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Call of Duty: Vanguard release date, campaign, zombies and more

Call of Duty Vanguard
(Image credit: Activision)

Call of Duty: Vanguard is official, with the next entry to the annual CoD series set to arrive this November with a brand-new campaign along with multiplayer and zombies modes. And now we can confirm that the game is set in the World War II era. What’s more, it’s bringing back the next-gen engine first seen in 2019’s Modern Warfare.

Call of Duty: Vanguard will launch on November 5, going head-to-head with the DICE’s hugely anticipated Battlefield 2042. While Battlefield is going all-in on online multiplayer by ditching its single-player campaign, Vanguard has the edge with a story that follows Task Force One across “four major theatres of war.” Fans can also expect the usual online multiplayer with 20 maps at launch, along with a “universe-expanding” zombies mode.

In the lead up to its launch, we can expect a multiplayer reveal, along with an open beta and more announcements over the coming weeks. PS5 and PS4 players were the first to check out Vanguard during the limited-time Call of Duty: Vanguard Alpha. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about Sledgehammer Games’ Call of Duty: Vanguard.

Call of Duty: Vanguard release date

Call of Duty: Vanguard will launch on Friday, November 5 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, and PC via Battle.net.  

(Image credit: Activision )

Like in virtually every modern Call of Duty entry, expect the game to be split into three different sections: Campaign, Multiplayer and Zombies. While Sledgehammers Games will handle the single-player story and multiplayer — along with Beenox and Raven Software — Treyarch Studios is leading development on this year’s zombies mode. Call of Duty games are rarely delayed, so expect Vanguard’s November 5 launch to be set in stone.

Vanguard is available to pre-order today in three different editions. The standard edition is priced at $59.99 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, or $69.99 for a cross-gen bundle that includes access to the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game. The Ultimate edition will set you back $99.99, and includes a Battle Pass bundle and extra perks. All pre-order versions include early access to the open beta. 

Call of Duty: Vanguard beta

Call of Duty: Vanguard’s beta will take place this September over two weekends, with the first being available to PS5 and PS4 players who pre-ordered Vanguard. The early access beta will take place from Friday, September 10 at 10am PT / 1pm EST / 6pm BST to Monday, September 13 at 10am PT / 1pm EST / 6pm BST.

The second beta weekend will either be an open beta or early access, depending on what platform you play on. For now, the official Call of Duty blog site doesn't state which platforms, but a PlayStation blog states the second weekend will be an open beta for all PlayStation players. Plus, most PS players won't need a PlayStation Plus subscription.

The second beta will kick off from Thursday, September 16 at 10am PT / 1pm EST / 6pm BST  to Monday, September 20 at 10am PT / 1pm EST / 6pm BST. Note that the Call of Duty blog states the second beta will last until Saturday, September 18 at 10am PT. 

The Call of Duty: Vanguard beta will focus on multiplayer content, delivering three traditional game modes to try including Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Kill Confirmed, along with a new game mode known as Patrol.

Players will be able to duke it out in three new Vanguard maps known as Hotel Royal, Red Star, and Gavutu. Plus, the beta will bring back Champion Hill, first introduced in the limited-time alpha. What's more, those who join the beta will get plenty of perks once Vanguard arrives in November.

Players who reach level 20 in the beta will receive a "Weapon Blueprint" for both Vanguard and Warzone, while those playing Call of Duty: Mobile will get an "Arthur Kingsley Operator" after the beta finishes.

To join the beta, those with a digital pre-order will be automatically registered for early access, while players who pre-order a physical version may find their early access code on the retail receipt or sent via email. Early access codes can be redeemed at callofduty.com/betaredeem, but be sure to be logged into an Activision account.

PS5 and PS4 players had a taste of Sledgehammer Games' next entry thanks to an alpha that took place from August 27 to August 29. Players tried the new 2v2 and 3v3 Gunfight mode known as Champion Hill. This includes close-quarters, small-squad combat in which eight teams compete in a series of head-to-head matchups where the last team standing wins.

