With 16 regular Multiplayer maps and four specialist Champion Hill maps, Call of Duty Vanguard launched with more maps than any title in recent memory, and the developers continued to add to that number, with an additional 10 multiplayer and three zombie maps being released as post-launch content in 2021-2022.
Despite being one of the most played games of 2021-2022 and best selling game of 2021, a generally lukewarm reception by more vocal elements of the Call of Duty community and its failure to meet Activision’s admittedly high sales expectations resulted in Call of Duty Vanguard Season Six being cancelled and the majority of the development team reassigned to other projects.
While Call of Duty Vanguard was not perfect, there were many on Twitter and Reddit who were hoping for it to fail from the moment they saw a black man featured on the cover art, resulting in a negative social media campaign that painted Vanguard as “SJW propaganda created by diversity hires and radical feminists”, something which could not be further from the truth.
I wish that Activision Blizzard had supported Call of Duty Vanguard for at least two years to show bigots that diversity was the future, and their attempts at demanding less diverse titles fell on deaf ears instead of prematurely announced Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 and cutting an entire season worth of content and three operators from Call of Duty Vanguard.
2021 was a strange year for multiplayer shooters, with both Call of Duty Vanguard and Battlefield 2042 essentially abandoning factions, allowing players to freely select from a roster of specialists/operators.
Only one year later, this trend was been reversed, with Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 reincorporating factions and Battlefield 2042’s developers looking at restoring faction-based roles in 2023.
For the first time, Call of Duty operators have their own progression tree, similar to the system used by Rogue Company, and players are now able to level up each operator individually, unlocking new character-specific cosmetic items and rewards just by playing the game.
Call of Duty Vanguard returns to the fast-paced and brutal combat of Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2019), unlike Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War (2020) which featured a longer time-to-kill that allowed for a wider variety of engagements.
A new feature has been introduced with Call of Duty Vanguard, which looks set to shake up the FPs genre; for the first time in the history of the franchise, players are able to choose how intense they want their combat while enjoying every multiplayer map that the title has to offer.
The introduction of combat pacing allows all multiplayer maps to be enjoyed by fans of all modes and is a huge step up from ground war in this regard, which limited fans of large-scale engagements to only a few select maps.
Call of Duty Vanguard joins Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2019), Call of Duty: Warzone and Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War (2020) in Activision’s unique cross-game progression system, allowing players to earn battlepass and account experience no matter which of the 4 supported titles they are playing.
While fans of the Battlefield franchise are used to destructible environments, being able to shoot through (and destroy) walls to create new avenues of attack is a welcome treat for fans of the Call of Duty franchise.
Celebrities making appearances in Call of Duty campaigns is nothing new, and Call of Duty Vanguard continues this tradition by treating players to excellent performances by Dominic Monaghan (Jannick Richter), Laura Bailey (Polina Petrova) and Chiké Okonkwo (Arthur Kingsley).
Each of the five main characters in the single-player campaign are based on a real-world WW2 hero, including the hero of the battle of midway, Vernon L. “Mike” Micheel (Wade Jackson), Great Britain’s first black paratrooper and awardee of the distinguished conduct medal Sidney Cornell (Arthur Kingsley) and the worlds most accomplished female sniper with over 309 confirmed kills, Lyudmila Pavlichenko (Polina Petrova), to name just a few.
The Call of Duty: Vanguard beta tests were uninspiring, to say the least; sloppy gunplay, muddy visuals and audio issues left a bad taste in the mouth of even the franchise’s most ardent supporters, coupled with year-long news of the title being in development hell, many in the gaming community were not expecting much from Call of Duty in 2021.
Thankfully, these fears would prove unfounded, with Call of Duty: Vanguard being one of the series’s most visually pleasing and content-rich entries, with snappy gunplay, excellent audio quality and stunning visuals on high-end PC and 9th Generation hardware.
While there are visible limitations present, such sacrifices are required to ensure players on 8th-generation consoles are able to compete with those on newer and more powerful hardware.
Traditionally, Call of Duty titles attempt something new with each release, and occasionally this desire to innovate on a tried and true formula produces results worthy of recognition, and in the case of Champion’s Hill, I feel the developers are onto something.
The average gamer rarely has the chance to compete in a “tournament” setting, especially one that is easily accessible and does not require a large time commitment, with the average Champions Hill match lasting around 25 minutes for teams who make it to the final round, and closer to 10 minutes for those who are eliminated early on.
How does Champion’s Hill work?
