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Call of Duty: Vanguard officially released on Nov. 5, paving the way for another hectic launch weekend of tournaments and all-night play sessions. FaZe started off strong and dominated multiple tournaments. New rosters for both OpTic Texas and New York Subliners have made some impressive showings as well. Call of Duty League rostermania is nearly over and now the real fun begins.

To break everything down, the Upcomer Call of Duty team has been joined by the one and only Challengers and Warzone caster Sean “Spaceman” Rogers. We’ll be giving our thoughts on everything that’s been happening with Vanguard’s first weekend.

What are your impressions of Call of Duty: Vanguard after a short weekend of playing it?

Joey Carr: The changes that Sledgehammer Games made to Vanguard from the beta to launch are immediately noticeable in-game. Paired that with the smoothest launch that I can remember from Call of Duty and I have yet to put down the game. Vanguard plays much better than it did during the beta, as the developers addressed almost all of the issues in the launch build. The gunplay is satisfying, there’s more content at launch than nearly the previous two years combined and that content is well put-together.

Namely, the maps are the reason I’ve been enjoying Vanguard so much. With the exception of Oasis and Sub Pens, I think every map has been crafted beautifully to match the quick-paced flow of Vanguard and has me absolutely hooked.

Danny Appleford: I wasn’t a fan of the Vanguard beta when I first played it. I even contemplated refunding the game altogether because of how poor the beta was. However, I was pleasantly surprised to pick up the game again when it fully released. Sledgehammer did a complete 180 with Vanguard and listened to the feedback from the community.

Some of my biggest takeaways from the game are how effortless the movement feels, how satisfying the kills are and how fun just about all the maps are to play on. As usual, not every map and gun feels amazing, but there are bound to be the tweaks in the future.

Vanguard reviews
Vanguard has seen mixed and positive reviews on PC and consoles. | Provided by Activision

Sean “Spaceman” Rogers: So far, I’m enjoying Vanguard far more than I anticipated. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always put so many expectations on the next Call of Duty release, and this year I stayed away from all trailers and info on the game so I could go in purely as a fan. I enjoyed Modern Warfare but didn’t want a carbon-copy of it for this title, and I’m happy to say we didn’t get one. Cold War was such a great game, and Vanguard is shaping up to be a worthy successor. The polish is great, the maps are vibrant/detailed and the gunplay is smooth as ever. I’m really enjoying it.

What teams and players have stood out in the first weekend of tournaments in Call of Duty: Vanguard?

Carr: As expected, the most impressive team out of the gate is Atlanta FaZe. They’ve taken multiple, major, online Search and Destroy tournaments, including the 7k GB tournament where they bested OpTic Texas in the grand finals.

Beyond the obvious answer of FaZe, some individual players have truly stuck out to me by watching streams and browsing social media. Perhaps the most impressive is Rhys “Rated” Price, who hasn’t been playing professional Call of Duty for more than a year. However, he’s been playing the kickoff tournaments since Vanguard’s launch and kept up with professional players, even 1v4’ing the rumored Paris Legion roster.

Appleford: I think it is expected for Atlanta FaZe to perform well after crushing the Call of Duty League in back-to-back titles. I highly doubt there is a title out there the boys on Atlanta will be bad at playing. Recently, I have been watching the streams from the LA Thieves’ perspective now that Kenny “Kenny” Williams has been able to practice with the team. They did well with a random in the early tournaments but recently won a 4k GB tournament with Kenny playing with them.

Overall, the chemistry on this team is unmatched, and the ability for many of them to flex between an assault rifle and submachine gun is a luxury not all of the teams currently in the CDL have.

Spaceman: I think the biggest team that has stood out so far is the new OpTic roster. There’s been a flurry of Challengers roster moves, so I wont put stock into results for them just yet since it’s a long year. But with OpTic, I wanted to see how they would mesh out of the gate. This is the first time, in my personal opinion, Seth “Scump” Abner has had a true championship caliber roster to compete with against Atlanta FaZe since early Modern Warfare when he was with OpTic Chicago.

I felt OpTic last season had great pieces but not enough pure gun skill to win a championship against the likes of Toronto or Atlanta. This is a roster that can win, with Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro and Indervir “iLLeY” Dhaliwal on the team. They played clean against everyone, including FaZe in the CMG tournament this past weekend. I hope this roster continues to pop off.

Garst: Like Spaceman and Joey said, FaZe and the new OpTic roster have been fantastic in these early tournaments. New York’s roster, with the newly added Ian “C6” Porter and Travis “Neptune” McCloud have also been putting their skills to the test. The squad, made up of two long-time veterans and two young talents, has given FaZe and OpTic a run for their money. The trash talk is great, too.

What do you want to see Sledgehammer Games add, remove or change?

