Review by Call of Duty: Vanguard. Game for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, the video game was released on 05/11/2021
If we wanted to describe the experience gained in these days with the Call of Duty: Vanguard campaign, we would probably use a very famous quote: “war never changes”. This sentence perfectly encapsulates, from our point of view, the message that accompanied the release of the new chapter of the series, which never as on this occasion wanted to fundamentally mean this, that is, that the winning team does not change. Never. The guys at Sledgehammer Games have in fact decided, quite obviously, to be on the safe side, offering players an overall "conservative" title: a classic Call of Duty accompanied by an overflowing amount of content, both and above all related to the sphere of multiplayer and for the single player, represented by the classic campaign that is a bit of an appetizer for what will be the full title.
Activision wanted to emphasize on several occasions how much, for their videogame creed, the campaign remains an important and not marginal element, announcing it and presenting it with great fanfare on more than one occasion, thus generating a sincere hype in the community, eager to find themselves among hands something truly innovative or in any case capable of distancing oneself from the past. Unfortunately, net of small specific moments, it didn't exactly go that way. As much as they tried, the campaign of Call of duty vanguard fails to innovate and / or upset the basic chemistry of the series, tending to be in line with the previous single player adventures of the series, with all the pros and cons of the case.
The change of setting, that "return to the past" so dear to Activision and Sledgehammer Games has generated a different impact only on an aesthetic level but not a structural one, with a game formula that is, after all, strongly in line with what we have seen in the previous chapters and not able to mean a breaking point with the experiences lived with the various Modern Warfare e Cold War. Let me be clear, we cannot deny that we have experienced some really exciting moments pad in hand, some situations that made us jump, but the general "flatness" still took over for most of the 6-7 hours of gameplay required to conclude the various chapters of the adventure.
Waiting for a more complete examination of what is an imposing and overwhelming multiplayer sector, our first part of the review focuses on the single player experience, which we were able to experience thanks to a code provided to us by the publisher, in a strictly Xbox Series version. X, console of reference for those who write to you regarding the Call of Duty saga and the FPS in general.
Call of Duty Vanguard: War stories not necessarily memorable
On a strictly narrative and thematic level, the Call of Duty Vanguard campaign has enormous potential on paper. Sledgehammer Games brings to the screen a set of original stories inspired by some of the most important faces of the dark period linked to the Second World War (Sidney Cornell, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Vernon Micheel, Charles Upham), thus creating a potentially functional and intriguing mix, but which on balance does not work. The narrative strand that unites the various stories related to the aforementioned faces, defined as "Postcards of War", is from the very first moments weak, unloading of ideas and strongly derivative, so much so as not to leave, net of the importance of the historical period and of the themes treated, hardly ever the sign.
The soldiers created to face Activision's new adventure (Arthur Kingsley, Polina Petrova, Wade Jackson and Lucas Riggs) take part in an important expedition, in search of a potential threat linked to the revived Nazi army, called "Project Phoenix". whose narrative importance, however, crumbles in a sudden and at times unjustifiable way. In fact, progressing with history the importance of what should be the focus of the various war stories is lost inexorably, making the story simply a set of stories in their own right, forcibly linked and never really able to shed light on a thematic line that fades more and more with the passing of the hours.
This problem is further highlighted by a writing and above all by a weak and insecure characterization of the main characters, in some ways inadequate, in which precisely those who should be the heroes and charismatic leaders of the story sin of charm and charisma, posing as the faces of the all forgettable and never really in line with what he would have expected from them. To be clear, we almost never really felt empathy with any of them, we almost never felt “close” to their deeds and this is truly inexplicable, since, and let's go back to the opening speech, being war stories and tales of heroes not being able to convey these feelings is certainly a small defeat.
A mission structure that does not convince
Even from a "practical" point of view, the Call of Duty Vanguard campaign is an obvious one step back from what we saw in the last two chapters of the saga, capable of giving a breath of fresh air to a product that always remains in its comfort zone but that has nevertheless tried to reinvent itself, however timidly. In Call of Duty Vanguard all this does not happen and, on the contrary, we witness on more than one occasion the desire of the development team to "play at home", with a campaign packaged in a very "old-fashioned" and all too conventional way in which linearity is king.
