Review: Call of Duty Mobile

This game should not be good. It’s a FPS on a phone that has no controller support. It’s also a downgrade from basically any Call of Duty that you can play on console. Despite all of this, Call of Duty Mobile is the most fun I’ve had playing a Call of Duty game in years, and is some how one of the best feeling Call of Duties to play. It’s crazy, I know.

First things first. This game is good. It just works. I’ve been looking forward to Call of Duty Mobile since it was announced, but it was mainly just to see if it was possible to make COD work on a phone. With the success of Fortnite and PUBG Mobile, I had hope. Tencent did not disappoint. COD Mobile is one of the best, if not the best, shooter that you can play on a phone, and it is completely free.

The elephant in the room is, of course, microtransactions. I haven’t spent any money on the game, and I don’t like that has impacted my experience at all. I don’t have all of the cool “skins” and emotes, but I still have the guns. You are given lots of ways of upgrading your loadout, guns, and really everything else. You can pay for these upgrades, or you can earn them by leveling up. When leveling up, which you do by getting kills and winning matches, you are giving cards that you can use to level up you guns. Each card is given a color, and therefore a different value towards leveling up your gear. I so far haven’t had any trouble getting all of my weapons to full level by just simply playing the game. You rank/level up your character by playing the game, then use the rewards to level up your gear. It’s clearly designed to get you to pay money, but it seems a lot less predatory than what many retail games are doing right now.

You can buy guns, but it seems that guns are somewhat restricted to level. As you rank/level up your character, better guns become available to you. Better guns do give you an advantage, but it’s mostly about skill. A good gun can’t help you if you don’t know how to use it, so it doesn’t matter all that much if you are playing against people who have paid for their loadout while your using stock weapons.

COD Mobile has multiple game modes, with more to come. A zombie mode is in the works, but isn’t currently available. What is available is standard multiplayer, ranked play, and battle royale. In battle royale, you can either play in 1st or 3rd person, which feels really weird for COD, but it’s nearly identical to Blackout. I believe the map is even the same, just downgraded for your phone. As for standard and ranked play, you have team death match, domination, free-for-all, hard point, and frontline, with ranked play being restricted to team deathmatch and domination. There are also party modes like gun game, but they seem to be rotated out every so often. Along with the modes, COD Mobile has 7 maps. 3 from COD 4: Modern Warfare, which are Crash, Crossfire, and Kill House. 3 from Black Ops, which are Firing Range, Hijacked, and Nuketown, and just 1 from Black Ops 2, which is stand off. I don’t know if there will be anymore maps added, but these are some pretty good maps to get for free. It map was remade from the ground up, and for the most part, they look and feel just like they did in their games.

Now, for the gameplay. COD Mobile plays like a dream, but it is a little awkward at first. Before jumping into multiplayer, the game runs you through a tutorial. Besides teaching you how to play, it gives lots of time to get used to the feel of the game. Controls are also customizable. Everything from sensitivity, button location, and even the size of the buttons can be changed. There are also multiple control options, as well. The game starts you off with auto shoot, which fires your gun once you have your cross hairs on an enemy long enough. I opted for a manual approach. My current control scheme has auto-sprint on, button tap firing, and auto aim down sights. This is what works best with me, but you can configure the controls for what best suits you. I have yet to have a problem lining up shots or getting kills, but close quarters combat can be quite frantic. Turning with touch controls is both too fast and too slow, so anything that’s too close becomes a mess real quick. This isn’t too big of a problem, as most combat encounters happen within a reasonable distance.

I do have some complaints though. The shooting in COD Mobile is amazing. The gun play is some of the best in the series, and I mean that. This is one of the best feeling COD’s out there, and it’s nuts because it’s on a phone. However, when you want to do anything other than run or shoot, you run into problems. It felt weird to shoot with my thumb, at first, but I was able to overcome that in no time. Everything still feels awkward as all hell. I’m never able to knife or use grenades effectively. The buttons are either too small, or just not in the right place, no matter where I move them. This extends to crouching and jumping as well. The reason it feels so awkward has to do with the thumb you use to shoot is also the thumb you use to hit all the other buttons. I have to actively think about doing simple things like crouching or jumping, all because I have to take my thumb off of the fire button. This is the reason I have auto aim down sights. When using a controller or keyboard, you don’t have this problem. It also doesn’t feel right to take your thumb off the fire button. This isn’t because I’ve gotten used to shooting with my thumb, rather it’s the fact that it leaves me defenseless. If I’m hitting a button with my thumb, then I can’t shoot if someone runs up on me. This leaves me, as well as the many people I’ve played with, just not using the other controls. Grenades are thrown here and there, but they’re never accurate. No one ever crouches or goes prone, outside of a few rare occasions. It just doesn’t feel right.

Outside of some secondary control issues, Call of Duty Mobile is the surprise of the year. It’s neither predatory nor hard to play. Hell, it plays better than some FPS’s I’ve played on consoles, and that’s the reason I keep coming back to it everyday. The minor problems that Call of Duty Mobile has can be fixed, so there’s hope that what’s essentially a near perfect mobile FPS experience can achieve perfection. It’s quite possible that Call of Duty Mobile outshines its console brothers for years to come, and could even become a sensation like Fortnite. Only time will tell. If you have a phone and some free time, I highly recommend Call of Duty Mobile

4.5 out of 5