Call of Duty: Vanguard PlayStation Alpha Detailed, Including Champion Hill Mode and Maps

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Call of Duty: Vanguard doesn’t arrive for another couple months, but some players will be able to get an early taste of the game’s multiplayer this weekend via the PlayStation Alpha. As already announced, the Alpha will include the new multi-round Champion Hill mode and Activision has now revealed some more details about what to expect from it. Here are the key points…

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  • Mode Type: Round-Robin, Limited-Life Deathmatch Tournament
  • Squad Size: Duos (2v2) or Trios (3v3) — Solos (1v1) available in full game at launch.
  • Loadout: Same starting Loadout for all — Primary Weapon, Secondary Weapon, Lethal Equipment, and Tactical Equipment. Upgrade your Loadout with Cash dropped in-game or by earning eliminations. Every player starts with $500 in Cash before the first Combat Round. Your available Cash balance is located on the HUD, above the lethal/tactical equipment icons.
  • Health: 100 HP. Up to three Armor Plates can be on an Operator, absorbing ballistic and explosive damage.
  • Combat Rounds: 60-second Deathmatches on a variety of small maps (e.g., Airstrip, Market), all located within one massive, all located within one massive map, which is a combination of four combat arenas and a central Buy Areas. There are no load times in Champion Hill – only action.
  • Number of Lives: 12 (Duos) or 18 (Trios) shared between squadmates, shown as a blue bar on the bottom left corner of the screen (your opponent’s life count, when applicable, appears below it as a red bar). Life count persists between rounds.
  • Victory Condition: Last squad with remaining lives wins.

As mentioned, between rounds you can upgrade weapons at Buy Stations or pick up a different Weapon Set if you don’t like your current one. Players can also look forward to the following array of equipment, perks, and streaks.

Equipment

Outside of weapons, Operators should also consider their equipment, which can indirectly or directly help eliminate the opposition.

  • MK2 Frag Grenade: Cookable Fragmentation Grenade. The standard Lethal Equipment, the Frag can deal lethal damage in a short radius several seconds after its pin is pulled. “Cooking” a Frag involves holding the Lethal Grenade command (L1 by default), which pulls the pin, and releasing it after a second or two, allowing the Grenade to explode “quicker.” Just remember: once a Frag is cooked, be sure to throw it (or swap to a weapon with Triangle to stow it back).
  • No. 69 Stun Grenade: Slows victim’s movement and aiming. Your standard Tactical Equipment, the Stun Grenade significantly affects an opponent’s ability to fight back. Use it early and often for maximum effect, bouncing it off walls and obstructions for unexpected beginnings to an engagement.
  • Throwing Knife: Retrievable knife that is lethal when thrown at the body or head. Unlike previous games, the Throwing Knife in Vanguard is only lethal when it hits the head, neck, or chest, making accuracy even more key to those who use these knives only. Even if it lands in an Operator’s toe or shoulder, it still deals plenty of damage, but follow-up shots are needed for an elimination.
  • Gammon Bomb: Impact Grenade. This heavier equipment piece immediately explodes on impact, damaging anything within its short radius. Direct hits result in immediate kills, so aim wisely.
  • MK V Gas Grenade: Explodes on impact with the ground, releasing a lingering cloud of tear gas that causes slowed movement, blurred vision, and coughing. This is like the Stun Grenade but with more distracting effects to the senses rather than movement. Remember that it goes off on impact with any surface, so do not attempt to throw it too close to yourself.
  • S-Mine 44: Proximity-triggered explosive. This Tactical Equipment cannot directly kill an opponent at full health and armor, but it certainly will hurt. It can also be used as a device for gathering enemy positions. When it goes off, it means an enemy has tripped it by running past it.

Perks

Perks are permanent, passive upgrades to your Operator, providing them with abilities that can help them in the field through the rest of a Champion Hill match.

  • Demolition: Extra lethal on spawn. Thrown lethals display an indicator showing the path of the lethal. Helpful for those who use equipment early and often.
  • Tracker: Enemies leave behind a footprint trail. See markers at enemy death locations and hide the death markers of enemies you kill. Footprints and enemy death locations can be used to “track” enemies down, while hiding death markers prevents opponents from doing the same.
  • Double Time: Double the duration of Tactical Sprint. Increase crouch movement speed by 30%. A fantastic Perk for run-and-gunners, but still useful to all Operators. Faster movement means a quicker run at that Extra Life Token.
  • Ghost: Undetectable while moving by Spy Planes, enemy intel, and Field Mics. No need to worry about Field Mics (for now). When moving, you will remain off enemy minimaps, including when a Spy Plane is online, until you fire an unsuppressed weapon.
  • Survival Training: Maximized resistance to stun effects. Immune to gas. A hard counter to those Gas Grenades and a serious defense against Stun spam. A Perk that you did not think would be necessary until the Gas and Stun Grenades start flying.
  • High Alert: Your vision pulses when enemies outside of your view see you. This is especially helpful when squadmate communications are not accurate. Look at the screen to see a bright light in the direction of an enemy staring right at you. Find some cover whenever it pulses or prepare to fight.

