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Call of Duty: Vanguard

Call of Duty: Vanguard multiplayer review: A strong, content-rich entry to the franchise

Vanguard is an extremely fun and content-rich CoD game, but there are some issues that need worked out before it achieves it’s full potential.



Call of Duty Vanguard padmavati operator

Call of Duty: Vanguard offers an extremely solid and complete multiplayer experience, but there are still a few kinks to be worked out before it’s remembered as one of the greats. 

After months of leaks and rumors, Call of Duty: Vanguard is finally here. The CoD player base can be hard to please, but Sledgehammer Games’ first title since WW2 appears to have captured what the player base wants – fast gameplay, interesting maps, and plenty of content. 

However, it’s not all plain sailing. Skill-based matchmaking is back, but it’s clear that it does wonders for Activision’s strategy so, like it or not, it’s here to stay. And there are some further kinks that hold Vanguard back from reaching its full potential. 

Shipment in Call of Duty: Vanguard

Fun, classic CoD gameplay

Call of Duty took quite a significant shift in direction with Modern Warfare, where a fast time-to-kill, loud footsteps, and map design promoted slower-paced tactical gameplay. And while Cold War was a funner core experience, its engine felt like a step back in terms of gameplay, and it didn’t feel truly next-gen. Vanguard has captured the best of both games, however.

Running on the same engine as Modern Warfare, it has that next-gen feeling where the movement feels smooth and responsive, and the weapons feel powerful. As soon as you launch into your first multiplayer match, there will be no doubt in your mind that this game was developed in 2021 with next-gen consoles in mind. 

And even with all of these next-gen improvements, it undeniably feels like a CoD game – and a very fun one at that. Even with the issues that I’ll mention below, the map design, sheer amount of content, and overall feel make it the most fun I’ve had in a CoD game in years. 

16 unique maps at launch

Gavatau in Call of Duty Vanguard

Let’s start with Vanguard’s most significant improvement from Modern Warfare and Black Ops Cold War’s launch – 16 classic multiplayer maps! MW was released with ten, and Cold War was released with only eight – so it didn’t take long for them to get repetitive. But Vanguard released with 16, so you can play for hours and have not even played on all of the maps.

And the majority of the maps are great. They’re interesting and unique, and they actually encourage players to move around. Even with doors returning, there aren’t any positions that are super easy to hold. Modern Warfare could be slow-paced and campy at times, but Vanguard players aren’t afraid to run around and constantly take fights. 

The destruction element to the maps might have been intended to be a game-changer, but unfortunately, it comes across as quite gimmicky. The first couple of minutes of the game can be quite slow, as players don’t want to be the first player to noisily burst through a wall into the unknown.

Instead, you’ll find players shooting holes through small pieces of cover to get the drop on whoever’s on the other side. But, once the action really kicks off and all the destructible environments are gone, you’ll forget they were ever there. It’s unlikely to be an addition that anyone will miss if it doesn’t carry into CoD 2022. 

vanguard red star map

Combat Pacing needs work

It’s absolutely worth mentioning the Combat Pacing option. Setting your matchmaking from Tactical (6v6), all the way up to Blitz (maximum players) allows for much more control over how you want the game to play – which is especially useful for grinding camos or weapons. 

But, Combat Pacing doesn’t always work as intended. You’ll often be matched into whatever lobby’s available, even if it’s the complete opposite of what you were after. 

Broken spawns also prevent Blitz from reaching its full potential. In a perfect world, Blitz would be reminiscent of Nuketown, where you spawn and it only takes a second to get into the action.

You’ll often find yourself spawning directly into a firing squad, and it’ll take several deaths to get out of the trap. Gun-skill goes out the window, and it’s who can find the best position to mow down enemies, rather than who can finesse and outplay their opponents.  

A grinder’s delight

Call of Duty Vanguard bootcamp challenges

For the grinders out there, there’s plenty of challenges to work through. Each weapon will take several hours to max out, and there’s plenty of camo challenges to complete as you’re leveling it up. But, these camo challenges range from standard to utterly outrageous. As an example, players are tasked with getting 100 point-blank kills with bolt-action Sniper Rifles, which Sledgehammer will hopefully adjust ASAP.

