Call of Duty is a game franchise that has been a staple for FPS enthusiasts for years. Now with the branching of the franchise onto Blizzard’s BattleNet platform, there’s a new breed of soldier. As with any game, there are good and not so good points to address in the gameplay. I’ve spent a few weekends in front of the PC (what a surprise right?) playing Vanguard and largely had a great time of it, but also endured some frustrations.
I feel like the biggest frustration for me is that it feels like the developers are resting on their laurels, using the established name of “Call of Duty” and sticking with a formula. This meant — at least of me — that the game felt very familiar and was difficult to differentiate from other recent COD games. That is until you join multiplayer – but we’ll take a quick look at the single player campaign first.
It’s a solid story concept
If you’re considering purchasing Vanguard – be aware, there are a few spoilers to the campaign in this section.
The concept is excellent in fact, it’s centred around a group of special forces operators from different areas, brought together for a secret mission. Initially, I thought this was a great idea, with the first mission to hijack a train, which then delivers the team to a station. This station is adjacent to a submarine dock which you must then assault to recover intelligence.
This is where that foundation for a great pathway finished, which really disappointed me. They were captured at the end of this first mission and spent much of the remaining time of the campaign in Nazi custody. This leaves the rest of the story as a playthrough of life flashbacks for those special forces operators.
For those with a penchant for war history, parachuting into Normandy on D-Day will be quite the thrill. As will working your way through a treacherous jungle (Numa Numa Trail) with the need to dodge snipers, traps and (where possible) avoiding, or silently — to avoid unwanted further attention — taking out patrols.
I particularly enjoyed the mission in Stalingrad, with plenty of action to be enjoyed in one of the key cities of WWII. The mission builds to a point where you’re in a position to pretty much shoot anything that moves.
Some missions weren’t as good
The battle of Midway was a bit of a letdown for me with what felt like excessive lead-in, unnecessary delays to getting started and little control over the outcome. Out of curiosity, I replayed the mission with minimal inputs and — while I was shot down a couple of times — it is possible to eventually make your way through without doing anything other than the bombing runs.
This game isn’t for kids…
As a parent, I feel like the classification of this could be a touch lenient at M 15+. Unfortunately, we don’t really have a better option without rating it R 18+ which then creates other distribution issues. Not everyone is capable of handling some of the graphic violence that is in Call of Duty Vanguard. As a 40 year old man, a few moments of outright brutality and gore made me cringe.
That being said it’s a shining example of what can be accomplished with current processing and graphic technologies.
That being said as a holistic experience, I still really enjoyed the gameplay and — despite the frustration of a lost opportunity — the storyline. As a single player option, Call of Duty Vanguard stays true to the existing feel of previous games and won’t disappoint the faithful players.
Multiplayer adds another dimension
Without spending too long on it, the multiplayer is very good as it has been for multiple releases. There are some players on the game who clearly have a lot more spare time than I do, with lightning quick reflexes, guns and mods that can seemingly take you out from the opposite end of the map and a very good understanding of the game physics.
Even when I was getting my ass handed to me though, there was a high level of fun to be had. The game recognises your level or “rank” versus the other players and as a part of this, the time you’ve spent in the game. So you will progress quickly in the early stages, getting level ups and access to new equipment.
What really made the multiplayer a delight for me was the array of maps, many of which are new with destructive progress during play. What I mean by this is that the map environment degrades during a battle, doors get blown apart, the outside environment takes a battering too if there are bombing events or significant battles with blood spray and vehicles taking lots of damage.
There’s also some polish here that previous versions haven’t had with the modes being more diverse, with the ability to choose whether you want a tactical game, total chaos or something in the middle.
I really have enjoyed playing Call of Duty Vanguard with the single player being very good. There is definitely a level of fun to playing this multiple times over though. The other factor is multiplayer with a huge amount of playability regardless of your skill or experience level with the COD franchise. Despite the single player being a bit of a missed opportunity and multiplayer not making it a “must have” game: I’d happily spend the money to have it and if you’re into FPS games (particularly Call of Duty), especially if you’re a fan of games that have both campaign and online options, then the combination makes this an excellent buy.
For a short time, you can pick up Call of Duty: Vanguard at a discounted price on your platform of choice with the normal RRP: AU$99.95 (PS, Xbox, and Battle.net) being reduced to $64.95