In Champions Hill 8 teams of players ( duos or trios) face off in a series of 60-second-long elimination rounds against other teams on four specially created arena maps; during each round, players will earn and collect currency that can be used to purchase/upgrade weapons, perks and support items to keep their team in the fight.
Each team is awarded a set amount of lives at the start of round one (12 for duos and 18 for trios), and when these lives are gone, the team is eliminated, and the process repeats until there is only one team standing, winner winner chicken dinner, the battle royale formula has mutated once again!
This mode is fantastic for levelling weapons and operators, and it is possible to earn close to 15 levels of weapon XP in under 25 minutes, making it one of the best modes for levelling weapons up to level 25.
If Treyarch ever decided to make a standalone zombies game, it would dominate the genre; however, as it stands, Call of Duty zombies is one of the most rewarding zombie shooters available.
The addition of rogue-like elements, a demonic threat, semi open-world map, a mission system, and procedurally generated/dynamic encounters ensure that Call of Duty: Vanguard’s zombie mode has the legs to last until 2024, which is believed to be the next time we will be seeing the mode return, with Call of Duty 2022 being a direct sequel to Modern Warfare (2019), the only title released in the last seven years not to feature a zombies mode.
Continuing a trend starting in Black Ops Cold War, Vanguard will feature no zombie mode-specific playable characters; instead, players are free to use any operator they have previously unlocked.
Despite launching without any traditional round-based zombie content, Treyarch responded to fan feedback by introducing more traditional zombie-mode content while continuing to support the new system for the duration of Vanguard’s short but not meaningless life..
Call of Duty: Vanguard runs at a stable 60 fps on 8th-generation consoles and an impressive 120 fps* on 9th-generation consoles and comparable PC hardware.
*120 fps is only possible in performance mode on 9th-generation consoles.
At the end of each match, players are allowed to select their team MVP based on criteria such as most time spent near allies, most enemies killed, and most killstreaks called in; this is a great way to support all playstyles and ensure that players who play the objective are rewarded accordingly.
Call of Duty: Vanguard launched with the most diverse list of operators in the history of the franchise, including six female operators and six non-white operators ( three male and three female).
While many critics have panned the Call of Duty: Vanguard single-player campaign as forgettable, I feel that is one word that cannot be ascribed to the campaign, which features the most diverse cast in the history of the franchise, for the first time allowing players to experience World War II through the eyes of those whose contributions have been widely ignored by the majority of World War II video games.
As I played through the campaign, I was captivated by these characters, who are willing to fight in a global war to save countries and ideologies that view them as “less than” or “second best”.
In one mission, the player (while controlling American pilot Wade) encounters the 93rd Infantry Division, who, despite showing great heroism when rescuing the downed pilot, are dismissed as a “coloured regiment” by Wade, thankfully this attitude does not last, and he soon learns a very real lesson on equality and what it means to be an American when fighting alongside the 93rd for the remainder of the mission.
I am particularly pleased with how well-written Arthur Kingsley is; all too often, black characters are either cast as sidekicks or inserted into a key role only to meet a diversity quota and are not given adequate care and attention to assure they are well-written characters that have a story worth telling, leading to cries of forced diversity or narrative wokeness, which in turn does more harm to the cause of true diversity than an all-white cast would have.
Lieutenant Arthur Kingsley is a wonderful addition to the Call of Duty franchise, and I hope Call of Duty: Vanguard and Warzone are not his only appearances.
Call of Duty: Vanguard is a first person shooter video game developed by Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision, it was released on 5 November 2021 and retails for $59.99+.
Call of Duty: Vanguard is available on the following platforms: PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, XBox One, Xbox Series X|S.
Call of Duty: Vanguard is no longer in active development, and the developers have moved on to other projects.
As of November 2023, around 2,600,000 people play Call of Duty: Vanguard on a fairly regular basis.
Call of Duty: Vanguard is very active, meaning that very short matchmaking times and even instant matchmaking is possible in populated regions, while less popular regions enjoy stable but less instantaneous matchmaking.
Call of Duty: Vanguard supports:
Call of Duty: Vanguard offers the following matchmaking options:
The Call of Duty: Vanguard in-game store sells:
The following peripherals are officially supported:
Call of Duty: Vanguard is rated PEGI 18+ and contains the following:
Call of Duty: Vanguard is an excellent game that is unmissable for diehard fans of the franchise and serves as a great entry point for new and casual players who have an interest in the franchise or a fascination with alternative history.