The new Operator system is nice, as it encourages players to use every character on offer. Each one has their favorite weapon, and you’ll earn bonus XP for that weapon when using the right Operator. And for reaching max level with every single one, you’ll earn an Epic Operator Outfit to show off your dedication to the grind. 

And of course, regular Challenges have returned. Although bugs are preventing them all from tracking, there’s plenty of Calling Cards to earn for your efforts. 

Fast time-to-kill makes fights inconsistent

Vanguard Beatrice Operator

The one area of the game that needs serious work is the time-to-kill (TTK), and the time-to-die in particular. You’ll die incredibly fast, hardly having any time to react to getting shot. This isn’t a game-breaking problem, but it can get extremely frustrating.  

Often, you’ll be turning a corner and die before you’ve even made it all the way around. With the STG44, you’ll find you’re killing players in only a couple of shots, which makes it feel closer to hardcore than the classic CoD experience. 

And the TTK doesn’t feel consistent either, which is where the time-to-die comes into play. Often, it’ll feel as though you’ll die much faster than you can kill. You’ll tag an enemy across the map with several hitmarkers, but then die in milliseconds, as though every bullet has hit at once. Players have been experiencing packet burst issues, so this could be a netcode issue. 

It would only take a slight time-to-kill reduction to vastly improve Vanguard’s multiplayer experience. 

Vanguard multiplayer Verdict

Vanguard Operators running


At its core, Vanguard is a very good Call of Duty game. It hasn’t reinvented the wheel or introduced any new mechanics that completely change how the game is played, but it runs great, the maps have a satisfying flow, the weapons feel unique, and there’s plenty of content to sink your teeth into. 

Luckily, all of the negatives that I’ve brought up are fixable and aren’t core gameplay features. Of course, bugs and glitches are present – but they’ll likely be fixed soon.

While I criticized the lackluster destruction mechanic, it by no means detracts from the overall experience – it just feels a bit pointless. Also, spawns will need to be addressed for Blitz Combat Pacing to achieve its true potential, and while the time-to-kill feels far too quick, it’s not entirely game-breaking. 

But, issues aside, Vanguard will offer a fun and satisfying experience to both new and returning Call of Duty fans.

Reviewed on PC 

Image Credit: Sledgehammer Games / Activision

Call of Duty: Vanguard

Double weapon XP period begins as Vanguard players criticize slow weapon progression

Double weapon XP and Battle Pass XP is now live in Vanguard as players remain unhappy with limited weapon level progression.



Double xp weapon level progression

Since day one of Vanguard players have voiced their frustrations with weapon level progression being too slow. As a remedy, players get to enjoy another double XP weekend.

Just as frustration seemed to be reaching a boiling point, Vanguard players will benefit from 2X the weapon XP for a brief period. Throughout Call of Duty history, double XP events were often highly anticipated moments for players to progress at a quicker pace. With Vanguard this isn’t necessarily the case.

The frequency of double XP periods may have something to do with the widespread complaints concerning slow weapon level progression. Whether this is a deliberate tactic or not, players should still make the most of this event.

STG weapon level unlocks vanguard

Although double XP has pertained to battle pass, military rank, and weapon level in the past, this time is a little different. As of Friday, December 3 at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET / 6 PM GMT / 8 PM CEST, double Battle Pass and weapon XP will be active.

These events usually begin on Friday and last until Monday. With that in mind make sure to grind some weapon levels in the upcoming days.

For over a month now the Vanguard community has been feeling shortchanged with how slow their weapon level progression is going. Despite their frustrations, the player base has been fortunate enough to benefit from several double weapon XP periods since launch. This is highly unusual for a new Call of Duty title.

Perhaps this is Sledgehammer taking player input into consideration. There’s no denying that the devs have been generous when it comes to handing out double XP events. However, some players have noted that double XP may be slightly misleading.

Reddit user Red_Gaming_Community is convinced that players are not actually receiving 2X the XP during these events. In a video, they go on to detail how weapon XP values perform during these events. They believe that players are earning less than 2X the XP.

Ultimately, your weapons are going to progress at a faster pace when these events are active. Playing Vanguard from Friday to Monday should alleviate some frustration relating to your slow weapon level progression.

