Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile: the series survives the transition between platforms

Oh, and we’re off into the hot zone, and with a hot phone. There’s snow on the ground in Verdansk, but after five minutes of playing the mobile version of Call of Duty Warzone this morning, my aging iPhone 11 was getting pleasantly warm. Warzone’s a beast on phones, actually: even before the game began, there was a battle royale of sorts as I deleted apps to free up space. Then the download. Then the various EULAs and all that jazz.

But it’s a beast where it counts, too. This is Warzone on phones, and I think it’s probably a pretty decent version of that concept. You can automate plenty of actions and resize elements of the HUD, and within a few seconds after loading up, I was into my tutorial missions, settling into ‘left thumb to move and right to aim’ and choosing between auto-fire, which kicks in politely once you’re hovering over a target, and manual fire. (I chose auto because I’m old, and it’s fine if a bit leisurely when it comes to starting to shoot. I suspect the pros will all opt for manual.) Mess around with the buttons for aim-down-sight, jumping, and crouching, and then I was off into the AO.

Graphically it’s pretty good! I don’t really see COD as a game where the finer details of the environment truly matter; it’s more important that things move at a clip, as Warzone on mobiles does. The draw distance is generous and, while I had worried about visibility issues with spotting enemies on the horizon on such a small screen, I’ve been fine so far, even with my 45-year-old eyes. The whole thing’s as battery hungry as you’d expect, but it also does a good job of feeling like proper Warzone. The launch pages are a muddle of Battle Passes (the Pass costs 1100 CP, incidentally, which, with a current 10 percent bonus in the shop, translates to £8.39), event notices and flash sales, and the main mode offers 120 players – although given the number of people I’ve actually been able to kill so far, I suspect there are quite a few bots knocking about.


Cover image for YouTube videoCall of Duty: Warzone Mobile | Launch Trailer


The launch trailer for COD: Warzone Mobile.

And actually, is that 120-player standard Warzone actually the main mode? I’ve been drawn to Mobile Royale much more. 78 players, groups of 1 to 3 players, and a much swifter playing time, with the gas cloud moving more quickly and the lengthiest of games taking around 10 minutes. It’s fast and fun and it still feels like Warzone, right down to the post-death booting out to the Gulag, where you definitely don’t want auto-fire controls selected.

I settled in surprisingly quickly, actually. I’m bad at Warzone in general, and I can report I was bad in much the same way on mobiles. After a few quick deaths I realised I needed to revert to my old tactic of hiding in garages and in the empty bellies of planes, and then creeping out only when the cloud was moving. Such is the pace of Mobile Royale, which is surprisingly tense and brisk stuff. Getting the drop on someone still feels great, someone getting the drop on you still feels astonishingly swift if you’re used to other, slower battle royales. If COD Warzone was my game, I could imagine being pretty happy playing this on the bus and in bed late at night.

One of the things I had wondered, sneakily, is whether the shift to phones would give an older, slower player like myself more of a chance. I’d say yes and no. In the early days of Warzone on mobile there are certainly lots more players like me who are slowly getting to grips with the basics, moving slower, aiming slower, thinking slower, shooting slower. But when I die – somewhere around the 30-to-20-players-remaining mark – it’s humbling to see how fast and decisive the really great players are. Or it would be humbling if I didn’t expect it. The speed of those brains and fingers! It’s actually beautiful to see.

So it’s Warzone, and it’s on phones, and the caveats you’d expect are in place, and the care and attention I’d hoped for is also present. It reminds me of the days in which Fortnite was on iOS, actually: here’s a familiar game, gently compromised, but with you on your commute. And at least an added bonus is that, when the game gets cooking, you won’t need gloves in the winter.


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