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Earlier this week, we published an interview with Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, during which we discussed Nintendo. Guillemot told us that Watch Dogs will be the last mature title the company publishes on the platform, given past performance of Assassin?s Creed games.

Now, another publisher is taking a pass on Wii U. Activision will not be publishing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on the platform according to Sledgehammer Games co-founder Michael Condrey.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops II launched alongside the Wii U in 2012, and last year?s Call of Duty: Ghosts also landed on the platform. Activision hasn?t abandoned the Wii U, of course. Skylanders performs extremely well on both it and last generation?s Wii.

For more on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, check out a conversation about the multiplayer from Gamescom and a rundown of the changes coming this year. The title will be released on November 4 on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC.

[source: Michael Condrey on Twitter]

 

Our Take
This decision isn?t surprising, but it is unfortunate for those gamers who have enjoyed the Call of Duty series on Wii U. The business reality of publishing is clear. If a game will cost more to produce than it can reasonably stand to earn, then moving forward is the wrong decision.

 

 

http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2014/08/20/call-of-duty-advanced-warfare-skips-wii-u.aspx

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    • By Asher Madan
      Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy on Xbox Series X — Cult classics lacking polish
      by Asher Madan

      Last week, Rockstar Games released Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition for Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. The package includes remasters of Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. All three titles are regarded as cult classics, but how do they play with modern controls and upgraded visuals on Xbox Series X? Read on to find out.

      Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas run at 4K resolution and up to 60 frames per second (FPS) on Xbox Series X. They offer two modes, Fidelity and Performance, which appear to lock the frame rate to either 30 or 60 FPS. By default, the game is set to Fidelity so you don't notice any FPS drops. Unfortunately, the input lag is horrendous at 30 FPS so I'd recommend switching all three of the titles over to Performance from the Options menu.

      Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy features upgraded visuals like car reflections, water reflections, high-resolution rendering, and different character models, but the games still look quite dated. It's clear that the remastered bundle is meant for existing fans of the franchise. They won't attract that many new players in my opinion.

      Despite the upgrades, including revamped controls, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas need a lot more work to look like contemporary games. Had these titles been along the lines of the recent Resident Evil remakes, they would've been more appealing. While all three games still tell amazing and relevant stories, they suffer from performance and visual issues that detract heavily from the overall experience.

      Grand Theft Auto III
      Grand Theft Auto III was released before Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Due to this, it feels rougher around the edges than the other two. While all three exhibit performance issues to some degree, Grand Theft Auto III on Xbox Series X has the most frequent frame rate drops to 20 FPS, even when the 60 FPS mode is engaged. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a close second.

      Apart from that, I noticed that the default brightness and contrast needed adjusting. I had to raise the brightness to 100% and lower the contrast to 25% to clearly witness the action. Even during the day, the title looked dark. Since Grand Theft Auto: Vice City didn't exhibit this issue, I think it's a bug with the high-dynamic-range (HDR) lighting in the Grand Theft Auto III remaster.

      Luckily, the game's plot redeems this port to some degree. You step into the shoes of Claude who's betrayed by his girlfriend Catalina. It's an old-school tale of revenge and involves making a name for yourself in the city by causing all sorts of mayhem.

      The controls are standardized across all three games. However, the sensitivity seems a little too high when you're playing with an Xbox Series X|S controller. Again, this is mostly an issue in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Depending on what you prefer in terms of thumbstick sensitivity, you'll have to spend some time tweaking various settings to figure out what you like.

      Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
      Grand Theft Auto: Vice City tells my favorite story out of the three because it plays out like an old-school Martin Scorsese film. Plus, beloved actor Ray Liotta voices the protagonist Tommy Vercetti. It's all about experiencing 1980's flair and ruling the city, two combinations that are hard to beat. A major drug deal goes south due to unknown assailants and it's up to you to get to the bottom of the mystery.

      Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is probably the most polished remaster out of the lot. The only change I made was to switch the game to Performance mode from Fidelity to improve controller responsiveness. Unfortunately, even then I noticed some stuttering during gameplay, especially when driving around town, but it didn't detract too much from the title because the drops were few and far between. The drops are less frequent than in the Grand Theft Auto III or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas remasters.

      Grand Theft Auto: Vice City uses bold colors so they pop on a modern display. Additionally, the reflections on cars are the most noticeable in this version. They add a layer of complexity to the visuals that wasn't there before. The controls are relatively good, but I'd still recommend turning down the sensitivity a little to gain more precision, especially when aiming and firing weapons.

      Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
      Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas tells the story of Carl Johnson, simply known as CJ, as he returns to the city of San Andreas due to his mother's murder. You have to help rebuild your gang while also uncovering what really happened to her. It's a compelling journey even though there are a lot of performance and visual glitches, some that can even cause your console to crash.

      Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas also suffers from the dark HDR lighting issue like Grand Theft Auto III. Luckily, it's not as severe so you just need to turn the contrast down to 40% and the brightness to 70%. As expected, the performance issues are back and the frame rate drops to around 25 FPS when you're driving around town. Unfortunately, it gets stranger.

      All three games feature weather effects like rain, but Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has some odd lighting during storms. When it's dark, rainfall streaks across the screen like white bullets. It's the strangest phenomenon I've ever witnessed in a game. It actually hurts your eyes and makes it impossible to see anything. I would've taken a screenshot, but at that moment the game also crashed my Xbox Series X. Luckily, many users on YouTube managed to record it.

      It's clear that Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy needed to be delayed to 2022. All of the games suffer from performance issues and some feature bizarre visual problems like dark lighting and white rain. As I mentioned in my Battlefield 2042 Xbox Series X preview, I understand that game development is also a business, but releasing products in such a poor state — where months of polishing are required — isn't acceptable. It only damages the reputation of the publisher, studio, and franchise.

      Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy costs $59.99 on all platforms. In its current state, I simply cannot recommend purchasing it. Hopefully, developer Grove Street Games, with the assistance of Rockstar Games, will rectify this in a timely manner. It's unclear if that's possible because game development has shifted dramatically due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many titles, including expansions and updates, have been hit with severe delays due to the adjustment required to work from home.

      Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy is available on the Microsoft Store or the platform of your choice. The package launched on November 11, 2021. Due to some controversial files that are part of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the title has been pulled from PC until they're removed.

      Rockstar Games provided a code for Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy. The game was tested on an Xbox Series X console.



    • By Asher Madan
      Call of Duty: Vanguard Xbox Series X campaign review — A bombastic but stereotypical story
      by Asher Madan

      Call of Duty: Vanguard is this year's entry in the popular first-person shooter franchise and it brings with it a number of modes, including a bombastic campaign filled with stunning set pieces and plenty of explosions. Back in October 2021, Call of Duty: Vanguard writers said that they wanted to create iconic heroes like Halo's Master Chief with this game. Did they succeed in doing so? Read on to find out.

      Story
      Call of Duty: Vanguard's story is an action blockbuster with somewhat stereotypical soldiers, but it also touches upon issues like discrimination and racism in the Allied countries. The plot focuses on a mysterious, but fictional, Nazi plan called Project Phoenix. There's an overarching tale that homes in on taking down a despicable commander, but you also play through flashbacks that explain how the heroes of the story started working together, and their reasons for fighting.

      You'll get a chance to experience the game from different points of view, and hopefully learn more about the team. The flashbacks give a glimpse as to who Call of Duty: Vanguard's playable heroes are, but they mostly focus on their leadership and fighting styles instead of giving us a deeper look into Arthur Kingsley, Polina Petrova, Lucas Riggs, and Wade Jackson.

      In my opinion, Call of Duty: Vanguard doesn't spend enough time fleshing out these individuals. There are some truly horrifying moments in the campaign, but all of the heroes end up coming across as caricatures or stereotypes. Their reactions to the deaths of fellow soldiers and even family members are unrealistic. Had developer Sledgehammer Games added a little more dialogue — maybe a monologue or two about how certain tragic events affected each character — it would've elevated the story.