For more Vanguard content, check out our ranked list of the best secondary weapons in the game.

Image Credit: Activision / Sledgehammer Games

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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Season 1 Vanguard update set to sync progression from Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Treyarch’s latest announcement has detailed how Black Ops Cold War progression will sync to Vanguard with upcoming update.



Black Ops Cold War update Vanguard

As season 6 of Black Ops Cold War comes to a close, the devs have announced that an update will allow progress earned in last year’s title to sync to Vanguard.

Call of Duty players have just received confirmation that playing previous Call of Duty titles will work toward progressing in Vanguard. A new update is set to hit Black Ops Cold War on December 6th in preparation for the massive launch of Vanguard Season 1 on December 8.

The patch notes detail synchronized progression with Vanguard as well as new Prestige Levels and rewards, Season Challenge unlocks for the past six seasons, new Prestige Shop content, and weapon balancing.

Black Ops cold war zombies

Black Ops Cold War fans will be happy to hear that the game is going to continue to receive updates alongside Call of Duty: Vanguard. The latest announcement from Treyarch shares plenty of info concerning shared progression across Call of Duty titles.

Players will enjoy synced progression from each of Modern Warfare, Black Ops Cold War, and Warzone toward Vanguard. This may seem complicated but it just means that playing any of the three titles mentioned above will earn progression for Vanguard.

Synced progression entails unlocking Military Rank, weapons, Equipment, and Killstreaks. In addition, there will be a ton of interesting details such as allowing players to showcase their lifetime Prestige number earned across past titles.

Some changes will go live on December 6 while the rest will occur on December 8.

Patch Notes


  • Synchronized Military Ranks and Prestige Levels
    • Military Rank and Prestige Level progression will be synchronized with Vanguard at the launch of Season One.
    • All players will begin the season at the Military Rank or Prestige Level they have currently reached in Vanguard, or Military Rank 1 if they have not played Vanguard yet.
    • Players can progress Vanguard Military Ranks in Black Ops Cold WarWarzone, and Modern Warfare to unlock weapons, Equipment, Killstreaks, and other content for use in Vanguard and Warzone.
  • Prestige Rewards
    • Complete Military Ranks 1-55 to start a new Prestige journey, with new Prestige Levels to unlock across Black Ops Cold WarVanguardWarzone, and Modern Warfare.
    • In Season One, players can earn up to Prestige 7 as they progress their Season Level. Four additional Prestige Levels will be added per season.
    • Each Prestige Level awards a Prestige Key, Tier Skip, Emblem, and Sticker in Black Ops Cold War.
    • Reach Season Level 50 in Season One to unlock the exclusive “Duck Hunt” Weapon Blueprint for use in Vanguard and Warzone.
  • Lifetime Prestige
    • Lifetime Prestige display added to Black Ops Cold War and Warzone at the start of Vanguard Season One that display the total number of Prestige Levels earned across previous seasons and in Vanguard.
  • Prestige Master Ribbons
    • Players can now continue their Black Ops Cold War Prestige Master Ribbon progression. Each season, a new Prestige Master Ribbon will be added to the current six Black Ops Cold War Prestige Master Ribbons.
    • Players can progress their Prestige Master Ribbons in Black Ops Cold WarVanguardWarzone, and Modern Warfare by reaching Prestige Master at Season Level 200.
    • Players can now catch up on missed Prestige Master Ribbons each time they earn 200 Season Levels in a season. For example, reaching Season Level 400 will award two Prestige Master Ribbons, if available.

Prestige Shop

  • Black Ops Cold War Prestige Icons will be unlocked and available in the Prestige Shop for anyone who earned them in previous seasons.
  • Players can now equip any acquired Prestige Icon (1-27) as long as they’ve reached Prestige Master at least once in a current or previous season.
  • Players do not need to currently be Prestige Master to access Custom Prestige Icons in the Prestige Shop.
  • Equipped Prestige Icons will no longer be reset at the start of each season.

Season Challenges

  • All previous Black Ops Cold War Season Challenges will be revealed and can be progressed by players who hadn’t revealed them over the course of previous seasons. Legacy Season Challenges can continue to be progressed in Black Ops Cold War.
  • Starting with Season One, players can access and progress new Multiplayer Season Challenges in Vanguard and Warzone, as well as Zombies Season Challenges in Vanguard.

