Nostalgia is a powerful motivator, especially in gaming. Having the ability to relive an old moment or a game you’ve already played into the ground years later, be it because of a “remaster” or a simple re-launch, reminds you of simpler times. And game devs seem keenly aware of that fact, as games like World of Warcraft: Classic and a new Doom title are both a thing in the year 2019. There’s one game I never expected to feel nostalgic about, though, and that game is Call of Duty.
I haven’t regularly played a Call of Duty title since the first Black Ops, having fallen out of love with the series in the Black Ops 2/Modern Warfare 3 era due to repeated mechanics and lack of innovation. And since then, I’ve had no interest. I’ve watched from afar as friends around the industry get excited for games like Black Ops 4, Advanced Warfare, and whatever other jetpack-wielding titles have come out over the years. I don’t think the series is bad. Far from it, in fact, and I recognize the cultural impact its had as king of first-person-shooters for over a decade. It’s just not for me anymore, that’s all.
Because of that, when Activision and Tencent announced a mobile version of Call of Duty, aptly named Call of Duty: Mobile, my response was a grunt and an eye roll. “Great,” I remember thinking, “Another generic battle royale on mobile.” While Call of Duty: Mobile does include a generic battle royale mode, that’s only a small part of the game. On the whole, I’m surprised to find that I’m enjoying the game quite a bit. I play it in my free time, when I get home from work, and the nostalgia I feel from trouncing around Nuketown and Firing Range while wielding my trusty UMP fills me with all the warm fuzzies I never thought a game like this would make me feel. All of the old game modes I used to play are here, too, like Team Deathmatch, Domination, and my personal favorite, Search and Destroy.
“I’m not like other mobile games”
The nostalgia isn’t just fueled by the game’s content, either. Surprisingly, it even plays like the old Call of Duty games I remember, with some subtle differences. Instead of a massive list of killstreaks, for example, there’s a simplified list of three, but they’re all things I remember. The predator missile, the UAV: It’s all the same. I even get to play as Ghost. But there’s more to it than just that. I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I haven’t enjoyed a Call of Duty title in years, but I’m also incredibly picky when it comes to mobile games in general. I just don’t like gaming on my phone, be it because controls are too simple, graphics are too poor, or the slew of microtransactions—there’s always something that stops me from enjoying a game on my phone, with few exceptions (any Stardew Valley and Old School Runescape fans in the house?).
This is, by far, my favorite part of the game. I can still precisely aim down the sights, which is what I’ve always been used to in CoD titles, without slowing down my moving, crouching, or turning. My only complaint about the controls so far is that the crouch button does seem a bit touchy. I’ve accidentally drop-shotted a few poor souls because of that fact, and I did feel gross after doing so.
So while “not like other mobile games” is a trope in the gaming industry, it’s true in this case, and I have to respect the devs for that fact. This game really just feels like an old Call of Duty multiplayer mode transposed onto a mobile device. It’s smooth, doesn’t feel awkward, and it looks good.
We’ll just ignore the fact that it has a battle royale mode for now, because I’m worried that as soon as I play it, I might uninstall the app. I’m really, really sick of battle royale games.