One of gamin's biggest rivalries will reignite this year, with Battlefield 2042 vs. Call of Duty Vanguard. Both games will compete for the attention of shooter fans this holiday season, and will duke it out in an epic clash of the titans.
OK, maybe that’s slightly overselling it. But it's been four years since a new Battlefield and a new Call of Duty came out in the same year. Naturally, fans have pitted the two titles against each other ahead of launch.
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Both games are likely to require a significant time investment if you want to unlock the best guns, equipment, perks and gadgets. Learning each title's meta-game will also take dozens of hours. The games will also launch at $70 on next-gen systems, so buying both might not be an option for every gamer.
If you’ve got the time or budget for only one, then the winner of the Battlefield 2042 vs. Call of Duty Vanguard faceoff could be an important factor in your decision. That’s where our comparison below can help you decide which is worth your limited gaming time, and hard-earned money.
Of course, with Battlefield 2042 launching on October 22 and Call of Duty Vanguard coming out two weeks later on November 5, we won’t be able to definitively call Battlefield 2042 vs. Call of Duty Vanguard for a few months yet. For now, here’s how the fight is shaping up.
Battlefield 2042 vs. Call of Duty Vanguard: Setting
Fans reacted with joy to the news that Battlefield would be stepping into the (near) future. It’s a setting that players have been requesting for years. The first gameplay footage suggests that the resource-ravaged year 2042 will make for an excellent playground for intense firefights — not to mention some crazy weather.
Fans had a more mixed response to the announcement that Call of Duty would be returning to the Second World War, the same setting as 2017’s Call of Duty: WWII. While WWII shooters aren’t as prevent as they were 15 years ago, it’s still a well-worn setting not just in Call of Duty, but in video games in general. Even the previous Battlefield game, Battlefield 5, featured a WWII setting.
While the 20th-century conflict does offer plenty of interesting locations and weaponry, it's generally a bit played out. Battlefield’s 2042 setting, on the other hand, combines the best of modern warfare with a few gadgets that aren’t quite possible yet, like robot dogs.
Winner: Battlefield 2042
Battlefield 2042 vs. Call of Duty Vanguard: Single-player
Even without getting our hands on either game, it's easy to call this one. Battlefield 2042 has forgone a traditional single-player campaign in favor of a focus on online multiplayer. You can set up matches with AI-controlled bots, but there won’t be a solo campaign.
Call of Duty Vanguard will have a single-player campaign. You’ll play as one of the four members of the titular Vanguard and fight across four theatres of war: the Western Front, the Eastern Front, North Africa, and the South Pacific. At Gamescom 2021 we got an extended look at a single-player mission, and it looks like a classic Call of Duty affair. Which is to say, it looks like a whole load of fun.
While very few players buy Battlefield or Call of Duty for their single-player components, we appreciate that Vanguard developer Sledgehammer Games has given solo players something to enjoy as well. Plus, a campaign is a great way to get acclimated to a game before jumping into online skirmishes.
Winner: Call of Duty Vanguard
Battlefield 2042 vs. Call of Duty Vanguard: Multiplayer
Both Battlefield and Call of Duty are primarily multiplayer titles, so this is easily the most closely contested category.
Battlefield 2042 will feature all-out warfare across seven maps through the popular Conquest and Breakthrough modes. The likes of Team Deathmatch, and potentially the fan-favorite Rush mode, are also likely to be available at launch. The game will also sport a new “high-stakes multiplayer experience” called Hazard Zone, which the developers haven't fully revealed yet.
However, that’s not all. At EA Play 2021, we learned about a new mode called Battlefield Portal. This mode reimagines content from three classic Battlefield games: Battlefield 1942, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3. Described as a “love letter to long-standing fans of the franchise”, it will allow players to create custom games on a variety of classic maps. They will even be able to mix and match weapons and equipment from across the franchise. Battlefield Portal could be a real game-changer.
Call of Duty Vanguard is offering a more traditional multiplayer experience. You’ll have your standard online matches across 20 different maps, as well as a new Zombies experience and intergeneration with Call of Duty: Warzone. It’s not a radical departure from the series' usual offerings, but Battlefield 2042 currently lacks such a wide variety of modes.
Battlefield 2042 vs. Call of Duty Vanguard: Next-gen features
Call of Duty Vanguard has promised the standard rafter of next-gen features: improved loading times, slightly better resolution, DualSense compatibility on PS5, etc. The game will undoubtedly play best on PS5 and Xbox Series X (or a powerful PC), but the differences between the next-gen versions and the last-gen versions of the game will likely be small.
The next-gen features in Battlefield 2042 are more immediately apparent. On PS5/Xbox Series X/PC, players will be able to partake in massive 128-player battles, whereas on PS4/Xbox One, the player count will be locked at 64 per match. This is a huge difference, and could result in an entirely different experience on next-gen hardware.
It’s excellent to see that developer Dice isn’t letting weaker last-gen hardware hold back the next-gen versions of Battlefield 2042, and is instead taking full advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
Winner: Battlefield 2042
Battlefield 2042 vs. Call of Duty Vanguard: Outlook
Both Battlefield 2042 and Call of Duty Vanguard are a couple of months out from launch, so at this stage, we can’t definitively say which shooter will win the faceoff.
Battlefield 2042 has a more intriguing setting, and looks very much like a next-gen title, thanks to its boosted player count. However, Call of Duty Vanguard offers a more complete package, with a full single-player campaign and a new Zombies co-op mode, alongside the expected competitive multiplayer suite.
On balance, we’re a shade more excited for Battlefield 2042 at this point. But without first getting hands-on time with each game, we can’t call this title fight just yet.