Weapon Unlock Challenges

  • .410 Ironhide
    • Weapon unlock challenge added to Multiplayer and Zombies for the .410 Ironhide Shotgun.
  • Grav
    • Weapon unlock challenge added to Multiplayer and Zombies for the Grav Assault Rifle.

Weapon Tuning (Dec. 6)

  • Marshal
    • Damage
      • Reduced Damage Range from 3.81m to 3.68m.
      • Increased Damage drop-off when fired beyond 3.68m.
    • Dragon’s Breath Attachment
      • Now has a -5% effect on Fire Rate.
      • Increased Damage Range penalty from -25% to -35%.
      • Reduced Damage bonus from +17% to +16%.
    • 12.1″ Extended Barrel
      • Reduced Damage Range bonus from +20% to +15%.


  • Updated Lobby theming in Multiplayer and Zombies.

Zombies (Dec 6)


  • Closed an exploit during the Main Quest boss fight.
  • Added “Not Enough Essence” prompt to the Arcade Token dispenser when the player does not have enough Essence to purchase a token.

Mauer der Toten

  • Addressed an issue where a texture was not appearing correctly after melting the door during the Main Quest.


  • Enemies killed by Brain Rot zombies will now contribute toward the Dragon Relic World Event.


  • Added Onslaught Containment and Onslaught Deprogram to offline Local play.


  • Fixed stability issues related to the Arsenal.

That covers everything from the upcoming Black Ops Cold War update. If you’re enjoying Vanguard, be sure to check out how this update impacts your gaming experience on December 8.

For more Vanguard content, check out why Zombies players are disappointed with Vanguard.

Image Credit: Activision / Sledgehammer Games / Treyarch

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Call of Duty: Vanguard

Best CoD: Vanguard secondary weapons: Ranked list

Here are the best secondary weapons you can equip in Call of Duty: Vanguard, as well as a ranked list from worst to best.



Vanguard secondary weapons

Call of Duty: Vanguard allows players to choose from ten specialized secondary weapons. We’ve sorted every secondary weapon into a ranked list, and revealed the best loadout for each one.

Call of Duty: Vanguard offers nearly 40 weapons to test and unlock. Players will have their hands full trying to figure out which weapons work best for them. If you’re hunting for the valuable Atomic mastery camo, chances are you’ll be testing each one of these weapons shortly. 

Vanguard Secondary weapons are split up into three categories: Handguns, Launchers, and Melee weapons. Depending on your playstyle, these categories will add distinct value to your game. Despite their unique uses, some of these weapons are better than others. We’ve ranked all ten of Vanguard’s secondary weapons from worst to best and included the best loadouts for each.  

Best Vanguard secondary weapon ranked list

Vanguard 1911 handgun secondary weapon

Thanks to Sledgehammer, almost all of the secondary weapons can be utilized successfully, but some are proving to be more useful than others. 

The following is a list of the best Call of Duty: Vanguard secondary weapons from worst to best.

  1. M1 Bazooka
  2. Klauser
  3. Panzerschreck
  4. MK11 Launcher
  5. Top Break
  6. Panzerfaust
  7. Machine Pistol
  8. FS Fighting Knife
  9. 1911
  10. Ratt

Best Vanguard Launchers & Melee weapons 

5. M1 Bazooka

M1 Bazooka Vanguard

Each Launcher available in Vanguard can cause mass destruction, but subtle differences set them apart. The M1 Bazooka is the least forgiving and one of the heaviest of the bunch making it a subpar option.

4. Panzerschrek

Panzerschreck Vanguard

The Panzerschreck and M1 Bazooka are nearly identical. They both arm players with two rockets and force players to move slowly.

The Panzerschreck does slightly more damage thus making it more useful. 

3. MK11 Launcher

MK11 Vanguard

The MK11 is without a doubt the most unique of the bunch thanks to its smaller size. Players can move around nicely with it and the trajectory of the rocket can be controlled at greater distances.

