After months of teasers, leaks, and speculation, players are finally getting their hands on Call of Duty: Vanguard's anticipated multiplayer mode ahead of release thanks to the beta weekends taking place throughout September. As we head closer to the November 5th release, we've spent some time playing through the various maps and game modes available to see how the game is looking.
From the outset, it is clear to see that Vanguard is visually stunning, with each of the playable Operators modelled with incredible detail alongside maps full of rich colour and unique levels of dynamic evolution. The awesome aesthetics combined with exceptional gunplay make Vanguard a solid first-person shooter (FPS) title but the few hours of gameplay experienced made it abundantly clear that the casual fanbase is the main focus for multiplayer.
The Gunsmith Allows All Players To Thrive
An expanded take on the Gunsmith first introduced in 2019's Modern Warfare enables players to attach a total of ten attachments to every single weapon in the arsenal. While that may seem a tad excessive, each attachment has a number of unique benefits that can drastically improve performance over the course of a match.
The new additions of ammunition types and proficiencies make a change from insignificant attachments that provide minimal improvements. Now, players can equip bullets that can burn opposition as well as increase penetration through surfaces, which makes a huge difference thanks to Vanguard's new destructible environments.
Destruction has never played a huge part in Call of Duty multiplayer but in Vanguard, the ability to break through walls and smash glass panels adds to the flow of a map, opening up specific rooms inside a building or a sneaky line of sight perfect for picking off unsuspecting opposition. Once the damage has been done, it has its benefits but the initial breaching of certain wooden structures on maps such as Red Star and Hotel Royal can attract plenty of unwanted attention, particularly in a game using Assault and Blitz Combat Pacing.
Combat Pacing: A Welcome Change
Combat Pacing is an all-new feature for Vanguard and gives players the ability to select three kinds of pace - Tactical, Assault, and Blitz. Tactical is the classic 6v6 multiplayer experience synonymous with the franchise, Assault increases the player count to 10v10 action, while Blitz is complete chaos with two teams of 14 battling it out in fast and frenetic action that never seems to end.
The increase of pace is a welcome change and after playing a chaotic Hotel Royal Domination match on the Blitz setting, heading into a Team Deathmatch on Gavutu using Tactical makes Vanguard feel incredibly slow and somewhat stale.
Flawed Spawn Logic Ruins The Maps
Understandable spawn logic is an integral part of map design, particularly in Call of Duty where mastering how the spawns work on specific maps can be a sure-fire path to victory. Regardless of Combat Pacing, the spawns are unpredictable which often leads to players spawning directly in front of an opponent with no chance of managing to contest the gunfight. Unpredictable spawns in Assault and Blitz matches are expected considering the increase in player size but spawning on one enemy flag when your team has control two defies all kinds of logic.
The design of the maps is a mixed bag, with Gavutu and Hotel Royal sticking to the tried and tested three-lane structure while Red Star comprises of a square layout with buildings overlooking the central fountain. They're certainly not the worst maps but compared to their predecessors in Black Ops Cold War, there's plenty of room for improvement.
Final Thoughts: A Good Start, But Much To Improve
Considering the only gameplay I've experienced is from a game that's clearly unfinished, Vanguard's multiplayer has some solid foundations that can be improved upon. The main issue currently hindering the game is the spawn logic and if that can be improved so that there's some kind of predictability, the casual side of multiplayer is in a very good place.
As for the competitive side, it's unclear as to how 4v4 competition will work with so many attachments that will fall victim to the unofficial gentlemen's agreement thanks to their overpowered nature. Either way, it's certainly going to be an interesting year of Call of Duty from all angles.