We return to World War II with Sledgehammer and Call of Duty, this time with a campaign and a few zombies below the average.
We have all seen a movie or series in which there is a character with post-traumatic stress disorder . A poor man who freaks out every time he hears a loud noise (namely, a firecracker, a lightning bolt, an exhaust pipe, anything). He is startled, his eyes go wide and his memories transport him back to the horrors that caused his trauma. Maybe World War II , maybe Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan … well, we have created many portals to hell throughout our history. The fact is that said character has to learn to live with these regressions and often life no longer seems to taste the same. And this is precisely what happens to us with Call of Duty: Vanguard . Is abouta game that causes us too many flashbacks and troubles .
Even better than we explain it that wonderful song by Celtas Cortos called La senda del tiempo . “Sometimes there comes a time when you suddenly get old / without wrinkles on your forehead, but wanting to die / Walking through the streets everything has the same color / I feel that something is missing, I don’t know if it will be love / I feel that I go crazy and immerse myself in alcohol / the stars at night have lost their splendor ” . Without a doubt, the Celts are the soundtrack of this analysis. Because don’t get us wrong, it’s nothing personal against the Call of Duty saga . On the contrary, the author of these lines is a regular of it and he enjoyed very much (but very much) the recent Modern Warfare (2019) andBlack Ops Cold War (2020). The latter’s campaign seemed tremendous to him. And despite critical (and often pretentious) voices advising against the franchise, we are of the opinion that one a year doesn’t hurt . There are times when you feel like a good blockbuster and not the latest brainy and experimental gem on the indie scene . No guilty pleasures. We are just like that, humans. But what we were going to: it is nothing personal against Call (as it has not happened to us with all his installments), but with Vanguard it has seemed to us that ” everything has the same color and has lost its splendor “. It is a continuous déjà vu, a 2000s greatest hits album whose versions, although they cause tickles,They do not end up overwhelming us with emotion and adrenaline as the originals did . It’s kind of like Phase 4 of the MCU, wow
War never changes, okay, but all or just the second?
This year’s campaign is a new return to World War II , but far from being an unprecedented approach that encompasses the battles, events and fronts still uncovered by the saga, Vanguard’s approach is the same as always . Having been selling as the opposite… ahem, it has a crime. We have a mission in Normandy (focused on Operation Tonga , in which the Allied left flank was secured during the night before landing on the beaches), two phases in Stalingrad (one to capture the German invasion of August 1942 and another on his subsequent defeat in January 1943), two more in North Africa (about the months leading up to the Siege of Tobruk , in 1941, and the Second Battle of El Alamein , in 1942), as well as the classic level during the fall of Berlin . To give you an idea, Operation Tonga was already in the original Call of Duty , El Alamein’s war was in Call of Duty 2 (and in one of the first spin-offs , Finest Hour ), while Stalingrad and Berlin, well, we would finish earlier if we cite the titles of the series in which they have not been (are there?).
We are not complaining about the Second World War, but about the slogan that Activision has wielded (” like never before “). Nor do we ask the developer to focus on insignificant moments or rewrite the story “so the little kids don’t have to repeat missions.” What we do demand is something more coherence and narrative in the choice of events . The previous work by Sledgehammer Games , responsible for this chapter, was precisely Call of Duty: WWII (2017), from the same war period, and it also repeated a lot of situations seen previously. What if Normandy again, what if Caen (CoD 2), the passage through the Rhine ( Roads to Victory), the liberation of Paris ( Call of Duty 3 ), and so on. However, the developer took the matter infinitely better on that occasion and its campaign mode left us a great taste in our mouths. What was the difference? What has been said, a matter of meaning, of coherence when locating the game.
