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Call of Duty: Vanguard Black Friday Deal 2021: Cheapest Price

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The latest entry in Activision’s iconic first-person shooter franchise dropped earlier this month, and Walmart already has a hot Call of Duty: Vanguard Black Friday deal that lets you score a nice discount on it. This is one of the best Black Friday deals we’ve seen on a newer title that just launched not even a month ago, so if you’re scouring the web for some early Black Friday gaming deals before the official sales roll in later this week, then you can take advantage of the Call of Duty: Vanguard Black Friday deal from Walmart right now for just $39 — saving you as much as $21.

  • Call of Duty: Vanguard for PlayStation 4: $39, was $60 –VIEW DEAL” cta=”<strong>VIEW DEAL</strong>” custom_param_1_name=”sharedid” custom_param_1_value=”affiliateholiday” custom_param_2_name=”subid2″ custom_param_2_value=”gaming”] [cc-link url=”https://www.walmart.com/ip/Call-of-Duty-Vanguard-PlayStation-4-Physical-Edition/104881138″ merchant=”5bbe5655a75b86650503745f” type=”textlink” title=”VIEW DEAL” cta=”<strong>VIEW DEAL</strong>”]VIEW DEAL
  • Call of Duty: Vanguard for PlayStation 5: $39, was $70 — VIEW DEAL
  • Call of Duty: Vanguard for Xbox One and Xbox Series X: $39, was $70 — VIEW DEAL

Call of Duty: Vanguard Black Friday deal: Cheapest price today

Walmart’s Call of Duty: Vanguard Black Friday deal is the best price we’ve seen yet on the latest installment of the franchise. Better still, it’s available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X, so you can grab it no matter which platform you prefer to play on. Call of Duty: Vanguard is a follow-up to 2017’s Call of Duty: WWII, which returned the series to its roots. The Vanguard single-player campaign puts the player in the boots of early special forces operators in the African and European theaters of the Second World War.

Of course, seasoned Call of Duty vets know that what keeps people coming back to these games is the multiplayer action. Vanguard delivers the fast-paced Call of Duty multiplayer that fans know and love, with some modern updates like destructible environments that add a new layer of depth to the classic gameplay formula. The beloved cooperative Zombies multiplayer mode makes a return as well. If you’re looking to get a head-start and maybe gain a competitive edge while you wait for your game to arrive, we’ve got you covered with our Call of Duty: Vanguard multiplayer guide. We also have some tips on how to level up fast in Call of Duty: Vanguard and an explainer of how prestige works if you want some help getting through the early multiplayer grind.

This Call of Duty: Vanguard Black Friday deal lets you grab the PS4, Ps5, and Xbox One/Xbox Series X versions of the game for just $39. That saves you as much as $31 and is a great price on a new triple-A title that’s not even a month old. Act fast, though — we doubt this offer will last through the weekend.

  • Call of Duty: Vanguard for PlayStation 4: $39, was $60 –VIEW DEAL” cta=”<strong>VIEW DEAL</strong>” custom_param_1_name=”sharedid” custom_param_1_value=”affiliateholiday” custom_param_2_name=”subid2″ custom_param_2_value=”gaming”] [cc-link url=”https://www.walmart.com/ip/Call-of-Duty-Vanguard-PlayStation-4-Physical-Edition/104881138″ merchant=”5bbe5655a75b86650503745f” type=”textlink” title=”VIEW DEAL” cta=”<strong>VIEW DEAL</strong>”]VIEW DEAL
  • Call of Duty: Vanguard for PlayStation 5: $39, was $70 — VIEW DEAL
  • Call of Duty: Vanguard for Xbox One and Xbox Series X: $39, was $70 — VIEW DEAL
We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.

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Game

The Best PC Keybinds for Call of Duty: Vanguard

PC players prefer their platform over consoles for a variety of reasons. Aside from the ability to run games at much higher settings, both graphically and performance-wise, it’s the control scheme of keyboard and mouse that just feels much better for certain types of games. First-person shooters, for instance, are played at the highest level on PCs in part due to how much more accurate a player can be using a mouse to aim as compared to a thumbstick. That’s not a universal rule, but there’s no denying that there are some inherent advantages to one control scheme over the other.

The other big point in PC players’ favor is how many options they have to make any game play exactly how they want to. Controller players are typically limited to a few sets of preset control schemes, or maybe the ability to fully remap the controller, but PC players have an entire keyboard they can set up exactly how they like. At the same time, so many key options can make finding the ideal, and most comfortable, control scheme a chore. Rather than spend time going through each button one by one, we’ve devised what we believe to be the best PC keybinds for Call of Duty: Vanguard.

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Advanced Mouse Settings

ADS Mouse Sensitivity Mode: Legacy (Alternate)

Mouse Wheel Input Delay: 80

Mouse Acceleration: 0

Mouse Filtering: 0

Mouse Smoothing: Off

Player and Vehicle Movement

Soldiers running as sparks fall around them.

Move Forward: W

Move Left: A

Move Backward: S

Move Right: D

Sprint/Steady Aim: Shift

Crouch/Slide: CTRL

Jump/Stand/Mantle: Space Bar

Prone: C

Detonate Vehicle: Left Mouse Button

Gas: W

Turn Left: A

Reverse: S

Turn Right: D

Crouch Behavior: Toggle

Slide Behavior: Tap

Prone Behavior: Toggle

Airborne Mantle: Manual

Grounded Mantle: Off

Automatic Ground Mantle: Off

Automatic Sprint: Off

Sprint/Tactical Sprint Behavior: Toggle

Sprint Cancels Reload: On

Door Bash Interaction: Automatic

Walk Behavior: Hold

Walk Speed: 25% of Normal Speed

Weapon and Equipment

Soldier shooting from plane in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

Killstreak Slot 1: 3

Killstreak Slot 2: 4

Killstreak Slot 3: 5

Killstreak Slot 4: 6

Killstreak Wheel: K

Fire Weapon: Left mouse button

Aim Down Sight: Right mouse button

Tactical Equipment: Mouse button 4

Lethal Equipment: Mouse button 5

Previous Weapon: 1 and mouse wheel down

Next Weapon: 2 and mouse wheel up

Reload: R

Use: E

Alternate Fire: B

Weapon Mount: Aim and Melee

Melee/Finishing Move: V

Field Upgrade: X

Aim Down Sight Behavior: Hold

Weapon Mount Activation: ADS + Melee

Weapon Mount Movement Exit: Off

Equipment Behavior: Hold

Quick Satchel Charge Detonation: On

Change Zoom Shared Input: Steady Aim

Weapon Switch Wrap-Around: On

Depleted Ammo Weapon Switch: On

Interact Behavior: Tap

Automatic Fire Behavior: Hold

Scoreboard Behavior: Hold

System Key Behavior: Operating System

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Game

Call of Duty: Vanguard — All Zombie Intel Locations

Of the three main pillars most Call of Duty games are built on — campaign, multiplayer, and zombies — it’s the fight against the living dead that has almost become worth the price of admission alone. Originally just an extra wave-based survival mode, each game has put more complexity and depth into the zombie mode ever since. While Call of Duty: Vanguard has gone full circle and returned us to the familiar setting of World War 2, the zombie mode is anything but a regression.

