As the Fall season arrives, bringing with it Daylight Savings Time, colder weather, and the push of holiday ads urging people to get out and shop, it also brings with it the annual release of the latest Call of Duty game from Sledgehammer Games in the long-running and highly successful game title.
CoD is one of the world’s most popular first-person shooters, thanks in part to its gunplay and movement. And there may be no map with as much running and gunning as the bite-sized, high-octane Shipment.
Delighting the adrenaline junkies out there, Shipment is making its return to CoD in Sledgehammer Games’ Vanguard. And this will come after a yearlong hiatus, with its last appearance in Modern Warfare 2019.
This year sees the return to a World War II setting and Call of Duty: Vanguard hits the ground running with a daring train heist set at night during a rainstorm. Before players can catch their breath, there is a raid on a submarine base. Then the story evolves into missions about the back stories of each character before they joined the team. This not only gives a much deeper insight into the characters, but also allows multiple locales from WWII to come into the game. There are flying and ground missions set in the Pacific Theater, ground missions in Europe, and desert missions in Africa, but the frozen Stalingrad missions really shine. These are as emotional and engaging as any in the franchise.
What really makes this choice stand out is that they are told while the team held captive, and the game cleverly weaves the past and present into the overall narrative. While the vast focus of the campaign involves the past experiences of the team, the final acts where the team brings home the mission objective are ultimately satisfying.
The multiplayer feature has always been a staple of the franchise. New maps and variations are introduced and with a large assortment of maps and game modes included at launch players will be very happy with what is available.
The game does require some adjustment, thanks in part to the accuracy with which its WWII era weapons are portrayed. They do not have the accuracy, fast load times, and explosive radius of modern weapons. That said, Vanguard does have weapons customization. Also present are female characters and persons of color, for a more realistic representation of the period setting for the game.
Also offered is a Zombie mode. Usually you would see that from Treyarch Games versus ones headed by Sledgehammer Games, and while it does not shake things up radically, it does offer a fun twist to gameplay. It will be interesting to see how this evolves with future updates.
In the end, Call of Duty: Vanguard offers a familiar outing but with some new wrinkles, an engaging story, and plenty of multiplayer maps which should keep fans of the franchise playing steadily right up to the release of the next game.
4 stars out of 5
Gareth is the mastermind behind the popular pop media site Skewed and Reviewed. He lives in Arizona with his wife Em McBride.