      For example, early in the campaign, a subordinate's head explodes due to a round from a sniper rifle. The newly promoted Kingsley just stands there without saying a word or discussing this traumatic event later. Fast forward a few missions, Petrova witnesses the massacre of her entire city, but seems to move past this tragedy in the blink of an eye because the vaporized bodies are never mentioned again. On one hand, Call of Duty: Vanguard wants us to identify with the game's heroes, while on the other it doesn't explore their humanity. It's during moments like these that the story feels rushed and the characters unrealistic.

      As mentioned earlier, Sledgehammer Games said that it wanted to create characters in Call of Duty: Vanguard that would be on the level of icons like Master Chief from Halo. In my opinion, the game fails to do a good job of character building. Kingsley, Petrova, Riggs, and Jackson aren't distinctive enough from individuals in other military shooters out there.

      The voice acting is excellent, and you can't fault the title there. But when you're going out and trying to create new faces for a franchise, you have to have more heart. This is a standard World War II story that's interesting, but it's no Battlefield Bad Company 2 or Halo 4.

      Performance and visuals


      Call of Duty: Vanguard's campaign looks incredibly sharp on Xbox Series X despite the use of dynamic resolution scaling, and remains locked at 60 frames per second (FPS) for the most part. It also appears to render at 4K resolution most of the time. However, every 10 minutes, I encountered random slowdowns for a couple of seconds where the frame rate dropped to around 15 FPS.

      The performance issues don't appear to be related to any in-game event, like extreme weather, because they occur during hurricanes and starry nights, sometimes even when you're inside small buildings. There are even hiccups during the 30 FPS cutscenes, which are jarring to witness after 60 FPS gameplay in and of themselves. It's clear that the Xbox Series X version of Call of Duty: Vanguard needs further optimization.

      Aside from the performance problems, Call of Duty: Vanguard suffers from a number of odd bugs in its campaign. While the majority of them revolve around weapons clipping through teammates or dead soldiers dying in strange positions similar to poisoned cockroaches, some of the most severe ones are related to the user interface.

      For example, the game's campaign allows you to control your allies' actions during certain moments. A giant banner that says how to do that stays on the center of your screen, right next to the reticle, for an entire level. It's unclear how this wasn't caught during quality-control testing. The Call of Duty series has always been multiplayer-focused, but that doesn't mean annoying bugs should be part of the story mode.

      As is the case almost every year, Call of Duty: Vanguard is one of the best-looking games when it comes to its linear campaign on Xbox Series X. The lighting is spectacular — explosions illuminate every surface — and the atmospheric fog is a sight to behold. Animations, faces, materials, reflections, textures, weather effects, and wet surfaces are also of the highest quality. Even when you're piloting an aircraft in one of the earlier missions, the details in the cockpit are remarkable.

      Call of Duty: Vanguard features two performance modes on Xbox Series X. By default, the title renders at 4K 60 FPS, but you can enable 120 FPS from settings if you have a compatible display. The game does not use ray tracing on Xbox Series X unlike Call of Duty: Black Ops - Cold War.

      Environments and missions


      The environments are diverse as well. During the 10 hours I spent playing the campaign — some gamers beat it in 5 hours — I fought my way through burning villages, cities, deserts, flower-covered fields, and treacherous trenches. The visual design offers an excellent contrast because you witness how a quaint day can be destroyed in an instance.

      The third mission in Call of Duty: Vanguard takes you to the Eastern Front of World War II. There, you're able to explore limited areas of the city and interact with the locals. You can even watch a violin performance on a rooftop. Minutes later, it's all laid to waste by invading forces, with bombs exploding not only buildings, but also disintegrating your friends and neighbors. The campaign shines when the game utilizes this stark contrast to demonstrate the horrors of war.

