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Call of Duty: Vanguard’s multiplayer isn’t kind to casual players

Call of Duty: Vanguard has been out for a week now, and while it’s a decent amount of fun, its multiplayer mode has a slew of issues that hold it back. Aside from an unbelievable amount of bugs and glitches that impact progression, spawns, and perk usage, it also feels immensely “grindy,” to the point where new players could be at a severe disadvantage. It’s great that there’s plenty to do in the game, but Vanguard takes this to the extreme.

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A catch-22

BAR from Call of Duty: Vanguard.

One of the game’s biggest issues is the fact that it takes a long time to level up weapons. Most primary weapons have around 70 attachments to unlock, and the best ones are typically reserved for the last portion of the weapon’s progression cycle. Some of the last attachments for each weapon give higher damage, increased critical hitboxes, and other benefits that give players a significant upper hand when used.

If you’re using a low-level weapon against someone with a maxed-out version of the same firearm, you’ll likely lose the gunfight, even if you start shooting first. Grinding for weapon XP has been present in most Call of Duty games thus far, but Vanguard places a major emphasis on spending a significant amount of time with each weapon — and those who don’t do that are at a major disadvantage.

Itra Burst progression in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

To put it into perspective, it took me around five hours to reach max level with the BAR assault rifle. Expert players can probably reach level 70 faster, but for the average player, it will take at least five hours to fully level up a weapon. The problem is that once a weapon is deemed to be “good,” it usually gets nerfed in some way, meaning you can’t simply level up one weapon and expect to do well. Even beyond accounting for frequent weapon changes, part of the fun of Call of Duty is experimenting with different builds. That means you have to stay up-to-date with the latest weapons by playing constantly.

A grueling process

The process of actually leveling up a weapon can be grueling, especially if you’re working on a semiautomatic rifle that fires slowly and has high recoil. At launch, it’s not as bad since the majority of players will be in the same boat, but if you wait and start playing well into the game’s life cycle, it’ll be hard to compete against those who have spent time leveling up their weapons.

There are 38 base weapons in the game to start with, so if it takes around five hours to level each of them fully, you should expect to play 190 hours to reach max level with each of them. But that only accounts for the base weapons. You can expect the inclusion of additional weapons every month or so, and if history is any indication, those guns will typically be “meta” since Activision wants players to stick around and try them out.

When Activision’s goal is to keep players around as long as possible, it’s easy to see why weapons take so long to level up. To an extent, it’s nice to have so much to do, but when time spent is tied to how well your weapon performs, it makes it difficult for newcomers and casual players to keep up. This could ultimately backfire and cause players to drop off prematurely.

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