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Call of Duty Vanguard Multiplayer Beta Hands-On: A Step Back in Time

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Call of Duty: Vanguard multiplayer is barebones and ruthless. It drops you into the chaos of a simulated World War II battlefield without wasting anyone’s time. The game mechanics are fairly standard CoD, and if you’re familiar with the franchise you’ll find your feet almost immediately. Despite Activision choosing a hacked WWII theme for its new first-person shooter (FPS), the game felt completely different from 2017’s Call of Duty: WWII. Vanguard is 2020’s Black Ops Cold War wrapped in a WWII skin, borrowed from 2019’s Modern Warfare. The familiarity in the gameplay is tempting for COD fans to jump right in, but the theme is what makes it an alternative to Cold War — and free-to-play Warzone — and not a natural next chapter in multiplayer gaming.

We got to experience the Call of Duty: Vanguard multiplayer open beta over the course of two days on the Xbox Series S. The game is based on the Modern Warfare engine and developed by Sledgehammer Games – with Treyarch handling the Zombies mode that we have yet to see – who previously developed 2017’s Call of Duty: WWII. The general theme is no coincidence.

One of the early things that worked in developers’ favor is that the Call of Duty: Vanguard Multiplayer Open Beta turned out to be a lot less buggy than expected. Sledgehammer Games was able to address some of the series’ issues with the graphics, sounds, and gameplay that plagued the Alpha. That being said, while the occasional cheater was cleared of any scrutiny, Activision’s heavily-advertised new anti-cheat program had yet to be implemented. But once we got past them, they were loyal, enthusiastic, and amateur enough to keep the fun alive.

Call of Duty: Vanguard Map & Matchmaking

Call of Duty: Vanguard Multiplayer has a bunch of new stuff to get gamers excited. One of the essential additions is Combat Pacing – a new form of customizable matchmaking. Tactical lobbies are classic 6v6, Assault has balanced pacing with 20-28 players, and Blitz takes you to high-intensity lobbies of 28-48 players. It’s a sensible addition to give new players more breathing space, balanced gameplay for casual players, and a taste of like-minded madness. But how well it works in the long run is what we’ll need to experience the full game when it launches on November 5.

Visibility in Call of Duty: Vanguard can be poor on small maps and in closed spaces
photo credit: sledgehammer games

New, fun and realistic yes, but there’s a moisture here that goes against hours of non-stop gaming – at least in the Vanguard beta. Sticking to the subject, the overall colors in most maps seem a bit muted. There’s more wood around it that is meant to be perishable, which contributes to making the overall color palate a bit dull. Destruction with dust, fire, smoke, sparks, or snow mixed in different maps and the effects of different weapons, compromising the overall visibility little more than what feels comfortable for intense multiplayer gunfights, mainly of WWII. Makes players hard to spot with Operator skins heavy on the beige and create some extra eyesore. Here’s hoping that diversity throughout the game solves this as much as intended.

Call of Duty: Vanguard Gameplay and Weapons

Vanguard’s gunplay is sharp—at a steeper pace than we realized in the Cold War—and the weapon does justice to the 1940s with significantly heavier feel and increased vertical recoil. But to make things interesting, the developers have brought back the weapon-mounting mechanism – meaning you can mount your weapon on most flat surfaces like walls and crates to get a stable target. Destructive environments are another aid. You can shoot wooden planks, partitions, walls and doors to make target holes or bring them all the way down to create new paths. Just expect more wall-banging, as we should have, with our cover blown to pieces pretty often. A side note to Vanguard developers though: Some solid looking doors just shouldn’t have been hit by bullets — a complaint that’s also echoing through the Call of Duty forums.

The weapons in Call of Duty: Vanguard are now worryingly customizable. Expect the combinations to go wrong unless you have 10 attachments each for the primary weapons at your disposal. However, campers born will have less to rejoice and more to learn with scopes getting the real WWII treatment. It will take a while to get used to the old style magnification and so will the recoil and loading times.

Call of Duty: Vanguard’s solo campaign’s story looks fresh and detailed – climbing walls and ceilings never gets old – and gamers have enough time and background to settle into a new environment before diving full-time into multiplayer mode. Should be given That said, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, which has achieved a rare balance between the real and the futuristic, will remain grounded when choosing a lobby.

You can pre-order Call of Duty: Vanguard now. The game will release worldwide on November 5 for PS5 (Review), PS4, Xbox S/X (Review), Xbox One and PC. The Standard Edition of Call of Duty: Vanguard last-gen is out for PS4 and Xbox One. The price of the console is Rs. 3,999. Owners of the new console are encouraged to spend extra for the game’s customized cross-gen bundle, which costs Rs. 4,999 with some bonus content. Call of Duty: Vanguard Ultimate Edition topped with yet more bonus content, priced at Rs. 6,999. PC gamers can choose between the $60 Standard Edition and the $100 Ultimate Edition (roughly Rs.4,490 and Rs.7,480).


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