You’d think Activision would have learned that the appetite for WWII-era shooters waned after watching Call of Duty: WWII fade off the radar faster than usual. Competing shooter Battlefield V didn’t do too well either, with game updates canceled earlier than planned. Despite this, Activision came up with yet another World War II shooter, this time dubbed Call of Duty: Vanguard. If there was any evidence that the various Call of Duty teams are running out of ideas, this is it.
More and more, however, I wonder how long Activision’s Call of Duty-focused studios can get away with simply reworking last year’s games indefinitely. Call of Duty: Vanguard is still in beta, several weeks before release. However, there is something even more boring than usual in this year’s entry, and not something that can be simply smoothed over between now and release. With games like Halo Infinite and Battlefield 2042 on the heels of Call of Duty, the lack of quality in Vanguard presents competitors with a unique opportunity.
Call of Duty: Vanguard takes place in an “alternative” WWII setting, with weapons and devices that challenge the technological knowledge of the time. I saw people creating a mini-tank “Goliath” which was basically a remodeled remote controlled RC-XD bomb, which looked incredibly silly given the setup. World War snipers generally tend to adopt a darker, darker tone in regards to the carnage of the time, but the Vanguard just seems to say “fuck it,” roasting reams of sci-fi stuff that make no sense at all for the period. of time. Laser point sights and guided missiles abound.
As long as people keep buying the game year after year maybe they will continue to follow this formula. The annualized Call of Duty game has become something of a ritual at this point, with fans lining up to accept any lackluster product Activision releases. We should also praise the fanfare. For all its flaws, Call of Duty still offers a unique feel that even its closest competitors can’t seem to emulate. But do we really need more annualized Call of Duty?
Activision shareholders would emphatically say “yes!” but in the era of Call of Duty: Warzone, Call of Duty: Mobile and ongoing updates, I’m increasingly curious if it wouldn’t be better for literally everyone, gamers and developers included, to move Call of Duty to a two-year cadence. This wouldn’t just give developers time to make something truly new, unique and polished. Activision could continue to reap infinite amounts of money from their freemium offerings, and who knows, maybe raising the quality of core games would make them more popular, not less.
Halo Infinite and Battlefield 2042 can capitalize
Call of Duty: Vanguard will face Battlefield 2042 and Halo Infinite later this year. When you factor in just how Call of Duty: Vanguard is, I’d say there’s a perfect storm of opportunity for competitors to get attention in their offering this year, at the expense of CoD. Not to mention the unprecedented lawsuit Activision is facing with the US government over its toxic work culture practices.
Halo and Battlefield usually offer more stable servers, with Halo Infinite covering intimate arena-style gameplay, and Battlefield 2042 encompassing the full-scale epic battle of the Spectrum. Can any of them realistically dethrone the giant that is Call of Duty? Probably not, but after spending some time with Vanguard, it’s hard to ignore the fact that there’s rarely been a better opportunity. The upcoming Halo Infinite beta and Battlefield 2042 beta may help prove this.
Call of Duty: Vanguard targets November 5, 2021, release date on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series S and Series X. What do you think?