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Call of Duty: Vanguard

Will CoD: Vanguard have skill-based matchmaking?

Skill-based matchmaking has been divisive ever since it was introduced in Modern Warfare, but will it return in Call of Duty: Vanguard?

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Vanguard player behind cover

Skill-based matchmaking has proved to be a controversial addition to the Call of Duty series in the last few years, and fans are curious as to whether or not it will be returning in CoD: Vanguard.

The release of Call of Duty: Vanguard is set to bring with it plenty of exciting new additions to the CoD cannon. From a stacked list of weapons to a brand new Pacific Warzone map, there’s a lot for fans to look forward to.

However, it’s an existing feature that also has the community talking. Will the divisive skill-based matchmaking be making a return in this year’s Call of Duty? Here’s what we know.

What is skill-based matchmaking?

SBMM is a system used in many video games which aims to keep online matches fair and balanced by filling them with players who are operating at a similar level.

The feature looks at players’ past performances by analyzing stats like K/D ratio and matches them against others who are thought to be of the same skill level.

Players believe that Call of Duty uses this along with engagement-based matchmaking, where this rating is heavily based on the last match you played, which could explain why games sometimes feel easier straight after a bad performance.

The feature has been divisive since it was brought into the series with Modern Warfare in 2019. Casual players tend to welcome it as they can avoid stressful lobbies, while high-tier players have criticized it for making their games far more difficult.

Will Vanguard have SBMM?

Sledgehammer Games are yet to officially confirm whether or not SBMM will be returning in Vanguard, but all the signs do seem to suggest that it will be there.

Last month, known CoD leaker ‘TheMW2Ghost’ tweeted to say that the controversial system will be back in Vanguard, and it will function the same as it does in Black Ops Cold War.

We will update this article once devs formally share more details about matchmaking and how it will work.

This news will likely frustrate those who have criticized the system in the past. Many feel that while, in theory, it should lead to more balanced lobbies, in reality, it punishes players for a good match by putting them against players far more skilled than them.

It remains to be seen if the ongoing complaints will cause Sledgehammer to make any tweaks when Vanguard finally releases in November.

For more on Call of Duty: Vanguard, check out how Create a Class works, as well as the two classic World at War maps coming back for the game.

Image credits: Activision

Call of Duty: Vanguard

How to play CoD Vanguard multiplayer free access: Dates, download, & content

Here’s how you can play Call of Duty: Vanguard’s multiplayer mode for free and experience exciting Season 3 content.

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Activision and Sledgehammer Games have announced a free access period for Call of Duty: Vanguard’s multiplayer mode. Find out how you can snag this free trial and enjoy Season 3 for free.

Every now and again Activision hands out free access trials to try and entice new players to experience the latest Call of Duty, and the company is continuing the tradition for Call of Duty: Vanguard.

The free access period for Vanguard will allow players to check out the multiplayer mode of Vanguard for free for a limited time.

Here’s everything you need to know about the one week of free access during Vanguard Season 3.

When does the next Call of Duty: Vanguard MP free trial start?

New players will have some time to get to grips with Vanguard’s Multiplayer as the one week of access will start on Wednesday, May 18 at 10 AM PT, 1 PM ET, 6 PM GMT, and end on Tuesday, May 24 at 9 AM PT, 12 PM ET, 5 PM GMT.

The free access weeks will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC as a part of the Season 3 update.

How to download the CoD Vanguard free access

Finding and installing the free week of access doesn’t take too much effort or trouble. A quick search and a few button prompts later, and players will be able to get stuck into the game’s offerings.

Here’s what players will need to do:

  1. You need to go to your respective console’s store – PlayStation or Xbox
  2. Search for “Vanguard Free Access”
  3. A free trial option for Call of Duty: Vanguard should be available to download
  4. Download it, and then boot it up to play

For PC players, there will be an option to “PLAY FREE” on the Battle.net client when you load into the Call of Duty: Vanguard tab. This will kick start the download and then let you begin accessing the free trial content.

CoD Vanguard MP free access content: Maps & modes

The Call of Duty: Vanguard MP Free Access will include access to Season 3 content such as the new Mayhem map. Alongside this new map, players will be able to enjoy 20+ Vanguard maps. In addition, this period will grant players access to a whopping nine multiplayer modes including the innovative Arms Race mode.

Players can experience all of the content as part of Call of Duty: Vanguard, and if they decide to purchase the full game, will have all of their unlocks carry over to the game.

All this awaits new players who will make the most of this special, one week of free access during Vanguard Season 3.


For more Vanguard news, check out how Elden Ring dethroned Vanguard as the best-selling game of the last year.

SOURCE: Call of Duty Blog

Image Credit: Activision / Sledgehammer Games

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Call of Duty: Vanguard

How to get Apex Phase Rifle Owen Gun Blueprint in Warzone & Vanguard

Here’s how to unlock the Apex Phase Rifle Owen Gun Blueprint in Warzone and Vanguard – the most expensive Blueprint ever.

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Vanguard and Warzone players can unlock the Apex Phase Rifle Owen Gun Blueprint as part of the Godzilla vs King Kong collaboration. It’s set to be the most expensive weapon Blueprint ever, so here’s how to get your hands on it.

