It took a while, but Activision is finally bringing its massively popular first-person shooter series Call of Duty to mobile devices.
The game, which is simply titled Call of Duty: Mobile, aims to offer the full Call of Duty multiplayer experience on your smartphone. If my hands-on time with the game at E3 2019 is any indication, Activision and developer Timi (a division of Tencent) have found great success in doing so this far.
To start, the biggest takeaway from my Call of Duty: Mobile demo is the fact that the game offers a litany of options, both in terms of settings and content.
From the get-go, you’re able to choose between a ‘Simple’ or ‘Advanced’ control setting — both of which make the mobile shooting experience much smoother. The former option allows for automatic fire when the crosshair focuses on an enemy, while the latter scheme requires full manual firing.
Simple Mode makes it easy for even the most casual mobile gamers to jump in. At the same time, Advanced Mode is more precise once you get the hang of things. You’ll even be able to select gun-specific shooting settings like hip firing for shotguns and aim down sight (ADS) for assault rifles.
At the same time, the HUD — which features controls for the likes of crouching, going prone, jumping, guns and grenades — can be fully customized to display digital buttons in your preferred spot on the screen.
All of these options make for a satisfying translation of the slick and responsive controls found in a mainline Call of Duty game. I was able to quickly get accustomed to these mobile controls (in my case, on an iPhone X) and rack up kill streaks against my fellow members of the press.
In terms of content, Call of Duty: Mobile offers three types of game modes: Multiplayer, Battle Royale and a third, yet-to-be-confirmed option.
In Multiplayer, you’ll be able to take part in a collection of classic Call of Duty modes like Team Deathmatch, Search and Destroy and Free-For-All. These are spread out across returning Call of Duty maps like Crossfire (Modern Warfare), Standoff (Black Ops II), Crash (Modern Warfare) and Firing Range (Black Ops). Meanwhile, characters like Black Ops‘ Alex Mason, Ghosts‘ Thomas A. Merrick and Modern Warfare‘s Soap MacTavish are playable once you unlock them.
As you play, you’ll level up and open up new gear for further loadout customization. For the purposes of our demo, we had higher-level characters with top-notch gear equipped, but a brief perusal of the loadout screen showed a solid assortment of classes, guns, abilities and other perks. Being able to swap out between these loadouts in between deaths had me racking up killstreaks on Nuketown in no time.
We didn’t get to try out Battle Royale, although it seems to be a similar well-fleshed out mode. Rather than copy and paste Black Ops 4‘s Blackout mode, Activision has instead opted to build a mobile battle royale experience from the ground up. The mode features six different classes, ranging from the stealthy Ninja to the crafty Mechanic. The most notable aspect, though, is that the map is actually bigger than Blackout’s and is made up of an assortment of areas from other Call of Duty games like Modern Warfare and Black Ops.
Indeed, because Call of Duty: Mobile isn’t tied to a specific subseries like Modern Warfare or Black Ops, the game is also able to feature content from numerous entries in the franchise. In taking this approach, Activision has smartly made Call of Duty: Mobile feel like a ‘Greatest Hits’ collection of the series, which will surely make it appealing to hardcore players.
What’s more, this is before factoring in Call of Duty: Mobile‘s third mode, which is all but confirmed to be a take on Call of Duty‘s fan-favourite ‘Zombies’ mode. In addition to teasing Zombies in marketing material, the tutorial demo we were shown featured a greyed out picture of the mode sporting what appeared to be an undead creature. When asked about this, Activision representatives simply smirked and said there will be “more to come.”
Beyond Zombies, the biggest question mark surrounding this game pertains to its monetization options. Activision says it isn’t yet ready to dive into specifics, although Call of Duty: Mobile will be able to use real money to purchase the in-game Fortnite-inspired ‘Battle Pass,’ which offers rewards for completing challenges. Hopefully, that’s the extent of the microtransactions, or at the very least, any additional monetization methods don’t end up being intrusive or even game-breaking.
As it stands, I’m excited to pick up and play a few matches here and there in Call of Duty: Mobile. The game offers an entertaining and largely faithful mobile version of the classic shooter franchise, as well as the appeal of the easy pick-and-up-play nature of a smartphone game.
All that’s left is to wait for the game’s release. So far, Mobile has released in beta in Australia and India, with Activision promising a rollout to North America “very soon.” Final launch details weren’t confirmed, although Activision says it’s aiming for Canada and the U.S. be included in the initial rollout markets.
In the meantime, pre-registration for Call of Duty: Mobile is available in the Google Play Store. The game is also set to release on iOS.