We’re still waiting for a main story to be introduced into Call of Duty: Vanguard’s zombie mode, which if past games are anything to go by will be a complex series of nearly impossible-to-discern steps and puzzles. However, in the meantime, there are still secrets and stories to discover within Der Anfang. There are two sets of radio intel, one from Gabriel Krafft and the other from Korifex and Von List, plus some Dark Aether Entities Runes you can collect. Each is well hidden, so we’ve nailed down the location of all the zombie intel in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

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All Gabriel Krafft radio locations

The first set of intel is the radios left by Gabriel Krafft, the demonologist who is attempting to help you and your fellow zombie slayers in defeating Von List. There are seven to find, so let’s get hunting.

The first radio is right in your hub area of Fountain Square. Just make your way over to the Mystery Box near the fountain in the middle of the square and look for the radio on top of a couple of boxes just to the northeast.

Our next stop in Fountain Square is toward the theater area. Without going beyond the square interior wall around the main fountain, look on the left side of the gap leading to the theater for a table adorned with a skull, three candles, and your second radio.

Don’t leave Fountain Square just yet, because our third radio is back in the main square. This time, go to the set of wooden crates you can find piled up near the Pack-a-Punch machine on the side facing away from the fountain, and west of the Covenant Altar. The radio is on top of a box just behind a smaller crate with a hat on top.

One last radio to get is in Fountain Square. Go to the southeast corner of the square, directly opposite the Pack-a-punch machine, and look for the tripod. You’ll spot the radio on another crate next to some bottles and cups.

The next radio is in the Hotel area of the map, which you will unfortunately have to just get lucky with and have one of your random objectives take you to this location. When you eventually do get to this area, though, go all the way up to the rooftop to find the Employee Terrace section of the map. This is an outside area, obviously, with several tables set up. One of these red tables set up against the wall has the radio on top.

Your next location to hope to visit is the Apartments. Go to the room in the far east of the building, go past the piano, and check out the strange cabinet with a skeleton and candles decorating it. The radio is also on this odd display.

The final Krafft radio is down deep in the Boiler Room. Head into the back section, just to the left of the Demonic Frenzy perk fountain, and next to the log storage. This radio is tucked away between some boxes and sandbags along the western wall, so keep your eyes peeled.

All Korifex and Von List radio locations

Zombies walking in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

Our next set of radios, these black rather than red, comes from Korifex and Von List, the villains of the Der Anfeng mode and responsible for the whole zombie thing. There are six of these to give some context, so let’s hear what they have to say.

When you can get into the Windmill section, go to the Paddock area on the map and go south near the gates. Look for the truck parked near some pallets and boxes and you can pick up this black radio near the truck’s back right wheel.

Back in the Apartments, start by going to the Diabolical Damage perk fountain. From here, go left and down the hall all the way to the east. This radio is among a bunch of garbage in the top right corner of the room.

Now moving on to the Store, this one is easy to grab. Just go to the southmost wall and find it on a table beside a bunch of crates stacked on some white barrels.

Head to the basement part of the Theater and scan the western wall for the pair of gold statues. Right beside the one on the left, or your right, is the little black radio.

In Shi No Numa, you will again need to make your way downstairs to the War Room. Check out the north wall with the wooden board with a map of the world displayed on it. The radio is on a shelf just to the right of it.

The final black radio is in the Hotel again, but specifically the Officer’s Mess portion. This area is again outside on the roof behind a bunch of pallets on the north wall.

All Dark Aether Entities Runes locations

A zombie crawling in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

The final six intel items to get the full story, for now, of zombies in Call of Duty: Vanguard are the Dark Aether Runes. These are little logs given by the Dark Aether Entities that you team up with against Korifex and Von List. Here’s where you can collect these tablets.

Find your way back to Shi No Numa again and head into the area labeled the Excavation Room, which is in the lower area of the map. Someone has ditched this rune in the wheelbarrow along the eastern wall.

While we’re in Shi No Numa, take a trip to the Infirmary on the second floor and look in the northwest corner. The stone is propped up beside a wooden crate with some candles on it.

In Stalingrad again, take a trip down the Back Alley on the west side of the map. You’ll find this rune easily next to some skulls and candles on a stone slab.

In the Occulte Terrace portion of the Hotel area, look for a table with some scrolls and flowers on it in the northern part of the area. The rune will be right in the middle of the table.

Heading over to the Windmill again, fight your way into the Livestock Pen and go to the rows of wooden troughs on the west wall. Inside one is the rune you’re after.

Our final Aether Entities Rune is also in the Windmill area, but will take you to the Tractor Lot. Way over on the west side, you will find a broken wall near the central circular building. Peek over the broken section to snag this final rune.

Technically you don’t earn anything for finding all these bits of intel, except of course a better understanding of the story going on, but that may change once the actual story progression for the zombie mode is added to the game.

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How Prestige Works in Call of Duty: Vanguard

Working your way up the ranks in multiplayer is what makes every Call of Duty game so addicting. From the original Modern Warfare up until the newest entry, Call of Duty: Vanguard, we’ve loved seeing those ranks go up and eventually hit max level. But the developers of this juggernaut series knew that people would reach that top rank, whatever it might be, and still want more. That’s why they cleverly created a way to keep those who are always looking for the next dopamine hit of ranking up coming back for more: The prestige system.

The prestige system is core to the Call of Duty experience at this point. It has long been the ultimate mark of a player’s dedication to the game, and each game gives players a new reward for that commitment. The basic concept of how prestige works hasn’t changed too much from one entry to the next, but it had evolved quite a bit by the time we reached Call of Duty: Vanguard. If you’re interested in diving deep into the multiplayer of this game and want to know how prestige works and what you can get for achieving it, here’s a full breakdown.

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What is the prestige system?

The prestige system first came about with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. In this game, once you hit the highest rank in the game, you were given the choice to prestige or not. If you did, you would be reset to level 1 all over again, losing all the unlocks you had so you could earn them all again. However, you were given a special emblem that showed you had reached the highest rank and chose to start again from scratch. Not only that, but if you hit max rank again, you could enter a second prestige with a different emblem. In fact, you could do it 10 times in that first game before you hit the limit.

Since that introduction, the prestige system has evolved to have different positives and negatives to hitting prestige. No matter what, though, it always works as a sort of an end game system for players who push themselves to go above and beyond the normal ranks.

How does prestige work in Call of Duty: Vanguard?

Earning prestige rank 3.

The prestige system has undergone many changes from its introduction up to Call of Duty: Vanguard, but it isn’t much different from how it was in the last game, Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War. What hasn’t changed since the beginning is that you will earn your first prestige rank once you finish ranking up from 1 to 55 and get all the weapons, attachments, and other unlocks that come with these levels. The negatives associated with hitting prestige — all your unlocks and progress being reset — haven’t been implemented in several titles now and are also not back for Call of Duty: Vanguard. Because there’s no downside, you will automatically begin the prestige system once you hit the necessary amount of XP instead of it being a choice to opt into or not.

Call of Duty: Vanguard combines your total Player level with XP you earn from both multiplayer and Zombies modes. There are 55 normal ranks to go through before hitting what they call Seasonal Levels as a replacement for Player levels. At this point, your rank will be Commander, but it will also set you at prestige rank 1. To raise your new prestige rank, you will need to level up your Season Level 50 times. For every 50 Season Levels you’re able to earn, you get one additional prestige rank, with the maximum rank being prestige rank 200.

What do you get for each prestige rank?

For right now, Call of Duty: Vanguard is technically in the preseason, so things will work a little differently until the first season officially starts. However, for this preseason, we know what rewards you can earn for hitting various prestige ranks.

If you hit prestige rank 1, you will get a sticker and battle pass tier skip. Hit rank 2, which requires you to hit Season Level 50, and you get another sticker, a weapon blueprint, and a second battle pass tier skip. Prestige 3 is the highest level you get a reward for in the preseason and is just another sticker and battle pass tier skip.