n WWII we focused our gaze on the French Western Front and we did it to closely follow the friendship of Daniels and Zussman , two best friends who were overwhelmed by the conflict. We were told how they took care of each other in the midst of horror, then how they separated and then we were invited to do the impossible to reunite them again. All very Band of Brothers . During its progress we lived the events mentioned above, but these were part of a larger story, that of both friends and their platoon. The war was not the protagonist, but served as a luxurious setting and rowed in favor of the plot and its themes. It added conflict, intensity and allowed to reflect (with lightness) on the feeling of brotherhood, or on the dark and desolate consequences of nationalism and the armed struggle (the concentration camp moment …). That is why we did not mind repeating events, because we did it from the eyes of two poor wretches with whom we sympathized. Then the thing could be better or worse written and be more or less interesting or original, but there was an intention behind it. It was a great campaign for us. We would have anticipated this year if someone had told us that Call of Duty: Vanguard does just the opposite. Forza Horizon 5 Map and where are the 250 bonus posters?
Vanguard bets against WWII … and loses
The history of Vanguard revolves around the great moments of World War II . It is a review of it with stereotyped characters and an irrelevant plot. Sledgehammer takes a handful of “heroes” ( one of each race, gender and country , as if that were enough to imbue them with personality), he puts them in a Nazi cell and voila, they pass the time telling us about their battles, Decameron style . Then the flashbacks begin and we are transported to the usual big hits. It is a visit to the museum (or Wikipedia) so obvious that we have even wondered why the Call of Duty saga is not animated with a discovery mode like that of Assassin’s Creed. Deliveries like this would fit like a glove. But that. The Vanguard campaign does not count for anything, it only serves as a review of some of the most famous historical events of the conflict. There is a continuous entry and exit of characters that are funny or tough, they do not matter, making it impossible to empathize or connect with them . Then there are the protagonists, who are based on real and interesting figures ( Liudmila Pavlichenko or Vernon Micheel , for example), but they are so wasted that they end up being limited to being “the girl”, “the black”, “the American” and substitutes. It looks like a ” WW2 All Stars“And even doubts the tone to use. At times the war does not seem horrible, but a show to be praised, a fun exercise in pyrotechnics. The setting is no longer a spectacular setting for history and has become the protagonist of it . It has become history itself, which no matter how redundant it may be, is nothing more than a lesson in this matter. And of course, the campaign being composed of such a short, questionable and lukewarm list of missions , the idea does not hold. the type.
We say short because old customs never die and we remain anchored to the five-hour campaigns , even when the story suffocates and demands more time, as is the case. Questionable because if you are only going to keep eight key moments from WWII , would they be those? Normandy perhaps, but through Operation Tonga? And is there room for Egypt, but not for Pearl Harbor, Japan, and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs? Not to mention all the unexploited situations that remain in the pipeline and that we will have to keep waiting ( Dunkirk , the invasion of Poland, the bombing of Dresden , the fronts in the UK or Italy, etc.). Finally, we talk about running warm because we havethe typical level of paratroopers who land and fly antiaircraft guns, or that classic that are the phases with a sniper of Russian origin , which are not bad, but they are not the best that the series has offered, far from it. Berlin’s final mission, for example, pales in the face of the original Call of Duty portrayal of that very moment or the underrated World at War .
During those flashbacks that the story consists of, we suffer the episodes of post-traumatic stress that we talked about at the beginning. We have a second flashback at the controls on other Call of Duty games . We remember the multiple previous installments that not only made those same levels, but made them better , much better. In short, if Vanguard was going to present the usual milestone dates, it should at least have done it from a different perspective or story, like WWII. But if it lacked this, the only solution was through an unprecedented staging, which it does not achieve. It has neither one nor the other. It’s entertaining, it has its moments and we never get to have a bad time with it, but Call of Duty: Vanguard generatesmore indifference and fatigue than the rest of deliveries .
