Call of Duty: Vanguard released on November 5th for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5 and PC, and while touted as having more fanfare than Battlefield 2042, it hasn’t exactly garnered much love from fans either. While the overall gun play and graphics are good, this year’s entry has a lot of issues that hold it back from being truly enjoyable. Let’s take a look at 13 things that players hate about this year’s Call of Duty.
There are some things to like about the campaign in Call of Duty: Vanguard. It has many of the same kinds of epic set-pieces you’d expect in a Call of Duty game, with some stellar visual presentation and an endearing cast. Unfortunately, the experience is dragged down by some very iffy teammate AI. They’ll as likely shoot the player for no apparent reason as they will flee if a single enemy begins to flank. While no one is expecting stellar AI from a Call of Duty game, much less the campaign, you’d think it wouldn’t be this bad either.
A short campaign isn’t necessarily a new thing for Call of Duty but even by those admittedly low standards, Vanguard’s campaign is over before you know it. There are just nine missions that take about 5 to 6 hours to complete, and it’s not like there’s any reason to revisit it (unless you really like playing on higher difficulties). It also doesn’t help that the entire experience is so formulaic with its vehicle mission, sneaking mission, airfield mission, so on and so forth. Of course, the real meat of the experience is in multiplayer and surely Call of Duty: Vanguard delivers there, right?
Time to Kill
Saying that Call of Duty has a fast time to kill in multiplayer would be an understatement – the series thrives on being a twitch-based shooter. But when players are complaining that the time to kill in Vanguard feels too fast, then there’s a problem. Though it was noted during the beta, the issue has carried over into the full game. Perhaps the head-shot damage is still completely out of whack, especially since body shot damage seems somewhat fine. Either way, it’ll take some more work to get “just right.”
Weapon balancing in any multiplayer game is tough. You don’t want to over-nerf a weapon just because it’s popular and completely cripple it for those who enjoy it. However, you also want to encourage the usage of other weapons (even if a few will inevitably become the next meta). With that in mind, the MP40 and STG-20 need some adjustments. When one of the major complaints is time to kill and you have weapons capable of two-shotting enemies by just hitting their limbs, then there are some pretty big issues with the balancing. Blame it on the attachments or something else but something needs to be dialed back (while weapons like the M1 Garand need to be improved).
Of the many things that were in the beta and didn’t get fixed, here’s something that was missing in the beta but added in the final release. Bloom is essentially random bullet spread – unlike recoil, you can’t control it. In fact, the only way to reduce it by using attachments and even then the amount of random spread is insane. It needlessly punishes you for getting the drop on an enemy or shooting first, introducing an element of “luck” into every encounter (which is just bad for any competitive shooter).
Spawns have usually been an issue in Call of Duty titles over the years but that doesn’t excuse just how terrible they can be in Vanguard. Combine this with the fast time to kill and it’s very easy to die, spawn and then die again immediately without so much of a break (and that’s not including maps like Das Haus where it’s very easy to spawn trap a team). Sometimes, a player can even spawn right next to the enemy team and pick them off accordingly. “Behind enemy lines” is a thing in war but this is just ridiculous.
Commando Pro Returns
Back in the old days of COD, there were many forms of cheese with Commando Pro being one of the most infamous. It’s somewhat returned in Call of Duty: Vanguard – by using the bayonet attachment on a weapon and Reach proficiency, you can sometimes seem to teleport you to an opponent with a lunge and insta-kill them. When it’ll be patched remains to be seen but it’s annoying and is yet another big issue with the balancing.
If we’ve said it once, we’ll say it again – skill-based matchmaking isn’t inherently a bad thing. Every competitive multiplayer game, whether you’re playing Casual or Ranked, has some form of skill-based matchmaking or SBMM. However, it’s implementation in Call of Duty over the past few years has been quite volatile. You may be slaying in one match and then find yourself mercilessly stomped for the next three before matchmaking swings back the other way. The issue returns in Vanguard, to the surprise of no one, and makes for a trying time.
Spawn issues in Das Haus aside, there are some good maps in Vanguard like Tuscan and Hotel Royal. However, the number of misses are just that much more pronounced especially in Sub Pens and Demyansk. The removal of score-streaks, changes to the radar, spawn issues and so on all make for a horrid experience but if you’re not dealing with campers or head-glitchers, then it’s just the layouts which are simply not fun to run through.
Visibility was a fairly big issue in the previous game and unfortunately, it seems that Vanguard has its own major issues on that front. Most Operators tend to blend into maps so it becomes difficult to see anyone until it’s too late. Factions are also absent so you’re oftentimes confusing your teammates with the enemy. It may not have been a major issue on its own but becomes significantly more annoying when combined with everything else.
No Map Voting
Map voting was a feature in Call of Duty: WW2, allowing players to vote on the map played. While it led to players selecting their favorite maps, it could also drag down the experience as they go through the same content again and again. Vanguard doesn’t have map voting and the general consensus is to have it back (perhaps due to how terrible some maps are). Regardless of where one may fall on the issue, it’s odd to see it randomly omitted this year.
So the campaign is forgettable and multiplayer is annoying. How does Zombies, developed by Treyarch, fare? Unfortunately, it’s also very disappointing, not because it’s outright terrible but due to the lack of content and how repetitive everything gets. It combines rounds with exploration and different objectives – completing these will make the map tougher but you also have the option to exfil from round four. You could keep fighting or just call it quits because, honestly, it’s really just a lot more of the same. Considering how Zombies’ experiences have panned out, Der Anfang is a pretty big step down in terms of fun and replay value.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a new Call of Duty without crashes. While there’s nothing as severe as last year’s entry, many users have been reporting crashes since launch, whether it’s in loading the game up or going beyond the main menu on PC. Sledgehammer has been issuing updates and addressing numerous bugs so it’s probably a matter of time before things get fixed. Probably.
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