Sledgehammer's follow-up to Call of Duty: WWII, Call of Duty: Vanguard, has already gone through an alpha and a beta, so players across the world are asking the same question: Is Vanguard any good? Obviously, the question is somewhat subjective, but in this article, we're going to tell what the biggest takeaways players have after playing Vanguard are and leave you to draw your own conclusions.
The return of Modern Warfare 2019's engine is a huge talking point for Vanguard precisely because of how many people are excited to see the tech return after Black Ops Cold War. The engine looks great, the animations are smooth, and the movement system in Modern Warfare and Warzone is back: Tactical sprint lovers, rejoice! Even if the engine's actual performance has been rocky in the alpha and beta versions of the game, regularly dropping frames and running into visual glitches, it's hard to see its return as anything but good news for most fans.
One of the biggest changes to Call of Duty in years will also be launching with Vanguard: an actual anti-cheat system. Call of Duty is notorious for its cheaters, and depending on the year and the game, it might be forever ruined by cheaters. Warzone has had a huge cheater problem since its launch, too, but Vanguard's anti-cheat system will be coming to Warzone as well.
We don't yet know exactly how effective this system will be, but since cheating is nowhere near as much of a problem in other modern games, if it's a reasonably similar system to what else is out today, it should significantly cut down on cheating. Nobody likes cheaters, except maybe the cheaters themselves, so less of them is always a good thing.
The last huge change to Vanguard very few people in the community are against is combat pacing. This is a new way to matchmake in Vanguard as opposed to the traditional playlists of the past, which would change up maps, modes, and player counts. With three different flavors, Tactical, Assault, and Blitz, choosing your combat pacing will let you choose how many players you want in your game spread across a variety of modes.
Tactical is the traditional 6v6 Call of Duty experience; Assault is like a traditional Ground War experience from older Call of Duty games, bringing the 12v12 experience to Vanguard; and Blitz will turn every game into a Shipment match in Modern Warfare, bringing 24v24 to Vanguard.
Each of the three different combat paces will play across the game's same 16 core maps, which were built as traditional 6v6 maps, and the player counts will vary map to map when running either the Assault or Blitz combat pacing. Smaller maps might have slightly lower player counts, while larger maps will have more people.
With combat pacing, players won't have to wait until the right playlist with a big player count on the right map pops up, usually for a limited time, to play their preferred combination of players, modes, and maps. This will give the player much more control over their matchmaking experience than ever before in Call of Duty.
Outside of these major features, though, there are a number of changes (and returning things) coming in Vanguard that fans do not like. The number one problem with Vanguard's pre-release builds has been the audio. Everything sounds muted and mixed weirdly, and hearing anything from footsteps to gunfire nearby is a total hit or miss with many more misses than hits. Sledgehammer has gone on record saying this will be adjusted.
Other than the audio issues, the TTK, or time-to-kill, in Vanguard is also causing problems. Modern Warfare 2019 had an incredibly fast TTK, and a big part of this design choice came down to closing the skill gap. Infinity Ward wanted players of all skill levels to be able to pick up the game and be able to play well enough to have fun without getting absolutely clobbered by people at a higher skill-level.
Vanguard has a TTK very similar to Modern Warfare 2019, but Vanguard also has serious bonuses to headshot damage, meaning if you score a single headshot, you'll likely reduce your time-to-kill by an entire shot. This is a huge deal when guns only take on average a couple shots to kill.
These problems are made worse by the heavy flinch inflicted on players taking fire and the more serious recoil of the guns in Vanguard: many times unintentionally your sights will jump up to somebody's head if you aim for the chest, and with a headshot you can instantly delete people.
Related: Call of Duty: Vanguard to Have Crossplay, Be Cross-Platform
With wide, open maps with a lot of visibility on top of all this and a minimap that doesn't show players firing unsuppressed weapons without the Radar Perk, passive play is strongly encouraged, and because of the TTK, if you're hanging in a corner aimed at a door, you'll always get the kill because you shot first.
The time it takes to begin firing when sprinting is also a lot slower than normal for Call of Duty, and while firing aimed down sights, smoke and muzzle flash are pronounced, making it hard to stay on target. These mechanics also encourage players not to run and gun but rather post up in power positions and take the easiest kills they possibly can.
Weapons in Vanguard can be equipped with up to ten different attachments, and while this does give players more customization options over their weapons than ever before, it introduces serious balance problems. We don't fully know the extent to which balance will be in Vanguard, given that the pre-release versions don't give full access to attachments, but already there are issues.
It's true that this system is compensated for somewhat by making weapons without attachments harder to handle and generally much less effective than their fully-kitted variants, but even the base variants of the MP40 or Thomspon or STG44 are incredibly deadly. When fully-kitted, they can be terrifying in the hands of even a novice player.
When everything going on in Vanguard is taken together, the game has a lot of the same design and balance issues Modern Warfare 2019 had. Accordingly, a lot of the more serious players who weren't just looking for a game to turn their brain off and get kills struggled to stick with Modern Warfare longer-term. If the reaction to Vanguard is anything like Modern Warfare, this will probably apply to Vanguard as much as it did Modern Warfare if Sledgehammer doesn't make major tweaks before release. Though how the actual full release will go remains to be seen, so stay tuned