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‘Call of Duty: Mobile’ Combines Best Parts of ‘Black Ops,’ ‘Modern Warfare’

“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” won’t be the only game in the military shooter franchise releasing later this year. Activision, in collaboration with Tencent’s Timi studio, is also working on “Call of Duty: Mobile,” a free-to-play multiplayer game that’s coming to iOS and Android.

At this year’s E3 in Los Angeles, Activision showed off a new demo of “Call of Duty: Mobile.” Though my time with the game was brief, it felt a lot like a bite-sized version of the frantic experience found on consoles and PC. Combat was still quick and — due to my slow reaction times — very painful. As you level up your character, you can unlock new weapons, scorestreaks, and gun attachments for your loadout.

According to Activision VP of mobile Chris Plummer, that was the goal: to create a mobile “Call of Duty” that still felt familiar and authentic to longtime fans.

“If you’ve played ‘Call of Duty’ in the past, our signature multiplayer modes are featured prominently in the game. Whether it’s Domination or [Team Deathmatch], all the classics are there,” Plummer said in the meeting. “We think this is pretty fresh in the landscape right now. The mobile shooters out there have certain modes they’re focused on, and we’re trying to provide even more than that.”

To accomplish this feat, the development team decided to make “Call of Duty: Mobile” kind of like a greatest hits version of the series. That’s why you’ll find fan-favorite maps — like Killhouse and Nuketown — from the “Black Ops” and “Modern Warfare” games. Tencent rebuilt these maps from the ground-up for “Call of Duty: Mobile,” working with Activision to make sure that they matched their triple-A counterparts.

One of our deathmatch battles happened on Hijacked, a map that takes place on a giant yacht at sea. I was impressed with how closely it resembled the original Hijacked from “Black Ops II” — nothing looked out of place. So if you’re already familiar with these older maps and their layouts, you’ll have a big advantage over people who are just playing on them for the first time.

Where “Call of Duty: Mobile” differs from other franchise entries is in its 100-player last-man-standing Battle Royale mode. Battle Royale has a completely different map from what Treyarch made for “Black Ops IV’s” Blackout mode. It stitches together other familiar locations in one huge land mass, including Crash, Overgrown, and Firing Range.

Unlike Blackout, you also have the option of playing either in first-person or third-person (you’ll only be matched with players who choose the same point of view). The Battle Royale mode appears to be Activision’s answer to the mobile versions of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which both bring in a lot of money.

The company wasn’t ready to discuss how microtransactions will work in “Call of Duty: Mobile” yet, but it said they’d be similar to other free-to-play shooters on phones and tablets.

“We studied a lot on what’s been working and what hasn’t in the [mobile] space. In the last few years, there’s been a kind of cultural phenomenon that started to train people up on some of the basics of how a mobile shooter works,” Plummer said. “And we’re just trying to improve on that, things like firing modes, movement speed, [and] weapon-feel. I think a big part of ‘Call of Duty’ is the weapon feel, and we’ve spent a lot of time on that.”

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