In 2003, the world was introduced to a plucky, first-person World War II shooter by the name of Call of Duty. In the 16 years following the initial release, the historically accurate, gritty shooter underwent a number of transformations; exploring different eras of conflict as well as different play styles. This year, the game returns to the playstyle that made it an industry darling on console, and gifts Android users with a way to enjoy Call of Duty’s competitive multiplayer on mobile.
Upon first entering the game, players will complete a brief but purposeful tutorial. First-person games have different ways of tackling the issue of movement, aiming and shooting on mobile. COD’s solution to this is the most intuitive in recent memory. The left side of the screen controls movement while the right side of the screen controls aim. Aiming down sights and firing are combined into one button, or can be toggled to happen independently. Players are also able to crouch, jump, slide and mantle objects.
War Is Never Outmoded
Currently, two gameplay modes are available: PvP multiplayer or squad-based battle royale. Multiplayer contains several game modes including team deathmatch, domination (similar to capture the flag), search and destroy as well as a new mode for the franchise called frontline. Frontline is the most intriguing option available in the multiplayer suite. The mode crams two teams into small maps that feature two or three direct lanes, making action fast and frenetic.
Battle royale retains the core standards of PUBG and Fortnite. Players move towards the center of an expansive map, scavenging weapons, armor and upgrades as skirmishes with other players occur. Call of Duty’s twists on Battle Royale are strange, but don’t corrupt the newly popular formula. Players select classes upon loadout that offer exclusive perks like the ability to move silently or summon a horde of zombies to attack opponents. Like in Apex Legends, squads have the ability to revive fallen teammates via picking up their dog tags.
Number One with A Bullet
Developed by Tencent Games and Timi Studios, Call of Duty on mobile pulls no punches with its presentation. Menus and loading screens glimmer and breathe. Weapons reflect overhead lighting. Scopes show precise detail. Muzzle flash is inconsistent, particularly on killcams, but that’s a mistake that even Hollywood blockbusters make.
Audio is effective as well, gunfire and footsteps punctuate each map as players near and far rush into battle. Music is evocative of previous entries in the franchise. Though the soundtrack isn’t particularly memorable, the horns and strings set the tone of the game.
Possibly the best feature of the Activision mobile title is the maps. The developers had hundreds of multiplayer maps to draw on and made shrewd choices in which ones to recreate. Nuketown, Crash, Killhouse and other favorites return on mobile, softening the blow of the low map count.
At the time of writing, in-game advertisements for player spending options insert themselves into nearly every screen of the game. Each login requires players to click past three ads and the market for currency earned in-game places an almost impossible premium on items. Though leveling rewards are generous and come often, items not offered in player progression will require players to fork over currency earned from dozens of successful matches. Perhaps most offensively, rewards earned through events or loot boxes are always accompanied by a view of many more items the player could earn if they had purchased the season pass. Many weapons unlock solely via microtransactions, none of them over power the standard weapons available, but they do limit non-paying players armories.
The Ticker Tape Parade
Call of Duty on mobile plays like a greatest hits of the established franchise. Newcomers will likely find the core gameplay easy to learn and veterans of the Modern Warfare era of the game’s history will be rewarded with the features they enjoyed the most.
Though options for microtransactions lurk behind every menu, they don’t wall off features, maps or other important elements of the game… yet. The core gameplay loop that made Call of Duty one of the most beloved action games of the current century remains intact. Beautifully translated to mobile devices, COD on Android proves itself an absolute joy for shooter fans.
Call of Duty on Android combines the best parts of the established franchise with an intuitive translation of the first-person shooting formula on mobile. Although the game’s microtransaction advertising is aggressive, players don’t have to shell out cash to enjoy the adrenaline rush of an excellent entry in the franchise.