Disclaimer: We were provided with a copy of the game and had no obligation to write a review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are the author’s own and not influenced by Activision, and/or its affiliates, in any way.
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to check out the latest instalment in the Call of Duty franchise, Vanguard, and after finishing the single-player campaign, here are my thoughts on the game. Firstly, I have to give credit to Sledgehammer Games for optimizing the game - on my desktop, which struggles to play CoD: Warzone at a decent frame rate, I could run Vanguard perfectly. Sure, it was on performance mode at 1080p, but it looked and ran a lot better than the CoD battle royale. I was able to finish the whole game with no issues or slowdown in performance. It was that well optimized.
Now onto the game itself - it's been a while since I last played a CoD campaign (if I'm not mistaken it was probably the 2010 Black Ops or older) so it felt refreshing to jump into a story-driven shooter again. The story kicks off right in the thick of things - hijack a train that is on its way to Hamburg to steal some files. As usual, things quickly escalate and you find yourself embroiled in a plan to put an end to the Third Reich. I won't spoil the rest of the story, but let's just say it's nothing out of the ordinary regarding World War 2 and Nazis.
Throughout the campaign, you'll get to play backstory/introductory missions as each of the characters, which eventually cumulates into the present day where you use everything you've learnt to complete the final task. As Arthur Kingsley, the British leader of the group, you get to play a typical FPS with a special ability to command your allies to attack designated hotspots. Wade Jackson, the American pilot, you get to fly a plane and a special detection mode that slows enemies down and shows their outline wherever they are. Polina Petrova, the Russian sharpshooter, is great with a sniper rifle and has the ability to move quickly while crouched. Lastly, as Lucas Riggs, the Australian demolitions expert - you get to blow up a lot of things.
I'm no history buff so I can't tell you how accurate the various battles and locations were - but seeing how Vanguard is a game and not an army simulator, it shouldn't be of much concern. With the unique gameplay elements of each character and mission, the game felt fresh from start to end without overstaying its welcome. I played the game on Regular difficulty and felt it was challenging enough - most of the game was a breeze but there were sections I had to replay quite a few times before figuring out what to do.
The worst part of the game was the plane mission. I don't know if this was intended to convey how difficult it was to fly and shoot at the same time, or me being terrible with plane controls, but it was the only mission where I felt glad when it was finally over. The rest of the campaign was typical CoD: shoot enemies, run to cover, collect ammo/weapons, rinse and repeat. The only difference is how you accomplish those tasks. Not complaining here - people expecting a CoD game won't be let down.
The final mission was a fun and short excursion which ended a bit too soon (it also wraps up in the most convenient way possible) but I guess it's a good way to introduce people to multiplayer before they can get burnt out by the game. I tried a single match of Free For All multiplayer and was quickly reminded why I stopped playing multiplayer shooters in the first place - I don't have the reflexes that I used to for these kinds of games. Overall, CoD: Vanguard was a decent way to spend six and a half hours of my weekend.
In conclusion, CoD: Vanguard's single-player campaign is nothing groundbreaking in terms of its story or mechanics, but it is an entertaining ride. Treat it like an introduction to the multiplayer component of the game - where I believe most CoD players will be spending their time. Based on the official road map, there's tons more content to come so this can be a game that you play for a whole year. Props to Sledgehammer for the graphical optimization - hopefully, we can see that tech carried over to Warzone one day.
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