Until the first season officially starts, we won’t know what prestige rewards we will get, but odds are they will look something like these preseason rewards.

How do seasons impact prestige?

Promotional art of squad in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

The name Season Level may have tipped you off, but you can’t take your time and hit prestige rank 200 over months and months of casually playing. Every time a new season begins your Season Level will be reset, but not your prestige rank. What that means is if you hit say prestige rank 2 and are Season Level 66 when the new season starts, you’ll still be prestige rank 2, but your Season Level will drop back go 50. So, if the season is coming to an end and you’re in between prestige ranks, you’ll need to decide if you’re close enough to want to try and grind up to the next one before all that progress is lost, or accept that you will be starting over again.

Every season has a set number of prestige ranks that will be added. We start with just the three mentioned, but season 1 will have seven, and season 2 is said to have 11. Getting to the maximum prestige rank in any season will earn you a prestige master rank, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep earning Season Levels. Why would you want to? Well, once you’ve earned everything in the current season, every 50 Season Levels beyond that you earn will unlock anything from prior seasons you missed.

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Computing

Call of Duty Vanguard PC Performance Guide to Best Settings

Call of Duty Vanguard is here, but before you can dive into Zombies or get to the leveling grind, you’ll need to make sure your performance is in check. We took the game out for a spin with a few graphics cards to find the best settings available, and in this guide, we’re going to walk you through them.

We tested each setting, each upscaling mode, and a few different resolutions so you can maximize your PC performance. If you’re looking for console settings, make sure to check out our guide to the best controller settings for Call of Duty VanguardFor newer PC players, our list of the best settings won’t make you better in multiplayer, but our Call of Duty Vanguard multiplayer guide offers a few helpful pointers.

The best settings for Call of Duty Vanguard

Call of Duty Vanguard has a massive list of settings and based on our testing, there isn’t a single one that will tank your performance. After testing each setting independently, we found that the vast majority of our results were within the margin of error. It was only when we turned down multiple graphics options that we saw a major difference in frame rate.

Normally, we have a list of ‘optimized’ settings, which show you the key settings to turn down to increase your frame rate. That isn’t possible with Vanguard. Instead, we just have a list of recommended settings. Consider this a starting point, and tweak your settings from there. We found that different GPUs react differently to these options, so it’s best to manually adjust.

  • Texture resolution: Medium
  • Texture filtering: High
  • Particle quality: Medium
  • Particle resolution: Low
  • Bullet impacts and sprays: Off
  • Shader quality: High
  • Tessellation: Nearby only
  • Level of detail distance: Standard
  • Nearby level of detail: High
  • Distant level of detail: Low
  • Clutter draw distance: High
  • Volumetric quality level: Medium
  • Screen space shadows: Local shadows only
  • Shadow map resolution: High
  • Sun shadow cascades: High
  • Cache sun shadows: On
  • Cache spot shadows: On
  • Spot cache size: Low
  • Spot shadow quality: High
  • Particle lighting: Medium
  • Ambient occlusion: Static GTAO
  • GATO quality: Medium
  • Screen space reflections: Medium
  • Anti-aliasing Filmic SMAA T2X
  • Anti-aliasing quality: High
  • Depth of field: Off

The big killer will be video memory for most. For that, look toward texture resolution first, then the caching options for shadows. We set a cache size of Low for these shadows, but you can disable them entirely if you’re running into video memory problems. The game includes a video memory limiter, too, which can help older video cards along.

Out of all of the settings, the biggest improvement we found was, oddly, with bullet impacts and sprays. Turning this off, we improved our average frame rate by a stunning 13%. We reran these tests multiple times, and each run, this setting showed an improvement when turned off. That’s an easy win.

Otherwise, we had a margin of error of between two and three frames, and all of the other settings fell within that window. Going from the highest Ultra preset down to the Lowest preset, though, we improved our average frame rate by 110%. This underlines the most important thing to know about Call of Duty Vanguard‘s graphical settings — you need to tweak all of the settings to see an improvement.

Because of that, it might be easier to stick with the graphics presets in the game, and then you adjust some settings up based on our list above. There are a lot of settings here, and it can be maddening trying to tweak each of them.

Call of Duty Vanguard system requirements

Character with weapon in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

Keeping with recent releases like Back 4 Blood — read our Back 4 Blood performance guide for more on that game — Call of Duty Vanguard includes a few different recommended configurations. As our testing below shows, the Minimum list is a bit underpowered. You can run the game with the hardware listed, but you’ll need to turn the settings way down (and maybe even reduce the render resolution).

Minimum Recommended Competitive Ultra
CPU Intel Core i3-4340 or AMD FX-6300 Intel Core i5-2500K or AMD Ryzen 5 1600X Intel Core i7-8700K or AMD Ryzen 7 1800X Intel Core i9-9900K or AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
GPU Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 or AMD Radeon RX 470 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 580 Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070/RTX 3060 Ti or AMD Radeon RX 5700XT Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 or AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
GPU memory 2GB 4GB 8GB 10GB
RAM 8GB 12GB 16GB 16GB
Storage 61GB 61GB 61GB 61GB

That doesn’t mean Call of Duty Vanguard will have problems with less powerful hardware, though. The game scales down well, with the Recommended requirements offering 60 frames per second (fps) at 1080p with a mix of Medium and High settings. Up the chain, Competitive is great for 1440p, while the Ultra requirements squarely target 4K.

The CPU, GPU, and RAM requirements are straightforward. The other two — storage and GPU memory — have some problems. You’ll struggle to run Call of Duty Vanguard with only 2GB of video memory. Even at their lowest, the textures can take up to 1GB or more, and that leaves little room for background applications. Thankfully, the game includes a video RAM usage limit (up to 90%) and provides a video RAM usage meter for each setting.

Like previous Call of Duty releases, Vanguard allows you to choose which modules you want to install. You could just install the campaign, for example, or you could install Warzone and Vanguard multiplayer. At launch, the game takes up 61GB of space for everything except Warzone. That said, the developers are clear that the game is 61GB at launch. It will grow, likely well over 100GB, as time goes on.

You can get by with only 36GB of space if you’re only interested in multiplayer and Zombies. On the other hand, Vanguard can take up to 125GB of space with all of the modules and the high-resolution asset cache installed. This will grow much larger over time. Last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops, for example, is 225GB at the time of publication.

Call of Duty Vanguard performance, tested

Operator in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

As usual with our PC performance guides, we tested three graphics cards for the three common resolutions — the RTX 3070 for 4K, the RTX 2060 Super for 1440p, and the RX 580 for 1080p. We tested each card with an AMD Ryzen 9 5950X to remove the CPU from the equation as much as possible, along with 32GB of RAM.

RTX 3070 RTX 2060 Super RX 580
1080p Ultra 115 fps 69 fps 44 fps
1080p Recommended 149 fps 91 fps 56 fps
1440p Ultra 85 fps 49 fps 31 fps
1440p Recommended 112 fps 66 fps 40 fps
4K Ultra 48 fps 27 fps 17 fps
4K Recommended 64 fps 37 fps 23 fps

With the Ultra preset, we couldn’t hit 60 fps with these cards at their respective resolutions. Our recommended settings aim to push each card above the 60 fps mark. The only one that couldn’t get there was the RX 580, which topped out at 56 fps at 1080p.

It seems the Recommended system requirements target 1080p with the Medium preset, while the Competitive requirements are focused on 1440p with Medium to High settings. We achieved an 85 fps average with the RX 580 at 1080p with the Lowest graphics preset, so there’s still plenty of room for less powerful cards to hit 60 fps at 1080p.

