Call of Duty Vanguard: 3 reasons to be excited and 2 to be worried

Call of Duty Vanguard
(Image credit: Activision)

Call of Duty Vanguard is real and coming this November. After months of internet speculation and quite a few leaks, this year's entry in the popular shooter franchise has been confirmed as a return to the series WWII roots. 

There’s plenty to be excited about with Vanguard. For starters, the game is built on the same engine as 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which means it’ll probably be downright gorgeous to look at. Plus, with shooter-rivals Battlefield 2042 and Halo Infinite focusing on the future, Call of Duty looks set to corner the market on big-budget historical shooters this holiday season. 

While most of what we know about Call of Duty Vanguard has our hype levels rising high, there are a few tidbits that aren’t quite as exciting. In particular, the rumored return of a dreaded feature; if true, its inclusion could spell disaster for the game’s multiplayer. 

We’re expecting to learn more about Vanguard in the coming weeks, not to mention being able to try it out for ourselves in the upcoming PlayStation-exclusive Alpha (kicking off August 27). Until then, these are the three reasons we’re very excited for Call of Duty Vanguard, and two that have us a little worried. 

Reasons to be excited #1: War on all fronts 

Call of Duty Vanguard - multiplayer

(Image credit: Activision)

It’s been confirmed that Call of Duty Vanguard will take place across four theatres of war: the Western front, the Eastern front, North Africa, and the South Pacific. 

This is significant as previous big-budget WWII games, including 2017’s Battlefield 5, have neglected to include some prominent locations from the conflict. Call of Duty Vanguard isn’t making that same mistake and seems to be attempting to cover almost the full breadth of the war across both single-player and multiplayer.

This is definitely an ambitious aim, and it could prove a stretch too far for the developer Sledgehammer Games. But if pulled off successfully, it could result in Call of Duty Vanguard becoming the definitive WWII shooter. 

Reasons to be excited #2: Treyarch on Zombies 

Call of Duty

(Image credit: Activision)

While Sledgehammer Games is taking the development lead on Call of Duty Vanguard, the Zombies mode will be handled by fellow-Activision owned studio Treyarch. 

Any long-time Call of Duty players will be aware of Treyarch’s pedigree when it comes to the popular co-op mode. The Santa Monica-based studio introduced the world to Zombies in 2008’s Call of Duty World at War and since then it has been the primary custodian of the surprisingly deep lore that surrounds the mode. 

Furthermore, Vanguard’s Zombie mode will reportedly tie into the Dark Aether story told in last year’s Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War (which Treyarch lead development on). This should result in much-need continuity across the mode, the lack of which has often been a problem when a non-Treyarch studio has attempted to tackle Zombies. 

Reasons to be excited #3: Full single-player campaign 

Call of Duty Vanguard

(Image credit: Activision)

Sure, most people play Call of Duty for the multiplayer but the value of a full single-player campaign shouldn’t be underestimated. Especially when you consider that rival shooter Battlefield 2042 is forgoing any form of campaign mode in favor of focusing purely on online. 

Call of Duty Vanguard's traditional single-player campaign will ensure the game feels like a complete package. Not to mention that the last two Call of Duty games had remarkably strong campaigns as well. Hopefully, Vanguard can continue the streak. 

Yes, we’ll likely be spending the majority of our playtime online, but a Call of Duty campaign is usually pure blockbuster entertainment. Maybe not the deepest experience, but a heck of a lot of fun. We’re glad that Vanguard hasn’t pulled a Black Ops 4 and omitted a campaign entirely. 

Reasons to be worried #1: SBMM is (likely) back 

Call of Duty Vanguard

(Image credit: Activision)

It’s probably the news that every Call of Duty fan dreaded, but according to a leak from earlier this year, skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) will be returning for Call of Duty Vanguard. 

We like the idea of SBMM in concept. The feature aims to match players up based on skill level, to prevent a newbie from being pitted against a pro player and being hopelessly outgunned. In practice, it often leads to frustration. 

The feature has been a little too sensitive in the previous few Call of Duty titles. Have an above-average game and you’ll be moved up into the next skill-based bracket and find yourself outmatched by players of much higher abilities. 

We’re not saying Sledgehammer should ditch SBMM, as there’s nothing fun about being the victim of a blowout at the hands of a player with far more skill and experience than you, but it definitely needs to be tweaked in Vanguard.  

Reasons to be worried #2: Lack of next-gen features 

Call of Duty Vanguard

(Image credit: Activision)

It’s been confirmed that Battlefield 2042’s flagship feature, 128-player matches, will be reserved exclusively for next-gen consoles and PC. In contrast, Call of Duty Vanguard has yet to reveal anything that will push the PS5 and Xbox Series X

While we’d expect the standard next-gen functionality (faster loading, better resolution etc.) the apparent lack of true next-gen features is disappointing. Call of Duty Vanguard could end up feeling more like a polished PS4/Xbox One game on next-gen hardware, rather than a game that really takes advantage of the increased power of these consoles. 

By the time Vanguard launches the PS5 and Xbox Series X will be almost a year old, so there’s no excuse for the game not to feel like a true next-gen experience. Hopefully, there is more to be announced on this front. 

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.