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.