Call of Duty: Vanguard‘s alpha is officially live for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, which features the recently announced Champion Hill mode. This new multiplayer mode feels like a mashup of Gunfight and battle royale, with duos competing in a series of rounds to be the last team standing. Basically, Champion Hill is a more chaotic and strategic Gunfight tournament.
Champion Hill combines four small maps to make one large arena, where players in duos compete in 60-second rounds of a Team Deathmatch-style tournament against other squads. Every team begins with a total of 12 lives. In Champion Hill, players want to move through the rounds and work to eliminate all other squads’ life count to zero before their squad is eliminated.
All squads start with the same loadout of a pistol and submachine gun. However, better gear can be obtained by collecting cash and using the Buy Stations. All players start with $500 cash, and more cash can be earned through the rounds by eliminating players and scavenging cash piles found around the map.
There are four Buy Stations that can be used during “Buy Rounds,” which are phases that happen between every three rounds of combat. Each Buy Station offers something different. Players can choose whether they want to spend cash on perks, killstreaks, equipment like armor plates, or better weapons. Here you can find Champion Hill’s full list of available weapons, perks, streaks, and equipment for this alpha.
Players can also upgrade their weapon by pressing right on the D-pad, and the gun can continuously be upgraded with up to 10 attachments to beef it up. It does get more expensive with each upgrade, but it’s definitely worth adding some of those attachments early on. Weapons can be upgraded during the Buy phase as well as mid-match.
The cash feature reminds me of Black Ops 4’s Heist mode, which seemed inspired by Counter-Strike’s strategic Buy feature. How players spend their money is important. Going for better weapons and weapon upgrades feels crucial, but having enough money to splurge on something like a UAV streak or Ghost perk could be helpful too.
An extra life token does spawn on each map area once per round, so there is an opportunity to grab it and earn a free life. Players can also buy one for the hefty price of $3,000, but that’s a lot of money that could be better spent on weapons or perks to help win gunfights. Running low on lives, players might be enticed to spend that cash on the extra life to get them to the next round, sacrificing the chance at better weapons or even additional armor. Players must pick and choose wisely.
The four maps can be daunting at first, but they’re not much more complicated than the traditional 2v2 Gunfight maps. It just takes some time to learn all the lines of sight, and knowing what parts of the map are destructible, as Vanguard features some destructible cover. The parts that can be destroyed all seem to look like thin wooden boards, so they’re pretty easy to spot. Players can either shoot through the cover or completely demolish them for a better line of sight.
Champion Hill’s maps are also all connected with the Buy Stations as the central hub, so players will hear gunshots and explosions from the other 2v2 matchups happening on the maps near them. Each round is only 2v2, but they can sound much more chaotic. It definitely becomes important to focus and distinguish which gunfights sound close and which are far away.
Once the teams have been whittled down to just two, the final match begins. Players will get to gear up at the Buy Stations before the final showdown. This is the last chance to spend money on extra lives, killstreaks, armor, and any perks. Final team standing will claim the win as Champions of the Hill.
I’m a huge fan of 2v2 Gunfight, so I was worried that Vanguard’s new variant would be too chaotic and less fun. However, it still holds that competitive intensity and the rounds still play pretty quickly, with the big differences being the respawning and Buy feature. So, it’s like a giant, more intense 2v2 Gunfight tournament with respawns and a 12-life count. This won’t be everyone’s favorite mode, but this is worth trying for fans of Gunfight, battle royale, and maybe even Heist.
At this time, only 2v2 matches are available, but Champion Hill is also said to have a 3v3 option, so maybe trios becomes available either later in the alpha or at launch.
This PlayStation-exclusive alpha will run until August 29. A second alpha will occur for preorder members on all platforms who can play September 16-17. Then from September 18-20, everyone can play, regardless of platform or preorder status. Next month will also feature Vanguard’s standard multiplayer beta. Call of Duty: Vanguard launches on November 5.
Call of Duty: Vanguard continues on as Activision Blizzard currently faces a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit filed by the state of California. It was also recently claimed that Activision Blizzard’s HR department is shredding documents pertaining to the case.
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