Streaks

Normally reserved for those who earn a set number of kills in one life (Killstreaks) or who amass enough Score through kills and objective play (Scorestreaks), these powerful items that fundamentally turn the tide of a single round are simply known as Streaks in Champion Hill.

  • Armor Plate: A single piece of Armor. Fills one of three slots in your armor bar. Armor absorbs damage from explosives and bullets.
  • Full Armor: Full set of armor plates. Fills your armor bar to full capacity. Useful if enemies are not frequently dropping Armor Plates during Combat Rounds.
  • Extra Life: Gain 1 additional life for your team. More lives means more chances at surviving Champion Hill.
  • Spy Plane: Calls in a spy plane which reveals all enemy positions on the minimap to allies… (This automatically activates in the next match.) In Champion Hill, knowing an opponent’s movements — or lack thereof — can be key to swift one-sided victories. Look to your minimap for the frequent sweeps that show where enemies are (they appear as red dots) and go for the kill.
  • Deathmachine: Equips a machine gun with explosive rounds and a fixed number of bullets. Persists through death until ammo is depleted. (This automatically activates in the next match.) One of two powerful Streak, the Deathmachine is a monster that chews through enemies. Be mindful that it can be difficult to control, but in terms of power, it is better than any standard Loadout weapon. Also, don’t worry about losing it after dying; it stays with you during the entire round.
  • Flamenaut: Receive a flamethrower with unlimited fuel and a protective suit. Both lost on death. (This automatically activates in the next match.) A Flamenaut is essentially a one-soldier wrecking crew, able to burn down entire squads and destructible environments with ease. The protective suit is as powerful as the short-ranged Flamethrower, as it can absorb an incredible amount of damage before the soldier within it dies. Because this suit and Flamethrower are powerful, they are lost upon death.
  • V2 Rocket: Drops a V2 Rocket, killing all players and ending the match. Returning from Call of Duty: WWII, the V2 Rocket is a game-ending Streak that does not come cheap. An Operator must show total and utter individual dominance to scavenge enough Cash for a V2 Rocket, but once it is earned, it becomes the exclamation point that ends your opponent’s death sentence. And if you cannot earn it in Champion Hill, fret not: there is another opportunity to earn it in more traditional Vanguard Multiplayer.

Finally, here’s a rundown of the four maps you’ll be playing Champion Hill on (check out the map layouts in the gallery below).

Airstrip (East Map)

Description: The “largest” of the four maps, the Airstrip features three stationary biplanes sitting on a central runway, with squads spawning in on opposite ends of the strip, either at the main hangar or toward the Buy Station Area. Outside of the main runway, there is a rocky north route and a container-heavy south route with an underground bunker at center.

Courtyard (North Map)

Description: A symmetrically designed map, Courtyard features four structures: two long buildings that act as spawn areas and two rectangular buildings at center. All four buildings have destructible wooden barricades. Between the spawn buildings and central buildings are large outdoor spaces containing barrels and small U-shaped outlets, with a small alley linking the two open-air spaces in the middle of the map.

Market (West Map)

Description: Modeled after a Parisian town square of old, the Market is a roughly square-shaped map with teams spawning either north or south of the central platform, which has a direct route through it via a gap in the sandbag fortifications. Around the center are a few fruit stands and buildings, including a café to the east (adjacent to the Buy Station Area) and two long buildings to the west and south, the former having an outdoor deck and the latter a more secluded open-air space.

Trainyard (South Map)

Description: Boxcars sit on two tracks that ultimately bisect out-of-bounds, with squads spawning on either end of the map to the east or west. Cross over to center and find a central fortification set up like the Market and two wooden buildings; the larger one houses another container car and a square shed at the southernmost point of Champion Hill. Both spawn areas are roughly symmetrical; each has two open containers for potential cover and another that acts as a raised platform looking at the center of the map.

The Call of Duty: Vanguard PlayStation Alpha is on now until August 29 at 10am PT. More multiplayer details, and the open beta date, will be revealed on September 7.

California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has filed suit against Activision Blizzard, alleging widespread gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the Call of Duty publisher. You can get more detail on that unfolding story here.

Call of Duty: Vanguard storms onto PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, and PS5 on November 5.

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