the Multiplayer (Xbox One X) by Iain Metcalf.
You’ll start off as Novak, in Phoenix, April 1945, before moving on to Operation Tonga (June 1944), as Arthur Kingsley. Then it’s on to Stalingrad (August 1942), The Battle of Midway (June 1942), Numa Numa Trail (November 1943), Lady Nightingale (January 1943), The Rats of Tobruk (March 1941), The Battle of El Alamein (October 1942), before finally coming to The Fourth Reich (May 1945). Why the time jumps? I’ve no idea.
You start off looking for intelligence regarding Project Phoenix, a Nazi program run by Hermann Freisinger, who looks rather like Patrick Wilson from The Conjuring films, with other characters including Nazi underling Jannick Richter (Dominic Monaghan), and Polina Petrova (Laura Bailey, also recently seen in The Last Of Us Part II as Abby), but while I won’t describe the plot in great detail which would give spoilers, it takes in stealth and run-and-gun action on a submarine, in the desert, in the jungle, in the city of Stalingrad, and in an aerial dogfight.
Once or twice during my run through the campaign, I replayed a mission before moving on, as I wanted to get a better gameplay video out of it. However, the one thing which does annoy me with this, and similar games, is that I can’t complete a past mission without it affecting my progress so far.
There are 9 missions, so for example, I redid mission 1 as soon as I’d completed it. Fine. However, if I got to, say, mission 6, but wanted to replay mission 3 for whatever reason, it would wipe out my progress going forward. I wish that wasn’t the case. I played Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War on the PC, and for some reason I forget, I could create multiple save-game files, so it was like a different person playing through the game. Here, on the PS5, I can’t do that. I don’t know whether that’s a change in how the game works, or because of the change in platform.
I enjoy any time I need to use my gun in these games, and using the flamethrower in the Numa Numa Trial section is very impressive, although during the same one, it was odd while walking through foliage, it doesn’t even move in the first section, and slightly after that. Also, there were times where I’m firing while moving out in the plane towards the end of the mission, and I i hadn’t got a clue what I was firing at, but somehow, I completed it! A bit more stage-direction is sometimes needed in these levels to pinpoint precisely where I’m meant to be shooting, although on the PS5, you can press the big button to see in which direction you need to go. Then again, the PS5, like the PS4, didn’t really need the mahoosive button!
Elsewhere, I wasn’t so taken with the Midway section as others seem to be, though, since flying whilst surviving seemed more a case of luck rather than judgement. Also, it was dumb that I had to blow up three tanks in Tobruk, but while I knew there were tanks in front of me, and I was attacking them and blowing them up… it turned out I wasn’t doing it either at the right point on their structure, or I had to do it several times and it wasn’t clueing me in. Either way, it looked a bit silly. I didn’t redo either of these two missions, however, as I didn’t feel inclined to do so, as these problems came across as rather annoying.
Surely when a huge tank explodes, how come I need to go at it again?!
For multiplayer, this year’s entry is similar to the previous Call of Duty: WWII, given the time period of the birth of the Special Forces.
You have a total of 12 Operators, but only 3 available initially. As you progress, completing various challenges, the other operators will unlock – some are harder than others with high kill-streaks needed etc. The same gradual unlocks go for the numerous different skins available for each operator, as well as MVP finishing moves which are shown at the end of a match. On top of that, you also have the Battle Pass Tiers where you will get a few freebies during your progression but the pre season has to be paid for to get all the unlocks at the various levels.
For all games like this, you have numerous weapons available, with more unlocking as you progress and level-up. Everything you expect to find from standard assault rifles to snipers, shotguns and SMG’s are here and will unlock as you progress levelling your operator and weapon of choice. On top of all the guns you have a metric ton of different attachments like sights, ammo type, stock & foregrips etc so you can tweak your favourite weapon to handle exactly how you want. You can have up to 10 attachments per primary weapon which is great for tweaking things like less recoil and improved distance and so on. Not forgetting you have a load of different stickers, camo and sight styles again unlocking with weapon use under the cosmetics.
You additionally have a secondary weapon which can be a side arm or knife again more unlocks opening up various options. Then comes all your kill-streak options and unlocks, various different grenades and a good selection of different skills of which you will have 3 active at any one time. It’s good to see Lightweight and Ninja making a return for better movement speed but combined with ninja makes you all but silent!
There are 16 maps at launch so that is a fair bit of content to learn and master and the new Warzone Pacific Map is launching early December. Your usual standard and hardcore game modes are all there including Domination, TDM, Hardpoint & Kill Confirmed etc and there is the new Patrol which sees a capture point that is constantly moving round the map (not popping up in different locales like Hardpoint) and the teams have to fight to take or defend it.
Gameplay sees the usual tight control and choke points round the maps. Domination has the center point B usually being where the most action is to be had given A & C are usually near where the teams start. The maps are decent sized and take some learning but after a few hours you will start to get to grips with things and learn positioning and so on.
A new addition to the Call of Duty Multiplayer are the Pacing options. You have Tactical, Assault & Blitz; these options dictate the amount of players and map size used. Tactical being 6v6 and close quarters using the smaller maps, Assault uses all maps and gives a more balanced type of feel with a few more players and then Blitz which is 10v10 and tends to use the larger maps and can be a bit more chaotic. The only issue I have with this is the Tactical mode I would like to see players teaming up instead of running around like nuts going lone wolf. A 6v6 tactical map and gameplay would be awesome at a slower pace using tactics and flanking etc especially in the capture game modes but unfortunately it doesn’t play out like that!
All in all, this year’s multiplayer is decent and entertaining enough and will keep folk going until next year’s installment, or until something else comes along.
NOTE: Full gameplay will be online shortly, but I’ve still to upload some of it. The full playlist will be above.
- Developer: Sledgehammer Games
- Publisher: Activision
- Players: Single player campaign, multiplayer
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.