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CoD Mobile Review: & the Problem with Activision

100 million.

That’s how many times Call of Duty: Mobile was downloaded within its first week of launch. Way more than Red Dead Redemption 2 and GTA V combined. (Granted that CoD Mobile has the advantage of being free to play and on a device that everyone owns in 2019.) For a mobile game, it is a historic feat. 

I have had my hands on this game for more than a week. This has given me a general feel for most of the game at this point. Plus I’m an experienced player of the developer Tencent’s previous mobile FPS: Pubg Mobile. This set the bar pretty high for CoD, so I was eager to see how it would turn out. My initial impressions?

Awesome.

Opening Screen of the game

SPECS

The successor to CoD Online, the Chinese PC variation of the popular franchise, the game boasts of a variety of iconic maps and guns from titles over the past decade. The game features an engine similar to PubgM. This is to say that the gunplay is smooth. The mechanics have been tweaked to suit the classic run and gun style that CoD is known for. This works phenomenally well. The controls are easy to pick up, even for a limited mobility input device like a touch screen. The audio is fantastic for a mobile game. Headphone are crucial parting of separating the average casual to a seasoned veteran.

Content 

Call of Duty Mobile features a gargantuan cache of gameplay-related features to explore. Alongside the classic multiplayer, the game also features a fully fledged Battle-Royale and soon will be home to a Zombies expansion as well. The number of weapons in-game are impressive as well, and the customisability will keep you occupied for a long time. 

Some of the iconic guns in the game

Battle Royale 

In this aspect CoDM disappointed me. But that’s not the fault of the game itself. I tend to enjoy a slow, tactical Battle Royale, like Pubg, which I have tons of experience in. CoD takes the concept and gives it a faster, more chaotic, arcade feeling. This makes the game feel more exciting at the cost of IQ points required to win. If you’re a fan of Fortnite, Apex, and even Blackout, you might enjoy this BR. Out of personal preference, I wouldn’t play this part of the game unless I have nothing to do.

Some constructive criticism

No game is perfect, least of all a free to play mobile game. Say goodbye to your battery life, because this game is a major parasite for power. Aside from that, the only real thing holding this game down is the lack of bluetooth controller support. While it has been rumoured to come later on, the game would be infinitely more enjoyable to play with a controller and its success could possible start competing and outpacing several AAA console games. 

Battle Royale mode

Overall I have been delighted by this game. I realise that Mobile gaming isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’d rather spend all your money on a quality phone or tablet, instead of pouring it into a PS4 pro, I’d say give it a shot. 

There. Review over. You can click away now.

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Still here?

Fair enough. Allow me to take this time out to rant about Activision, the Scrooge of a corporation responsible for every other Call of Duty you know and love. Over the past few years, the games have severely dipped in quality, and much of it is in part of its annual-release business model. Each year they sell a half baked game, each title missing something or the other crucial, which is then added months later in still poor quality. CoD Mobile had ranked play at launch, whereas it took Black Ops4 several months to add something that was once a staple to the franchise. 

Screengrab from one of the games

Another aspect is their post launch greed. Black Ops4 (the last title to be released) was generally liked by the community, and it had very little micro-transactions (MTX) in game. But once December passed, and everyone had bought that game for Christmas, they cashed in. By locking more and more content behind supply drops, Activision ensured that only the ones willing to spend more money on top of the 60$ game would get the new content. This kind of behaviour was something usually relegated to free to play games, like CoD mobile. The fact CoDM is better-balanced gameplay-wise and fairer to consumers than BO4 is a slap in the face to long time fans and anyone who spent money on the game. 

This cycle has repeated itself for years. But this is Activision’s last chance. In a week Modern Warfare releases. It is expected to sell extremely well purely based on the name-brand alone. But if the cycle continues, it might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Long time fans are tired. Activision needs to make sure the game is complete and consumer friendly. Otherwise this struggling brand might just be taken over by Tencent’s pocket-friendly beast. 

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