These oversights in the forms get to spread and even affect the audiovisual section . In it we find wonderful things like the soundtrack of Bear McCreary (composer of The Walking Dead and the last God of War ), but we find them combined with a very exaggerated dubbing into Spanish (with extra points for lip desynchronization) and some sound effects somewhat below what is usual in the saga (and what is required in a production of its caliber). McCreary’s impressive work did not deserve such an accompaniment. The graphics are similar, with the IW Engine showing off technical muscle and running at4K and 60 fps in the new generation consoles (120 fps online lowering the resolution), but showing an allied AI that there is no photorealism that compensates it. It has been a pending account for years. Despite it, it is still a visual display (particles, textures, lighting), but to our liking it is much less impressive than that of the last two installments. Maybe that ceiling has lost its impact in these two years. Hopefully we don’t have to wait as long to raise the bar again as it did after Modern Warfare 2 . Returning to the general unconcern that is palpable, it is also evident in the transitions to CGI where the story is told(too obvious and questionable). Still, we forgive them for offering us the fabulous performances of Dan Donohue and Dominic Monaghan (Charlie in Lost, Merry in Lord of the Rings). His characters are the best in history and both touch one of the few interesting plot points of the whole plot ( how the Nazis receive Hitler’s suicide ). Too bad Sledgehammer never quite embraces the revisionist and liberating tone of Inglourious Basterds , which he flirts with frequently.
The exception to the rule: the battle of Midway
It reinforces the above that precisely two of the best levels of the campaign are about events never seen before in Call of Duty: the battles of Midway and Piva Forks . That we have had to wait so long for the first one is surprising, since we are talking about the most important battle of the Pacific War , but the wait has been worth it. The result is spectacular. This is one of the best levels on board a vehicle in the entire series . Mounted on a Douglas SBD Dauntless , and as if we were in an Ace CombatInstead of a Call of Duty, we take to the skies shooting down fighters, bombing Japanese aircraft carriers and supporting our formation, whose orders and maneuvers we must follow. Among the clouds we have also remembered another mission from the past, but for a very different reason. We were thinking of a certain phase of World at War in which we were on a plane, although that was on rails , it was in Okinawa and we were worried about the need to shoot down 45 enemy zeroes to achieve a certain achievement. This flashback was different. It was not traumatic, it was not to say “before all this was field”, but to claim that at this level of Midway we did feel a leap and an evolution. It is exciting to see how things can change, grow and improve. That is what we should feel in modern Call of Duty and its new visits to common places.
For its part, the battle of the Path of Numa Numa (Piva Forks) is located in territory unknown to the general public: Papua New Guinea, and offers one of the most extensive levels of stealth in all of Vanguard, where we witness a fun game of the cat and mouse with Japanese bayonets . Plus, this level features quintessential Pacific traits: flamethrowers, snipers hiding high in trees, and enemies digging out hiding places in the ground, setting ambushes, and setting tripwires. Very funny. Too bad this latest mission also introduces one of the worst mechanics and ideas in all of Call of Duty.. Because yes, Vanguard does not risk in story and setting, but experiment and test several playable concepts unreleased in the series. It is something that has been happening in all deliveries since Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (2016), who dared with optional destinations and side missions. At first they were news to silence criticism. The haters called the saga immobile and its creators made some capers in front of the gallery to wash their image . Over time they have remained as part of his proposal, although most of them are no more than an insignificant anecdote, friendly winks that are forgotten and lost between one game and another, even if they end up being a success. This is the case of the recent Black Ops Cold Warand its puzzles and dialogue options.
orders to the allied AI (orders as simple and stupid as the AI ??itself, badum tss s). There are also new features for the tactical sprint that Warzone introduced , see breaking fragile-looking windows, doors and walls, thus opening up unexpected paths. They call it tactical destruction , it resonates online and I hope it’s here to stay. On the other hand, Sledgehammer insists a lot on the theme of hiding and stealth, to the point that he proposes a couple of ” horde moments“(closed spaces in which to survive several waves of enemies using said hiding places). They have filled the scenarios with nooks and crannies that we can circumvent underneath with an animation similar to sliding. In veteran difficulty the theme is as funny as you you can imagine, but in general it works well and offers a cool confrontation with a certain bad bad. They seem situations slightly inspired by The Last of Us 2 and the very tense ” hide and seek game ” that Ellie and Abby fight. Finally, the unfortunate addition that Piva releases Forks is a kind of instinct that doubles as an eagle eye for Ubisoft, or a detective eye for the Batman Arkham . An ability that allowsSee the enemies through the walls and predict their movements. If it is already left over in other titles, in a Call , with how corridor and accessible it is, it is the most ridiculous . In any case, and as we said before, most of these “innovations” will have no further travel. For better and for worse they are blind sticks, proofs that are hurt by the rotation of Activision studios. Because of this, the mechanics are not inherited from one year to the next and few survive a wait of three, so in the end it is as if they did not exist . It is worthy of study.
