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Call of Duty: Vanguard is Hit or Miss for Most First-Person Shooter Gamers - But, is this the Better Online Game for the Franchise?
To hit things off, Call of Duty Vanguard's multiplayer is nothing to be taken lightly, as the online experience is nothing other than phenomenal; with a gameplay experience that will rival any previous instalment for the Call of Duty franchise.
More needs to be said about the multiplayer experience in 'Vanguard', as it truly is a masterful game at it's core roots, with WW2 visionary at the forefront. No-one really expected much from the multiplayer element to Vanguard, and surprise, surprise, it's perhaps the greatest online first-person shooter since 2008's Call of Duty: World at War.
It's perhaps important to mention that these are all simply my own humbled opinions, but after playing Vanguard multiplayer for more than 12 hours in-game playtime this is a superb game on this specific front. The maps, the weapons, the gameplay experience, the movement, the energetic bunny hopping (a joke, of course, as the jumping in the game is realistic for the better part to boots-on-the-ground), and fun quirks to the online experience are all stellar in my opinion.
As many CoD gamers are perhaps thinking, Vanguard is simply too similar to previous instalments from the franchise, most notably, Modern Warfare (2019), but this is simply oversight, as the multiplayer experience feels like night and day between the two games overall feel and movement. Well, many may be wondering just what's so different between the two games given they both function under the same game engine, and the answers simple; the development studios behind the making of these games.
Sledgehammer Games (developers behind such CoD games as WWII and Vanguard) and Infinity Ward (developers behind such CoD games as Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare ) are two completely different games development houses, and therefore their approach to each game they make will be entirely different, regardless of the game engine their using to build the foundations for their games. Modern Warfare (2019)'s game engine is used entirely different to that of Vanguard's game engine (even though they're the same).
Modern Warfare (2019) was a far inferior multiplayer experience when compared to Vanguard's multiplayer, with a much greater importance thrown at transitioning players over to the free-to-play game, created by Call of Duty, Warzone. Whereas, Vanguard feels much more fleshed out as a multiplayer first-person-shooter gaming experience. More maps than the previous few instalments of Call of Duty at launch, more weapon customisations, more focus on core multiplayer gaming experiences, and a far greater push as keeping gamers on the multiplayer platform.
Skill-Based Matching Feels Fine in Vanguard's Multiplayer Experience!
Skill-based matchmaking has been in Call of Duty's multiplayer experience since way back in 2019's Modern Warfare, and immediately divided the player-base either into those that thought it was a good idea, and then into those who thought it worsened the overall player experience of the multiplayer.
Personally, on a personal level the skill-based matchmaking has bothered me, and to put it in perspective Black Ops Cold War was the first game to be played by myself that inherently had skill-based matchmaking, and overall the experience of its multiplayer was forgetful, intolerable, and not fun to play the online side to the game. 2019's Modern Warfare was a game that myself and others skipped simply because it did not have the old-school CoD feel to it, but Cold War seemed an improvement in what it had to offer, but the multiplayer was plagued with poor matchmaking, putting me in matches with far too many skilled players.
In the old-school multiplayer Call of Duty games the multiplayer matchmaking was always based solely around connectivity, basically putting players in lobbies with the best connections possibly, meaning we would be playing locally within our own region for the most part. Lobbies could be super easy, super annoying, and even super toxic, but the overall experiences were predictable. However, in Cold War, the multiplayer lobbies were distracting from the overall experience simply because lobbies would disband after every match, meaning those same players from the previous lobby would seemingly disappear forever, never to be seen again.
To make matters worse, the lobbies the game spawns us into within Cold War multiplayer - would be difficult matches with highly skilled players, and the reasoning behind this is skilled-based matchmaking which essentially pins us into matches with similarly skilled players. Problematic for starters, as all players within the match will be working their butts off trying to get the highest amount of kills, often times ignoring the objectives, and simply attempting to get a FaZe clan grade of approval from their overall stats. So, if we have a 2 K/D, the game forces us into matches with other players that have a 2 K/D or higher, and the whole experience becomes less about skill and more so about luck.
