Over the weekend I participated in the Call of Duty Vanguard Beta on PC. And I have surprisingly little to even report on. I mean, what is there to say? It’s a Call of Duty game. And I hate that I just wrote that. People hear “It’s a Call of Duty game” and they can imagine how the campaign will play out, what the multiplayer is like, and how the shooting feels. But Vanguard is even worse, it’s not following the formula to a T, it’s a copy-and-paste game. It’s literally Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), with WWII skins, slapped on top of everything.
You will be putting the exact same attachments on your guns as you always did. Which in itself just confuses me, red dot sights, future-tech hologram sights, and so on, in a WWII setting, what the hell? And you will jump into the exact same modes like “Kill Confirmed” that we have been playing since 2011. Or “Search and Destroy”, which has been there since the very first game in the franchise. And when you load in, you will throw a stun grenade that functions the exact same since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
“But it’s a Call of Duty game! What were you expecting?”
People like to pretend that CoD is a yearly franchise with not an ounce of innovation involved. Which is frankly a load of crap. What about Infinite Warfare? Sure, it pissed off a lot of CoD fans. And that is what made it so great! What do I mean by that? It didn’t feel like Call of Duty at parts, and this brought in people who never experienced the franchise. Why release the same game each year? Experimentation like this should be welcomed by the community, not shunned!
Then we have CoD: Black Ops 4. A very same-ish game, par for the course entry into the classic Black Ops line of CoD games. But it featured Blackout, a 100 player battle Royale mode. And I know putting Battle Royale into a game doesn’t scream “innovation”, but god damn did it shake up the formula. Weapons that always dominated multiplayer matches were made unviable, certain grenades and equipment shifted tiers too. It was a breath of fresh air. And then Warzone came about. It refined the formula, introduced Gulag and the buy stations. This pushed players to play way more aggressively. Because you needed to earn cash for upgrades, but even if you died, there were options to come back. This circumvented matches becoming stale quickly like in PUBG for example.
What the future holds for the franchise
I could talk about so much more. The zombies mode, for example, is an absolute staple of the franchise by now. It went back and forth between the latest games. The consensus between gamers is that CoD: WWII zombies are one of the worst the franchise has seen, while CoD: Cold War zombies were a strong addition to this line of “side games”. And who knows, maybe Vanguard will feature the greatest single-player campaign ever or the best zombies ever. Or maybe they will completely out of the blue introduce some revolutionary game mode?
But as it is now, I wouldn’t count on it. The newest entry looks like a generic COD game so far. And a lot of folk on the internet agree. A huge group of people will skip this title to buy Battlefield 2042. And who knows what happens if Vanguard flops, while other shooters take attention away from it? Maybe the franchise will be finally dethroned after so long? Or this will be just a bump in the road.