Carr: From a casual standpoint, I would love to see Sledgehammer Games add in more challenges to complete in multiplayer. The current selection is a bit underwhelming, but that should change when Season 1 arrives on Dec. 3. Also, a Prestige Shop would be a great addition, as it would give players an incentive to grind for more rewards.

From a competitive point of view, I think the developers should add the option to remove breakable doors and walls in custom games. The option was present in the beta but isn’t there in the full launch. This would completely change competitive play and would eliminate some randomness currently seen in Search and Destroy.

Appleford: One complaint I have is how large the maps are. While most of them are fun and enjoyable in most of the game modes, getting into a Tactical lobby on some of them can feel like searching half the game for someone to shoot at. The addition of the different pacing has been great, especially since I don’t always want to have the same spawn-die-spawn-die scenario over and over. I think what Sledgehammer could add to the game in the future are smaller maps like Das Haus, Eagles Nest and Decoy, which give more of a 4v4 or 6v6 feel for tactical pacing.

Keeping with my issue of spawning and dying, I have been incredibly frustrated with the spawns in Vanguard. There have been multiple times where I have pushed into the enemy’s base and, instead of flipping them, the game instead spawns three enemies in front of me. The same can be said when I spawn in front of someone camping my spawn, waiting for the opportunity to catch someone off guard.

Spaceman: Listen, I’m a comp kid, and the first things I’ll notice are everything that surrounds the competitive scene. I’d love for more CDL focus early in the game’s lifespan this year. Things like a solid and supported Ranked Playlist, CDL rules and regulations in Ranked, weapon tuning, small bugs getting addressed and the option for turning off the destructible environments for competitive settings.

Also I’d love more killstreaks — like a lot more. Some of my favorite memories as a young player were looking at the new killstreaks each year and the sheer variety of them that we had, but I love it if more were added in Vanguard.

How do you feel about cheating within Vanguard?

Carr: I personally have not run into any cheaters in public matches but have seen multiple clips online of people already using aimbots and wall-hacks. It’s as scummy a practice in Vanguard as it always has been in Call of Duty and any other competitive video game. Hopefully, Activision can crack down on the cheating problem with the RICOCHET Anti-Cheat, which releases later this year.

Appleford: I have rarely run into any cheaters in Call of Duty that are super obvious. I can maybe count on one hand during Cold War when I thought someone was cheating. Granted, I didn’t ever play Warzone, which I think is where the problem really lies. That being said, I think that Sledgehammer has been doing a good job with the anti-cheat system and I look forward to queuing into a competitive game in the future and having an even playing field.

Spaceman: I think cheating in any game is downright pathetic, and unfortunately CoD has seen some extreme scenarios due to Warzone’s popularity and the CDL’s massive reach. I have run into a few players who were cheating and I obviously reported them and hope action gets taken, but I’m also very simple with my approach to cheaters. Ban them for a year on their account then give them a second chance. If they mess up again, IP ban them for life from the title. There’s zero room for cheaters in gaming.

Garst: I haven’t run into any myself, but cheating has been a problem at the competitive level. For example, bomb exploits in Search and Destroy have popped up and cheaters have been caught in tournaments. I have high hopes that the new anti-cheat system will help address the problem early on.

Warzone Pacific
Vanguard’s integration within Warzone will begin on Dec. 3 | Provided by Activision

What are you most excited about with Call of Duty: Vanguard’s future?

Carr: I’m excited to see what Sledgehammer brings in terms of post-launch content and how that content plays into competitive. Last year, we saw maps get added to the competitive ruleset with every season. This year, Sledgehammer is planning to add anywhere from 2-4 multiplayer maps each season. Perhaps some remakes from previous Call of Duty titles will enter the arena and once again be featured in professional play.

Appleford: Competitive, for sure, has to be what I am looking forward to the most. I wasn’t impressed with the Cold War competitive system, but was thankful that they at least had one. Considering they are working with pros for the competitive system in Vanguard, I’m confident it will be promising.

I am also really excited to see what sort of content they add to the game. Mostly in the form of the battle pass, operator skins, maps and guns that they add in the future. It was one of my favorite parts about Cold War that I hope they translate over to Vanguard.

Spaceman: I’m most excited about the Call of Duty League starting again. I live and breathe the esport and I just want to see how the game plays at the top level when teams have had a few months to get warmed up and settle into the title. There’s so much room for content with Warzone and competitive modes and pubs. It’s gonna be a really awesome year.

Garst: This launch feels a little bit different than ones in the past. Everyone seems relatively happy with how Vanguard has turned out, including a number of pro players. We already have some exciting tournaments, like the Spin the Wheel happening on Nov. 10, coming up. I hope we see more creative ways to play in the future.

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