Activision has released a Call of Duty: Vanguard beta, showcasing several modes, maps, and new features.
This beta comes after the Champion Hill alpha available at the end of August 2021. For the most part, the Vanguard beta shows substantial signs of improvement over the alpha.
With this being a beta, there are some features left unfinished or unpolished, but all in all, Sledgehammer Games has addressed many of the concerns from the previous early access build. This is a strong indication that the final game due out in November will be a worthy final product.
Below, we’ll cover those improvements, including changes to the visibility, audio, and minimap system. Based on how quickly Sledgehammer Games was able to address these concerns, we could be in very good hands when it comes to Vanguard.
One of the most common complaints from the Vanguard alpha had to do with its visuals. Sledgehammer went all-in on the World War II aesthetic but went too far in the direction of realism, making it hard to pinpoint your enemies in the alpha.
Thankfully, this was fixed in the beta without sacrificing the aesthetic. Colors are more vibrant, and the contrast makes it easy to differentiate your enemies from their surroundings. Perhaps this has to do with the overall lighting on the maps, which makes it much easier to see.
In the alpha, it was almost as if the brightness was turned way down, which certainly can be more immersive, but at the expense of fun. Now, Vanguard has struck a satisfying balance of realism and fun, allowing players to stand out amid their surroundings.
Here’s hoping the entire game’s visibility is improved — not just for the traditional multiplayer mode.
Audio has been improved dramatically
Vanguard’s audio has undergone noticeable improvements as well. One of the most pressing problems in the alpha was tied to the way enemy footsteps were handled, particularly in that it was hard to tell where they were coming from.
Sometimes, they’d be loud but would sound like they were coming from the wrong direction, while other times, you couldn’t hear enemy footsteps at all.
Sledgehammer has found a happy medium in the beta, reducing the overall sound of the footsteps while adjusting them so you could always tell where your opponents are coming from. Since the footsteps are quieter, it makes it easy to rush around the map, which is ideal for aggressive players. To many, this is the heart and soul of Call of Duty.
But there still seems to be some issues with gunfire audio that overpowers the sounds that should be more audible up close, making it hard to discern where someone is coming from. Is this another example of a commitment to realism being a drawback? At the very least, the sounds for footsteps have been improved, which is a step in the right direction.
Classic minimap systems return...with a catch
The Vanguard alpha depicted a minimap system similar to 2019’s Modern Warfare. Players firing an unsuppressed weapon won’t appear on the minimap, and instead only show up on the compass at the top of the UI, which is much less precise. This discourages aggressive play, as you’re far less aware of where your foes are.
Having a Spy Plane in the air is the only way to reveal enemies on the minimap.
While this system remains intact in Vanguard, the beta revealed a new perk that allows you to essentially revert back to the classic style. By using the Radar perk, you’ll be able to see anyone on the minimap firing an unsuppressed weapon. This is a fantastic solution, as it allows players to have the best of both worlds, with the ability to counter the system if you choose.
Don’t want to appear on the minimap? Use a suppressed weapon. Want enemies firing unsuppressed weapons to appear on the minimap? Use the Radar perk.
There are still many concerns that have gone unaddressed in Vanguard, but thus far, Sledgehammer Games has a positive track record, and we’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt ahead of Vanguard’s release.
Call of Duty: Vanguard launches on November 5, 2021.