Vanguard or Black Ops Cold War? Which Call of Duty is better?

It's a COD eat COD world.
call of duty vanguard or black ops cold war 500

Should you be playing Vanguard or Black Ops Cold War? Call of Duty is a machine that simply cannot be stopped. Even if the series has been a little hit and miss, from the heights of Modern Warfare the befuddling lows of Black Ops 3, each year brings a new game in the series without fail.

Every time a new Call of Duty game arrives, we’re naturally obliged to compare it to older entries in the first person shooter franchise. So which Call of Duty comes out on top? Is Call of Duty Vanguard or Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War the better game?

It’s been four years since Sledgehammer Games brought us Call of Duty WWII, a gritty return to classic “boots on the ground” gameplay. Since then, COD has undergone seismic changes to keep up with the industry, waving goodbye to premium map packs, adding a battle pass, and taking the world by storm with Warzone.

Vanguard continues to carry that torch, but how does it hold up next to Treyarch’s Cold War? Let’s find out.

call of duty vanguard or black ops cold war campaign

Vanguard vs. Black Ops Cold War: Campaign

Vanguard has taken a very different approach to this year’s campaign, opting to tell a bulk of the characters’ stories through a series of flashbacks, intertwined with ridiculously gorgeous cutscenes that really showcase the graphical fidelity of new consoles. 

Also, the choice was made to go back to WWII which I disliked initially but was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the narrative here. I know a campaign is good when I want to go back and play it again. 

The same cannot be said for Black Ops Cold War. At times, it felt like it was trying a little too hard and failing to deliver on all the things I liked about the previous entries. Black Ops and Black Ops II had amazing stories to tell and I was lapping up all the backstabbing and subterfuge they had to offer. With Black Ops III letting the side down and IV having no campaign at all, Cold War had big shoes to fill. It tried to go back to basics and provide us with a narrative in the same vein, but ultimately felt like a poor imitation. After a rollercoaster ride, we’re hoping Treyarch finally retires its Black Ops saga and tries something fresh and new.

In contrast Vanguard feels like it’s hit a sweet spot of storytelling and length, not outstaying its welcome but still being able to spin a good yarn. Credit to the writers for making it work. Each character was explored enough to make you care about them during the final act, leading up to a satisfying finish. The portrayal of its Nazi antagonists is another highlight, showing them for the delusional clowns that they were.

Further Reading: Black Ops Cold War or Modern Warfare? Which Call of Duty is better?

call of duty vanguard or black ops cold war multiplayer

Vanguard vs. Black Ops Cold War: Multiplayer

Cold War stripped back the gunplay and made things a little simpler last year, but not really for the better. Gameplay was fast and aggressive, for sure, but it didn’t feel quite right. New players would suffer as the aim assist had its effectiveness reduced, instead catering to veteran players, especially when it came to perks and loadouts. Those who reached higher tiers faster left others in the dust and that kind of new player experience is never a good thing. 

Vanguard feels much more refined in its mechanics, weaving together the best bits from recent Call of Duty games. The selection of guns might be a touch less stable – you know, on the count of being from WWII – but you’re still able to mount them for added accuracy, which is just *chef kiss*.

There’s also a couple of new game types which I found to be an interesting addition to CoD’s repertoire of modes. Patrol is just mayhem and perfectly fills that gap for people wanting a fast-moving objective based mode that fuses tactical play and frenzied firefights. Then you have Champion Hill which is a lot of fun, with teams having tiny skirmishes and a set number of lives, duelling until one team is left.

call of duty vanguard or black ops cold war zombies

Vanguard vs. Black Ops Cold War: Co-Op

I will always love a bit of zombie action and mostly liked Cold War’s effort at the mode. Black Ops I & II did it best, fo course, crafting a narrative across both games and introducing some mind bending easter eggs to solve. 

Cold War continued the easter egg tradition, giving you puzzles to solve and zombies to kill. The only downside here was that the original characters were no more and instead, you just chose characters from the game’s multiplayer Operators. I felt it took away from the story that was being told. That being said, the mode itself was still very fun to play, retaining that original zombies feel of level progression. 

Vanguard has taken things in a very different direction. Now, each run has a set of objectives to complete to open up new sections of the map. It’s an unusual change of pace for Zombies though one that is more accessible and less shrouded in mystery, flinging the doors open for players who previously found the mode too obtuse. The response from fans hasn’t been all that positive though – nobody likes change. Still, Treyarch plan to continue expanding on the Vanguard Zombies experience.

Call of Duty: Vanguard Champion Hill

Vanguard vs. Black Ops Cold War: The Verdict

It’s safe to say that Vanguard is the better game compared to Black Ops Cold War. It’s managed to deliver on all fronts. The campaign is a pulse-pounding romp, telling engaging war stories that make you care for the characters, whereas Cold War became exhausting after a while. Also, there’s no collectables. I was able to play through the campaign, just enjoying the stories and not worrying that I had to look into every corner. 

Gameplay is so much tighter, finally finding the sweet spot in the ‘time to kill’ that has plagued Warzone for the last year or so. Vanguard just feels more accessible and a better package over all, yet offers a crazy number of progress rewards and unlocks for determined players.

This is only just the beginning. A new Warzone map is launching next month and Zombies will be getting continued support through the year with easter eggs a plenty. 

It will be interesting to see what Infinity Ward does next year, although the rumour mill is already churning with musings of a sequel to Modern Warfare, simply titled Modern Warfare 2. There’s even talks of another new Warzone map being added at launch, which will breathe more new life into the battle royale.

Written by
Consummate professional, lover of video games and all-round hero that can be found doing a podcast, writing about games and also making videos. Oh, I have saved the world 87 times and once hugged Danny Trejo. You're welcome.