Call of Duty: Vanguard's multiplayer feels like another version of Cold War's multiplayer in lots of ways, but with one major difference, and that is player game modes, which is basically where the games multiplayer allows players to choose from three different modes, tactical (the least amount of players per team, per match), assault (the middle amount of players per team, per match), and blitz (the most amount of players per team, per match); and depending on the size of the multiplayer map the number of overall players will either be less (on smaller maps), or more/much more (on larger maps) in the match.
Vanguard's 'Blitz' mode is without a doubt the best mode to choose, simply because it puts the largest amounts of players within each match, essentially making it impossible to effectively enforce skill-based matchmaking, as these matches are nothing short of hectic. The only downside to this specific choice of mode is spawn-killing, as this is a regular occurrence, especially on the smallest maps (Shipment, Das Haus, and Dome) due to the overall number of players when compared to the size of the maps. But, even with this factor in play Blitz is still a blast to play, easing a lot of the stresses that comes from having the implementation of skill-based matchmaking.
Blitz Mode Takes a Good Formula and Betters It - In Vanguard Multiplayer
The 'Blitz' mode in CoD: Vanguard's multiplayer is perhaps the finest idea any Call of Duty online developer has ever had, as it gives an option to increase the player count substantially within the multiplayer experience.
The 'Blitz' mode is one of three options that allows the player to decide on just how hectic she/he wants the multiplayer experience to be; with tactical keeping the player count at its lowest, assault being the middle-ground with a medium level of players, and blitz being the highest number of players within a match/mode that there can be.
Blitz creates the ultimate level of chaos within any given match on any given map, with each and every match feeling a little like the old-school shipment map, but instead of this level of chaos being on one map it's on every map instead. Given the larger number of players on any given match the action is never all too far from the initial spawn, so gear-up, grab some buddies and enter the chaos with an emphasis on getting tones of potential multi-kills in a single gunfight.
Spawn-killing is the greatest factor putting off a large group of players from picking blitz as their mode of choice, most likely due to maps like Das Haus, Shipment, and Dome, being the smallest of the maps within Vanguard's multiplayer, as these are the most hectic and out of control maps within the blitz mode of choice. Although, there may be more spawn-killing on these maps, inherently due to their small size, it can be avoided by positioning yourself on various hot points around the map to hold up behind descent cover to stay alive for as long as humanly possible.
Spawn-killing is a problem within Vanguard multiplayer, as there are plenty of times where the game simply spawns the player in silly points around the map, such as, in front of enemy players, behind enemy players, and anywhere in-between. This could be easily fixed with a patch by Sledgehammer Games (Vanguard's lead development house behind the making of the game) at a later state of the games lifecycle, but staying alive longer is always the greatest strategy to avoid spawn-killing affecting your matches.
Call of Duty's multiplayer formula has been effectively used and implemented within the CoD online franchise since 2007's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and still works to this day with Call of Duty: Vanguard, but blitz takes this formula and turns it up to 100/100. The matches feel far more action-packed, adrenaline fuelled, and easy to have a few casual matches without the tireless running for minutes simply to find gunfights, which is why this game goes from being a 6/10 (if there was no blitz mode) to a solid 8.5/10 (with the blitz mode). Blitz truly is that functional within the multiplayer experience on Vanguard, and with more smaller maps this could be the year of the blitz on Call of Duty: Vanguard multiplayer, as these maps are normally the most casual fun to be had.
The Problems - In Call of Duty: Vanguard's Multiplayer
There are always going to be teething issues when a new Call of Duty multiplayer experience is introduced, and CoD: Vanguard has these issues in a high quantity, and we love the game through and through, to put things in perspective.
Problem No.1 - Spawn-Killing: After toughing on this issue briefly previously, we can see there are tones of issues with spawn-killing/spawn-trapping on certain smaller maps, most commonly on Das Haus and Shipment. A lot of this is highly unavoidable because of the tight space that these maps have to house spawns, but where we cannot abide to this is with spawning players in-front/behind enemies, as this creates an un-open playing field where player-fairness is being jeopardised for complacency.
