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What’s to Love About ‘Call of Duty Mobile’

No one expected Call of Duty: Mobile to be a good game. Hell, no one expected it to be a playable game, but expectations can be subverted, and this is a beautiful example of that. The game feels… right. The game plays well, and to many feels like the Call of Duty they grew up with, hailing back to the days of Black Ops or Black Ops 2.

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The gameplay is basic, but within this simplicity is something enjoyable. The elements of games like Advanced Warfare or Black Ops 3 are gone, with simple boots-on-the-ground combat accented by mobile usability. In this version of the game, there are two ways to play. The default style of play is very basic: When you’re aiming at an enemy for long enough (It is a rather short delay) you will automatically open fire. The alternative to this is a manual fire mode, which gives you additional buttons on screen to shoot at your enemies. This can also be swapped out for a controller, if you really feel the need to just terrorize mobile gamers like that and are willing to put in the extra effort. One of the first updates to the game disabled controller support for most standard controllers, but if you have specific mobile gaming controllers that are connected to on-screen buttons, it might still be possible.

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One of the staples of Call of Duty, going back to World at War, is the Zombies Mode. The gamemode returns in CoD: Mobile. At the time of writing, Shi No Numa is the only zombies map, but there are two ways to play. If you want the classic experience of racking up countless rounds in an endless battle against the undead hordes, you can play Classic Mode. If you’re more interested in a set experience, there is the Raid Mode. Each mode has two difficulties, Classic has Normal and Hardcore, while Raid has Normal and Heroic. The Raid Mode is a unique experience for Zombies. Instead of endless combat, you fight against a set amount of waves before facing off against a boss: The Abomination. For all you Easter Egg hunters out there, there are secrets to be found in Shi No Numa, but only if you’re playing in Hardcore Classic Mode.

Outside of traditional CoD  gameplay, the Battle Royale gamemode has a nice overall feel to it, with a class system that reminds me of Realm Royale without being too overbearing. It gives you a few classes to work with, and none are inherently stronger than any other once you’ve gotten the hang of them. Outside of that, the gameplay is standard battle royale. There are 100 players, random weapons, and all that fun stuff. If you’ve played Black Ops 4’s Blackout BR mode, you’ll recognize some things like Bosses that are hidden across the map.

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Of course, there’s a lot to love. We’ve talked about excellent gameplay and reasonable mechanical systems, but there is one thing we just can’t gloss over: Monetization. Even for a mobile game, Call of Duty: Mobile has some of the worst monetization on the market. The purchase economy is much lower than many industry averages, with $1 only coming out to 80 COD Points instead of the usual $1-10 or $1-100 ratio. Furthermore, there are perks on weapons that can be bought with COD Points. These perks aren’t life-altering levels of powerful, but they’re not things you can easily earn for free.

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COD Points are the paid currency, but the other main currency in the game are the free Credits. Earning Credits is about as slow as you’d expect, with some estimates coming out to suggest around 200 hours of solid playtime to earn enough credits for a single cosmetic. It isn’t a good system. It isn’t even passable as a remotely reasonable system, but it remains mostly unchanged in terms of gameplay. If people want to spend impossibly large amounts of money to earn an incredibly minute and practically meaningless bonus, they can do that. Unlike some pay-to-win systems, it isn’t a replacement for skill.

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One more aspect of the Monetization is the Battle Pass. It is a fairly standard Battle Pass on all accounts. It costs 2000 COD Points to buy, but you only earn back 800. There are 200 Tiers, but Tier 100 is the last actual reward; the next 100 Tiers are Battle Pass Crates, loot boxes you earn periodically throughout the pass. You earn special skins, which have special perks, but circling back to the perks, they are far from game changing. The majority of the Battle Pass is cosmetic, so unless you want to look your sharpest, the Battle Pass won’t be a life-changing purchase.

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Putting the negatives aside, I find it easy to enjoy the game. It has the simple enjoyment of Call of Duty without the need to have a console or PC. The game is graphically challenging for some mobile devices, but for others it runs with no problem. The biggest gripe I personally have with the game has nothing to do with monetization, but rather privacy. The game was developed by TenCent and their TiMi studio, companies I do not trust with my personal information in the slightest. It’s always in the back of my mind while playing, but I often find myself more focused on securing kills than what TenCent is doing with my data.