      Also, why are dogs so overpowered during the campaign? They can kill you with one bite. I'm not sure if that's realistic, but it makes playing through the story somewhat frustrating because it's hard to spot them if it's raining and there are tons of explosions going on around you. Luckily, the precise shooting mechanics redeem the title as a whole.

      Conclusion


      Two missions stood out for me the most. My favorite levels have to be the one that focuses on surviving an airplane raid in Russia and one where you pilot an aircraft. Petrova has the most reason to hate the Nazi invaders, and stepping into her shoes was a blast. Additionally, who doesn't love flying an easily-controllable fighter plane and shooting down targets?

      Overall, Call of Duty: Vanguard's campaign adds to the package that includes robust multiplayer offerings, but it feels a little rushed. There are major story and technical missteps this year. If you're a fan of previous Call of Duty campaigns, you should definitely play it. However, if you're thinking about picking up Call of Duty: Vanguard for its story, you should probably wait until there's a sale down the line.

      Call of Duty: Vanguard is available for purchase through the Microsoft Store, or the platform of your choice, for $59.99. The game launched for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S on November 9, 2021.

      If you're curious about the multiplayer portions of the game, check out my colleague Pulasthi Ariyasinghe's review for PC. The campaign was reviewed on Xbox Series X with a review code provided by Activision Blizzard.



    • By LoneWolfSL
      Call of Duty: Vanguard multiplayer review: Packed to the brim but too familiar
      by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe

      Every year for the past 14 years, Activision has rolled out a Call of Duty without fail. Right on schedule, we got the 2021 edition of the shooter last week in the form of Call of Duty: Vanguard by Sledgehammer Games. I've been hammering away at the Multiplayer and Zombies portions of the massive release as Neowin's Asher Madan dove into the campaign side of things. My time with the multiplayer was solely spent on PC.

      Although 2007's Call of Duty 4 was my jam back in the day, the following year's World at War was a respectable side jam although the shooter genre was inevitably moving to contemporary warfare even then. Over the years, World War II was only revisited by Call of Duty by the very aptly named WWII in 2017, which was also by Vanguard studio Sledgehammer. This year's return to that era is powered by Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare (2019) internals, a game that revitalized the franchise in my eyes.

      After spending a weekend with Call of Duty: Vanguard, read on to find out how does the Multiplayer and Zombies fare in this entry.



      Gameplay
      Vanguard multiplayer is filled to the brim with content, but that does not count for anything if the game doesn’t feel good to play. I am happy to say Sledgehammer has crafted a loop that makes me keep coming back for more.

      Although the time to kill (TTK) felt a little too fast for my tastes at first, after a brief time I got used to the tempo. In comparison to other Call of Duty entries, it feels closer to Hardcore than Standard in normal matchmaking. Modern Warfare's impressive weapon handling and animations have been kept intact. Tactical sprint, inhuman slides mounting weapons to surfaces, leaning, reloading in any stance, interactive doors and windows are all back, making for an extremely tight combat experience.

      With the speed of the movement, it's easy to get used to the bursting through doors, sliding around corners and sprinting across fields. The momentum hits the right spots. Unfortunately, playing by footstep sounds is pretty much a lost cause. It is all about fast reactions and pulling the gun up faster than the other guy. Either everyone is sneaking around using silent perks just to surprise me or the game does not give enough focus to footstep audio. The audio as a whole is not helpful in gaining combat awareness. While positional audio is working fine, with the low TTK, by the time you hear a gun being fired from an unseen direction, it’s already too late to react.



      Speaking of guns, just because they are eight decades old doesn't mean customization doesn’t allow for unusual combinations. Major liberties have been taken with the era to keep the Gunsmith customization system varied. Every gun in the game comes with eight attachment slots and two perks. You can certainly make a recoilless laser shooter, but something is given up in turn to make that happen, usually nerfing damage or increasing the time taken to reset the gun from a sprint. As expected, just a weekend in, the community has deemed certain guns and attachment combinations 'too overpowered to not use'. Still, I have not had problems picking up a newly unlocked "underpowered" weapon and having fun gaining streaks.

