It feels like Call of Duty: Vanguard is already here with how much we just played the beta. We’ve been diving into the new maps, checking out new weapons and trying to deal with the wonky spawns that Sledgehammer Games has given us. While it’s far too early to pass any judgement on the upcoming shooter, we’ve got plenty of impressions on what we’ve played so far.
It’s been barely over a month since we saw the 2021 Call of Duty League season come to an end and top players from around the world are already diving into Search and Destroy tournaments in Sledgehammer Games’ next Call of Duty installment. Rostermania for the 2022 season is still underway, but that hasn’t stopped the top talent from around the league from dipping their toes into Vanguard for hours on end.
Call of Duty: Vanguard beta impressions
Both the beta and alpha have given us plenty of insight into how Vanguard works, what pro players think of it and what needs to change before it launches in Nov. Here are our impressions of the Call of Duty: Vanguard beta.
What are your overall thoughts on the Call of Duty: Vanguard beta and alpha?
Aron Garst: I’m hesitant to throw more time into the game. It doesn’t have the same sharpness that previous Call of Dutys have had in terms of gameplay and audio feedback. I like some of the maps and weapons, but landing a kill doesn’t have much of an impact. Maybe I’m not a big fan of the World War II setting after clinging to the modern tools in Black Ops Cold War. Vanguard could grow on me, though.
Joey Carr: When I first started playing Vanguard, it didn’t have the same impact on me that other Call of Duty titles initially did. The maps have a ton of tiny nuances that caught me by surprise. Having to figure out the strange Auto Tac Sprint system and weapon recoil patterns wasn’t easy, either. However, as I played more and more, I began to increasingly enjoy it to the point where I played for hours without noticing. There are some definite things Sledgehammer Games need to work on, but they’ve shown they can quickly push out updates based on community feedback.
Danny Appleford: This was my first time getting in on the beta for a Call of Duty title but, so far, I think Vanguard has a long way to go. From the overpowered sun glare to spiky blobs replacing teammates and enemies, there have been a handful of technical issues in the beta. These glitches are normal for any game in development but it made the beta feel lukewarm to me. The constant “packet burst” lag on Xbox didn’t help at all.
How does Vanguard compare to Black Ops Cold War in terms of gameplay, features, audio design, etc?
Aron: I felt an impact when I melted someone from across the map with my Krig 6 in Black Ops Cold War. I haven’t felt that at all with Vanguard. Kills feel uneventful, maps are a bit too open and a number of other technical issues have hindered my time with Sledgehammer’s shooter.
Why have all the games I’ve been in, including Search and Destroy, featured open mics? I shouldn’t be able to hear the enemy team’s plan and vice versa.
There are things I like about it. The lanes in some maps provide great choke points and flanking spots for both sides. The light and crisp visuals are a nice change of pace from the darker ones in Black Ops Cold War. I like Treyarch’s focus on more arcade-style fun, so I’m not sure if Vanguard’s more straight-forward approach will grab me.
Joey: Black Ops Cold War and Vanguard are oil and water. Cold War feels like an arcade-style shooter and Vanguard feels more realistic and punishing at times. Unlike in Cold War, you can’t bunny hop or sprint around a corner and kill enemies with ease in Vanguard. The game takes some getting used to and needs players to understand its mechanics in order to have success.
That said, I think Vanguard has more going for it than Cold War. Vanguard will have more content at launch, including 16 multiplayer maps, 40 weapons and 19 killstreaks. The gameplay and audio needs to be ironed out a bit, though.
To add on to that, the features in multiplayer feel fleshed out. We’ve yet to see the other maps and weapons but I’m encouraged by the ones in the beta. If Sledgehammer can deliver the fixes laid out by the community, then the gameplay should match up nicely with the wide-ranging features that Cold War didn’t deliver.
Danny: Cold War and Vanguard are nothing alike in my opinion. Vanguard feels more like Modern Warfare in terms of gameplay and audio design. It’s ditched the modern setting for a return to every theater of combat in World War II. We’ll see if that change works out in the long run.
How will this game differ from Black Ops Cold War in terms of competitive play? What differences will we see in the Call of Duty League?
