Call it a basic or an uninventive series if you want, but I've been a Call of Duty fan for years. I remember putting hours into Call of Duty 2: Big Red One on my PlayStation 2, with that introduction to the series leading me to keep playing every new entry following that. I remember getting giddy the first time I played zombies in World at War, freaking out when I discovered you could get out of the chair on the menu screen for Black Ops, and yelling at my TV with tears in my eyes during the "Loose Ends" mission in Modern Warfare 2 (you know the one I'm talking about).
Call of Duty has been and continues to be one of my favorite video game series, but as I've grown older and have less time to dedicate to playing games in front of my TV, my gaming sessions have gotten a lot less frequent than I'd like.
When Call of Duty: Mobile was announced, I was initially apprehensive about the title. As much fun as I have with Call of Duty on my Xbox One and PS4, I've never been someone that enjoys mobile games. I've never found a mobile game to be as engaging or entertaining as something I can play on my consoles, with them always feeling like a more hollowed-out and shallow experience. I know there are developers out there that work tirelessly on mobile games that a lot of people really enjoy, and if you're someone that does enjoy gaming on your phone, that's awesome. I say this not to bash mobile games, but more to paint the picture that it just isn't something that's ever clicked for me.
I downloaded Call of Duty: Mobile the day it came out in the United States back in October 2019, and surprisingly, I've kept playing it ever since. Yes, parts of the experience are quite different from CoD on a console or PC, but the core gameplay is as authentically Call of Duty as I could have dreamed of.
Leading up to Call of Duty: Mobile, one of my biggest concerns was with the controls. Of the few FPS mobile games I've played, the controls have always felt clunky and unintuitive. By some grace of God, Activision and TiMi Studios found a way to make the touchscreen controls feel shockingly good. It's easy to move your character, shooting with the Advanced Mode control layout offers ample precision by firing and aiming-down-sights with one button, and being able to move the layout of every on-screen button allows you to find a setup that works perfectly for the way you want to play. Yes, it takes some getting used to, but after a few matches, I adjusted to it just fine.
Then there are the different game modes and maps. Activision has released a couple of really solid original maps for CoD: Mobile, but the vast majority of the maps you play on are fan favorites from existing titles — a few of my personal favorites being Summit, Scrapyard, Firing Range, and Nuketown. This makes CoD: Mobile feel like a Greatest Hits version of Call of Duty, meaning I'm hit with a little dose of nostalgia every time I play. Not only is it fun to relive these legendary maps, but having access to environments I'm already familiar with definitely made CoD: Mobile easier to sink my teeth into and not feel like a completely foreign entity.
Speaking of familiarity, all of the game modes you could ask for are here. The staples of Team Deathmatch, Domination, Hardpoint, and Search & Destroy are always available, with a rotating selection of featured modes helping keep things interesting week after week. We've seen Gun Game, Prop Hunt, One Shot One Kill, and even the new 2v2 Showdown that was first introduced in Modern Warfare (2019).
Multiplayer matches are shorter compared to what you'd find on console, with Team Deathmatch only going up to a 40-kill limit and Domination declaring a winner once 100 points have been reached. This lends itself perfectly to the mobile nature of the game, allowing me to hop on my phone and play a couple of matches in the same or less time it would take me to get through one full round on console. It's a small tweak, but it makes diving into Call of Duty: Mobile that much easier and more inviting.
All of this works in CoD: Mobile's favor, making it play like a legit console game that just happened to get ported to my Pixel 4. The gunplay is as tight and fun as ever before, the graphics are pretty much on-par with last-gen consoles, and everything just plays out like any other Call of Duty game.
Sure, the constant nagging to spend money on various microtransactions is annoying, but it's easy enough to just ignore them and focus on the game itself. You can spend real money on different character and gun skins if you wish, but I've been perfectly happy not spending a dime and just enjoying the game for free.
I still prefer playing console games when I have time to after work or over the weekend, but for those times throughout the week when I just want to escape for five or ten minutes, Call of Duty: Mobile has been kind of perfect. I open the app on my phone, dive into a match, and am back in the real world in no time at all. Of course, I'd choose to play Modern Warfare (2019) over CoD: Mobile if time wasn't a concern, but when it is, there's no beating the sheer accessibility of what Mobile brings to the table.
Being able to play fully-fledged Call of Duty whenever I want to is sort of a dream come true, and especially with everything going on in the world right now, I really appreciate having something that lets me escape into a nostalgia-filled battlefield — even if it is just for a few minutes.
Jump into Nuketown whenever you want
Call of Duty: Mobile may not have the same graphical prowess as its console counterparts, but the core mechanics of the gameplay are about as good as you could ask for. This is legit CoD action that fits right in your pocket, offering robust multiplayer and battle royale modes that keep your games fun and varied. So long as you can get over the constant nag of microtransactions, this is an absolute blast.
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