According to dataminer TheMW2Ghost (via Dot Esports), the alpha suggests Vanguard could include a gunsmith system similar to Black Ops: Cold War, with different weapon attachments and weapon perks being unlocked as players level up. 

Call of Duty: Vanguard campaign

CoD Vanguard is taking us back to Call of Duty’s World War II roots, which we last saw back in 2017 with the release of Call of Duty: WWII. This time, we’re getting an interwoven story about four heroes fighting back the Axis powers in “major theatres of World War II.” As shown in the reveal trailer, this includes North Africa; the Eastern Front and the Western Front in Europe, including Stalingard and France; and the Pacific, such as the Midway Islands.

(Image credit: Activision )

The campaign will follow four separate playable characters that come to form Task Force One, each with their own origin story on their journey to becoming one of the original “Operatives.” We already know their names and ranks. 

  • Private Lucas Riggs, 20th Battalion, Australian 9th Infantry Division, British Eighth Army. 
  • Sergeant Arthur Kingsley of the 9th Parachute Battalion, British Army. 
  • Lieutenant Wade Jackson, Scouting Squadron Six, United States Navy. 
  • Lieutenant Polina Petrova of the 138th Rifle Division, Red Army. 

As spotted by PC Gamer, Vanguard’s campaign will see our heroes fight back against the game's fictional villain, Heinrich Freisinger. As part of a plan named "Project Phoenix," he is meant to be Hitler’s successor, and is inspired by the real-life Gestapo operative Heinrich Müller.

The campaign will take players to different war fronts where they can expect “dogfighting over the Midway Islands, defending Stalingrad with a sniper’s precision, airdropping over France, or blasting through advancing forces in North Africa.” Call of Duty campaigns can be the high point of the game, so we’re excited to see what it has to offer. 

Call of Duty: Vanguard multiplayer

When it comes to gameplay, Call of Duty’s multiplayer mode doesn’t change the formula too much with each iteration, but we can expect more old-fashioned World War II weaponry and fewer jetpacks or wall running. Do, however, expect mounting, sliding, and blindfiring. 

The Call of Duty: Vanguard Multiplayer has been revealed, and it showed off everything from its Combat Pacing system, a new game mode known as Patrol, and reactive environments. 

While we'll be getting the staple Call of Duty multiplayer modes such as Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Domination, and Search & Destroy, Patrol is a new mode based on Hardpoint. This time around, the scoring zone features a "near-constant motion" for Operators to keep occupied and rack up points — hence it being called "Patrol."

As for the new Combat Pacing system, this allows players to choose the type of gameplay when queuing up in multiplayer. Essentially, it details the number of players that will be in each game. There will be three options available, including Tactical, Assualt, and Blitz.

Tactical combat pacing is deemed to be the "classic Call of Duty combat timing," featuring 6 vs 6 match-ups, Assualt acts as the middle ground with player counts varying between 20 and 28 players, while Blitz offers all the action with player counts between 28 and 48 players.

(Image credit: Activision)

Vanguard will also introduce an all-new "Clan" system based on the "Regiments" system found in Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2019), now being renamed as "Groups." Those in groups can unlock Battle Pass–related rewards together.

Sledgehammer Games will be bringing reactive environments that lets players destroy weak walls, break down doors and windows, or hot apart tiles, scenery, structures, and other objects. As for the more formidable objects in maps, gamers take cover and return fire by mounting their weapon; the same feature you'll find in Warzone.

While in cover, Operators will also be able to "slide their mounted weapon along the vertical or horizontal surface to move around" or blindfire that acts as suppressing fire. Speaking of Operators, each will have extended backgrounds that have their own back story, while the Quip system will bring more unique dialogue from each of the characters.

At launch, Vanguard will boast 20 multiplayer maps with 16 of them “built for core gameplay.” These maps are expected to revolve around the locations shown in the single-player campaign, and include forests, a beachfront, a city landscape, and a deserted plain. Thanks to the multiplayer reveal, we have already been introduced to Hotel Royal, Red Star, and Gavutu.