We normally wouldn’t recommend the RTX 3070 for 4K in a recent AAA shooter, but the card managed to keep up in our testing. 48 fps at native 4K isn’t bad, and with our recommended settings, we increased our frame rate by 33%. Call of Duty Vanguard includes three upscaling options, too, which can push the RTX 3070 above 100 fps. You don’t need an RTX 3080 as the system requirements call for (though, it would crack 60 fps at 4K Ultra).

The RTX 2060 Super almost mirrored the RTX 3070, just at 1440p. An AMD RX 5700 XT is a good replacement here, allowing you to climb above 60 fps with a few settings tweaks. Once again, though, the upscaling modes offer a more sizeable frame rate improvement.

AMD Super Resolution, Nvidia DLSS, and dynamic resolution

Call of Duty Vanguard includes three performance-enhancing options — AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution, Nvidia Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), and a built-in dynamic resolution option. We’ll get the last one out of the way first. In our testing, the dynamic resolution option did nothing, even with a frame rate limiter enabled and V-sync turned on.

That leaves us with FSR and DLSS, which are both better options than dynamic resolution anyway. Before getting to performance, let’s talk about image quality. Neither of these upscaling features looks bad in Call of Duty Vanguard, but as you can see in our image quality comparison above, there’s one that looks better than the other.

We chose a cutscene from the opening moments of the game. It’s dark, but this mission has a lot of distant fine detail and a downpour of rain, so it’s a good test for DLSS and FSR. The bars on the cart in front of the camera fall apart with FSR, and the train car on the left washes out in a shimmer of pixels whenever light passes.

These objects are close to the camera, too. As you look at further objects, the differences between FSR and DLSS are even clearer (though, those distant objects have less of an impact when you’re actually playing the game). It’s never a good idea to pixel peep, but the cumulative effect of shimmering and fine details washing out in a smear of pixels adds up with FSR, and DLSS doesn’t have those problems.

RTX 3070 RTX 2060 Super RX 580
FSR Ultra Quality 65 fps (35%) 39 fps (44%) 26 fps (53%)
FSR Quality 78 fps (63%) 46 fps (70%) 29 fps (71%)
FSR Balanced 89 fps (85%) 53 fps (96%) 33 fps (94%)
FSR Performance 105 fps (119%) 64 fps (137%) 40 fps (135%)

Still, we’re always happy to see two upscaling modes, especially when they cover the vast majority of graphics cards available today. We achieved more than a 2x increase in performance with both upscaling features, though FSR was able to climb higher. It doesn’t look as nice, but it was able to get even the RX 580 to a playable frame rate at 4K.

We recommend paying more attention to the percentage increase in performance, not the actual frame rate. We tested FSR and DLSS at 4K with the Ultra preset turned on — it’s the aspirational graphics mode, and it pushes both upscaling tools to the limit.

FSR scales higher than DLSS, but that doesn’t mean DLSS is a bad option. It looks much better overall, and even at its least intense Quality mode, it offered a 50% increase in our average frame rates across the RTX 3070 and RTX 2060 Super. In fact, we’d recommend just skipping the settings above if you have a GPU that supports DLSS. The Quality mode provided a higher average frame rate at 4K, and it’s difficult to tell the difference between DLSS and native resolution.

RTX 3070 RTX 2060 Super
DLSS Quality 72 fps (50%) 42 fps (56%)
DLSS Balanced 82 fps (71%) 49 fps (81%)
DLSS Performance 87 fps (81%) 56 fps (107%)

Call of Duty Vanguard reveals the same story we’ve seen time and again with FSR and DLSS. FSR allows you to push your frame rate further, though at the cost of image quality, and DLSS offers a sizeable increase while keeping the quality as close as possible to native resolution.

The most important thing is that Vanguard includes both. We’d recommend using whatever upscaling mode you have access to before trying to squeeze extra performance out of the settings.

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Game

How to Level Up Fast in Call of Duty: Vanguard

Back in the early days of online FPS titles, leveling up wasn’t even a concept. Eventually, numbers, or some other ranking system, were adopted as a way to make online matchmaking fairer when pitting teams against one another. As with RPGs, though, players see a number and inherently want to make it go up, leading to an ever-evolving system of levels being introduced. The Call of Duty games were perhaps the first to really nail the formula in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Since that game, earning XP, leveling up, unlocking things, and getting to prestige have been tweaked and modified from game to game.

Call of Duty: Vanguard is hot on the scene and tucks plenty of goodies behind its XP and leveling systems. That’s right, there are multiple paths you need to level up in order to unlock different things. Being at low levels is a huge handicap for any player. You’re limited to basic classes with boring guns and little you can even customize. The real fun hits when you start breaking into the high ranks. To get to the good stuff the game has to offer as fast as possible, here’s how to level up fast in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

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Different XP types in Call of Duty: Vanguard

As mentioned, there are three different aspects you can level up in Call of Duty: Vanguard independent of one another. Granted, many of them you’ll earn XP for at the same time, but each has its own levels and XP. These types are Operator XP, Weapon XP, and Player XP.

Operator XP relates to the 12 unique Operators in Call of Duty: Vanguard. Leveling up your Operator level will unlock mostly cosmetic options for that Operator, such as skins, voice lines, finishing moves, and highlights.

Weapon XP is individualized to each weapon in the game. You will only earn Weapon XP for the weapon you’re actually using and that’s how you can get access to attachments, proficiency, kits, and cosmetics for that specific weapon. Unlocking an attachment for one gun, for example, won’t unlock it for any other gun.

Finally, you have your overall Player XP. Reaching higher levels here will unlock new weapons, killstreaks, perks, field upgrades, and new tacticals.

How to level up Operators fast

Operators are strange since, in a change from past games, you don’t actually start the game with any. Instead, before you can even start earning XP for an Operator, you have to unlock them by doing special challenges in multiplayer. These aren’t too hard, but you will need to check out what they are to make sure you unlock the Operator you want to start playing as. Once you unlocked them, then you can start earning XP.

Once you’ve unlocked your first Operator, you can start leveling them up. The fastest way to earn Operator XP is to first read that Operator’s bio and check out what their preferred weapon is, then use it as much as possible. When you use their favorite gun, you will earn twice as much Operator XP as normal, plus a higher amount of Weapon XP for good measure. Once you have that set, tab over to their Challenges. Here, you can see a list of specific tasks you can complete for huge amounts of XP that are broken down into tiers. The tier 1 challenges are very simple, like just winning games with that Operator, and will reward you with 1,000 Operator XP. Tier 2 challenges bump the XP up to 1,500, and the final tier challenges are worth 2,500.

Finally, you also will get a bonus influx of Operator XP when you reach certain levels with your Operator. At level 3, you get a bonus 1,500 XP; 2,000 for level 8; 2,500 for level 13; and 3,000 for hitting level 18. Just keep their favorite gun equipped, and you can easily boost up your Operator levels in no time.

How to level up weapons fast

Weapon Gunsmith featuring attachments in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

Speaking of weapons, these are the levels you will care about most. Once you get the gun you feel the most comfortable with and find the most fun, you will want to level it up so you can make it as deadly as possible. If you get lucky and one of the 12 Operators happen to also prefer the same gun as you, then you will benefit from that extra Weapon XP for using it. It’s worth taking the time to go through all the Operators bios and check their favorite guns to see if you can capitalize on that synergy.