      The weapon and attachment unlock rates are so well tuned in at this point, it's an art. Seeing experience bars tick up at the end of matches to always unlock something new, using the time left until the next match to preview or equip the unlock, whether it be a gun, attachment, cosmetic, or anything else, hit just the right spots just as intended. Last year's Cold War experimented with a score-based streak system, but Vanguard ditches all that to bring back the classic kill streaks, rewarding kill hungry players with boons capable of extending leads or turning tides. These try to be era specific, but it's Call of Duty after all.

      The twist game mode of the year is Champion Hill, a fast-paced tournament mode with buy rounds and resource management. While similar to Modern Warfare's Gunfight, it doesn't have the same flair or nail-biting sequences due to purchasable kill streaks and multiple spawns being involved. It has also been a difficult mode to matchmake in my region. I have continued to get matchups with high ping in distant servers.



      A small thing that bothers me more than it should is the new MVP selection. This is a group voting session that happens at the end of every round after the play of the match highlight nonsense, adding even more downtime - which you can't skip - between games. Everyone stares at a voting screen without the ability to quit the match for 30 whole seconds while canned animations of players who contributed the most to the match are shown off. It's not a long length of time I admit, but in less than half that time I'm normally able to find a new match to get into. Getting annoyed at something this small preventing me from playing more of the game speaks for how much fun I've been having.

      Maps and Combat Pacing
      Call of Duty: Vanguard ships with 16 maps for standard multiplayer modes, with four more attached to Champion Hill. I can't remember the last time a multiplayer game launched with so many, easily the highest count a Call of Duty has touted. There are old-school World War II-inspired landscapes with muted colors and ruins, sunbaked desert environments, a Japanese castle, a submarine base and so much more. I have my own list of favorites, from the clear sight lines of Desert Siege and chaos of Das Haus to the nostalgia hit from returning World at War maps, each one is very distinct. While I always think I am over them, getting chucked into a tiny map with lots of things to shoot at will probably never get old.

      A seriously cool addition for wading into multiplayer is the new Combat Pacing system. To put it simply, this is a streamlined player count filtering method letting you choose exactly the kind of match you're in the mood to play. From the three flavors available, "Blitz" tries to pack as much as 48 players into the available maps and modes, while "Tactical" tightens the scope to classic 6vs6. The third choice, Assault, is for those who fall into the middle of the two sides.



      The system cuts down what would have usually required multiple filters and caused playerbase splinters. Someone looking to relax with mindless shooting can quickly get into a 40-player madhouse with one click on Blitz, where even imagining a reload means a quick trot to the grave. For me though, the old dependable, 6v6 Tactical pacing is yet to disappoint as my preferred poison. The map flow, playstyles of players and engagement times change both organically and dramatically as the player counts fluctuate, so don't think the name Combat Pacing for a filter is misused here. With the implementation, the feature makes the already staggering number of maps even more varied and fun to come back to using a different pacing lens.

      The advertised destructible elements like wooden barricades and glass windows don’t factor much into maps. The speed of the game is too great to break a pane of glass, hold position and shoot through. The dynamic covers break when sprinting or vaulting through as well, meaning a minute into a round, they are all obliterated.

      Is a Call of Duty game even a true Call of Duty game without bad spawns? Sledgehammer didn't think so. Vanguard firmly grasps the ridiculous spawn algorithm baton from the last entry and valiantly marches forward to offer another system that can only be described as chaotic neutral. Instances of being pulled into battle in front, behind and even side by side of enemies are more common than ever.

      The video clip below should accurately convey what I'm describing, where enemies look away thinking "that guy isn't coming back" after dispatching me. Oh, but I do, respawning not once but twice right next to my dead body.



