Call of Duty is a long-running franchise. Having almost 20 mainline games at this point, the series has experienced both small and major revisions over the years. Every time the developers realized that the formula was staler than a year-old piece of bread they would usually do something to shake things up. But it seems Call of Duty Vanguard didn’t get the memo this time, or to word it differently, it seems Activision got the memo and then decided to set the memo on fire.
Call of Duty had recently experienced yet another(and possibly its most drastic) revision with 2019’s Modern Warfare. A reboot of the most beloved entry in the entire Call of Duty series. The game featured significantly improved gunplay, new combat mechanics like mounting and tactical sprint, as well as entirely redone animation work by some of the most talented animators in the industry.
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The game was obviously going to be the base for the upcoming games in the series, but seemingly nothing has been done with it. Just like Cold War, Vanguard’s multiplayer beta feels more of the same. There is nothing really wrong with delivering more of what people love. But this is an upcoming 60$ game that feels like a reskin of a 3-year-old game with almost no sign of effort put into making it feel new or even somewhat fresh.
Sure, you get zombies and the story campaign, both of which CoD has been nailing recently, but that really doesn’t justify the game’s underwhelming multiplayer, which is what a majority of the players will get the series for. The fact that you can access Warzone, Call of Duty: Cold War, AND Call of Duty: Modern Warfare from Vanguard’s main menu just highlights this issue even further.
In-game, it’s not much of a ground-breaking experience either. Vanguard so far has the same game modes CoD has always had since its inception. Sure Domination is fun, especially when the other players are actually capturing points instead of running around chasing kills, but there’s not an iota of difference in how it’s played today, and how it was played back in 2007. Not to mention that the new modes that Vanguard does add feel largely unimpressive.
What makes Call of Duty: Vanguard’s issues worse is that it essentially feels like a 1:1 reskin of Modern Warfare 2019 with a WW2 aesthetic. The guns feel similar, but the combat is still the same without the powerful sounds, with everyone running around like a headless chicken looking for people to kill.
Camping is as much of an issue as it has always been, and it’s still the most viable to get easy kills and fast killstreaks. The spawns are impressively bad to the point where I often found myself spawning right next to enemies.
The maps currently present in the beta aren’t very impressive either. Aesthetics separated, the layout feels as fake as ever and feels…like just another Call of Duty map. When it comes to aesthetics, the maps also lack much of a visual flair to their design as well, often feeling boring and uninspired.
And Call of Duty Vanguard also features level destructibility. Which was, to my shock, an actively advertised feature for the game. I say shocked because I only remembered to edit this in at the last minute because I had completely forgotten about it until I was about to finish up with this article.
It’s a worse version of the same idea that Battlefield had way back in Bad Company 2, and the game somehow fails to do that properly as well due to how inconsequential it feels like an actual “game mechanic.” The sound design is also weak, maps feel quiet and lifeless, the guns sound worse than MW 2019, and there is little to no audio feedback at special unlocks or even rank-ups compared to the glorious jingle that played in the old Modern Warfare games every time you unlocked something.
The in-game announcer is also probably the worst I’ve heard in any online game as well, with dialogue so atrocious that it sounds like a 6-year-old’s attempt at imitating a 30-year-old.
Credit is given where credit is due; however, despite all the problems with Vanguard, the fact that its multiplayer feels like a reskin of Modern Warfare almost manages to work for its favor as it retains the best thing about that game, the gunplay.
While the guns don’t sound as powerful as MW 2019, they still feel great to shoot with incredible feedback on every hit. And as long as the developers can nail that dopamine rush of landing a kill, the game will still be fun. Because in the end, when the monkey neurons are firing at full force, there is fun to be had past the monotony.
I also enjoy the Gunsmith system; it’s a great way to pick a favorite weapon. Leveling up each gun feels rewarding and satisfying with attachment unlocks that offer meaningful upgrades to your playstyle. But frankly, that’s really all Vanguard’s Beta has going for it, and sure, “It’s just a beta” is usually a valid excuse, but Call of Duty Vanguard is a 60$ AAA title that comes out in less than 2 months, and these aren’t issues that can just be fixed so easily in such a span of time.
At this point, there feels little differentiation between Call of Duty and EA’s FIFA series. Both make minor improvements and tweaks to the general formula but essentially feels like reskins of past iterations. And considering how Battlefield 2042 looks, Call of Duty desperately needs to take a break and think of some new and original ideas to move the series forward.
Other Reads: Fixed: Modern Warfare Dev Error 6178 
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