Call of Duty: Vanguard is the latest entrant into an 18-year-old franchise and marks a return to the well-trodden battlefields of World War Two, but don’t be afraid – Vanguard packs a punch.
From the moment you fire up campaign mode, Vanguard is a visual epic. The environment is so vast in scale and detail that you can’t help but take a moment away from running and gunning to take in the beautiful, terrible scene around you.
As you progress through each level, everything has been rendered so perfectly that you’ll genuinely stop and stare in wonder at the skies over Stalingrad as Stukas scream towards you, machine guns crackling and bombs whistling.
Where the campaign mode really impresses is by introducing each of the Special Forces operators – drawn from Great Britain, the USA, the Soviet Union and Australia – via missions from their past, allowing us a glimpse of their experiences and reasons for fighting.
Ace US pilot Wade Jackson’s storyline takes us into the skies above Midway and into the jungles of Bougainville, while Aussie Lucas Riggs has us trekking through the deserts of North Africa.
Brit Arthur Kingsley’s drop behind enemy lines in France as part of Operation Tonga also produces some stunning visual moments, including an epic assault on gun emplacements, but Polina Petrova’s emotional and hair-raising battle through Stalingrad is the standout storyline – just make sure you load up on Molotov cocktails, because you’ll need them.
Fast and furious is how I would describe Vanguard’s multiplayer mode, and it is definitely the title’s strongest element. The maps again are epic in terms of scale and beauty, and there’s the welcome addition of extended game modes such as Champion Hill. This is a round-robin tournament in which teams of two and three share a pool of lives and attempt to kill the other team as many times as possible – this is what will keep avid gamers coming back for more.
Fans of Modern Warfare and the iconic Warzone will be glad to see that mechanics such as double sprinting and bursting through doors made it into Vanguard, and then there are new features that unlock new avenues of attack. While not on the scale of Battlefield, some maps contain destructible elements – boarded up windows or walls, for example – that when broken, can really help to flank your enemy and help you rack up that kill count.
Now, there’s always a question mark over the range and variety of multiplayer maps when it comes to launch day. But with Vanguard, we’ve been lucky enough to be given 20 – yes, that’s right, 20 – superb maps. Snipers among us will immediately take to Demyansk, but beware the campers on Numa Numa. Still, there’s nothing as satisfying as taking out campers, right?
The only issue? Don’t stand around too long taking in the awe-inspiring scenery around you, or you’ll find yourself on the wrong end of the Flamenaut.
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