Could 2021's Call of Duty release feature the best competitive playlist to appear in the franchise?

19:30, 02 Apr 2021

The Call of Duty franchise has featured some kind of competitive playlist in its title since the 2012 release of Black Ops 2, which saw the launch of League Play for the very first time. Since then, Call of Duty titles have either featured fully-functioning ranked playlists complete with dedicated ranks, ladders, and exclusive rewards that can be earned, or the game has featured a hybrid between a casual and competitive playlist created in order to satisfy the demand of players looking for their competitive fix. 

The vast majority of first-person shooter (FPS) titles feature some form of competitive playlist, but for some reason, Call of Duty has always seemed to struggle to implement a playlist that works properly and contains a skill system that doesn’t involve earning virtual gems in order to advance to the next rank.

It is widely believed that Sledgehammer Games is spearheading development for the 2021 release reportedly named WWII: Vanguard, and for players hoping that the next iteration of a ranked playlist is better than Black Ops Cold War, there is a real chance that Vanguard’s competitive playlist could be the best the franchise has ever seen.


Sledgehammer At The Helm


2016's World War 2 featured what is widely considered as the very best ranked playlist that has ever been seen in a Call of Duty title. The simplistic ranking system that ranked players from Bronze to Master utilised an MMR system to pit players of similar skill in competitive matches. Achieving victory would give players MMR, which would be used to climb the ladder and advance to the next rank containing another group of players with a similar amount of MMR.


This simple yet extremely effective feature proved popular amongst the competitive community that had been longing for a well-built ranked playlist for several years. Alongside the excellent MMR system, players earned exclusive rewards once a season had come to its conclusion. Depending on which division players finished in, they received an exclusive helmet that could be worn in-game to showcase their achievement.

With Sledgehammer Games in charge of development for Vanguard, there has never been a better opportunity to elevate Call of Duty’s competitive playlist to even greater heights with some new innovations that will surpass the success of World War 2.


New Innovations


The foundations for a strong competitive playlist are already there from World War 2, and with the addition of a few simple additions and innovations, Vanguard’s ranked playlist could easily be one of the very best features within the entire game. 


The difference between queuing up on your own and battling it out as a team of four is staggering, and the addition of two separate ladders for solo and teams of four would be a great way to enable individual players and teams to compete against the best. More often than not, playing as a party of one often means you’ll run into teammates that don’t communicate, leaving you little to no chance of picking up a win. Separate ladders to cater for most competitive Call of Duty parties would certainly be a step in the right direction. Sledgehammer Games did a great job in terms of creating unique and exclusive in-game rewards that reflected where players had placed during the previous season. This can go one step further with players being rewarded an exclusive weapon camouflage. Not only does it stand out from the crowd, but it also generates interest from the casual players who will be curious as to how to get hold of such a unique cosmetic item.


Another innovation that could take Vanguard’s ranked playlist to new heights is the addition of a playoff bracket at the end of a regular season. For example, the top 32 players in Master are drawn into eight teams of four and placed into a single-elimination bracket. Depending on their placement in the bracket, even more, exclusive cosmetics could be up for grabs alongside tens of thousands of XP points, rather than being awarded pointless gems that hardly benefit the competitive experience, adding a further element of competition that bears some resemblance to the top level of competition.

Correct Rules, All The Time

While this may seem like a straightforward request for a playlist designed to replicate what the professional players are using, Black Ops Cold War’s take on a ranked playlist has seemingly ignored the current rules and unofficial gentlemen’s agreements that have been put in place to create the most competitive iteration of the game. Ensuring and maintaining that exactly the same rules and settings are being used at all times is essential if Sledgehammer Games is to feature a functional competitive playlist in WWII: Vanguard.

Despite their restriction in competitive Black Ops Cold War matches, players are still able to run around the map using smoke grenades and sniper rifles, much to the annoyance of those looking for the best competitive experience available. 

If the developers listen to the fairly small demands of the competitive community, there is every possibility that the competitive playlist for WWII: Vanguard will be the best the franchise has ever seen. Who knows, if it’s that good, the same structure and features could be implemented in the following titles to keep some kind of familiarity. One thing is for certain, Sledgehammer has to avoid the catastrophic failings of Black Ops Cold War’s League Play for it to be a success, and if it keeps to what has already proved successful, Vanguard could be an excellent competitive title.


Images via Activision

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