Some blurred zombies
If the campaign feels looser than usual, the zombies feel weird . We do not want to be one of those fussiness who shout “they are not zombies, they are infected!”, But we see ourselves in the obligation. They present too many changes and many do not finish convincing us. With the power that gives us having achieved the easter eggs of each map released to date (or at least having seen TheGrefg obtain them ), we have to admit that we would have preferred that Der Anfang and its proposal were a separate mode, like Dead Ops Arcadein the previous installment (mode is last here disappeared, by the way). An alternative version, an option B and not a substitute. There have been installments of the saga in which we have put more hours in this mode than in any other, so this swerve hurts us deep down .
Call us boomers , classics or whatever you want, but we always like zombies . The difficult ones, those that are based on overcoming rounds, have weapons on the walls and demand to give electricity and pay to open doors. Those that force all participants to start with the same insignificant gun and do not give away monkey bombs or key objects. Those of agglutinating the zombies in circles, in the Pied Piper of Hamelin plan , and those of shitting on the mother of the damn bear that comes to us the first time in all the mystery boxes . The ones to look for the perks on the map and those that, in short, have ghost dogsinstead of undead in armor and machine gun. Do we really ask that much? It seems that it does because none of those preferences have a place in Call of Duty: Vanguard. All that has changed in Derf Anfang. So if you have the same tastes, be warned : the initial map has greater drawbacks than leaving without an easter egg (a sacrilege that he has promised to correct in December). It is inexplicable to us that it was developed by Treyarch , the founding fathers, in this way, but it is. Look at the complete list of absences and modifications :
A stillborn roguelike of the undead
We are going to try to summarize roughly what the renewed zombies mode of Call of Duty: Vanguard consists of . We started off in a kind of square located in Stalingrad, with clear reminiscences of Der Riese and nods to Kino der Toten . This square will serve as the base and in it we will find all the machines to buy weapons, armor, drinks, special abilities and improvements. They have no loss, you hardly have to look for anything . Most of these machines are just as we remembered them, even with nuances. For example, this time the first drink of each perk-a-cola is free, being able to achieve all without spending anything. But to the mess. In our database will appear a fewportals that transport us to other worlds (two maps shared with online mode and one inspired by the mythical Shi No Numa from World at War). We will have to choose one and, once in the new scenario, complete a mission. Sometimes it is simply killing zombies, picking up the runes they drop, and taking them to an obelisk on the map. Others consist of staying next to a floating skull to slowly fill a bar of energy. Something like playing a confirmed casualty and patrol, but in zombies mode . There are also those that are simply endure. When we complete them, we are returned to Stalingrad, where some doors and areas open automatically, some zombies appear and we can spend what we have achieved: money(on weapons, drinks and upgrades), scrap (armor) and hearts (abilities). Then start over. Portal. Same missions. Stalingrad. Portal . Missions . Stalingrad . Until in round five or six we already have the entire initial base open and we can choose between continuing or requesting an extraction that ends the game
We have given it a chance. God knows I do. We have removed our prejudices and have spent several hours on the proposal. We recognize that the idea is promising . Seek to be the germ of a roguelike with dozens of worlds, enemy types and missions . You want portals, destinations, and rewards to be random in each game and no two game sessions are the same. However, today it could not be greener . It has very little content and if you only have three ingredients, no matter how much you shake the shaker, you will always get the same. The same three worlds, the same three types of mission we discussed earlier, and the same three enemy classes (normal zombies, explosives, andarmed with a machine gun ). Far from making it infinite and varied, what it causes for now is an even more pronounced sense of repetition than usual in a horde mode.