The Sledgehammer Games developers will need to remedy this issue if players are to continually play these smaller maps without the fairness of gunfights being thrown into anarchy. It was commonly said that 2019's Modern Warfare had a lot of these spawn issues, the same as Vanguard multiplayer, so we can only assume it's a problem with the game engine being carried over (due to Vanguard's multiplayer using the same game engine as 2019's Modern Warfare).
Problem No.2 - Broken Riot Shield Class Setup: On Vanguard's multiplayer we are seeing an abundance of players using the broken riot shield setup, whereby the player runs the 'overkill' class setup, allowing the player to run two primary weapons, one typically being the shotgun class, and the other being the riot shield, and as it stands when this combination is used the riot shield when not equipped allows the player to be un-killable from the back end of the player.
The secondary primary weapon could be anything as this bug would still be a problem, but coupling the shotgun with an inability to shoot these players in the back is a major issue that the Vanguard multiplayer experience currently has. Some players are even reporting an inability to shoot and kill riot shield players from the front of the enemy player even when the player has their riot shield on their back. These issues cannot be ignored, and Sledgehammer Games will need to address this most unacceptable issue in the near future.
Problem No.3 - Overpowered Shotguns: The shotguns in Vanguard multiplayer, and this calls back to the previous (No.2) problem that we have with the games online multiplayer experience, and that is in that the shotguns are too overpowered, especially on the smaller maps. Of course, the smaller maps should be the leading choice for shotgunner players, but the fact that blindly shooting can get instant gratifying kills is a definite issue within the game.
A lot of the guns in Vanguard's multiplayer are overpowered, but nothing comes close to the shotguns, which is a definite shame because with some minor and decreased power changes the shotguns truly would be fun to use without the overpowered bugginess of them the way they are in their current state.
Problem No.4 - Crashes, Glitches, and Rampant Bugs: There have been a large number of Vanguard multiplayer players reporting some serious issues with game crashes, out-of-map glitches, and bugs that affect various weapons, kits, attachments, and gun challenges, that this is simply no fun for the consumer of their purchased Call of Duty game product.
There have been some updates/patches for Call of Duty: Vanguard's multiplayer, but clearly not enough, as most of these issues really haven't been fixed. As well as this, the gun camos for challenges have also been buggy, with lots of players having free access to the gold and atomic (highest earn-able camo) camo, and this could be subject to bans if caught using them, which is a definite issue for the game overall.
Would it Would it Be a Good Idea to Buy Call of Duty: Vanguard for It's Multiplayer Experience?
Simple answer, yes.
Why, though?... Call of Duty: Vanguard has perhaps the most fun multiplayer experience since 2017's Call of Duty: WWII, with immersive gameplay, fun new game mode options (choices between; tactical, assault and blitz), and a large array of multiplayer maps to enjoy.
Vanguard's multiplayer is hands down my favourite Call of Duty multiplayer experience, mostly due to the blitz game mode filter, and there is a lot to brag about with this game that simply hasn't been the case now for some time in recent memory.
The map designs in Vanguard multiplayer are diverse, the game modes are all extremely fun and adaptive, the customisation options for guns are better than ever before, and the whole game feels fresh, new, innovative, and builds on the potential for the 2019 Modern Warfare game engine (used to create Vanguard's multiplayer experience).
If you're on the fence about buying Call of Duty: Vanguard then perhaps wait till next weeks (the day writing this - December 2nd, 2021) major update for Vanguard with season 1 (starting December 8th, 2021), as this might be the persuading factor, or it might not be, but that's ok, as there is definitively going to be a Call of Duty release next year.
However, this would be a shame, as Vanguard's multiplayer experience is extremely immersive fresh, different, and all new. So, if you're going to buy Vanguard then buy soon because the Christmas season is upon us and Vanguard will almost certainly be celebrating the season, possibly with a winter themed multiplayer map, weapon builds, calling cards, emblems, and of course - the season pass.
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