Aron: Assault rifles don’t appear to be nearly as effective in Vanguard as they did in Black Ops Cold War. While it’s incredibly early, it does seem like next season could feature a triple SMG meta. If that’s the case, then only the top AR players could find a spot in the Call of Duty League 2022 season. Hopefully Anthony “Methodz” Zinni is one of those considering his phenomenal play in previous franchise entries set in World War II.
Joey: As of right now, it appears that Sledgehammer Games is going the extra mile when it comes to competitive play. According to leaks, custom matches will have options in the CDL ruleset to disable features like Tac Sprint, destructible walls and map pings. There’s already a fully-fledged list of banned items in the CDL ruleset.
With attention to detail like this, the Call of Duty League could be in for a great year. Of course, it won’t resemble Cold War in the slightest. Assault rifles dominated that game and changed the way all three game modes were played. It seems like there could be a reversal in Vanguard. The STG44 is strong in the beta but not nearly as powerful as the MP40. This means we could see a three-SMG meta if things stay the same. That would completely flip the league on its side and give rise to some teams who aren’t predicted to be top contenders.
Danny: Since this game is so different from Cold War, I think we will see different professionals rise up in the 2022 season. You can look at who succeeded in Call of Duty: World War II as a good example of who could rise up while playing Vanguard. There hasn’t been much revealed about competitive play for Vanguard, but I hope it’s not half-baked like it was in Cold War.
What do you think needs to be changed before Vanguard’s full release in Nov.?
Aron: I don’t want each kill to fall off without more audio feedback. The sharp audio ding you hear at the end of a kill in Cold War made that game work for me. I’ll need some of that as well as some creative map design within Vanguard in order for it to make as much of an impact as possible.
Joey: Currently, the biggest issues with Vanguard multiplayer are the spawns and audio. Starting with spawns, Sledgehammer needs to take data from the beta and design a spawn system that doesn’t place players in front of enemies for an easy kill. It’s nice that the developers removed the spawn delay during the beta, but now they need to adjust the system accordingly before release.
As for the audio, there’s a good bit of work that needs to be done here. Footstep audio should be increased slightly, but not so much so that it makes Dead Silence a crutch Field Upgrade. Also, directional audio could use a rework. Sometimes an enemy will be shooting directly next to me and I’ll have no idea they’re there until I get shot in the back.
Danny: I think sound is one of the most important aspects to be changed. I can’t hear people running up behind or spawning next to me. Additionally, it’s next to impossible to hear enemy fire when teammate gunfire drowns them out.
Aside from audio, the visuals need to be tweaked massively. Between the snow fall on Red Star and the rain on Gavatu, it’s hard to see enemies at a distance. Finally, Spawns! Please, please, please stop spawning enemies in front of me and vice versa.
What are your thoughts on Patrol, how does it compare to Hardpoint and Control?
Aron: Patrol was fantastic but it needs a couple changes to make it competitively viable. The first is a limit on team lives. Control is so much fun to watch and play because there is risk at play. You can’t just throw lives at the objective, you have to be careful with how you approach the point or you’ll lose quickly. This was the worst part of Patrol, as it was mere chaos in anything but a 6v6 setting. The second change is, once again, spawns. I can’t count how many times I spawned right in front of an enemy and vice versa. It made the mode painfully frustrating at points.
Outside those two frustrations, I had a blast on the mode and I hope it replaces Hardpoint in the Call of Duty League.
Joey: Patrol was one of the highlights of the beta for me. While it wasn’t in a competitive setting, a constantly moving objective was a nice change of pace from the humdrum gameplay of Domination. I enjoyed flanking around enemies who were sitting on the objective but also loved the constant action of being the one on the point. It doesn’t have the same strategy as Hardpoint or Control, with spawns being harder to lock down, but there’s some definite appeal in terms of competitive play. However, it’s hard to foresee it being included in the Call of Duty League game mode rotation with it resembling Hardpoint so closely.
Danny: I enjoy Patrol a lot, but I think I’m enjoying it because there is currently a lack of Hardpoint in the beta. Since it’s so much like Hardpoint, I think it will be hard to pick one or the other. It’s not really like Control, since there are no life limits and the Patrol point is constantly moving around. I think it’s safe to say they’ll stick with Control for the CDL rotation as it was so popular in other games.