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Call of Duty: Vanguard hands-on — Fighting duos in Champion Hill

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Seemed like it took me all day, but I finally got a victory in Champion Hill, the new multiplayer mode in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

PlayStation 4 and 5 owners are playing the alpha of Call of Duty: Vanguard this weekend in a preview of the new mode. It’s a multiplayer combat mode where two players are squaring off against two players in confined maps. Vanguard itself will be out on November 5 on the consoles and the PC.

It’s a tournament where eight teams of two players each square off against each other, one at a time. Your team gets 12 lives for the entire tournament, and the last surviving team wins. You can pick up extra lives at strategic points in the maps, and you can also purchase them during buy rounds as you keep picking up rewards, taking down enemies, and winning rounds.

It’s kind of a training setting for the special forces soldiers from the single-player campaign, and you cycle through all of the characters in the campaign. You start out with relatively simple weapons, but you can make purchases (with virtual currency) of things like armor and grenades right off the bat. And you can earn more currency if you defeat other teams in the rounds.

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If you start losing early on, it’s hard to make a comeback. But it is possible if you can get lucky and use your best weapons and grenades. I used the basic machine gun mostly, and I used a motion-sensitive S-Mine 44 to take out the occasional soldier sneaking up behind me. As I mentioned, I played a lot of the afternoon and evening on Friday and got just a single victory. So it’s sweet when that happens. You can communicate via the built-in mic with the PS5, but most players seemed to turn off their mics.

Issues we’re addressing include:

– Visibility when damaged

– Spawn tuning

– Map visibility

– Audio mix tuning

– Name plate visibility issues

– Aim assist through destructible walls

— Sledgehammer Games (@SHGames) August 28, 2021

There are four different maps. They feature wood that is thick enough to prevent movement but can also be shot away. It’s a small nod toward destructible environments, like in Battlefield. You can use it to your advantage, shooting at enemies through the wood. As for the guns, I felt like the MG-42 was a good choice as a heavy-duty machine gun, but it does slow you down.

Ultimately, the full game at launch on November 5 will have duos (2v2), trios (3v3), and solos (1v1). You start out with $500 in virtual currency and I always used it to buy full body armor. Then I picked up a grenade and went into action. You can run over money scattered throughout the map, and even an extra life icon, but that makes you vulnerable for those who are camping near those spots.

The load times were virtually nonexistent, but it takes a fair amount of time to get through the matchmaking. So the gameplay isn’t instantaneous every time you try to get into a match. If you win a single match, you get $1,000, and that’s a big help toward buying a $3,000 extra life. Each round is one minute, but the final combat rounds are one minute longer.

Victory is not like winning a Warzone match (where only a max of four players can win out of 150), but it does feel good when you come out on top. And it’s a much quicker game. I think it’s fun, but it takes getting used to. It is definitely more interesting than some of the other 2v2 matches I’ve seen in past games.

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