The state of Call of Duty — how Vanguard isn’t a game changer

Another year, another Call of Duty. Like clockwork, it’s during the leadup to the launch of the next entry to the popular franchise that we start to see a recurring theme around the internet: “I don’t care about Call of Duty,” “Call of Duty is not worth $60,” and the straightforward, “does it suck?” With 2021’s Call of Duty: Vanguard, the consensus is no different.

Despite Vanguard going back to the series’ World War II roots, boasting a blockbuster campaign across “four major theatres of war,” a reinvigorating multiplayer mode with 20 maps at launch, and a “universe-expanding” zombies mode, many cast their doubts on this year’s Call of Duty. After players like myself got their hands on two weekends of multiplayer gameplay in the beta, Vanguard doesn’t feel like anything special. 

Sure, it brings the same standard of quality from past entries that other first-person shooters take notes from, but in an era of next-generation titles such as Returnal, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and Deathloop, Vanguard doesn’t appear to bring anything new to the table. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be a thrilling entry to the franchise.

It’s hard not to relate Call of Duty to the subtle yet hugely sought-after upgrades Apple brings to its annual iPhone release, with the recent iPhone 13 being no exception. The Cupertino tech giant’s latest flagship smartphone may not offer drastic changes from its predecessors, but it’s still one of the best phones on the market. That same line of thinking can be applied to Vanguard; if you enjoy everything Call of Duty has to offer, Vanguard will be the experience you’re expecting.

First impressions

The Call of Duty: Vanguard multiplayer beta has received mixed feedback, which I’m inclined to agree with after spending a few days playing through three maps: Hotel Royal, Red Star and Gavutu.” Luckily, this was just a beta, and many of the issues can easily (and hopefully) be solved for when Vanguard finally launches.

One of the first features I found interesting was Vanguard’s Combat Pacing which essentially details the number of players that will be in each game. Tactical combat pacing is deemed to be the “classic Call of Duty combat timing,” featuring 6-vs-6 match-ups, Assault acts as the middle ground with player counts varying between 20 and 28 players, while Blitz offers all the action with player counts between 28 and 48 players.

(Image credit: Future)

No matter what the combat pacing, from the high-intensity “Blitz” team deathmatch to “Tactical”-style domination, matchmaking is speedy. This is largely dependent on different player’s internet speeds, but you’ll be notified about your ping speeds. Bringing up the pause menu even offers an average for latency, just in case you’re wondering why that headshot didn’t land (because of course it did, right?)

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