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Video Games

Call of Duty : Vanguard (Alpha – PS5)

The latest title from the COD franchise is just around the corner, and we got our hands on it this weekend in the Alpha test. It was pretty limited, having only one available game mode – Champion Hill. You could play in duos or trios, although every time I was online, trios was unavailable.

I played somewhere between 5-10 rounds of Champion Hill. More than enough time to get over it. I like the idea of Champion Hill, but being paired up with a random or two isn’t my idea of fun. I’d much prefer to play with friends or alone. Probably alone.

Champion Hill is a new game mode. It’s a new game mode to Call of Duty and it is described as a round robin, multiple round, death match tournament between teams of 2 or 3.

At the beginning of Champion Hill, every single player has the exact same load out. As you progress through the rounds, you earn money and can use this to purchase upgrades, perks, weapons etc etc.

Every team also has a combined life limit of 12. If your team dies more than 12 times, it’s game over and you are out. The round robin continues until only one team is left and they are crowned the victors of Champion Hill.

Each round is 60 seconds long, with the exception of the final round, which is 120 seconds. Occasionally, you will have a “buy round”. Everyone gathers back in the centre of the map and has 60 seconds to spend their money on new perks or whatever.

I really like the idea of Champion Hill. One of my biggest complaints in COD is how some people have better perks or armour than the other players. I find it unfair, not to mention frustrating. I really like how every starts on the same page and has to work their way up.

The problem I had with is was the pairing system. I think it would be better suited to solos (which will be a feature at launch) and larger teams, possibly 4 or 8. 2 just didn’t feel right. I don’t think the maps were small enough to strategise for a duo.

I also find that I never see eye to eye with my teammate. I’m more of the cautious type, try and preserve as many of our 12 lives as possible, whilst safely picking off our enemies at a distance. My partners usually ended up being the kind to charge into the middle of the battlefield, trying to take as many lives as possible, regardless of the cost in lives to us.

My best match was one when my partner dropped out right at the beginning. I had to go through the entire round robin by myself. It was the most success I had. I think I placed third in the end. Eventually, the numbers game caught up to me. It’s hard to constantly win in a 2 vs 1 scenario. I held my own pretty well though, if I do say so myself. It was definitely the most fun I had.

Activision also stated that they had made some tweaks to general gameplay. I’m not sure what they were, but it did feel different to control then other Call of Duty titles. I can’t quite put my finger on what was different, but it did feel different.

The basic controls are the same as always, but I almost felt as though my character was unresponsive to my commands. Not entirely, but just slow. Sluggish. It was unsatisfying to control. That’s a good word for it. Sprinting felt more like I was jogging. Reload didn’t feel right. Something about crouching was off. To be fair though, this game is still in development, so maybe they just haven’t ironed it out yet.

Speaking of issues that need to be ironed out, the walls don’t make any noise when they break. None. In one match, I was holed up in a room with only one exit/entrance. I had my sniper trained on the battlefield. Then I died. I got shot in the back of the head. I was confused, so I watched the kill cam.

My enemy literally sprinted through the wall, bringing it crashing down around him and successfully breaching my hidey hole. I don’t mind that he breached my impenetrable fortress, but I feel like their should have been some sound at least. Surely I would have heard the walls collapsing around me?

I tested it out myself in the next round. I sprinted through a few walls. Not a sound. Surely that will get fixed for the release.

Another cool feature was the lack of load times. Or at least how they were hidden. Once Champion Hill starts, it rolls right on until the end. No black loading screens. You just keep progressing between rounds. If you have the buy round, but some other teams are still in combat, you can actually watch them fighting.

The “marketplace” area of Champion Hill is a combat free zone, located in the middle of 4 different combat arenas. You can climb to the top floor and watch the matches in any of the arenas take place, as they happen. It’s an insanely cool idea and it genuinely blows my mind.

Obviously, it’s way too early to say how Vanguard will be and if it is worth buying or not. I imagine it will be a safe buy for fans of COD or of first person shooters in general. Otherwise, it will just come down to personal preference.

I’ll wait a while before I decide. I don’t mind online shooters, but I much prefer single player campaigns. I’m tired of spending $100 or more on Call of Duty or Battlefield games, only to get a measly campaign that lasts for 3-4 hours. I want some meat! 12 hours would be acceptable. 20 or more would be ideal. I just miss the old COD/Battlefield games. Like Bad Company, Modern Warfare or even Ghosts! There is only so much Team Deathmatch I can play.

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