      These events aren't limited to smaller maps either. The game really likes to put your operator into action as fast as possible without thinking things through. Thankfully, this is equally as bad for both teams. That's technically balanced, I suppose.

      No matter how much content and opportunities to have fun a game can shove in your face, knowing it has a cheater problem makes any odd-looking death a suspicious one, at least for a moment and it's not a good feeling to have. Call of Duty and Warzone have suffered from this for years now. To Vanguard's credit, I haven't met any cheaters, or at least obvious ones, in my time with the launch product. What I can't say is if this is due to sheer luck or Activision's first pass of Ricochet anti-cheat implementation. I have seen a few social media hubbubs of active cheaters encountered by others though it's hard to say yet if the phenomenon is becoming widespread as in previous games.

      Ricochet's kernel-level driver is not coming until later, but its robust server-side cheat detection is said to be keeping an eye on any extracurricular activities of script kiddies. The driver is sure to stir up controversies of its own, but if it can deliver on its promises of finally ridding Call of Duty's reputation of being a cheater haven, you won't find me complaining.

      Zombies
      While the rest of the game is Sledgehammer's baby, from Treyarch's coffers comes Zombies, Nazi Zombies, to be exact, the supposed third pillar of Call of Duty: Vanguard's launch product. Honestly, I haven't kept track of the crazy demon-infested, multiple universe-spanning storylines of Call of Duty Zombies. I can string together what the current dilemma is about, the opening cutscene and the corny dialog help, but the big picture is admittedly lost on me. The good news is the gameplay does not reflect that; in fact, it offers the complete opposite experience. Intensely streamlined, Vanguard Zombies makes it easy to figure the gameplay loop without knowing anything about the systems in place before jumping in. I spun up the mode while the game was still finishing its download and managed to spend over an hour in a run without ever going down.



      The sole problem here lies in not having enough to do. Replacing the standard round-based map, a central hub serves as the place to activate perks and upgrade weapons in relative safety. Once a squad is ready, they can pick one of the portals available to go do one of the three flavors of what can only be described as side-missions. This involves farming zombies for a certain number of drops, surviving against waves in a small area for a time and escorting a zombie head. And that's it.

      There is no main quest or Easter Egg hunt, only three types of zombies are currently available and all the locations, including the hub and the few teleporting areas, are from multiplayer maps. There's nothing to work towards and there is no point to replaying the same content a second time. If you play it for a few rounds, you have seen everything Zombies has to offer at launch. It is the complete opposite experience of what I've been thrown at in Multiplayer.

      Zooming into a diabolically decorated room like a Speedster, holding down the trigger on an overpowered weapon and seeing all the zombie heads explode is still gruesomely satisfying. The rest of the experience feels undone, not undead. This is more like a teaser of what's to come from Treyarch than a full-fledged mode worthy enough to hold the space next to the campaign and multiplayer in the launch menu.

      Graphics and performance
      Call of Duty: Vanguard multiplayer visuals don't attempt at reaching the levels of its single-player counterpart, but it makes up with high frame rates. On PC, the game is optimized through the roof. Considering the reach Call of Duty has, Vanguard was easily pumping my 1080p display with over 60FPS on an AMD Radeon RX 580 with a mixture of ultra and high settings on 1080p without any dynamic resolution usage or downscaling.



      There is an ungodly number of graphics options available to tweak for even the most minute alterations. I do wish the preview comparison for each setting was a little more detailed or even real-time instead of simply supplying two shots side by side. At first launch, Vanguard models looked a little smudged on the edges. Switching off anti-aliasing and enabling the FidelityFX CAS option delivered the much-needed crispness.

      Another bonus for frame rate fanatics is the inclusion of Nvidia DLSS and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). I cannot speak for how well DLSS looks here, but anyone with a non-RTX graphics card wanting more frames should really investigate at least enabling FSR's Ultra Quality. This will grant a very much appreciated frame rate boost without discernible visual degradation.