One new setting to be on the lookout for in Call of Duty: Vanguard is the Combat Pacing filter you can choose when doing matchmaking. You can choose to include them all, or select which of the three you want your matches to include. There’s Tactical, which caps the player count at 12; Assault, which ranges from 14 to 36 players; and Blitz, which cranks the chaos up to 16 to 46 players. While we probably wouldn’t recommend Blitz for a tactical or even thoughtful multiplayer experience, the sheer amount of other players to shoot does make it perfect for racking up tons of Weapon XP. You will need to be decent enough that you’re not just getting picked off without getting any kills, of course.

Blitz or not, Weapon XP only counts for getting kills with your weapon. You can still go into objective game types, but if you’re looking to maximize how much Weapon XP you’re earning in a match, focus on getting kills above anything else. Depending on what modes you do best in, playing in modes that only give you one life per round, like Search and Destroy, could be your best bet for grinding Weapon XP. While Blitz mode can feed you XP through sheer numbers, these more tactical modes give higher amounts of Weapon XP per kill. Again, the risk here is that if you get taken out, you will have to wait for the next round to get any kills.

Finally, weapons also have their own challenges that you should strive for to get extra XP bonuses. Most will probably come naturally, like reaching a certain number of kills, but others that deal with specific goals like getting headshots and multi-kills are good to keep in mind while grinding out Weapon XP in multiplayer.

How to level up your Player fast

Loadouts in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

Finally, we come to your overall Player level. Getting higher levels here is how you unlock new weapons, perks, killstreaks, and things of that nature. You’ll be earning Player XP doing just about everything in multiplayer, but there are some ways to maximize your XP gain to reach that favorite gun unlock faster.

First, check out the Challenges section of the menu, and aim to complete as many of them as possible. Not only does each one end with a sizable XP reward, but you can also get a bonus batch of 10,000 XP if you complete all the challenges in the same category, so try and focus your efforts on a set within one category. The categories are ranked by difficulty, but the bonus 10,000 XP is the same no matter what, so it’s best to start with the easiest and work your way up from there. If you haven’t looked, you’ve probably finished some or at least made progress on many Boot Camp challenges, like winning 25 matches.

Call of Duty: Vanguard obviously comes with a battle pass system, and even if you don’t buy into it, you still get the free “pre-season battle pass.” Just hitting tier 1 on this free pass will get you a Double Weapon XP token, and at tier 11, you get a Double Player XP token, so pay attention to when you unlock them, and pop them when you’re setting in for some XP grinding.

In terms of game type, objective modes do have a high potential for dishing out tons of XP per match. Champion Hill is a favorite. Not only can you get some good objective XP, but these games tend to last a bit longer than most, allowing you to get more XP from regular kills and opportunities to complete challenges.

If you’re desperate or were going to do it anyway, you can also get more double XP tokens in the form of “Dual 2XP” offers from various sponsored drinks and snacks. We don’t need to mention them by name since you can already guess what they are. Still, these Dual 2XP tokens give you double XP for set periods of time, between 15 minutes and 120 minutes, for Weapon and Player XP. These kinds of things have been around for a while now, so you can decide if these drinks and snacks are worth the cost of a shorter grind.

In a similar vein, although on a much bigger scale, all you PlayStation players out there automatically have a shorter grind. Call of Duty: Vanguard has a deal with the PlayStation consoles, PS4 and PS5, where every month there will be 24-hour double XP events, plus 25% more Weapon XP just for playing in a party with other PlayStation players. This isn’t a method you should buy a new console for, obviously, but if you’re already on PS4 or PS5, keep an eye out for those monthly events to take advantage of them.

Also, if you’re playing with friends, you can get a free 10% boost to every type of XP (Operator, Weapon, and Player) just by creating and playing with people in your clan.

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Call of Duty: Vanguard Zombies Guide, Survive in Der Anfang

The zombie craze in gaming is one that just doesn’t seem to die. While some games are completely dedicated to fighting off the undead, Call of Duty: Vanguard keeps this more mystic mode separate from their traditionally grounded single-player and competitive multiplayer modes. Just because it’s a side mode, though, doesn’t mean it has any less depth or work put into it. Ever since the mode was first introduced, it has only grown in scope from game to game. Call of Duty: Vanguard‘s Der Anfang mode is the most unique yet.

Call of Duty zombies fans know to expect some changes between each release. Maps, guns, and some enemy types are obvious changes, but Vanguard takes things a step further. While the entire format of the mode isn’t upended, there are enough substantial changes that even those who have put dozens of hours into past iterations will need to learn and adapt To help you understand how this new mode works, plus some tips to make your first attempts at facing the undead mobs go a bit smoother, we put together this Call of Duty: Vanguard zombies guide.

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How Der Anfang works

So, how does this new zombies mode, again called Der Anfang in Call of Duty: Vanguard, actually work? In short, you take the role of a soldier stuck in the ruins of Stalingrad due to Kortifex the Deathless’ magic. You have your base in Fountain Square, plus different portals around the area. Zombies will start assailing you, as they do, and you have the option of playing like a traditional survival mode, or you can go for the objectives.

Going for the objectives is the only way to make it to the later rounds in zombies. These objectives, which we’ll detail later, reward you with multiple important perks. First, they bring you to a new location that can have important upgrades to collect and purchase, but they also have rewards you need to take back to grow stronger. Your base does come with a crafting table, the mystery box, ammo chest, the Altar of Covenants, and the all-important Pack-a-Punch, but most will be useless if you stay in this area the entire game.

  • The mystery box costs 950 points and will give you a random primary weapon, which has a chance of coming already upgraded.
  • The Pack-a-punch will upgrade your weapons.
  • Use the crafting table to make usable items like armor, self revives, and tactical items that all have different costs.
  • The Altar of Covenants gives you brand new buffs that we’ll cover in more depth below.

Pick your loadout and artifact

Selecting the Frost Blast artifact.

Before you even set foot on this demonic landscape, you want to make sure you’re bringing in the right tools for the job. Your loadout will evolve as you buy and upgrade weapons during the course of the game, but what you start with can make those early waves easy or downright deadly. There are no real tricks here. The best zombie-killing tools are probably what you imagine. A strong LMG can pop tons of heads with its high ammo capacity, and shotguns are the classic for turning a crowd into a cloud of mist. Needless to say, guns like snipers and pistols aren’t going to keep you alive very long.

Another change in Call of Duty: Vanguard is that you can no longer find gun outlines on the walls to purchase. Instead, the only way to get new guns is either through the mystery box, chests, or occasionally they will drop from powerful enemies in the later waves.

Artifacts are a new mechanic in Call of Duty: Vanguard but are very easy to grasp. There are only four, and each one gives you a different buff or power, as well as connects you to a different Dark Aether that communicates with you as you play. Here are the four you have to choose from and their official descriptions:

  • Energy Mine: The Dragon of Saraxis spawns an Aethereal explosive, dealing massive damage to enemies who set it off.
  • Aether Shroud: The Mask of Bellekar cloaks you in Dark Aether, masking your presence from enemies for five seconds.
  • Ring of Fire: The Sword of Inviktor sparks a ring of Aethereal flame to boost damage for anyone within its radius for 15 seconds.
  • Frost Blast: The Horn of Norticus summons a frigid vortex, damaging enemies with the initial blast and slowing those that enter.

Pick the one that best suits your playstyle and the role you will take with your team.

Do your objectives

Starting the blitz objective in zombies.

