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Call of Duty: Vanguard has a free open beta this weekend

Call of Duty: Vanguard event
(Image credit: Activision)

Activision-Blizzard has been running a slightly confusing series of Call of Duty: Vanguard multiplayer betas, the earliest of which were exclusive to Playstation, and some of which are limited to players who've already pre-ordered the game. One of the latter is running right now.

But everything opens up this weekend, with the rest of Vanguard's beta period open to all from 6 am BST / 1 pm EST / 10 pm PT on Saturday 18th September until 6 pm / 1 pm EST / 10 am PT BST Monday September 20. You'll need a battle.net account—hey, you think Bobby Kotick's running a charity—and the beta will feature cross-play as well as tracking your progression for the full release.

The open period will also see a bunch of new additions. Currently, the beta features the mode Champion Hill, to which will be added Patrol. "Based on Hardpoint, this objective-based mode features a scoring zone in near-constant motion," reads the press release. All of the usual suspects are here too, of course: Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Domination, and Search & Destroy among them.

A flaming windmill in Call of Duty: Vanguard

(Image credit: Activision)

Vanguard is also introducing what it calls a 'combat pacing system', which basically allows players to select the kinds of lobbies and player counts they prefer. Tactical will always serve up 6vs6 battles; Assault will vary between 20 and 28 players total; Blitz is hell-for-leather and veers between 24 to 48 players. You can ignore this setting and just leave it to 'all' if you prefer to be surprised.

Six operators will be available in the beta, and there are also various little tie-ins to unlock weapons in the full game and other Call of Duty titles. You can read the full notes on the beta here. It also contains the minimum and recommended specs: for the former you're looking at a GTX 960 / AMD R9 380 with 8GB RAM; to hit recommended performance you'll need a GTX 1070 or AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 and 16BG RAM. The beta download is 45GB which, for Call of Duty these days, is surprisingly restrained.

PCG's own Morgan recently spent some time with the game, and thinks it feels a bit like Modern Warfare, but with wimpier guns. Now you can make your own mind up: the one thing I will say is that the game's reload animations sure butter my biscuit.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."