Call of Duty: Mobile made its presence known during GDC 2019, and Activision has announced it will feature its own battle royale mode. The portable version of the popular shooter is coming to iOS and Android presumably this year. Despite the drop in screen size, it aims to retain all of the gameplay and production whistles of the primary games.
2019 has been an eventful, if not tumultuous, year for one of gaming’s biggest franchises. Despite a strong start last year, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has since under-performed to the point that the next game could go free-to-play. For this year’s Call of Duty, signs point to the game being a fourth Modern Warfare entry. Couple that with a possible remaster of Modern Warfare 2’s campaign, and fans could be looking at getting three games this year alone. Somehow 2020’s Call of Duty game is already making headlines for reportedly skipping Sledgehammer’s turn at the series in favor of Treyarch developing a potentially rushed Black Ops 5.
Activision’s blog post goes into lengthy detail about what Call of Duty: Mobile’s battle royale entails. First, it will be its own animal similar to, but ultimately independent from, Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode. 100 players duke it out in singles, doubles, or four-player squads (these playlists are currently being tested). The game presents six character classes to choose from. Defenders drop transforming shields for protection. The Mechanic utilizes an EMP drone that disrupts enemies with electromagnetic interference. Scouts can see hostile footprints and use a sensor dart to reveal their map positions. Medics build medical stations that provide continuous healing for allies. Ninjas have grappling guns which make their map movement effective. Finally, the more bizarre Clown class drops Toy Bombs that summon zombies to swarm nearby foes.
Matches can be played in first- or third-person perspective. Rounds begin with players selecting their classes and loadouts, and Call of Duty: Mobile wisely aims to streamline this process for speedier onboarding. The single, large map boasts a range of topography features from hills to rivers to bridges. It also sprinkles in many familiar sights from previous Call of Duty games like the Nuketown suburbs, Black Ops 4’s seaside coast, and the estate from Modern Warfare 2.
Matches play out as expected with players wing-suiting in from above, scrambling for loot below, and navigating the ever-shrinking map circle. An auto-gather mechanic instantly assigns the best equipment; however, players can still equip items manually if they so choose. Doors open automatically by stepping towards them, and grappling hooks litter the map for quickly zipping around. The vehicle roster features ATV’s, SUV’s, light helicopters, and tactical rafts for additional traversal options. When teammates bite the dust, they can be revived by collecting their fallen dog tags.
Activision states that battle royale is only one of the modes coming to Call of Duty: Mobile. Interested fans in select regions, including North and South America, Europe, and China, can now pre-register to gain access to an impending public beta. Additional regional beta tests will begin in various territories in the coming months.
Fortnite and PUBG have thrived on mobile so there’s little reason to believe a recognizable brand like Call of Duty can’t have similar success. Cost and general monetization still needs to be clarified, however. Doing anything less than free-to-play would likely be an immediate death blow given Black Ops 4’s decline. If nothing else, Call of Duty: Mobile should serve as an interesting result of whatever lessons Activision has learned in the last year.