Call of Duty: The Vanguard is self-aware enough to refer to the infamous “press F to pay homage “meme, but he doesn’t understand what he was kidding in the first place. The meme born from a scene in the 2014s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, in which you attend a memorial service. While standing over the grave of a dead soldier, the game crashes until you press “F” KEY to pay homage to the dead. It’s supposed to be deep, but instead it highlights the show’s shallow interactivity.
In Avant-garde, there is a section where you are tasked with cleaning up a yard so that your allies can move forward. I slaughter them for 15 minutes and they keep coming. As soon as one dies, he is immediately replaced by a new soldier who arrives off the screen. The new soldier then stands in exactly the same position as his fallen comrade, and I line up the shot, hold my breath, and pull the trigger. F. A new guy does, and I repeat the process – as the new body falls, the old one disappears from existence. F.
It turns out that I need to shoot a specific enemy in a window across the street to advance the scene. As soon as I shoot the sniper, I am allowed to progress. For all its graphic fidelity, Avant-garde can’t help but remind you that you are playing a game. You can see the mechanics working behind the scenes of almost every showdown.
At one point, you participate in the Battle of Midway as an ace fighter pilot. But even in the sky wide open, you feel completely locked in. Perform an evasive maneuver and you could end up on the verge of the playable limit. “Turn around, you leave the mission area,” the game yells before going black and pulling you back to the last checkpoint. RIP, Wade Jackson – like Icarus, he was killed by his own ambition. F.
contrary to Call of Duty: WWII, Avant-garde doesn’t just rehash the moments we’ve seen before. In fact, he does a pretty good job of showing us a new perspective on WWII. You take control of a team of superhero soldiers from different allied countries – an American pilot, a Russian sniper, an Australian demolition expert and a British paratrooper – who make up a Inglorious Basterds-esque team of highly qualified misfits. They are captured and interrogated by a Nazi officer, and the story unfolds through the interrogation room mind games, sometimes flipping back and forth to deliver a playable backstory for each of them.
A highlight sees you caught in the midst of the bombardment of Stalingrad. It is sudden, violent and impressive. You see and explore the Russian city before the bombing, and come back to it as the bombs fall and buildings crumble around you. But this is the one moment in the entire campaign that will stay with me in the months to come. Despite avoiding rehashing D-Day landings and other times we’ve played many times before, it still feels inescapably familiar. Lavish, high-fidelity cutscenes and powerful acting from a brilliant cast can’t hide this.
There is a point where you slash your way with a knife to get the drop on a boss who can kill you with one blow. You have to sneak up on him three times, like Mario stomping on Bowser’s head. There is a point where you drag a wounded ally while using a pistol to fight enemies. There is a bit where you are brutalized from a first person perspective. There is a point where you are stripped of your weapons and you are forced to sneak in. It might not cover the exact moments we saw in the previous one Call of Duty games like the Second World War did, but it still hits similar rhythms. It’s like having déjà vu when you visit a new place.
A zone Avant-garde improving, however, is to tell a fictional story set in real conflict. Yes, that’s basically what Call of Duty still does, but it feels less cheesy when history is removed from the murky military politics of the modern war zone. The Nazis are the bad guys, and that’s just something any reasonable mind can easily accept. Here they are portrayed as caricatures – racist, callous monsters that you can take down without guilt.
It also contains new ideas. Each character has their own specialty, although they barely have an impact on the game from moment to moment. The Briton can give orders, but it’s never more than: “shoot the thing”. The AI also regularly fails to shoot the thing you want it to shoot at. The Russian sniper can move through crawl spaces faster than anyone else. The Demolition Expert has a visible firing arc on his grenades, and he can carry more throwables. And the pilot, inexplicably, has an aimbot hack that allows him to clean a room with precision headshots in seconds. Yes, the pilot is the best infantryman, for whatever reason.
Elsewhere, there’s also blind fire, which allows you to shoot from cover without exposing yourself. It’s a bit inconsistent with when it wants to run, so you’ll probably forget it’s even a mechanic halfway through. And then there are destructible landscapes, which allow you to tear apart wooden walls with gunfire. In solo this adds very little, but it does make your weapons – which as is the norm in Call of Duty, feel amazing anyway – sound even more devastating. The place where destruction has the most impact is in the multiplayer part, where the majority of players will be spending their time.
It’s hard to talk about it Avant-gardeis multiplayer because it is essentially identical to the latest games. The only major difference is this destruction. You can still shoot through walls in this series, but now pieces of wood fly off with each bullet, meaning people can see through walls as well. It opens up more angles on each map. But more angles to shoot in a game where death comes quickly and often isn’t necessarily a good thing. It is essentially Rainbow Six Siege during a sugar rush – running, jumping, canceling slides and throwing grenades at random locations are the order of the day. To die. Spawn. Repeat. FFF
Where other shooters have what I would call cards, Avant-gardeThe arenas are more like meat grinders. Most of them are compact and it’s almost impossible to avoid getting flanked as people often appear right behind you. The only way to escape the Crusher is to play Search & Destroy, in which everyone has only one life per turn, so they stop acting like they’ve just shot down a bag of Skittles. .
You can reduce the chaos a bit with the new Combat Pacing feature, which lets you dictate the type of number of player matches you want to be crammed into, but it still is. Call of Duty, and everyone still has a rocket in their back. There are also a lot of cards for a Call of Duty game at launch – 16 of them, in fact – so there are plenty of battlegrounds to master while you spend hundreds of hours in multiplayer.
Then there’s the new Patrol mode, which allows teams to capture a moving point. It suits Call of DutyThe run and gun gameplay is better than capturing and holding a static area. Champion Hill is another cool new addition, adding a battle royale ride to the classic Gunfight. On four dedicated maps, eight squads of two or three compete to be the last team standing. Between rounds, you use shopping stations to adjust your loadout. It’s like the only mode in Avant-garde outside of Search & Destroy where teamwork is really essential.
This is another problem with Avant-gardeis multiplayer. Call of Duty has always been a selfish game, but the developers have worked hard over the years to add incentives to play goals and work together. Scorestreaks rewarded you for capturing and maintaining areas instead of camping and killing, but those are now gone, replaced by the Killstreaks of yore instead. These encourage taking care of yourself and finding a good spot where you can kill a series of enemies in relative safety so that you can bring in the attack dogs and clean up.
Elsewhere we have Zombies mode, which is perhaps the most innovative. It seems a bit silly to say this after lamenting how little the game deviates from tradition elsewhere, but I’m not a fan of the new direction Zombies has gone in. From a central area, you and the team pass through portals to complete objectives before returning. There are three types of objectives and three types of enemies, and it quickly becomes repetitive. It’s also not as satisfying to shoot zombies that appear in front of you from a portal as it is to climb windows and try to fend off the advancing meat army.
It is even difficult to write a Call of Duty review these days, and I don’t mean just because of the toxic work culture at Activision Blizzard either. Like the game, which overflows with fashions, it starts to seem prescribed [hashtag] content. We get one of these games every year, and everything worth saying about them has been said ten times. I imagine the same goes for developers, who are clearly out of ideas. This is by no means a bad game, it doesn’t make me feel anything at all. In the pantheon of Call of Duty Games, Avant-garde is somewhere in the middle and will be quickly forgotten by the time the next one arrives in less than a year. F.
Written by Kirk McKeand on behalf of GL HF.