2. Panzerfaust

panzerfaust vanguard launcher

Although the Panzerfaust isn’t as efficient at taking down enemy Spy Planes as other weapons in its class, it certainly packs a punch against enemy players.

The Panzerfaust is more mobile than the M1 Bazooka, making it a great choice to clear out objectives such as Hardpoints or Domination flags. 

1. FS Fighting Knife

Vanguard Fighting Knife

The trusted FS Fighting Knife is a useful tool if used properly. Obviously, the major downside is the lack of range. However, if your playstyle encourages close engagements you’ll love this knife.

Not only does it dominate at close range but it gives a wonderful boost to movement speed when equipped. In game modes like Search & Destroy timing is everything, reaching a power position first by running with a knife in hand is a valuable trick.

Best Vanguard Handgun Loadouts

5. Klauser

Klauser handgun vanguard

Due to underwhelming movement speed, the Klauser is the worst Vanguard Handgun. The Klauser’s best feature is that it operates well at range. Although, players usually don’t use Handguns for long-range engagements. 

  • Muzzle: Mercury Silencer
  • Barrel: Fitzherbert 200MM BL
  • Optic: Slate Reflector
  • Trigger Action: Rapid Action
  • Magazine: .45 ACP 12 Round Mags
  • Ammo Type: Hollow Point
  • Rear Grip: Stippled Grip
  • Proficiency: Brace
  • Kit: Quick

4. Top Break

Top break handgun vanguard

With the right loadout, the Top Break can be devastating, but it boasts the same frustrating rate of fire as the iconic Magnum it is modeled after.

You’ll have to be smart in judging when to use your shots as one miss can cost your life. 

  • Muzzle: F8 Stabilizer 
  • Barrel: Wilkie W-4 Stub
  • Optic: Slate Reflector or None
  • Trigger Action: Rapid Action
  • Magazine: .30 Russian Short
  • Ammo Type: Hollow Point
  • Rear Grip: Polymer Grip
  • Proficiency: Quickscopre
  • Kit: Quick

3. Machine Pistol

Machine pistol handgun vanguard

The Machine Pistol is a great choice for extremely close-range encounters. It isn’t powerful but its rate of fire means it can eviscerate enemies up close. Distant targets should be avoided at all costs due to the high recoil and limited range of the Machine Pistol. 

  • Muzzle: F8 Stabilizer
  • Barrel: VDD 140MM HE
  • Trigger Action: Steady Trigger
  • Magazine: 9mm 20 Round Mags
  • Ammo Type: Lengthened
  • Rear Grip: Pine Tar Grip
  • Proficiency: Tight Grip
  • Kit: Fully Loaded

2. 1911

1911 handgun vanguard

The 1911 is a very well-rounded Handgun. The weapon is accurate and it can kill at most distances.

It doesn’t have any outstanding features but with no weaknesses to bring it down, it rises above the competition. If you’re looking for a steady Handgun, the 1911 will not let you down. 

  • Muzzle: F8 Stabilizer
  • Barrel: Cooper 6.5
  • Trigger Action: Rapid Action
  • Magazine: .45 ACP 18 Round Mags
  • Ammo Type: Lengthened
  • Rear Grip: Taped Grip
  • Proficiency: Sleight of Hand
  • Kit: Quick

1. Ratt

Ratt handgun vanguard

The Ratt is the top choice of secondary weapon in Vanguard. It checks all of the boxes by delivering hefty damage, being great at long-range and close-range, as well as offering little to no recoil when firing.

This weapon is devastating in the hands of an expert but it also lends itself well to new players. 

  • Muzzle: No. 3 Rifle Brake
  • Barrel: Empress 129MM B03TT
  • Trigger Action: Rapid Action
  • Magazine: .45 ACP 9 Round Mags
  • Ammo Type: Lengthened
  • Rear Grip: Fabric Grip
  • Proficiency: Fleet
  • Kit: Quick

And those are the best secondary weapons and their loadouts for Call of Duty: Vanguard’s pre-season. Preferred weapons are always changing, so we’ll keep this list updated when new patches hit. Players can expect some weapon balancing to hit Vanguard in Season 1.

You can also check out our ranked list of the best SMG loadouts in Vanguard.

Image Credit: Sledgehammer Games

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