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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Sometimes you have to put your life on the line to save the world. But it may require you to kill people, and in rather inhumane ways. There's no shame in asking for help, and working well with others can often be beneficial.
Positive Role Models
In both the game's story mode and "Zombies" mode, the player puts their life on the line to save the world, and often to also save their friends. In these sections and some of the online multiplayer modes, people have to work together to accomplish their goals. But people also commit acts of violence against their fellow (virtual) humans.
The game features playable characters who are Black, female, and from Russia, Australia, and Britain, as well as allies who are people of color.
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Ease of Play
The game's controls will be familiar to anyone who's played this kind of game before, or any of the previous games in this series. The game has four difficulty options: "Recruit," "Regular," "Hardened," and "Veteran."
Violence & Scariness
Players use a variety of guns, explosives, and sharp implements to kill people, dogs, and zombies, resulting in a lot of blood, graphic gore, dismemberment, cries of pain, and even images of people being burned alive with a flame thrower.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There are cards in the game that have images of women in lingerie and other revealing outfits.
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The dialog is full of curse words, including "a--hole," "s--t," and "f--k," as well as ones from other countries like "bollocks." The word "negro" is also said by a Nazi, and by a Black soldier, while a white solider uses the word "colored." Unmoderated multiplayer could expose gamers to inappropriate content.
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Products & Purchases
The game is the latest in the long-running Call of Duty series.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There are cards in the game that have images related to smoking marijuana, such as the leaf of a cannabis plant. Some characters are shown smoking cigarettes, others drinking from a flask.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Call of Duty: Vanguard is a first-person shooter for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Windows PCs. Players use a variety of guns, knives, and explosives to kill numerous people as well as zombies and dogs, resulting in large amounts of blood, gore, dismemberment, screaming, and people being burned alive. There are also cards in the game with images of a sexual or marijuana-related nature, including images of pot leaves and women in lingerie and other sexy outfits. The dialog is full of curse words, including (but not limited to) "f--k," "s--t," and even "bollocks," as well as such racially-charged words as "negro" and "colored." It also features a diverse cast, including multiple people of color of various nationalities and a Russian woman as part of the team of soldiers that players interact with or control in various scenarios. Some people are shown smoking cigarettes, while others take a swig from a flask. Communication between players in both the co-op "Zombies" mode and the online multiplayer modes is not monitored, possibly exposing them to inappropriate comments.
Is It Any Good?
By keeping the core of the franchise intact, but with some interesting new mechanics added on top, this World War II first-person shooter is one of the year's best games. For starters, the online competitive multiplayer modes in Call of Duty: Vanguard not only add the ability to shoot through certain walls and barriers, including ones you might be hiding behind, but it also adds two frantic new modes. In "Champion Hill," multiple teams of 1, 2, or 3 players, who share a set of lives in reserve, fight in a round-robin tournament of "Team Deathmatch" to see who will be the last one standing. Meanwhile, "Patrol" tasks you with capturing and defending a spot on the map that slowly moves around the map; like someone actively on patrol. Then, in "Zombies," which is playable either solo or in co-op matches, you're still fighting to survive against waves of increasingly tougher undead Nazis, but now there's portals that take you to different areas where the rules change, and can, say, force you to follow a floating head around.
But it's the story-driven campaign that gets the most new stuff. The biggest of which comes during the numerous playable flashbacks, in which you learn all about the squad of misfits who are trying to stop the Nazis at the end of WWII from enacting "Project Phoenix." It's during these origin story-esque bits that you might take command, and tell your subordinates who to attack. Or you might be someone who's adept at being sneaky, using sniper rifles, and doing some climbing and jumping like this is a first-person Mario game. But the best thing they've added to this game's story mode is actually something they're added back: the big, over-the-top, action movie-style set pieces and near miss moments that made this series so great to begin with. All of which is why Call of Duty: Vanguard is not just the best World War II shooter in years, and one of the best Call of Duty installments in almost as long, but it's one of this year's best shooters as well.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.