The battle between the 18th installment in the Call of Duty series, Call of Duty: Vanguard, released in 2021, and the 19th installment, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, released in 2022, continues. While we don't always expect much difference between annual releases, Vanguard vs. Modern Warfare 2 is a different story due to their totally different settings and significant sales differences.
For starters, Vanguard is set during World War II, while Modern Warfare 2 is set in the present day. Therefore, the gameplay, from weapons to vehicles to maps, translates differently. Also, Modern Warfare 2 features far better sales than Vanguard, with the latter marking the franchise’s worst launch in over a decade.
Now, chances are other elements like graphics, combat, and performance will remain largely similar, though these gameplay items are also up for debate. All aspects considered, we’ve compiled a thorough Call of Duty Vanguard vs Modern Warfare 2 comparison guide to finally settle the “which is better?” debate once and for all.
Call of Duty fans often look back fondly on the maps used over the years, even more than the campaign missions and guns. That’s because COD maps ground a player’s experience, evoking memories and inspiring map remasters way after they’ve put their controller down.
Vanguard launched with 16 standard multiplayer maps, much more than any previous installment in the franchise. These were littered all over with distinctly colorful gardens, detailed buildings, and well-designed lanes.
Modern Warfare 2, on the other hand, offers 10 6v6 maps, and a few ground maps, with each bringing something unique to the table. Unlike the previous installment, Modern Warfare 2 focuses on a more centralized pinch point with wider open spaces that can be seen from each corner. These presented more opportunities for some really awesome chaos and fun.
While Vanguard offers variety in numbers, Modern Warfare 2’s innovation of cultivating new modes on huge maps takes the win here, with the migrated fan-favorite maps from Modern Warfare additional perk sealing it off with a bow.
Weapons are often never lacking in Call of Duty’s war setting, so the difference tends to lie in how much crunch they pack, their efficiency in close, mid, or long range combat, and whether they prove reliable in the heat of battle.
However, in Vanguard vs Modern Warfare 2, weapons pose a much more notable difference, with Vanguard offering 38 base weapons and Modern Warfare 2, a whopping 51 base weapons at launch. On the one hand, Vanguard’s weapons feel mostly subpar, with not much uniqueness to them. On the other hand, each weapon in Modern Warfare 2 feels specially curated for its purpose, so much so that, switching between them feels like a routine thing to do throughout the game.
Without a doubt, Modern Warfare 2 takes the win here for the overwhelming choice of weapons that individually feel highly accurate and immensely satisfying to use.
Getting to the meat and potatoes of Call of Duty- games, gunplay is a non-negotiable factor every gamer will take out their magnifying glasses for. Every little detail counts toward making or breaking the experience, so consecutive games always make it their job to elevate rather than drag the action down.
On that note, Vanguard’s gunplay feels incredibly satisfying. It takes everything that worked from previous installments like mounting guns on surfaces or doorframes, and curates a tighter, smoother experience. Caveats like recoil still mimic “old school” guns, but once mastered, it all starts to feel pretty well-balanced. That said, there isn’t much that Vanguard does to distinguish itself from its predecessors, with gunplay feeling like a perfect blend of the past few years’ games.
This is where Modern Warfare 2 excels, with its unbeatable gunplay. The developers took it upon themselves to not only adopt past successes but also make them snappy and tactile. Each moment is action-packed in spades, with the most diverse mechanics (and the aforementioned weapons) at your disposal. Guns pack an extra crunch, headshots land with a punch, and the sound of armor shuttering doesn’t disappoint either.
While Vanguard chooses to follow a more realistic approach, which with its World War II setting, doubles down to sluggish gunplay, Modern Warfare 2 went the more quick-paced, adrenaline-infused route, which feels much more satisfying to play.
Campaign missions are another end-of-the-bargain COD game you can’t ever slack on. It’s where you sink your hours into, uncovering the story that carries the rest of the game on its shoulders.
Now, Vanguard presents a highly polished epic World War II story. However, it never quite reaches a crescendo thanks to the predictable route it takes. The single-player campaign is pretty solid, too, yet too heavily prescribed for veterans to like it. No one wants joyless linearity while playing solo, and frankly, it may just have landed Vanguard the worst campaign title in years.
Modern Warfare 2, on the other hand, is a change of pace from mildly satisfying to superb acting, a super engaging plot, and well-directed cinematics to boost. It’s also as diverse as the weapons and gunplay, taking players from aquatic scenes to forests in a way that feels fresh throughout the 6 to 10 hours of gameplay. Although the campaign gets more spectacle focused toward the middle and end, it’s never disappointing enough to derail the campaign as a whole.
It’s no question that Modern Warfare 2 triumphs over Vanguard in more aspects than we can count. Sure, Modern Warfare 2 may feel too similar to Modern Warfare’s gunplay and setting, while Vanguard is an entirely new take on World War 2. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Vanguard’s uniqueness and multiple maps earn the game the right to be a notable addition to the Call of Duty franchise. However, Modern Warfare 2 far exceeds expectations with its diverse gameplay, innovation, and an overall satisfying experience of Call of Duty set in the present day.