Call of Duty zombies modes have had objectives for a long time. In the past, they were mostly optional, or even hidden as massive elaborate Easter eggs, but in Call of Duty: Vanguard, they’re front and center. Again, you could technically ignore them, but the rewards you get are non-negotiable if you plan on going for a high score. There are three objectives that spawn when you start, and only by completing them can you expand your starting area. The different objectives are:

  • Blitz: This is the most simple of the objectives. Once you enter the portal, all you need to do is survive for the time limit as zombies rush you and your team. The mini-map is your friend here since it will point out where they’re coming from on the potentially claustrophobic maps. No need to go crazy killing as many as possible here. As long as you stay alive until the timer expires, you’re good.
  • Harvest: This mode is a little bit like a zombie version of the kill confirmed game mode. What you need to do is collect five runestones that drop from zombies after they’re killed and bring them to the Sin Eater obelisk. That’s not the end of it, though, because once you drop in that first set, the obelisk will appear at a different location on the map, which is thankfully marked, and needs to be filled again. After you fulfill its runestone requirement three times, you’ll be spat back out.
  • Transmit: The final objective mode is kind of an escort mission or payload-type mode. There will be a floating zombie head called an Aether Orb that moves around the map as long as you stay within range of it. If you do go outside of the range, you will start to take damage, so it’s not really optional to leave it and explore. As the head moves, a bar will fill up based on how much it traveled. When the bar fills up and it reaches the final destination, you’re done.

Aside from opening up the map, each objective you complete will also give you an item called a Sacrificial Heart. These are the currency you will spend at the …

Use the Altar of Covenants

Choosing which covenant to buy.

The Altar of Covenants is the big, scary skeleton thing with glowing eyes in the very center of Fountain Square. Here, you can trade in those Sacrificial Hearts for Covenants. You can hold up to three at once, and each one gives you a different buff. One thing to keep in mind regarding the Altar, though, is that only a few covenants will be purchasable in the early game. The longer you survive, and the more rounds of objectives you complete, the more Covenants become available. The later ones that come are some of the best, too, but don’t feel like you need to keep slots open for later. You’re completely free to swap out any Covenants with new ones, assuming you have the Sacrificial Heart to buy the new one, of course.

If you’re curious what all the Covenant options are and what they give you, here’s the full list:

  • Ammo Gremlin: Stowed weapons refill ammo from stock automatically.
  • Brain Rot: Chance to turn enemies to your side.
  • Cryofreeze: Chance to slow enemies.
  • Cull the Weak: Deal more damage to slowed or stunned enemies.
  • Dead Accurate: Consecutive hits on the same enemy do more damage.
  • Death Blow: Critical kills return bullets to the clip.
  • Mother Lode: Chance to keep Equipment after using it.
  • Resurrectionist: Revive allies faster.
  • Splatterfest: Enemies killed by explosions may explode.
  • Unholy Ground: Deal more damage while stationary.

Depending on what guns you’re using, what Covenants your team has, what other Covenants you have, and how you like to play, the best Covenants to pick will always be different. Some standouts are the ones that deal with ammo and damage, but pick what’s best for your squad.

Pack-a-Punch and perks

Upgrading a gun at the pack-a-punch.

The Pack-a-Punch is back and just as crucial as ever. We did an entire guide on how it works in Call of Duty: Vanguard you should just out, but in short, this is where you upgrade your weapons. Each weapon can get upgraded three times, and each upgrade massively improves how much damage it deals. Save up your Essence for these upgrades first and foremost.

Perks are also back, but perhaps they’re even more changed than any other mechanic in zombies. Now, you can get any perk you want without having to invest any points at all. Just unlock the area with the perk fountain, take a swig, and you’ve got the perk. Where things get more interesting is that each perk, just like guns, can be upgraded up to three times by using Essence. That’s right, the same currency needed to upgrade weapons at the Pack-a-Punch. Here’s a quick rundown of all the perks available in Der Anfang:

  • Fiendish Fortitude: Increases health.
  • Diabolical Damage: Increases critical damage.
  • Venomous Vigor: Boosts health regeneration speed.
  • Demonic Frenzy: Boosts reload speed.
  • Aethereal Haste: Boosts movement speed.

Because there’s no downside, you should pick up the first level of all these perks as soon as you can. But be warned that with these perks being upgradable, the way getting downed affects them has also changed. Now when you are downed, you won’t lose any perks, but instead, you’ll lose any upgrades to perks you’ve purchased. So, the longer you go and the more you invest in perks, the more you have to lose if you get unlucky and have to get revived.

Get out alive

Approaching the exfil rune in zombies.

Finally, while not new to this entry, zombies in Call of Duty: Vanguard isn’t necessarily a death sentence. Sure, you can play like the classic games and go until you eventually get overwhelmed and your team wipes, or you can cash out and escape with your lives and some bonus XP. You do need to make it to at least round five to get the option to Exfil, so you can’t just cheese a bunch of XP by starting a game and immediately escaping, and you will have to complete a small sequence to actually make it out.

When you’re ready to get out of Stalingrad with as much progress as you think you can make, find the Exfil tablet thing marked on your map in the middle of Fountain Square. Interact with it, and a new objective will appear to kill the designated number of zombies that will start assaulting you. You don’t have any time limit at this point, so play carefully and take out these last undead ghouls to create the exit portal.

After you’ve killed the required number of zombies and the portal has opened, you now do have a time limit to escape. Your team has just 40 seconds to make it through the portal. If you fail to reach it in time, which is possible since zombies will still be attacking you, then the game will end as a failure, and you won’t get any bonus XP.

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Call Of Duty: Vanguard Review: Innovating Backwards

Call of Duty: Vanguard

MSRP $59.99

“While it adds some interesting new features to the Call of Duty formula, Vanguard’s mixed bag of changes makes it a forgettable entry.”

Pros

  • Guns feel wonderful
  • Classic, fast-paced multiplayer
  • Destructible environments add depth

Cons

  • Forgettable campaign
  • New Zombies formula isn’t as fun
  • Unbalanced weapons in multiplayer
  • A haven for cheaters

I fell back in love with Call of Duty two years ago when the series’ Modern Warfare storyline was rebooted. The game featured a lot of the good parts from the classic Call of Duty experience, all while adding in some fun new bits. Tactical sprint was a joy, new options for equipment varied gameplay, and new weapons (including a lever-action rifle that I devoted way too much time to getting good with) were a joy to use. Call of Duty: Vanguard seemed to emulate a lot of that leading up to its release, using the same engine as Modern Warfare and mimicking the game’s more realistic feel.

However, Vanguard is all show and very little substance. It flexes some features, claiming that they’re new when really only one of them is. Outside of multiplayer, Vanguard‘s campaign and zombies modes both try to reinvent their classic interpretations, although both manage to fail in those attempts. Having spent around 15 hours with the game so far, I feel content to set my controller down and walk away from Vanguard for good.

Characters lack character

I’ve come to have some expectations when diving into a Call of Duty game, having been a player for years upon years now. I expect a straightforward campaign that lets actions speak louder than words and a zombies mode where I can shut my brain off entirely and enjoy the slaughter with some friends. Vanguard tries to mix up both experiences with some pretty radical changes, although the result is that both changes left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Call of Duty: Vanguard‘s campaign brings the franchise back, once again, to World War II. Instead of looking at the war through the lens of fighters in a given faction ,though, players are introduced to the Vanguards, a select group of highly skilled specialists from the allied nations. Each has their own backstory, methodology, and even special ability. Each is also painfully uninteresting, along with the remainder of the campaign.

Very few of Vanguard‘s combat-heavy encounters get the blood pumping like previous entries in the franchise.