In any case, and even if they had not missed the shot, the experience is different from the one we love . The maps are much, much smaller, the missions (or waves) are easier, and the pace is much faster and more guided, resembling multiplayer. Personality, a sense of danger and survival, the need to explore, as well as the plurality of strategies that existed and the search for that failure of the scenario that would allow us to endure and endure, has been lost . Not to mention that Shi No Numa is a crime. What did it cost them to give us the remake of this one with Der Anfang? And that each one was left with the option that they liked the most. The best possible news after such a downturn is that this has just begun. You have to stick with the update that will bring the easter egg (next November 2) and the fact that all the Vanguard news will be free for a year. Activision has promised that there will be no more than cosmetics for payment , so the zombie maps and add-ons will arrive for everyone and in quantities. A blessing. Of course, in case you are one of those who buy Call for zombies (there are, however few we are), for now do not be in a hurry .
The king returns
We get to the real reason to bet on this year’s Call of Duty : multiplayer. There will be those who say “as always”, but nothing is further from the truth. It was precisely in this section where Cold War skidded and hit it. It seems that Sledgehammer has taken good note of what happened and has not only corrected the errors of that (such as the number of maps), but has also dared with several additions that will be a cornerstone of the saga from now on . The new modes shine with their own light, but the setting known as “combat rhythm” is a true game changer.hopefully standardize within the franchise. Let’s go by parts. First things first: the Vanguard numbers. Because the numbers in the game are overwhelming and have no rival. If the 2020 installment went on sale with just 8 scenarios, this time we have a whopping 20 different maps . Four of them are exclusive to one of its new game modes (Champion’s Hill, with some fascinating tournaments that we will talk about later) and three are remasters of some of the most loved and longed for maps in Call of Duty: World at War . Specifically, the back environments are Castle , Dome and Sub Pens, to which as if that were not enough, from November 17 another one will be added, map number 21, which is a remaster, but from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007). It is about Freighter , a crazy mousetrap in which it was impossible to take two steps without colliding head-on with an enemy. And we insist again with that year of free content promised by Activision, as it indicates that the number will continue to grow without dividing the community .
Call of Duty: Vanguard not only has more maps, but from what we have been able to verify, they are also better than those of recent years . First of all because of its appearance. Those of Cold War, for example, were too sober, dull and similar to each other. On this occasion we find representatives of the different fronts. Maps taken from the snowy landscapes of the USSR, others with the blinding orange hue of North Africa, some on the beaches of the Pacific, several in the forests and villages of France, and of course, there are them in collapsed buildings of Nazi Germany . They are more varied in pantone, climatology and open / closed spaces. But the second reason they are better is even more important: their design and destruction. They are clear about the saga to which they belong, they stop rare experiments with vehicles and large areas of land (still existing), and bet on small and medium-sized spaces that make the most of arcade mechanics . How? With old school scenes , fundamentally horizontal and that present the largest number of destructible elements that the saga has presented to date . Let no one think of Bad Company either , but there are materials constantly jumping through the air and it will be common for us to break through doors, windows and even walls. It is what we previously described as “tactical destruction”, a new addition that allows improvising routes and makes the experience even more dynamic and spectacular. Berlin , Das Haus and Hotel Royale are some of the first names in, but there are many more worthy of attention.
Champion’s patrol and hill, refining the formula
Maps aside, let’s talk about their modes. We have the usual ones (all against all, team duel, dominance, confirmed loss, search and destroy, etc.), but this year we added two flashy additions . The first is patrol and is a version of the old headquarters (now a hot spot) in which we must stay within a certain area to earn points. The novelty is that the hot spot here… is a continuously moving circle ! It makes it practically impossible to dedicate yourself to camping (although this is Call of Duty so there will always be, but at least here they are unrewarded). We will have to be going from one side of the stage to the other, planning where the circle is going to pass to assault it and not resting on our laurels when we are inside if we do not want to be left behind. We want to sound like Team Fortress 2 and other online titans, but within the franchise it is a novelty that we are sure that it is here to stay.