Vanguard and Warzone players have been loving the Kong, Godzilla, and Mechagodzilla skins and bundles, but there’s one more Operation Monarch cosmetic for players to unlock — the Apex Phase Rifle Blueprint.

Although announced alongside the Season 3 Battle Pass, the devs didn’t reveal which gun it would be for, nor what it looked like. Now, thanks to an email sent out by Activision, we know that the Apex Phase Rifle Blueprint is for the Owen Gun, which is arguably one of the best SMGs in Warzone.

The Owen Gun Blueprint isn’t a straightforward unlock and you’ll need to put down a hefty amount of CoD Points, so here’s how to get your hands on it in Warzone and Vanguard.

How to get Apex Phase Rifle Owen Gun Blueprint in Warzone & Vanguard

Unlocking Warzone‘s Apex Phase Rifle Owen Gun Blueprint is unique in that you need to purchase all three of the Kong, Godzilla, and Mechagodzilla bundles.

Even though Operation Monarch ends on May 25, you’ll have until June 16 to purchase all three bundles and claim the Apex Phase Rifle.

How much is the Apex Phase Rifle Owen Gun Blueprint?

As players need to purchase all three of the Godzilla vs Kong bundles, the Apex Phase Rifle Owen Gun Blueprint will cost a whopping 7,200 CoD Points or $74.99 / £69.99.

Of course, you’re not just paying for the Blueprint itself, you’ll also get the Kong, Godzilla, and Mechagodzilla bundles with all of their cosmetics. Plus, for buying two out of the three bundles, you’ll get the exclusive “Godzilla vs. Kong” Weapon Sticker and the “Superspecies” Player Title.

When does Apex Phase Rifle Owen Gun Blueprint unlock?

Don’t worry if the Apex Phase Rifle Owen Gun Blueprint hasn’t appeared in your account yet, as it won’t become available until Vanguard & Warzone Season 3 Reloaded.

Although no official release date has been confirmed, we expect Vanguard & Warzone Season 3 Reloaded to go live on Wednesday, May 25. This update is also set to bring the H4 Blixen SMG and the Serpentine Perk to Warzone, as well as Vanguard’s Sphere map.


For more Vanguard and Warzone, be sure to check out how Sledgehammer have changed matchmaking, as well as the highest K/D weapons in Warzone.

Image Credit: Activision

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Call of Duty: Vanguard

Vanguard May 16 update patch notes: Major Combat Pacing changes & camo challenge fixes

Vanguard’s May 16 update patch notes brought major changes to Combat Pacing as well as fixes to camo challenges.

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Call of Duty: Vanguard devs Sledgehammer Games released an update on May 16 that delivers major changes to Combat Pacing, and fixes some camo challenges in Season 3.

Vanguard players have long since complained about the poor map rotation and disappointing Combat Pacing mechanic, but it now seems like the devs are actively working to alleviate this major issue in Season 3.

On May 16, a brand-new update hit Vanguard and it focuses on improving the map rotation by making some major changes to how Combat Pacing functions. The update also provides a few fixes to camo challenges.

Vanguard Combat Pacing changes

For starters, the devs decided to remove Assault Combat Pacing from the Quick Play and Featured Playlists. This leaves Tactical and Blitz as the two remaining Combat Pacing options in Vanguard. The devs explained that only 5% of players choose to play on Assault Pacing, and they believe that removing it altogether will lead to an improvement in map rotation.

Since Assault Pacing has been removed, the minimum and maximum player counts for both Tactical and Blitz have been tuned. You can take a look at the number of players per match on each map in the chart below.

Full Vanguard May 16 update patch notes

Feature Update

  • Assault Combat Pacing filter removed from Quick Play and Featured Playlists
    • This change intends to improve diversity in map rotation. Although Assault Combat Pacing is the choice for just 5% of players, its impact on matchmaking cannot be understated. By removing this option, we aim to improve map rotation across all Quick Play playlists. We will be monitoring your feedback and game analytics to assess if this change has made the desired improvements. Give it a try, and let us know how you feel. 
  • Minimum and maximum player counts for Tactical and Blitz Combat Pacings have been tuned. For more details check out the Sledgehammer Games blog for the most recent Patch Notes.

Camo Challenges

  • Nikita AVT (Assault Rifle)
    • Corrected the requirements for multiple Camo Categories.
      • Pack Tactics: 40/80/120/160/200/240/280/320/360/400 Eliminations
      • Surgical: 5/10/15/20/25/30/35/40/45/50 Headshots
      • Predatory Ambition: 5/10/15/20/25/30/35/40/45/50 Multikills
      • Reptilian: 3/6/9/12/15/18/21/24/27/30 Bloodthirsties
  • M1916 (Marksman Rifle)
    • Corrected the requirements for multiple Camo Categories.
      • Pack Tactics: 30/60/90/120/150/180/210/240/270/300 Eliminations
      • Predatory Ambition: 5/10/15/20/25/30/35/40/45/50 Multikills
      • Reptilian: 3/6/9/12/15/18/21/24/27/30 Prone Kills
      • Wildcat: 5/10/15/20/25/30/35/40/45/50 Holding Breath Kills

For more Vanguard, be sure to check out the best Vanguard Season 3 quickscoping class or how Elden Ring dethroned Vanguard as the best-selling game of the last year.

Source: Sledgehammer Games

Image Credit: Activision / Sledgehammer Games

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