Why Call of Duty: Vanguard's Release Is So Muted – Screen Rant

Call of Duty: Vanguard had an underwhelming launch with low sales, and its WW2 setting, missing features, and CoD’s focus on Warzone may be to blame.
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Call of Duty: Vanguard is the latest entry into the ever-popular Call of Duty series, but the new game has had a very muted release. Vanguard is the 19th main entry into the series and takes players back into the Second World War for the first time since 2017’s Call of Duty: WWII. Vanguard is developed by Sledgehammer Games, which developed WWII as well as 2014’s CoD: Advanced Warfare and co-developed 2011’s Modern Warfare 3.
Call of Duty: Vanguard launched with an ambitious amount of content and many fans were expecting it to take the next step for the franchise. The game features a brand-new multi-narrative campaign set across WW2, a new Zombies mode co-developed by Treyarch, and the multiplayer mode features the largest amount of customization in Call of Duty despite its WW2 setting. Vanguard will also feature full integration with Call of Duty: Warzone, which includes the long-awaited RICOCHET anti-cheat system that should stop CoD’s hacking problem from getting worse.
Related: Every WW2 Call Of Duty Game, Ranked From Worst To Best
Despite Vanguard‘s large amount of day-one content, the game has been released with very little excitement. Many fans were quickly underwhelmed with the multiplayer experience, which is always the crucial factor of a Call of Duty game’s success, and the other two game-modes were not good enough to make up for the loss of excitement. There are a lot of other issues that have made the game underperform at launch, including bad bugs, unkept promises, and gamers who are bored with the setting. The focus of Call of Duty is shifting too, with the multiplayer starting to take a backseat when it comes to many fans’ favorite modes. As a result, CoD‘s sales have sharply declined with Vanguard‘s launch, and the responsibility falls on the game itself.
The biggest reason why Vanguard has had a muted release is that the central focus has shifted away from classic Call of Duty multiplayer to the Warzone battle royale. Warzone launched free-to-play in 2020, a few months after the release of 2019’s Modern Warfare reboot from Infinity Ward. The game was developed by Raven Software, using the IW engine that Modern Warfare used, and quickly became one of the biggest battle royale games around. Warzone‘s success continued after 2020 because it featured full integration with Black Ops Cold War that year, and Vanguard will feature full integration too.
Warzone was the highest-earning game in 2020 and hit the 100 million player mark quickly in its lifecycle. Activision paid attention to that and as a result, everything Call of Duty related is centered around Warzone. Therefore, when Vanguard launched, many players only played multiplayer so they could level up the new weapons in time to use them when they are added into the battle royale. The last three Call of Duty multiplayer games have all felt similar, despite three different settings. UIs and customization options feel the same each time, and that doesn’t entice players back when there is an entirely different game that is constantly getting new updates. Warzone‘s success has had a negative knock-on effect on the Call of Duty multiplayer, whether intentional or not.
There are a lot of things missing in CoD: Vanguard which makes it feel rushed, in turn making it less fun to play. The zombies mode was a borderline disaster; after the success of Cold War‘s Dark Aether story many fans were excited for Treyarch to continue in Vanguard, but it didn’t happen. It deviates completely from what makes CoD zombies fun and feels hollow and bland. The campaign is disjointed and only has nine missions, which isn’t long enough to give the new interesting and well-written characters enough time to develop.
Related: How Long Call of Duty: Vanguard Takes To Beat
Call of Duty: Vanguard‘s multiplayer also disappoints because it is missing things that CoD fans have come to expect and hasn’t added many new things. The same UI being used for the third year in a row is not good, and CoD: Vanguard also misses important game modes and has had almost zero crossovers with the Call of Duty League and the Esports teams that a lot of fans want to represent in-game. It is a bad sign for the future of Call of Duty that the multiplayer has received such little improvement, and further shows that CoD is now a Warzone-first operation.
Call of Duty: Vanguard always had the odds stacked against it, because of its historical setting. There have now been five Call of Duty games set in the Second World War, which has produced some of the best entries in the franchise. However, 18 years of Call of Duty games means new and old players are looking for something new, especially when there are a lot of other WW2 shooters that do things differently. For example, Hell Let Loose‘s multiplayer is more immersive than CoDBattlefield, and other FPS shooters, and its gameplay focuses on creating authentic experiences in realistic WW2 maps.
Call of Duty: Vanguard, conversely, doesn’t make the most of its WW2 setting, and that is why it’s struggled for hype. There was a similar issue in Battlefield 5, where the gameplay didn’t align with the setting so many players paid more attention to the bugs and broken weapons. Vanguard feels like Modern Warfare 2019, and playing a game that feels the same as one from three years ago – in a setting that has been used for nearly two decades – isn’t a surefire recipe to get fans excited. Lack of interest in WW2 games was the second most popular reason in a poll for why gamers aren’t buying CoD: Vanguard.
The release of Call of Duty: Vanguard was muted for a number of reasons, and it could mark the decline of the series going forward. With the success and popularity of Warzone, all the big decisions in the series are seemingly focused on supporting the battle royale, which is having a negative effect on the individual games. If Call of Duty wants to keep succeeding, it needs to make each individual game feel different from the last, while still keeping that successful CoD formula alive. The series was great at this for a number of years, and if it can start to take risks with its setting again and add interesting new gameplay elements, it should be able to recover and have its individual games succeed alongside the battle royale.
Next: What Call of Duty Game Is Coming After Vanguard
Mark Harrison is a games features writer for Screen Rant, focusing on Call of Duty. Mark has completed a postgraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and is based in the UK. Mark is a video game enthusiast, playing many different genres of games but has a focus on FPS games. In the past, Mark has worked at Esports events and competed in LAN tournaments.

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