Vanguard puts its characters as the center of the story, rather than their fight. It’s a big turn for a Call of Duty title, one that would work better if the game actually managed to make me care about any of the Vanguards. Instead, the group comes off as a ragtag team of stereotypes. The Australian has been in and out of jail and disregards orders, the American is a lone wolf ace pilot, the Russian is vendetta happy, and the team is led by a rationally thinking Brit. Those descriptions are the beginning and end of the depth of the characters that players fill the shoes of. They’re typical Call of Duty characters — shallow and uninspired — but the spotlight is thrust upon them nonetheless.

The action set pieces that usually get all the attention in a Call of Duty title are, likewise, a bit underwhelming. Most of Vanguard‘s missions follow a formula of having the player sneak before putting them into a firefight. However, very few of Vanguard‘s combat-heavy encounters get the blood pumping like previous entries in the franchise.

Crawling through a jungle in Call of Duty: Vanguard

Upending tradition

When Vanguard does manage to bring the intensity, it does so with weighty weapons and fantastic sound design. Every weapon in Vanguard has its own sound profile, each of which is mesmerizing to listen to. Even now, I can hear the somewhat hollow, tinny sound an MP40 makes when reloaded. Firing weapons is a simple joy in Vanguard, and the fact that they can blow away cover (or even body parts) only lends to that power.

Each character’s ability doesn’t do much to lend to the power trip that players should be feeling. They’re all extremely simple: Highlighting enemies, commanding teammates, letting players hold on to different kinds of explosives, etc. These abilities are what set each character apart during gameplay, but they ended up hardly making a difference.

Every weapon in Vanguard has its own sound profile, each of which is mesmerizing to listen to.

Vanguard‘s campaign is an upending of everything players should expect from the single-player Call of Duty experience. It lacks those massive action-filled moments, instead telling its story through character-focused cutscenes. The same swift change in direction applies to the game’s zombies mode as well, which now sports a full cast of characters who bark orders at players as they complete objectives. Killing zombies isn’t mindless action in Vanguard, but an objective-based mode where players’ next moves have to be thoroughly considered.

Zombies walking in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

The game’s lone map, Der Anfang, places players in a hub area, directing them toward portals that lead to zones where players have to complete objectives. Some objectives are as simple as killing zombies and surviving, while others task players with gathering up drops from zombies and bringing them to a massive obelisk. While it’s fun to revisit old zombies maps like Call of Duty: World at War‘s Shi No Numa, and have immediate access to the Pack-A-Punch machine in the hub, Vanguard‘s zombies mode ended up feeling weighed down by its objectives and left me wishing it was more directionless like its previous iterations.

Missing the mark

A Call of Duty game is defined by its multiplayer mode, where almost all players will spend a majority of their time. And while I can attest that Vanguard‘s multiplayer is better than its other two game modes, that’s not exactly a high bar of quality. Multiplayer in Vanguard has overall satisfying gunplay, but suffers from far too many balancing issues that punish players who aren’t willing to grind the game out for a weekend.

When you hop into Call of Duty: Vanguard‘s multiplayer, you’re given a basic allotment of weapons and perks. But what the game doesn’t tell you is that those weapons and perks are some of the worst available. Low-level players will find themselves constantly outperformed by high-ranking players who have access to the game’s better weapons and weapon attachments. The game’s STG-44, its starting assault rifle, is incredibly difficult to control when firing with its starting attachments, for instance. But higher-level players who have leveled up the weapon can turn it into a laser beam that downs players in an instant.

Vanguard‘s multiplayer also runs into some classic first-person shooter multiplayer issues. In some of the game’s smaller, more chaotic maps, it’s not uncommon to spawn in front of an enemy, serving them up a quick, free kill. This issue isn’t uncommon enough that it doesn’t sometimes throw the result of a match to luck, or give opponents easy access to their killstreaks, some of which are problematic in their own right. Some of Vanguard‘s killstreaks drop bombs across the map, and while they won’t always damage you, they’re guaranteed to send a puff of smoke up into the player’s face. It’s a disorienting effect that easily made me lose gunfights and generally felt unfair.

Call of Duty Vanguard's Multiplayer.

Vanguard‘s biggest issue, outside of strange spawns and balancing issues, is one it has in common with Call of Duty: Warzone. During my time with the game, I’ve played a handful of matches where it was clear that a player was cheating. Killcams showed them locking onto players, sometimes through walls, before mowing them down with extremely precise fire. Cheaters will eventually make their way into any game, but given the competitive nature of some of Vanguard‘s game modes, like Search and Destroy, encountering cheaters can be a game-ruining experience.

During my time with the game, I’ve played a handful of matches where it was clear that a player was cheating.

But when everything does go right in a game of Vanguard, when things don’t feel too unbalanced and there aren’t any cheaters present, the game’s innovations shine. Adding destructible environments to the game brings a new level of depth, as entire chunks of cover are eventually blown away, transforming maps. Being able to burst through walls is just a badass move like something ripped straight out of a ’90s action movie. It’s unfortunate that these features are overshadowed by Vanguard‘s more prominent issues.

Our take

Vanguard does what every entry in the Call of Duty franchise tries to do. It seeks to evolve the series’ fast-paced action, flipping entire game modes on their heads in some places. But Call of Duty: Vanguard is an example of innovating in the wrong direction. It emphasizes the wrong parts of a Call of Duty campaign and zombies mode, turning them into the worst versions of themselves. The game’s lone redeeming factor is its multiplayer, which retains that good old run-and-gun playing style that players should expect. However, it’s bogged down with its own issues, ranging from cheaters to potentially game-ruining spawns. These issues can be fixed, though, and once remedied might leave Vanguard as an overall decent entry in the franchise for multiplayer lovers.

Either way, I’ll still be playing 2019’s Modern Warfare for another year at least.

Is there a better alternative?

If you’re looking for a new multiplayer FPS to get into, Battlefield 2042 is easy to recommend.

How long does it last?

Call of Duty: Vanguard‘s campaign goes by quickly, lasting just over six hours. Anyone who wants to unlock everything in the game’s multiplayer should be able to entertain themselves with the game until another Call of Duty title releases next year.

Should you buy it?

No. Call of Duty: Vanguard doesn’t hit the bar of quality set by 2019’s Modern Warfare, which to this day holds up well. If you’re in desperate need of new Call of Duty content, feel free to purchase the game, but if you’re satisfied with whatever game in the franchise you’re playing now, keep at it and pass this one up.

Call of Duty: Vanguard publisher Activision-Blizzard is currently facing lawsuits over the company’s alleged history of toxic workplace behavior. If that’s something that might impact your buying decision, we recommend reading up on the situation.

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How to Turn on Automatic Tactical Sprint in Call of Duty: Vanguard

Sprinting is not an optional mechanic if you want to survive in Call of Duty: Vanguard. Being able to quickly move around the map, even at the cost of a short delay between slowing down and being able to open fire, is key to winning a match. Whether it’s a pure deathmatch-style game or an objective-focused match, getting into the action and the correct position as fast as possible is the only way to have a fighting chance. That said, pressing in on a thumbstick to start up your sprint can be cumbersome or downright uncomfortable, especially with how frequently you’ll want to start and stop sprinting during a match.

Call of Duty: Vanguard recognized the need to include more accessibility options in the game. There are a ton of options to go through, so you may not even think that they offer a solution to make sprinting much more comfortable. Called Automatic Tactical Sprint, this option can save your thumbs a ton of stress by making sprinting just a little bit easier. What this feature does, and how to access it, is slightly different between platforms, however. Here’s how you can turn on Automatic Tactical Sprint in Call of Duty: Vanguard to spare your fingers that extra bit of straining.

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What is Automatic Tactical Sprint?

