Along with the Fall weather, changing color of the trees (in the non-tropical Northern hemisphere), and the Pumpkin Spice Lattes comes the other yearly occurrence, Call of Duty. This year the team at Sledgehammer Games has the reigns (along with a long list of other Activision studios) and has brought the series back to World War II.

The open beta started this week on all platforms giving a lot of the general public (including me!) their first look at the game. Overall my impressions sway to the “this is the iPhone’s model year of Call of Duty games” meaning, it’s a filler game (not that it’s bad!) until the rumored sequel to Call of Duty Modern Warfare drops next Fall. Call of Duty Vanguard plays fine, has a ton of maps, and runs well, it just feels like something we’re playing to get by (or when taking a break from Warzone).

The few maps I played were well-built, and I didn’t notice getting flanked or spawn-killed too often, which have been issues in past Call of Duty games. The weapons feel fine, but I do miss modern guns. I’m curious to see how these work in a Warzone setting and if anyone would even use them in that mode. The good news is, if you’ve been playing Call of Duty often (or are coming back after a break like I am) then it’s still as easy as ever to pick up and jump back in. The maps nor guns were hard to learn after a few minutes, and the reduced amount of perks and killstreaks makes it a bit easier not to get overwhelmed.

Overall the beta is solid and proves the game should be polished. It just feels like a year they could have taken a break and simply kept pushing Warzone. I doubt in a year anyone will be playing Vanguard much at all, but for the time being the beta proved solid if you’re looking for something to play. Call of Duty Vanguard releases on November 5, 2021.