How to level up fast in Call of Duty: Vanguard

cod vanguard
(Image credit: Activision)

Call of Duty: Vanguard is here, which is exciting, but what's not exciting is being Level 1. In low-rank land, you're stuck with default classes, can't use your favorite guns, and your guns have no attachments worth a damn. Gross! If you want to escape that purgatory as soon as possible (and you do), the only way is to earn XP as fast as possible.

Thankfully, Vanguard has a few handy features to make the XP grind easier this year. Here are our best tips to level up fast, rank up operators, and maximize your weapon XP.

How to level up fast in Call of Duty: Vanguard

call of duty: vanguard multiplayer gameplay

(Image credit: Activision)

Stick to Blitz combat pacing

You know how in every previous Call of Duty, the best way to level up weapons or complete challenges is to play chaotic matches of Shipment/Nuketown 24/7? That's basically what the Blitz combat pacing setting is like all the time. By filtering your Quick Match to "Blitz" only, you're maximizing the player count of every game mode you have selected (usually 12v12).

On smaller maps, like the World at War remaster of Dome, this means there's virtually zero downtime between firefights. It can be a bit frustrating to be constantly shot at (right now, spawn kills are frequent), but constant action is the quickest way to grind weapon XP or complete specific challenges. And if you want to crank it up to 11, Free-for-All is probably your best bet.

cod vanguard level up fast

(Image credit: Activision)

Complete the easiest challenges first

In Vanguard, career challenges are bundled into groups of individual challenges. Each individual challenge is worth a few thousand XP, but completing a bundle of them awards a whopping 10,000 XP.

For this reason, it's wise to target one bundle at a time to get to that 10,000 bonus more quickly. The bundles seem to be organized by general difficulty, so I recommend starting with Boot Camp and Counter Measures. Boot Camp's challenges are super general tasks that you can mostly complete by accident (like "Win 25 matches") with just a few that take some extra effort. The hardest one is probably "Get 35 mounted kills," unless you're one of the few CoD players that uses that feature a lot.

Counter Measures isn't bad either, though it takes more doing than Boot Camp. These challenges are centered on destroying enemy equipment, like field upgrades and killstreaks. The only one that might slow you down is "Destroy an enemy mine or C4." You're kind of out of luck if those pieces of equipment don't prove to be popular, and I haven't seen them in use much so far.

cod vanguard level up fast

(Image credit: Activision)

Unlock double XP in the battle pass

At launch, Call of Duty: Vanguard is running a "preseason" battle pass in the run up to its first proper season of content in early December. Most unlocks on the battle pass are exclusive to Warzone and Cold War, but there are several free tiers along the way that unlock little bonuses in Vanguard (even if you don't buy the premium pass). A few of these are Double XP tokens:

  • 1 Hour Double XP token (Tier 1)
  • 30 Minutes Double XP token (Tier 11)
  • 1 Hour Double Operator XP token (Tier 21)
  • 1 Hour Double XP token (Tier 39)
  • 30 Minutes Double XP token (Tier 48)
  • 45 Minutes Double XP token (Tier 94)

Again, you don't have to buy premium battle pass access ($9.99) to get these tokens, but it will go faster if you do. You can also play Warzone or Cold War to work toward these tiers if you prefer. 

cod vanguard level up fast

(Image credit: Activision)

Buy Doritos and Mountain Dew (I know, I know)

As dumb as it is, the best way to consistently double your XP earnings (if you're in the US) is to buy "Dual 2XP" tokens (which give you both double account XP and weapon XP) in the form of Mountain Dew, Doritos, and Game Fuel. All three of these high-fructose munchies come with a code for some dual XP time, but some quantities are worth more than others. Here's the full breakdown:

  • A 20 oz. Mountain Dew Code unlocks 15 minutes of Dual 2XP
  • A 12 oz 18-pk Mountain Dew Code unlocks 60 minutes of Dual 2XP
  • A 12 oz 24-pk Mountain Dew Code unlocks 120 minutes of Dual 2XP
  • A 16 oz Game Fuel Code unlocks 15 minutes of Dual 2XP
  • A 2.75 oz. Doritos Nacho Cheese, Cool Ranch, Xxtra Flamin’ Hot Fire Zone, Spicy Sweet Chili, Spicy Nacho, unlocks 15 minutes of Dual 2XP
  • A 9.25 oz. Doritos Nacho Cheese, Cool Ranch, Xxtra Flamin’ Hot Fire Zone, Spicy Sweet Chili, Spicy Nacho, Code unlocks 60 minutes of Dual 2XP

Depending on how much double XP is worth to you, these deals might not be bad. If I really liked Mountain Dew, I'd probably cash in 2 hours of Dual XP for a 24-pack. Heck, I was even tempted to buy my first bag of Doritos in a decade this morning, but my corner store was already wiped out (the cultural reach of Call of Duty remains impressive).

How to grind weapon XP fast in Call of Duty: Vanguard

cod vanguard level up fast

(Image credit: Activision)

Use your operator's favorite weapon

In Vanguard, operators are more than just skins. On top of having their own challenges, each character also has a "favorite weapon" that they get a bonus for using.

For instance, if you play Solange and use the NZ-41 assault rifle, you'll score bonus weapon XP for every kill you get. A free bonus just for picking the right skin—not bad at all. As there are only 12 operators so far, not every gun is somebody's favorite. The current 12 favor assault rifles, SMGs, and LMGs, with only one sniper rifle, marksman rifle, and shotgun aficionado among their favorites. Future operators will presumably have favorites as well, so those other guns will have their day.

Play on PlayStation (sorry)

Call of Duty's love affair with PlayStation continues this year with Vanguard. Those playing on PS4 or PS5 get a free +25% weapon XP bonus as long as they're grouped up with friends and will have monthly double XP events lasting 24 hours. 

PC players get no such bonuses, but we'll just have to settle for playing on the greatest platform for gaming there is.

How to earn operator XP fast in Call of Duty: Vanguard

cod vanguard level up fast

(Image credit: Activision)

Unlock operators, then do their challenges

Unlike in Cold War and Modern Warfare, Vanguard doesn't unlock any operators automatically when you jump straight into multiplayer. Operators have to be unlocked through specific milestones.

I unlocked my first operator, Solange, by accident after getting a few multi-kills in my first matches. Once you have an operator, you can start working toward their operator challenges. These are worth a lot of operator XP (around 1,500 each from what I can tell) and they're not too hard. My first two as Solange are simply to score 100 kills and win 5 matches while playing as her. Easy peasy, if you've got the time.

Unlocking operators is kind of a pain as it won't earn you account XP, but it's worth it for the challenges they unlock, the cool skins earned by ranking up operators, and one more important feature new to Vanguard: Favorite weapons.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.