First introduced in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Automatic Tactical Sprint allowed for much easier and fluid transitions from normal running into a full-on sprint. Before this feature, which was noticeably absent from Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, you were forced to either press in on your controller’s joystick or double-tap W on your keyboard in order to make your character go full speed. With this option turned on, your character will automatically transition from normal running into a full tactical sprint so long as you continue moving in a given direction.

How to turn on Automatic Tactical Sprint on consoles

If you’re playing on either a PlayStation or Xbox console, you will find the Automatic Tactical Sprint toggle in the game’s settings, and it’s turned off by default. Simply open the Settings and tab over to the Controller settings. Scroll down to the Gameplay header, and find Automatic Sprint. Here, you can choose to have it off, in which case you need to press the thumbsticks as normal; Automatic Sprint, which allows you to go into a normal sprint automatically but still requires a press of the thumbstick to enter a Tactical Sprint; and finally Automatic Tactical Sprint.

How to turn on Automatic Tactical Sprint on PC

Turning on tactical sprint.

If you’re playing on a PC using keyboard and mouse controls, you will find this setting in a slightly different part of the settings menu. Instead of Controller, navigate over to Keyboard & Mouse and look under the Movement settings. Automatic Sprint is just below Automatic Ground Mantle and has the same three settings as it does for controller players.

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How Call of Duty: Vanguard Reenvisions Zombies Mode

In many ways, Zombies redefined the Call of Duty series. It added silly, arcade-style horror gameplay to break up the seriousness of a gritty war game. Something about being able to take a break from the stone-faced shooting to battle an infinite onslaught of zombies (with the use of your alien Ray Gun) in Call of Duty: World at War in 2008 was refreshing.

Since then, the Zombies mode has expanded and become much more complicated, full of memorable characters, a streamlined objective system, and much more to do. What started as a weird little one-off mode has grown to explosive new heights thanks to its gratifying gameplay loop that ropes players in.

Zombies makes its triumphant return in Call of Duty: Vanguard, and although it aims to be a familiar experience, developer Treyarch is reenvisioning the way the mode works, with a slew of additions that make it feel fresh. Treyarch is once again leading the charge on Zombies development after having worked on 2020’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. Ahead of its release, I spoke with Treyarch Associate Director of Design Gavin Locke, Senior Writer Tony Bedard, and Lead Writer Craig Houston about what to expect from the upcoming Zombies experience.

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Clearer path ahead

Der Anfang — which translates to “The Beginning” in German — is the new Zombies experience in Vanguard. One of the highlights of Der Anfang is the way it will streamline the familiar Zombies gameplay, giving more direction to help new players learn the ropes. Objectives will play a much larger role this time around, rather than simply having players try to survive against a horde of zombies for as long as possible.

“In this experience, Der Anfang, starting in Stalingrad, we use this objective gameplay loop to reenvision the idea of opening a map,” Locke tells Digital Trends. “So these objectives that you teleport to [will] take place in different arenas that are much different locations than the hubs on Stalingrad. And then within Stalingrad, instead of killing zombies, earning essence, and buying doors, it’s the completion of these different objectives that starts to earn you more paths to the map, and more things to interact with over the course of a single match.”

The inception of objective-based gameplay can be seen in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War‘s Outbreak mode, which gave players an open world, allowing them to teleport to various areas after completing certain tasks. In Vanguard, you’ll see some of the same Outbreak mechanics return, such as being able to warp to new locales. This time around, thugh, players want to prioritize what kind of equipment they bring along depending on the objectives they choose to tackle.

“It’s an onion that keeps having layers to it. It surprised me. It’s fun, but it tastes better than an onion.”

“In Vanguard, you start with three objectives,” says Locke. “You think ‘Do I want to play Blitz on Shi No Numa, or Harvest on the Hub? And you’ll make that choice differently based on how you’ve loaded out and what your team has. Or you’ll pick your favorite mode and then change up your weapons based on that. So I think there’s a lot more variety for you to choose and the game will play out differently, hopefully, every time, without any sort of like monotony there. You’re not forced to do anything.”

The best part is that players aren’t required to complete objectives. For those who want to play it like the traditional Zombies modes — with the goal of simply lasting as long as possible — they can still do that. With Vanguard, it seems Treyarch is simply giving players the option to follow a narrative-driven objective to help captivate a new audience, without negatively impacting those who prefer a classic style of gameplay.

“I’ve been doing a lot of playtesting [with] this,” Bedard tells Digital Trends. “And that’s one of the things that’s really surprised and delighted me is that you begin to realize how many different strategies, how putting together different covenants will affect your gameplay. It’s an onion that keeps having layers to it. It surprised me. It’s fun, but it tastes better than an onion.”

Characters with more … character

Characters and zombies from Call of Duty: Vanguard.

Zombies will be much more memorable this time around. In attempts to keep the player invested, the cast will have wittier dialogue, according to Houston. “From a narrative perspective, I think we’ve tried to [add] a lot more humor, and a lot more personality into Vanguard,” Houston tells Digital Trends.

Cold War was very much a [military simulation], ” Houston said. “The Operators were quite dry — they were consistent with how they were in Warzone and multiplayer. And they were no longer the driving force of the narrative. So I think with the introduction of the Dark Ether Entities, and the other supporting cast, there’s a lot more personality.” This will effectively break up the horror elements to sprinkle in some humanity throughout, which once again will hopefully make things more refreshing.

“There’s a lot less ‘kill confirmed’ and a lot more ‘what the fuck was that?’”

“The Dark Ether Entities you choose to have a symbiotic relationship with — regardless of who you’ve chosen as your Operator — will offer a lot of encouragement and chastisement in very amusing unique ways,” Houston continues. “There’s a lot less ‘kill confirmed’ and a lot more ‘what the fuck was that?’ And that’s something that’s going to be expanding as the game continues post-launch.”

One big family

Zombies walking in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

While the team won’t quite divulge the specifics of what to expect from Zombies going forward, they did have a few words to say about the overall cohesiveness of Call of Duty as a series. Typically, a Call of Duty game launches annually, alternating between three developers, Treyarch, Infinity Ward, and Sledgehammer Games. While Sledgehammer is still in charge of the main development of Vanguard, Treyarch was tasked with developing its Zombies mode. This means it has worked on Zombies for two back-to-back Call of Duty games, which was a significant change from the usual schedule.

But the team embraced this change, using it as an opportunity to be more collaborative with the rest of the Activision teams. “This reflects a little more of the cohesiveness of Call of Duty as a franchise,” Bedard told Digital Trends. “The folks that I’ve interacted with at Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer have all been great. For me, it’s nice. We’re all one big team.”

Since the series typically rotates between three different studios, there often isn’t much continuity from one game to the next, but this will change with the Cold War and Vanguard Zombies modes since Treyarch is leading the charge. With the implementation of a shared progression system across Modern Warfare (2019), Warzone, Black Ops Cold War, and now, Vanguard, the series has been more unified than ever.

Cohesiveness is “something that we’re very cognizant of,” Houston confirms to Digital Trends. “I don’t think Rambo or John McLean are strictly canon, so there’s always going to be some raggedy edges in terms of how some of the narrative fits together.” Houston refers to the ’80s action stars who were implemented during one of the recent seasons of Black Ops Cold War, showing that fun is always a priority, more so than realism.

“I think there’s certainly a goal across all of the studios to just keep delivering consistent, quality Call of Duty games and all work together.”

Call of Duty: Vanguard launches for PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on November 5. The game’s publisher, Activision Blizzard, is currently embroiled in a legal battle stemming from a workplace culture scandal.

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