After months of rumors and numerous leaks, Sledgehammer Games’ Call of Duty: Vanguard has finally been announced, that too with Activision removing all mentions of its name from the reveal trailer. While it’s futile to tell any fan of the franchise to outright avoid a new Call of Duty title, pointing out various issues that have plagued the series and how they could impact this new release is still necessary. And that’s not even taking into account Vanguard’s own brand of nonsense. Let’s take a look at six of our biggest concerns at the moment.
One look at Call of Duty: Vanguard would make you think that it’s the same World War 2 setting with its multiple theaters of war, stretching from North America to the Eastern and Western European Fronts. Though you’ll once again assault the beaches of Normandy during D-Day, much of the campaign is actually set after World War 2 with the Nazis having been defeated and Hitler already dead. But it’s not quite over – the Allies still have to contend with the antagonistic Heinrich Freisinger along with Project Phoenix which is being used to create “Hitler’s successor.”
It almost sounds like the modern Wolfenstein titles in terms of set-up. Except without the robot hounds, sci-fi technology, hulking super-soldiers or really anything that makes Wolfenstein interesting. But the fact that Vanguard is using World War 2 as seemingly little more than a backdrop definitely leaves a big question mark on the story’s overall quality. Time will tell but it’s concerning all the same, even if fans hoped for something different.
In terms of scale, Vanguard is a massive project. It has a campaign spanning across multiple theaters of war; 20 maps for multiplayer (with 16 being core) and a brand new mode called Champion Hill; a new Zombies mode made by Treyarch that connects to that in Black Ops Cold War; and of course, a new Warzone map that will tie into this year’s release. The sheer scale is worthy of note but it also creates concerns with regards to quality assurance. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was also fairly big and had multiple developers working on it, but reported behind-the-scenes troubles resulted in an overall shorter development period.
Whether that’s also the case with Vanguard is unknown – it’s possible that Sledgehammer was taken off of Black Ops Cold War in order to devote more time to this project. But there’s still no shaking concerns about its quality. Furthermore, as last year’s game proved, bigger doesn’t always equal better. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was rife with bugs and performance issues, challenges not progressing in Zombies, and crashes across all platforms (with many issues still remaining till date). With Vanguard’s scale and current events being what they are, odds are high that it will ship with some problems, regardless of how much testing is done.
When talking about scale, another concern arises with regards to install size. A recent report indicated that Vanguard would need a whopping 275 GB of free space. However, the Microsoft Store listing for the Xbox version indicated that only 75 GB of installation space would be required. So what’s going on? The latter is most likely the amount of space needed for the campaign with additional modes bringing the total up to 275 GB. Official confirmation on that front is still pending.
However, let’s look at Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. At launch, it required almost 190 GB of installation space on Xbox Series X/S which included Zombies, Multiplayer, Dead Ops Arcade, an HD texture pack, ray tracing data and the Campaign. A quick peek at the PC version’s current requirements on Battle.net reveal that 50 GB is needed for multiplayer but all of the game modes together account for 175 GB.
Warzone isn’t even factored in for both cases and additional space will be needed for post-launch updates. So whether you’re on console or PC, a hefty amount of disk space to not only run the game but to continue enjoying it after launch will also be necessary.
Another key issue that came up last year was multiplayer, which was rife with issues. Visibility of players was a joke at launch due to the lack of player name tags, thus allowing them to stand in the shadows on darker maps and gank others relentlessly. Vehicles were overpowered to the point of ridiculousness, hindering modes like Fireteam: Dirty Bomb. The removal of flinch caused sniper rifles to be extremely strong, leading to easy kills with minimal effort. Don’t even get us started on scorestreaks.
Many of these complaints, along with several others that cropped up, would be addressed but even with Black Ops Cold War in its fifth season, multiplayer lingers dangerously close to being an afterthought. Of course, all of this is under Treyarch’s purview. Sledgehammer Games is known for having issues with multiplayer at launch for Call of Duty: WW2 but would successfully address them over time, resulting in a pretty fun experience. Perhaps things will be different this year.
There’s no denying that skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) is a thing in pretty much every competitive PvP shooter and Call of Duty is no different. While many call for its removal, there are others that understand its necessity, especially when it ensures that lower-skilled players stand a chance of survival. Call of Duty’s implementation of it though, especially with Black Ops Cold War, has been less than ideal – one’s skill level could fluctuate wildly, allowing them to consistently go on a tear in one map and be utterly stomped in the next.
How Sledgehammer Games will fix this remains to be seen but one thing is for sure – SBMM is going will undoubtedly be a thing in Vanguard’s multiplayer. It’s a toss-up in terms of how well it will be implemented though so series fans should be advised.
Pricing and Monetization
Monetization will always be a stickler in a Call of Duty title with its season passes, microtransactions, Ultimate Edition, and whatnot. Some are disappointed but others are happy given that many of the offerings are “just cosmetic” (the Roze skin from Warzone says “Hi,” by the way). There’s no denying that the pricing model continues to be extremely scummy though. Call of Duty: Vanguard will cost $60 on Xbox One, PS4 and PC while the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 versions cost $70. Naturally you’d assume that upgrading from Xbox One or PS4 to Xbox Series X/S or PS5 would cost some money (because Activision providing it for free is laughable).
But no – if you want to play the previous gen version and have the option to play on current gen later on, then you have to buy the Cross-Gen Bundle for $70. This isn’t as bad as Battlefield 2042 charging $100 for the same by packing its Cross-Gen Bundle with the game’s Gold Edition but it’s still annoying.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.