The other brand-new mode in Vanguard is Champion’s Hill , in the manner of Halo’s multi-team rosters and the old shootout. They are like tournaments that are played in teams of two or three people with whom we will face another eight squads via individual pairings (that is, 2 vs 2 or 3 vs 3 for a total of 16 and 24 players respectively). Each group starts with a dozen lives and fights another squad to the death for a couple of minutes. At the end of time he changes rivals and so on until people spend all their lives. The funny thing is in the cupbearer format and that before starting each round we can buy weapons, armor, casualty streaks or various advantages similar to Counter Strikeor Valorant . Before we start, we will visit a kind of cornucopia in the Hunger Games plan where to buy these objects and where knowing how to invest is essential . From there, our money for future purchases will depend on what we achieve in each round. A mode quite far from the Call of Duty formula, much more leisurely, cooperative and tactical , but which only enriches the range of modes. It will not take long to generate its own micro-community around it.
Choose which Call of Duty you play
The most important option that Call of Duty: Vanguard implements is the so-called “ combat rhythm ”. In recent years, the saga had been going through a certain identity crisis that had brought it upside down and had it lurching. We went from deliveries focused on the rund and gun proposal to radically different ones, which although they were still arcades, had other ambitions and offered much larger spaces, full of people and vehicles. They were fads, philosophies that permeated everything and forced you to adaptto the delivery and proposal that they will play every year. You could always try to filter by map and game mode, but make no mistake, searching and destroying them has long since been an example of a solution, they were no longer a guarantee of tactical and slow games. Vanguard puts an end to this and allows us to filter matchmaking according to what we like .
We have three options: tactical , assault, and intense . The first is “the original Call of Duty experience”, the old 6 vs 6 with which we formed several generations ago. If we are really looking for something more balanced and typical of modern times, we should bet on a round , where we will find 10 vs 10 and even 14 vs 14 . And it would be intense for those who want to try the Call of Duty formula rise in revolutions (chaos, headless chickens, deaths as soon as they are born, quickscoop ). In this third option there are games with up to 48 players. From what we have been able to prove, this option will give more than one and two joys. It works great. We are still in an arcade with three entrances per room and a radar or UAV marking our position at almost all times, that will not change, but there is no color between 6 vs 6 and 24 vs 24, nor between how they take the starting the communities of each “rhythm”. Also, the sieve does not restrict game modes or maps . On the contrary, it adapts. Depending on the location, tactical can go up to 7 vs 7, or even 8 vs 8, and we can see assault sessions of 16 vs 16, or intense filter gameswith only 20 vs 20. Its algorithm and selection process is more complex and it takes care of what it fits. Nor is it anything revolutionary for the sector, but it represents a before and after in the saga, where now different styles of games and types of player can coexist . Perhaps they reinforce the impression that those maps work, which, as we said, represent a return to the roots of the saga (horizontal, small and of different rhythms). Time will tell.
The rest is just as you can imagine. A sick customization level , 12 new operators with their own backgrounds and unlockables, infinite challenges, prestige every 55 levels, kill streaks (for eliminations, not points), a reduced time to kill compared to the alpha, battle pass and hours and hours of play ahead . Of course there are also the classic initial balance problems, the bumps with the lag and its jerks, as well as the question that flies over the spawn points., again easy to guess and fence. At the moment they are the only downside to our online sessions and we trust that this time they do have a solution. By ordering pears from the elm, the saga could consider facing a revision of the hud and the interface for the future, since it has been overpopulating with icons. The same happens with the menus, nowadays convoluted in a bad way. It is nothing that will confuse veterans, but a facelift that simplifies and ends with so much notification would be appreciated. It remains to remember that Raven Software will be in charge of the integration with Warzone in the coming weeks (the Vanguard map, set in the Pacific and with air battles included, has already been announced – Warzone Pacific: Caldera-). The truth is that being able to have this and the last three installments of the saga on the same menu is a convenience as capricious as it is useful. It goes without saying that we have installed only the zombies of the previous one to remove the taste of these. For that of relieving post-traumatic stress , of course.