Early Call of Duty: Vanguard reviews point to good multiplayer but a lacklustre campaign

call of duty: vanguard
(Image credit: Activision)

Call of Duty: Vanguard reviews are in, though we don't have our own just yet: We haven't played it, so expect to see our verdict some time next week once we've played through the campaign and spent some meaningful time with the new multiplayer and Zombie modes. It's the 18th game in the long-running shooter series (19th if you count Warzone), marks another return to World War 2, and early signs point to another singleplayer campaign that plays a heck of a lot like previous instalments, just maybe not as well.

In IGN's review, Simon Cardy scores the campaign a 7, writing that its "highly polished campaign provides a healthy amount of fun, even if its brief length and lack of variety lead it to fall short of the classic pieces of war cinema it's trying to emulate." Those film influences come chiefly from Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, though Cardy also mentions The Longest Day and The Thin Red Line. 

PCGamesN describes the campaign as "pulpy" and—as is often the case—tonally a bit less sagacious compared to the early marketing material. Meanwhile, Dexerto is pretty unambiguous in its assessment of the singleplayer story: "Nothing here pushes the envelope, however, and the story on offer this time around is one of the weaker entries in recent years." Reviewer Brad Norton notes that the main characters aren't especially well fleshed out, and "there aren't any major story beats or shocking twists that you simply have to witness for any of these figures." Game Informer reckons the campaign is "weak" but praises the multiplayer and zombies components.

Eurogamer's Wesley Yin-Poole appears to agree that Vanguard's campaign won't count among the series' best, writing that it "feels throwaway" despite deserving praise "for tackling the racism and prejudice of the era head-on." The multiplayer component shines though, according to the same review, for its closer resemblance to Modern Warfare and Warzone, as well as the addition of some destructible environmental elements.

Gamespot's Phil Hornshaw writes of the campaign that "doesn't really achieve the goal of making it feel like you're experiencing different aspects of World War II, or taking on the roles of characters with particular skills." Chalk that up as another middling response to the campaign, though Hornshaw summarises the multiplayer as faring better—a very noticeable pattern in these early reviews. He praises the multiplayer's destructible surfaces, which add new "tactical options" to encounters, as well as new matchmaking options.

Overall, it doesn't look like a Call of Duty that'll knock your socks off, though these things are annualised so maybe that's asking too much. We'll have our review next week, but in the meantime you can read Morgan's 69-scoring (nice) review of Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War. Will Vanguard fare better?  

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.