During the various sections of the game, apart from the obvious changes of settings related to the stories of the protagonists, there is still a very limited and never really interesting variety of situations, in which advancing head down towards the goal is practically the only one. thing to do. There is almost never a moment of rupture, you will hardly jump from the sofa or shout at the miracle, since, in fact, this campaign is very scenic from a visual point of view but on balance it fails to give the player that variety of situations that , net of everything, it should always be guaranteed, net of the gender they belong to and the starting target.
Of course, some situations and some missions are more inspired or in any case more interesting than others, especially those in which the unique characteristics of the various heroes are better managed depending on the mission in question, but once again we can't help but turn up our noses in front of a work that was too much of a renouncement and which failed to properly exploit a setting and an important historical period that is unforgettable in many respects.
Technique and graphics
From a purely technical point of view, Call of Duty Vanguard is definitely a pretty sight, although it is not yet heavily in breach of what has been seen so far. The new chapter of the saga is powered by a graphics engine that manages to give breathtaking views and a general cleanliness of the enviable image, certainly one of the most visually impressive products of this first year of next-gen, albeit with different limitations and criticalities. also noticeable. If the general impact is, in fact, strong and thick, it is by analyzing the details that the limits of a production still anchored to cross-gen dogmas are hidden and that makes a series of "flaws" to hide limits and uncertainties apparently non-existent.
The major problems of Vanguard are noticeable not so much in closed spaces and interiors but above all when observing the "open" maps in which the gap between the care for the silhouettes of the main characters and that of some scenarios is also all too evident. First of all, having mainly analyzed the campaign, the first big problem is represented by the all too evident recycling of the enemies: the opposing troops are practically a continuous "copy and paste" of polygonal models which, although cared for, are an excessive limitation, especially if we consider the software house behind the production and above all the importance of the brand.
Even the rendering of some scenarios is often highly repetitive, especially in some specific areas, and despite an always good polygonal size accompanying them, it is clear how much more has been aimed at leveraging a sort of "wow!" I continue, to the detriment, however, in many cases, of something else.
The lighting factor then completes the circle. Although the particles, elements such as shots, fire and all these things are of the highest level, it is precisely the management of the lights that have left us a little dry-mouthed. The work done on the lighting, in fact, is certainly subdued compared to the potential of the new hardware and somehow makes most of the scenarios even more "flat" and uninspired, already marred by the problems we were talking about a moment ago. Let's be clear, we are not saying that Call of Duty Vanguard is bad to see, of course, but counting the recent past of the series we would have expected a little more.
For the rest, the title is very solid, especially in terms of stability and fluidity, although in some moments we have witnessed strong uncertainties in the frame rate, especially in the most excited phases and with more factors on the screen.
It is fair to point out that we tested the game with the video output fixed on 1440p and 120 fps, a target that has allowed us to enjoy a very good and almost always stable visual quality, even and above all online, which, however, we will return to talk about in the other part of the review, the one dedicated to the multiplayer of the game. There are also some bugs and sporadic phenomena of pop-in e pop-up, but luckily we have encountered them very sporadically and never really "harmful". Finally, the Spanish dubbing is very good: the interpreters chosen to give voice to the protagonists of the adventure are absolutely perfect and manage to make the identification factor, not exactly very high from a narrative point of view, decidedly higher.
The Call of Duty Vanguard single player campaign did not leave us a good memory. The guys on the development team have created a product that is limited to being spectacular and pyrotechnic from an audiovisual point of view, but frighteningly flat on the narrative and playful level. The war stories fail to convey those necessary mixed sensations between drama, pain and suffering and indeed highlight a narrative style that is too "caciarone" and confusing, almost out of context. Added to this is a group of characters that are not at all memorable and uninspired, which makes the narrative structure really weak. The gameplay is also uninspired, with repetitive and uninspired situations that mark a step backwards compared to the last chapters of the series. Waiting to try the multiplayer sector of the title, which so far promises very well, we are sorry to underline the half failure of the single player one, absolutely postponed and which marks a decisive step backwards compared to what was seen in Modern Warfare of 2019 and in Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War.
► Call of Duty: Vanguard is a Shooter type game developed by Sledgehammer and published by Activision for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, the video game was released on 05/11/2021