Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile hands-on preview

Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile hands-on preview

It’s been over two and a half years since we first parachuted into Verdansk, but Warzone’s first map still lingers fondly in the hearts of fans. After a thrilling saga that spanned two Call of Duty games, played host to a zombie outbreak and culminated in a cataclysmic event that wiped the map off the face of the Warzone, it seemed unlikely we’d ever see it in all its glory. again. Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile has other ideas, though, and by dropping us back into a 120-player lobby version of Verdansk, it sets its sights on the ambitious task of bringing one of the most popular battle royales to mobile devices .

While Warzone 2.0 moves in a different direction, Warzone Mobile chooses to focus on refining a familiar experience for a new platform. Heading right back to the beginnings of Verdansk, it feels good to be home – it’s almost comforting to be away from old haunts like Downtown and Hospital after a long time, even if there are some compromises to be had.

To keep up the fast pace and spirited duels, Warzone Mobile implements some switchable automations to take away some of the awkwardness associated with playing a shooter on a touchscreen. Auto-fire, jump obstacles, and sprint lock are just a handful of the new options available, along with other buttons that pop up on screen to perform unwieldy interactions like climbing long flights of stairs. While there are a decent number of on-screen prompts, the UI feels intuitive and easy to understand. As someone who plays Warzone with a keyboard and mouse, I was surprised how comfortable it feels to play on a touchscreen. Adjusting to these controls takes some practice, but it feels good enough for a quick session on the go. That said, Activision is working on implementing controller support, so you don’t have to force yourself to make this change if you prefer a path.

Warzone Mobile still feels unmistakably like its older brother, and it’s encouraging to see the experience simplified and optimized for phones without losing the game’s identity. Players have the option to jump into traditional length matches, but there’s also a shorter 10 minute mode that’s perfect for those looking to dip in and out. Like Warzone’s existing rotating playlists, Warzone Mobile also supports solos, duos, trios, and quads, which are cycled in and out to keep wait times down. Basic features like the gulag and money system return untouched, but new features introduced in Warzone 2.0, such as the ability to reload midway and pause from slide-to-prone, are also making their way across. Really the only compromise is the addition of AI bots to combat long queues. However, this is quite common for online mobile games, and with the size of Warzone’s fan base, I don’t see it being too much of a problem in the long run.

Warzone Mobile will become a worthy companion for today’s Call of Duty heavy hitters.

This small version of Warzone is designed to sit alongside Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0, with cross-progression for weapons and the battle pass. This is a huge step in uniting the trio of games and great news for players considering how long it can take to unlock and level up weapons in MW2’s multiplayer modes. Instead of creating a separate set of loadouts in Warzone Mobile, players can draw on their Modern Warfare 2 guns and attachments and continue to earn XP. This works both ways, so newly unlocked items in the mobile version can then be used in MW2. For those looking to drag through the season’s Battle Pass, Warzone Mobile also lets you collect more XP, as it offers its own set of daily challenges. Plus, exclusive content is up for grabs, starting with a new operator, giving hardcore fans an incentive to take the plunge every now and then to expand their cosmetics collection.

In addition to the Battle Royale mode, Warzone Mobile launches with two classic multiplayer modes: Domination and Team Deathmatch. These 6v6 matches take place in locations lifted from Verdansk, condensing Warzone’s sweaty firefights into small arenas. As a huge fan of Call of Duty multiplayer, I found these tight levels and intense encounters mimic the frantic feel of those modes quite well. Unlike battle royale, due to its fast-paced nature, multiplayer is significantly more challenging on a touchscreen, as it’s much harder to grab onto enemies and turn quickly to react to those on my flank. However, I soon found myself comfortable with the rhythm of these rounds. Using the touchscreen to deploy killstreaks and throwables can feel a bit sluggish, but I imagine using a controller would make this experience feel much closer to what we’re used to on PC and consoles from Call of Duty . The inclusion of these traditional multiplayer modes is welcome, as it gives players a chance to adapt to some of the quirks and quality of life adjustments in a casual match before venturing into the brutal conditions of battle royale.

Overall, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen of Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile. It unites the current Call of Duty roster while also providing a map that fans will be eager to revisit. I expect it will serve as a way to top up my XP when I want to play Warzone, but I can’t dedicate it to a full session on PC. However, that is not to say that it is not a complete experience in itself. This is still a faithful version of Warzone, and I could see mobile players jumping in with a controller to get the most out of it, and when it comes down to it, I’m sure others will adapt to the touch screen and still have fun have while playing casually.

Pushing Warzone onto mobile devices is no easy feat, but Activision has managed to introduce it to the platform without compromising much on the game’s DNA. It still looks and feels very much like Warzone, with each new tweak making sure the experience translates to mobile as smoothly as possible. In a world where Warzone Caldera and Warzone 2.0 exist, I wasn’t convinced we needed another version of the game. But Warzone Mobile becomes a worthy companion for today’s Call of Duty heavy hitters, opening up its iconic battle royale map to a whole new platform of players in the process and providing a healthy dose of nostalgia for others.

Emma Matthews is IGN’s Junior Syndication Editor.

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