      Conclusion
      Call of Duty: Vanguard is throwing at multiplayer fans exactly what they want, tons of maps. With 16 in the bag, hour long stretches can happen without having a repeat location and Combat Pacing adds another layer of variation. This content flood is paired with tried-and-true gameplay systems lifted straight out of Infinity Ward’s gem from 2019. Aside from the traditional spawning issues and adding another unskippable post-match sequence, I’ve had a lot of fun with the game, which is not something I expected to say after the beta shenanigans. If you loved the gunplay and movement systems of Modern Warfare, and is itching for more map variety, Vanguard is a perfect pick up.

      The game doesn’t do much to advance the franchise, with the World War 2 setting ending up being a skin pack on the same old multiplayer formula. At the same time, Call of Duty didn’t become this successful by trying new things ever year.

      The multiplayer is so jam-packed, the Zombies mode’s shocking lack of content doesn't impact me personally very much. However, for anyone eying to buy Vanguard for its undead experience, I strongly advice holding off at least until a major update or two arrives.

      Call of Duty: Vanguard is available for purchase on Battle.net for PC as well as Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 for $59.99.

      This multiplayer review was conducted on PC using a Battle.net code provided by Activision Blizzard.

      If you're interested in hearing about the single-player campaign of Vanguard, check out our own Asher Madan's review of that portion here.

    • By LoneWolfSL
      Diablo IV and Overwatch 2 hit with indefinite delays
      by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe

      During its Q3 2021 financial results conference call, Activision Blizzard revealed Diablo IV and Overwatch 2 launch plans have been pushed back. While both games haven't had launch windows attached to them since a previous delay pushed them out of 2021, the latest tie-up is sending them back even further.

      The two sequels were announced back in 2019 at BlizzCon. "While we are still planning to deliver a substantial amount of content from Blizzard next year, we are now planning for a later launch for Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV than originally envisaged," the company said.

      It certainly sounds like fans will be waiting until at least 2023 to get their hands on these major sequels, as the company says at one point in the presentation, "these decisions will push out the financial uplift that we had expected to see next year".

      "We believe giving the teams some extra time to complete production and continue growing their creative resources to support the titles after launch will ensure that these releases delight and engage their communities for many years into the future," added the company.

      At the same time, another major departure at Blizzard leadership will see Jen Oneal stepping down as co-leader at the end of 2021. She has spent over 20 years at Activision before stepping into the role earlier this year. The remaining current co-leader Mike Ybarra will be taking over the leadership role completely following the move.

    • By Asher Madan
      Call of Duty: Vanguard requires less hard drive space on new consoles and PC
      by Asher Madan

      Call of Duty: Vanguard is an upcoming first-person shooter from Sledgehammer Games, one of Activision's internal studios. The game launches on November 5, 2021 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (PS5), Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. Over the years, the size of Call of Duty titles has become quite significant, and on last-generation consoles like the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X, downloads were frequently over 100 GB.

      Last-generation consoles used traditional hard drives, so external storage options were readily available and affordable. The PS5 and Xbox Series X|S require current-generation games to be installed on their internal solid-state drives and pricey Storage Expansion Cards, or they won't run. You have to be careful about what you install — and how big a game is — in order to make sure you have enough space for future purchases.

      Today, Activision released some good news for players who were possibly dreading the 100 GB download for Call of Duty: Vanguard. On PC and current-generation consoles, new on-demand texture streaming technology will reduce the storage size by up to 30 to 50%. This means that the game may just require around 50 to 70 GB on your PC, PS5, or Xbox Series X|S.

      Activision hasn't revealed the final download size of Call of Duty: Vanguard, but it shouldn't be as large as the past few years. However, to take advantage of this, you'll need to be on PC, PS5, or Xbox Series X|S.

      The current-generation version of Call of Duty: Vanguard is available to pre-order for $69.99. You can purchase the game through the Microsoft Store or the platform of your choice. When pre-ordering, there are a number of editions to choose from that give you access to post-launch content and other perks.