Call of Duty: Vanguard – Zombie review in progress
Call of Duty’s Zombies mode has again revolved around the axis. With Vanguard returning to the gruesome frontiers of WWII, we’re back in the 1940s slaughtering the rotten corpses of the Third Reich on European Gothic battlefields for the first time since Call of Duty: WW2. . And for anyone who spent their high school years climbing the windows when Zombies debuted in Treyarch’s Call of Duty: World of War, Sledgehammer’s interpretation is both a homecoming and a living testament to the distance traveled by the mode beyond its original form. After the few hours we have had at a “virtual review event” over the past couple of days, I can confirm that Vanguard is trying to merge a number of interesting genre influences with Zombies, albeit with some notable missing features. . I’ll have to play a lot more to see how they play out when it comes to maintaining interest in zombies while we wait for more content to arrive, but here are my thoughts so far.
The basics are in place. You and three friends have been transported to a hellish and spooky alternate universe – red skies, cursed talismans, eldritch gods – about a million miles from the steel realism prioritized by the main Call of Duty games and campaign and multiplayer modes by Vanguard. I’ve always loved the way Zombies allows Call of Duty to stretch their legs in a brutal, doom-y aesthetic, and Sledgehammer proudly crams it up on blood. There is a melodrama on the sidelines: The Nazis strayed too deep into their occult obsession and unleashed grotesque perdition in the ruins of Stalingrad, and they will tell you all about their sins in audio diaries which can and probably should be easily. ignored. We’re here to kill hordes of zombies using the same first-person shooter mechanics that have preserved Call of Duty’s place as a mainstay for almost two decades, and this part is still going strong. The heaviness of 1940s gun engineering has always been a natural pairing for our Van Helsing fantasies; You take the two front windows, I take the back door, and we’ll keep firing our Tommy guns, we’re out of bullets.
New this year is a random element in each race. A developer from Sledgehammer told me that roguelites like Hades have influence during development, and that influence jumps immediately. Much of your time in Vanguard’s Zombies will be spent between races, wandering around a war-torn hub area (to the Firelink Shrine from Dark Souls or Destiny’s The Traveler) where you can mine guns, craft weapons, and trade powerful buffs called Covenant that could give you a health boost with every melee kill or revive your allies more quickly, etc. These merge nicely with Vanguard’s four ultimate abilities – a devastating energy mine, invisibility field, party-wide damage inducer, and speed-damping vortex – which fit together in the usual DPS / Tank / Healer class balance setup, and add some more thoughtful flourishes to the action. I can report that trapping a spawn point with an explosive filling the screen is just as satisfying as you might think.
However, most of the boosts you can buy seemed pretty uninspiring to me, and I thirsted for slightly more colorful increases than faster animations. Part of the reason is that they pale in comparison to the random bonuses you find when you’re moving around the maps. Real-world example: A power-up that I found essentially gives you GoldenEye’s Golden Gun – every zombie you tag, regardless of its location, immediately collapses. It’s so much more fun than all the expensive stuff around the seat, but of course it all depends on the luck of the toss. The point of all this, I think, is to bring these eureka! moments found in roguelikes Sledgehammer is riddling with zombie action; when all the whole statistics merge into a sublime miracle, like catching lightning in a bottle.
All of these leveling stations require currency you earn in the battlefields, which means the zombies follow a rigid formula: take one of the peripheral portals to an instanced challenge, like surviving an assault, escorting a floating skull or power obelisks. – then minmax your build back to base camp. These three flavors serve a lot of undead to kill, but they weren’t as vibrant as I hoped. The assault, in particular, puts you in extremely narrow hallways for about two minutes as you push back the herd. I kept waiting for an unexpected left hook to throw me off guard, but it never came. Again, maybe the challenges get more complex as you dig deeper into the zombies, but at the moment I find them a bit monotonous.
Once all four objectives are met, the squad can sneak out of the hotspot and get to safety … or they can move forward, knowing that the difficulty escalates with each victory. Win or lose, all alliances you unlocked and perks you bought disappear at the end of a race, but you will gain additional experience points on the Call of Duty ranking system with a successful escape. As with so many horror games, our biggest fear isn’t about the monsters lurking around the corner; no, it’s the threat of starting over.
This goes to the basis of Vanguard’s appeal. Sledgehammer wants you to bleed on your character sheet; Browse the array of weapons, alliances, and various accessories remaining to create the zombie killing machine at the top. I’m sure I’ll get there after more than a few hours with this, but so far my teammates and I have had no choice but to slap basically blind builds together with no coordination or forethought. , and running into the line of fire as recklessly as possible. There’s nothing serious about that, since zombies have always been kind to have fun without thinking. But it’s going to be some time before I can tell if Sledgehammer has designed his perks in a way that gives Vanguard an extra afterlife.
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But the main problem with the latest Zombies series is that, quite simply, it looks a bit thin right now. There is an effective infrastructure for killing the living dead here, but Sledgehammer says that a “main quest,” which looks a lot like the scripted, more scripted rendition of Zombies we saw in Call of Duty of yore, doesn’t will not happen. until December 2 – almost a full month after initial deployment. Until then, we’ll go through a series of disconnected battle arenas, adding to what should be some amazing combos and tons of guts, but not much else.
Due to the slowness of the traditional story content, after just two hours, I felt like Vanguard’s levels had already lost the ability to surprise me; that all the fascinating mysteries of this macabre dimension were already being exploited. It was a baffling feeling to have almost immediately, and I hope that doesn’t stand the truth when I play more on live servers this weekend before writing my final review. Vanguard has brilliant bones and brains, now he just needs blood.