Back in high school, I used to play mobile games all the time. I would sit on my bus ride home in the hot Florida sun and play Doodle Jump, Temple Run, Angry Birds, you name it. I remember, however, after months of those games, I got bored. I wanted console-level experiences on the go, something which was eventually realized by the PlayStation Vita and refined by the Nintendo Switch. Boy, have we come a long way since those days.
Back then, we had Call of Duty: Zombies for iOS devices. While it was fun and offered some of the best maps from the Zombies franchise, it never really felt like an authentic Call of Duty game. It felt like some third-party rip-off that was trying to capitalize on the Zombies craze. Now, Activision has once again dipped their toes into the mobile space with the appropriately named Call of Duty: Mobile and holy hell have they hit it out of the park. Not only does this feel like it’s worthy of the Call of Duty name, but it feels like a full-fledged Call of Duty game.
With Call of Duty: Mobile, players get access to two modes at launch. On the multiplayer front, the game offers the same experience that players are used to on consoles but in a smaller fashion. For example, Team Deathmatch, Search and Destroy, Domination, and Frontline all make appearances in the mobile game, but they’ve been shortened down so users don’t have to spend 10 minutes in each match. For example, in TDM, the score limit has been reduced from the general 75 or 100 to only 40. This means that matches can end in as quickly as 4 minutes, which is perfect for a Call of Duty game on the go.
Players also have access to the full suite of create-a-class options, including primary and secondary weapons, lethal and tactical grenades, perks, attachments. TiMi Studios and Activision didn’t skimp out when it comes to content in this game, and I’m certainly willing to give credit where credit is due on that front.
In addition to create-a-class, the game includes 9 maps at launch, and they are all from previous Call of Duty games: 3 from Modern Warfare (2007), 2 from Black Ops, and 4 from Black Ops 2. I’m a little disappointed that we don’t have anything from Modern Warfare 2 (aka the best Call of Duty game), but for launch, it’s a pretty good lineup and I know that Activision is planning on supporting the game in the months to come. Just please add Rust, Estate, and other maps from Modern Warfare 2.
So right off the bat, you have a fantastic multiplayer experience. That alone would be worth the free download, but then Activision decided to include a Battle Royale mode, and oh man, it is a ton of fun. Am I willing to say that it’s amazing? No, nor am I ready to say that it does anything innovative. But it’s fun, and sometimes that’s all you need from a game.
As I stated in my E3 preview, this isn’t Blackout from Black Ops 4. This is an entirely new map and gameplay, although it feels like there is some inspiration from both Blackout and Apex Legends. For example, in this Battle Royale, players can choose different classes that have different abilities, similar to the heroes in Apex Legends. These classes give players one tool and one perk. In my experience, I like to choose Ninja, because it grants you a grappling hook and the Dead Silence perk.
After that, players are dropped into a world made up of Black Ops and Modern Warfare locations, in addition to original areas made for the mode.
All in all, the map size feels similar to the one in Blackout, but as I said before, it’s not the same map, beyond some clear inspirations. For example, in both games, Nuketown is located on an island on the left side of the map, but the size of the island is different across both titles. Players can fight by themselves, with one other person, or in a group of four. Also, players can choose to play in both first-person and third-person in this mode. I tried it in third-person and, frankly, I didn’t like it, but it’s nice to have those options for players that do.
Call of Duty: Mobile takes the cake when it comes to its controls — they are buttery smooth. Players are given two options when it comes to controls: simple or advanced. With simple controls, players don’t have to worry about a fire button, as your gun automatically starts firing once you aim towards an enemy for a second or two. This means players can focus mainly on movement and jumping, and in the fast-paced world of Call of Duty, that’s sorely needed.
On the other hand, advanced controls allow players to choose when exactly they want to fire, without any delay. On top of that, players who select advanced controls can customize their screens by moving buttons wherever they like. I like the simple controls the most, but some might enjoy the more advanced controls. I don’t think it comes down to an “easy or hard mode” comparison; it just comes down to personal preference.
I’m saying a lot of good things about this game, but there are things that I would change and add to it. First and foremost, we need controller support. At E3, the developers told me that it was something they were looking in to. Fast forward to right before launch, and controller support was added for a brief moment before being taken out right before the game hit the App Store. Right now, it’s my biggest complaint about Call of Duty: Mobile. Being able to play with a DualShock 4 would be amazing. Now, does that mean I would take my controller with me wherever I go in order to play that way? Probably not. But, given how many choices this game gives you, it would be nice if we had the opportunity to play with a controller rather than a touchscreen.
Another thing to note is the game’s microtransactions. Unlike recent Call of Duty titles, Mobile has microtransactions and COD Points as a part of the experience right from the start. That being said, they don’t seem to be terribly intrusive/pay-to-win, but there are still problems. Right now, players can spend COD points on different variants of guns that can be earned by leveling up. That in-and-of-itself seems harmless, but the issue is that you can buy and unlock these variants before you level up and unlock the gun itself. This essentially means you can buy these certain guns before you can earn them.
Still, you can’t buy every gun before you unlock it. There are a good handful of guns that you can only unlock through gameplay but being able to use a gun before you earn it is a problem. Will that influence your decision to play the game? That’s up to you. In my experience, I wasn’t getting wrecked by level 1 or 2 players that were using a gun unlocked at level 70. But still, it’s worth noting.
Call of Duty: Mobile is a straight-up good time. The controls are probably the best touchscreen controls I’ve ever seen for an FPS, the game is stacked to the brim with content, and most of all, it’s addicting. When Call of Duty: Mobile launched, I spent hours playing it, which is something I didn’t expect to do with a mobile title. When I was on the bus to and from school, I found myself jumping into a TDM match and finishing up before I even reached campus. I’m shocked by how much I love this game, and I can’t wait to see what Activision adds to the FPS in the months to come.
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