Players will rise through the ranks to become Special Forces Operators across various modes, including one Modern Warfare fans will be familiar with. Vanguard will have a 2v2 Gunfight mode known as Champion Hill. This includes close-quarters, small-squad combat in which eight teams compete in a series of head-to-head matchups where the last team standing wins.

According to the Call of Duty blog post, Vanguard’s multiplayer will include an “advanced Gunsmith and Caliber system that brings immersive and reactive environments to a new level.” We’re interested to see how reactive or destructible these environments are, but don’t expect dynamic environments on the level Battlefield 2042 is boasting.

Call of Duty: Vanguard zombies

Zombies. It’s one of Call of Duty’s more bizarre, yet interesting sections in every entry. This year, Vanguard is bringing a “franchise-first” prequel of sorts, continuing the Dark Aether story. 

(Image credit: Activision )

Gamers can expect the same wave-based onslaught of zombies across a massive map filled with secrets. This time around, expect to face a precursor to what players experienced in Black Ops Cold War Zombies, as developers are now seemingly trying to make a Zombies universe.

Treyarch Studios, the developers leading the project, will be unveiling more details about Vanguard’s Zombies on “All Hallows Eve.” That means Halloween, so expect a gameplay reveal on Sunday, October 31 this year. 

Call of Duty: Vanguard vs. Call of Duty: Warzone

Continuing its integration of Call of Duty titles, Vanguard will now be part of its overall progression system that includes Modern Warfare, Black Ops Cold War and Warzone. This means everything you do in Vanguard will be part of a universal progression system to progress your rank and Battle Pass. 

(Image credit: Activision)

As with Black Ops Cold War, Vanguard and Warzone will see plenty of integration. This includes sharing free post-launch content, new maps, seasonal events, modes and playlists. Warzone is launching a new map later this year when players can expect full integration between Warzone and Vanguard.

What’s more, Vanguard and Warzone are running on the same engine, which will make it easier for developers to add Vanguard weapons to the popular multiplayer battle royale.

Call of Duty: Vanguard PC requirements

While Sledgehammer Games has yet to officially announce the PC requirements for CoD Vanguard, we have a good idea of what gamers will need to run the game at smooth frame rates. Seeing as Vanguard is running on the same engine as the one introduced in Modern Warfare (2019) and in Warzone, players will need similar specs. 

(Image credit: Activision)

In order to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (and thus play Warzone), you'll need relatively powerful hardware. It is recommended you have an Intel Core i5-2500K or AMD Ryzen R5 1600X CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card, 12GB of RAM, 175GB of storage and Windows 10 OS. To enable ray tracing, you'll need 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, along with an Intel Core i5-2500k or an AMD Ryzen R5 1600x CPU.

As for minimum requirements, you’ll need an Intel Core i3-4340 or AMD FX-6300 CPU, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 670 / GeForce GTX 1650 or Radeon HD 7950, 8GB of RAM, and 2GB of video memory.

Vanguard will be available on last-gen consoles, including the PS4 and Xbox One. With this, we don’t expect Sledgehammer Games to set a higher requirement bar on PC. That said, the blog post does state, “Vanguard is the most advanced Call of Duty experience ever.”  

Lead PC developer for Vanguard, Beenox will bring a list of features for PC players, including uncapped frame rates, customizable settings and keybinds, and ultrawide and multimonitor support. There will also be options to reduce motion sickness, improved text readability, ease-of-use settings, and work to reduce input latency.

Outlook

Call of Duty: Vanguard is taking us back to the series’ World War II roots. We may have already seen this back in 2017 with Call of Duty: WWII, but Vanguard already looks to be a better experience. Developers Sledgehammer Games will be using the impressive engine used in Modern Warfare and Warzone, and I’m excited to see the photo-realistic effect brought to a World War II setting.

Vanguard’s campaign seems to be the main focus for now, but expect a multiplayer and zombies preview in the lead up to the game’s release on November 5. If gameplay is anything like the consistently popular Warzone, Vanguard is set to be a brilliant WWII first-person shooter experience. More interested in what Battlefield 2042 has to offer? We’ve got you covered.