Call Of Duty: Vanguard Review — Another Sledgehammer Sinker

A year has already passed in the Call of Duty cycle and Sledge­ham­mer Games is the devel­op­er of this lat­est title, Call of Duty: Van­guard. The first game they cre­at­ed for the series was Call of Duty: Advanced War­fare, which brought on three years of jet­packs in the series, as well as loot box­es con­tain­ing weapons with bet­ter stats than their orig­i­nals. Sledge­ham­mer’s sec­ond game was Call of Duty: WWII, which was­n’t a banger, but it was at least mediocre. The team then decid­ed to revamp the entire game six months into the its life cycle, which caused the player­base to fall off the map.

This is when Activi­sion decid­ed to take Sledge­ham­mer off the three devel­op­er rota­tion, because that last deci­sion was a total dis­as­ter. I hon­est­ly wish they would have left them off the rota­tion. Not only did Sledge­ham­mer go back to the World War II time peri­od (which has been played out at this point), but they also man­aged to ruin the entire game as a whole.

To start, the cam­paign is all over the place. The first mis­sion brings a group of six elite mem­bers, with the bunch includ­ing indi­vid­u­als from four sep­a­rate coun­tries. It is a spe­cial oper­a­tion task force code­named Van­guard, and they end­ed up in Ham­burg, Ger­many to seek out intel­li­gence on Project Phoenix. The team is made up of Sergeant Arthur Kings­ley, Sergeant Richard Webb, Lieu­tenant Wade Jack­son, Lieu­tenant Lucas Rig­gs, Red Army medic Poli­na Petro­va, and a sol­dier named Novak.

Call Of Duty: Vanguard Review - Another Sledgehammer Sinker

After hijack­ing a train and reach­ing the Kriegs­ma­rine sub­ma­rine, the squad attempts to steal doc­u­ments on Project Phoenix, but they get end up get­ting cap­tured by the Nazi Freisinger. From here, Freisinger beats Novak (who you have been play­ing as up to this point) to death with a chair. He then brings the oth­ers to Waf­fen-SS and Gestapo head­quar­ters in Berlin. Freisinger wants offi­cer Jan­nick Richter (played by Dominic Mon­aghan) to inter­ro­gate the team.

Call Of Duty: Vanguard Review - Another Sledgehammer Sinker
The Van­guard squad being cap­tured on the submarine.

This is where things start to bounce around the time­line, as well as odd char­ac­ter switch­es. I did like that Sledge­ham­mer includ­ed a cutscene at the begin­ning of each char­ac­ter change, which made it eas­i­er to know who’s body you were about to take over. What both­ered me though was the lack of prop­er chrono­log­i­cal order, which real­ly took away from what was hap­pen­ing at the Gestapo head­quar­ters. I don’t like when movies do this, and I real­ly don’t like when games do this. How­ev­er, if the char­ac­ter’s back­grounds were not includ­ed, the cam­paign would have been about an hour and half long. 

Call Of Duty: Vanguard Review - Another Sledgehammer Sinker

Oth­er than these issues, the cutscenes were beau­ti­ful­ly detailed and they typ­i­cal­ly segued into game­play rather nice­ly. There was also the typ­i­cal Michael Bay action, as well as inter­est­ing inter­ac­tions between the the main group mem­bers and their fam­i­ly members/fellow sol­diers. It was quite refresh­ing to see how each per­son learned some­thing valu­able or dealt with an inter­nal strug­gle dur­ing such a trag­ic event in human his­to­ry. Even if it is a fake story.

The Van­guard cam­paign also includ­ed these com­mand sec­tions, where play­ers can direct oth­ers help them through parts of the game. I real­ly enjoyed these sec­tions, as it brings the stress of the sit­u­a­tion to the forefront. 

While the cam­paign may be com­mon­place at best, Van­guard’s mul­ti­play­er com­plete­ly sub­par. It’s not just one par­tic­u­lar fea­ture or issue that makes me so frus­trat­ed with it, but it’s just the whole expe­ri­ence. It’s bla­tant­ly obvi­ous that weapons are the focal point of mul­ti­play­er and that’s prob­a­bly the biggest issue. 

Call Of Duty: Vanguard Review - Another Sledgehammer Sinker
This is just too much for one gun.

Instead of bal­anc­ing out weapons and perks, like pre­vi­ous titles, it leans so heav­i­ly into the abuse of the gun and its attach­ments. Weapons should nev­er have ten attach­ments with­out their being a draw­back. I’ve nev­er been a fan of the pick-10 sys­tem from oth­er Call of Duty games, but if play­ers want­ed that many attach­ments on a weapon..they’d have to give up perks and equip­ment to do so. 

