To a large degree, every installment of the annualized Call of Duty franchise is a balancing act between embracing the familiar and introducing new elements. From what we’ve seen of “Call of Duty: Vanguard,” set to release Nov. 5, its newest game has a number of features that will make players approach “Vanguard” gameplay a bit differently from the past few installments, namely “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.”
Sledgehammer, the developer behind “Vanguard,” has already showcased its new Champion Hill mode, which combines elements of the battle royale mode from “Call of Duty: Warzone” with “Modern Warfare’s” intimate 2v2 Gunfight mode. We previously broke down the top takeaways from our time on Champion Hill during its alpha testing. We’ve also only seen a brief teaser for the new “Warzone” map. So let’s shelve those items for now and focus on a few of the biggest changes we know about that will impact how people play Call of Duty.
Here are the five most notable changes we noticed during the “Vanguard” multiplayer beta preview, which was attended by influencers and members of the media. Project Magma: The untold origin of Verdansk, the Gulag, and ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ The new Patrol mode The best way to describe Patrol is to say it’s like Hardpoint, but instead of the capture point jumping to predetermined spots on the map, it crawls along a predetermined path — similar to Payload modes except the zone moves regardless of whether players are inside it. Like Hardpoint, teams accumulate points by spending time inside the zone. Unlike Hardpoint, players won’t be able to preposition themselves at an upcoming Hardpoint zone and wait for it to move. They’re going to have to force teams of the capture point and take control themselves.
The dynamic makes for much more fluid matches because it’s now impossible for teams to establish themselves in a room or area of the map, pop a trophy system to foil projectiles, and cover the key lanes and approaches to the zone. Instead, they’ll have to constantly move with the zone, making their way through clearings that expose them to snipers and crawl through chokepoints attackers can use to their advantage.
We’re very curious to see if this mode is incorporated into the upcoming Call of the Duty League season and how pros approach both attacking and defending the zone.
Combat pacing What if you could get the close-quarters chaos of Shipment on every map? That was the question that Sledgehammer developers pondered while creating a new element for multiplayer that determines the frequency of enemy engagements. With pre-match settings ranging from Tactical to Blitz, players can choose whether they want to tiptoe around, checking corners for enemies who are fewer and further between or run headlong into enemies around literally every corner.
Previously, players wanting to play at frenetic tempos would need to focus on a handful of smaller maps like Nuketown, Rust, or the aforementioned Shipment, limiting the scope of the game. Now, players seeking kill-per-second speeds can opt for a mode that will pack more enemies into maps. For example, during the media preview, we played Patrol on the Blitz setting on the expansive Red Star map set in Stalingrad. Instead of compressing the playing area (as in “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War’s” Strike versions of its bigger maps), they packed in more players for a 48v48 match. It produced chaos of the fun variety as players found roles for themselves that suited their style. Snipers had room to snipe, sweats could sprint around to attack the flanks, committed souls who wanted to play the objective could valiantly try to hold the spot while taking fire from multiple angles.
Gamer gloves and compression sleeves: Does performance wear matter in esports? The big takeaway here is that players should be able to find more of the kinds of lobbies they want to find. More uses for cover Mounting your weapon is so 2019. In “Modern Warfare” you could place your gun against surfaces like tabletops and door frames and adjust your aim … but you were stuck in place. Move the left stick, and you’d unmount your weapon. In “Vanguard,” players can mount that same tabletop and strafe left or right, effectively sliding the gun along the table while staying in cover.
Blind fire If you want to risk even less exposure to incoming fire, there’s also a new blind-fire option. Simply put, this allows players to pop their weapons over their heads and spray bullets while almost fully covered. Balancing this tactic figures to be tricky for developers. Make those blind shots too accurate and it rewards players who don’t risk any damage. Make them too inaccurate and no one is going to bother using them. The upcoming public beta will be an interesting proving ground. There has already been some (justifiable) hand-wringing over what this might mean for multiplayer and, particularly, “Warzone,” where players already face hackers using aimbots and wallhacks to effortlessly kill players. Arm those same cheaters with a legal ability to fire while completely covered and you can already hear the rage quit death comms.
As esports watchdog tackles widespread match-fixing, critics fear it can’t do the job To combat the hackers, Call of Duty developers integrated a new anti-cheat software for “Warzone” PC players, so this shouldn’t be much of a concern (we hope). But another new element could mitigate the threat of blind fire becoming too overpowered.
Reactive environments We covered this previously, but it’s worth mentioning again because of its impact on how players approach the game. While you could wall bang (shooting enemies through objects like walls) in a number of the previous Call of Duty titles, updates to the new engine will allow players to obliterate boarded-up doorways, windows, furniture, boxes, and more. Whereas before, players could camp … excuse me … tactically position themselves behind a cargo crate and dominate their opponents, now aggressors can light up that box (and the blind-firing camper behind it) until they’re a handful of bloody splinters. Everyone who has played Call of Duty knows the type of player who finds one spot on the map and faithfully returns to it upon every respawn. Those players are rats; now you’ll be able to take away their rat holes. This dynamic could also emphasize loadouts with RPGs and the like, as they can re-landscape a room more quickly than an SMG.