Working your way up the ranks in multiplayer is what makes every Call of Duty game so addicting. From the original Modern Warfare up until the newest entry, Call of Duty: Vanguard, we’ve loved seeing those ranks go up and eventually hit max level. But the developers of this juggernaut series knew that people would reach that top rank, whatever it might be, and still want more. That’s why they cleverly created a way to keep those who are always looking for the next dopamine hit of ranking up coming back for more: The prestige system.
The prestige system is core to the Call of Duty experience at this point. It has long been the ultimate mark of a player’s dedication to the game, and each game gives players a new reward for that commitment. The basic concept of how prestige works hasn’t changed too much from one entry to the next, but it had evolved quite a bit by the time we reached Call of Duty: Vanguard. If you’re interested in diving deep into the multiplayer of this game and want to know how prestige works and what you can get for achieving it, here’s a full breakdown.
The prestige system first came about with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. In this game, once you hit the highest rank in the game, you were given the choice to prestige or not. If you did, you would be reset to level 1 all over again, losing all the unlocks you had so you could earn them all again. However, you were given a special emblem that showed you had reached the highest rank and chose to start again from scratch. Not only that, but if you hit max rank again, you could enter a second prestige with a different emblem. In fact, you could do it 10 times in that first game before you hit the limit.
Since that introduction, the prestige system has evolved to have different positives and negatives to hitting prestige. No matter what, though, it always works as a sort of an end game system for players who push themselves to go above and beyond the normal ranks.
The prestige system has undergone many changes from its introduction up to Call of Duty: Vanguard, but it isn’t much different from how it was in the last game, Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War. What hasn’t changed since the beginning is that you will earn your first prestige rank once you finish ranking up from 1 to 55 and get all the weapons, attachments, and other unlocks that come with these levels. The negatives associated with hitting prestige — all your unlocks and progress being reset — haven’t been implemented in several titles now and are also not back for Call of Duty: Vanguard. Because there’s no downside, you will automatically begin the prestige system once you hit the necessary amount of XP instead of it being a choice to opt into or not.
Call of Duty: Vanguard combines your total Player level with XP you earn from both multiplayer and Zombies modes. There are 55 normal ranks to go through before hitting what they call Seasonal Levels as a replacement for Player levels. At this point, your rank will be Commander, but it will also set you at prestige rank 1. To raise your new prestige rank, you will need to level up your Season Level 50 times. For every 50 Season Levels you’re able to earn, you get one additional prestige rank, with the maximum rank being prestige rank 200.
For right now, Call of Duty: Vanguard is technically in the preseason, so things will work a little differently until the first season officially starts. However, for this preseason, we know what rewards you can earn for hitting various prestige ranks.
If you hit prestige rank 1, you will get a sticker and battle pass tier skip. Hit rank 2, which requires you to hit Season Level 50, and you get another sticker, a weapon blueprint, and a second battle pass tier skip. Prestige 3 is the highest level you get a reward for in the preseason and is just another sticker and battle pass tier skip.
Until the first season officially starts, we won’t know what prestige rewards we will get, but odds are they will look something like these preseason rewards.
The name Season Level may have tipped you off, but you can’t take your time and hit prestige rank 200 over months and months of casually playing. Every time a new season begins your Season Level will be reset, but not your prestige rank. What that means is if you hit say prestige rank 2 and are Season Level 66 when the new season starts, you’ll still be prestige rank 2, but your Season Level will drop back go 50. So, if the season is coming to an end and you’re in between prestige ranks, you’ll need to decide if you’re close enough to want to try and grind up to the next one before all that progress is lost, or accept that you will be starting over again.
Every season has a set number of prestige ranks that will be added. We start with just the three mentioned, but season 1 will have seven, and season 2 is said to have 11. Getting to the maximum prestige rank in any season will earn you a prestige master rank, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep earning Season Levels. Why would you want to? Well, once you’ve earned everything in the current season, every 50 Season Levels beyond that you earn will unlock anything from prior seasons you missed.