Add to that the over­whelm­ing­ly pow­er­ful ammo types like Fran­gi­ble and Incen­di­ary rounds, it just becomes an entire­ly dif­fer­ent night­mare. All weapons have dif­fer­ent lev­els for unlock­ing the var­i­ous forms of attach­ments. So get­ting those cov­et­ed pieces could take quite a bit of time to obtain, espe­cial­ly when tak­ing into account every weapon has 75 lev­els. There are two prob­lems with this:

  1. This is push­ing play­ers to keep using the same exact gun, hence why there are so many peo­ple right now still using STGs and MP-40s.
  2. Any new play­ers will have an extreme­ly dif­fi­cult time adjust­ing to play­ing against play­ers who have already weath­ered the storm — which will cause prob­lems for incom­ing users this hol­i­day season.

Oper­a­tors also have lev­els attached to them, but lev­el­ing them only rewards cos­met­ic items and weapon XP for that Oper­a­tor’s favorite weapon. Lev­el­ing an Oper­a­tor is faster when using their favorite gun, but with the way peo­ple are stick­ing to the weapons they’ve already lev­eled, I haven’t seen many peo­ple actu­al­ly using them.

Call Of Duty: Vanguard Review - Another Sledgehammer Sinker
Poli­na’s favorite weapon is the 3‑line rifle, but snipers are extreme­ly hard to use with all the ful­ly auto gunplay.

Anoth­er major issue with lack of noise com­ing from ene­my foot­steps. It’s impos­si­ble to know that an oppo­nent has walked up behind you, so weav­ing through some of the over­ly intri­cate build­ings can be a dis­as­ter wait­ing to hap­pen. I took to using High Alert just to be aware of ene­mies who might be near by. Cou­ple this with the ungod­ly quick time-to-kill, and you’d be lucky to get out of sight or turn around to com­bat them.

Perks also have their own set of issues, main­ly being that they are either under­whelm­ing or just aver­age. One of them would­n’t if need to be in the game if it was­n’t for the over­pow­ered Fran­gi­ble attach­ment. Daunt­less is that perk. It makes play­ers immune to move­ment reduc­ing effects, mak­ing it eas­i­er for play­ers to escape those who are using Fran­gi­ble (and stun grenades of course). It’s painful­ly obvi­ous that Sledge­ham­mer heard com­plaints about this attach­ment dur­ing the beta, but instead of remov­ing it, they added a perk to counter its effects. I almost get the feel­ing that the perks were not ful­ly flushed out, espe­cial­ly when tak­ing into account the pow­er of the weaponry.

Call Of Duty: Vanguard Review - Another Sledgehammer Sinker
This perk was added right before the launch of the game.

The maps are also beyond chaot­ic. They have little–to no–flow, and this makes it dif­fi­cult to defined cut off loca­tions for Dom­i­na­tion and Hard­point. On the larg­er maps I typ­i­cal­ly see play­ers camp­ing, mount­ed up, because run­ning across the open is a death sen­tence with the high time-to-kill. The dark­er set­tings in some of these maps make it hard to see an ene­my play­ers body posi­tion. Sure, the tag can be seen eas­i­ly, but it see­ing if that play­er is prone or crouch­ing can be irritating. 

The spawns for Hard­point, Patrol, Kill Con­firmed, and Team Death­match are out of con­trol. Dome and Das Haus are the worst offend­ers for ter­ri­ble spawn loca­tions, with play­ers spawn­ing direct­ly in front of ene­mies. Domination–which should have fixed spawns–sees flip flop­ping of start­ing loca­tions all the time.

There is also some ran­dom glitch­es like Oper­a­tor mod­els not show­ing cer­tain parts when you view them. A Chal­lenge also appears to be glitched, as it says get 50 elim­i­na­tions in Objec­tive based game modes. I haven’t been able to get a sin­gle one, despite play­ing main­ly objec­tive based games. Play­ers should also be aware that Van­guard does­n’t have Ric­o­chet inte­grat­ed yet, so cheaters are def­i­nite­ly out there. 

*I haven’t gone through Zom­bies as of yet, but from what I’ve heard it’s not good*

All in all, from what I’ve seen, the game real­ly isn’t that much fun. The cam­paign is decent enough, but that’s always a lin­ear expe­ri­ence that is rather short lived. Typ­i­cal­ly, play­ers go straight for the mul­ti­play­er or play the cam­paign and then head online. The prob­lem is, the state the game is in right now, it tru­ly isn’t worth the mon­ey. Call of Duty: Van­guard’s mul­ti­play­er has a lot of prob­lems and it’s far from a fin­ished product–at least in the sense of how it inter­acts with itself. Hope­ful­ly, the feed­back Sledge­ham­mer receives will bring on need­ed adjust­ments. I can imag­ine how many peo­ple will dis­ap­point­ed when Christ­mas rolls around, if they do noth­ing by then.

I am a Platinum lover and an ex- Cod-aholic. I've been playing games since I was 5 years old and I refuse to quit, despite my mother's attempts to get me to. God of War and its successors are my all time favorite games.

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