So while Modern Warfare is trying all sorts of things on PC and console, the franchise's biggest success has actually been on phones. Call of Duty Mobile has gotten hundreds of millions of downloads already, and for pretty good reason: it's basically a greatest hits of older COD maps, with a levelling system that's similar from the original Modern Warfare.
But you know the best part? You can play the mobile game on your PC and just absolutely steamroll everyone. Officially.
COD Mobile is built by the same studio who worked on Arena of Valor, and both those games have one thing in common. It's their Chinese parent company, Tencent, which owns either all or a little piece of seemingly every major developer, including Riot Games, 40 percent of Epic Games, 84 percent of Supercell (Clash of Clans and Clash Royale), a small stake in Ubisoft, plus all the Western developers who partner with Tencent to get into the Chinese market.
Tencent has a whole ecosystem of its own, as you'd expect from any Chinese conglomerate. So when they developed an official mobile emulator designed to let players enjoy PUBG Mobile on PC, it made sense that Tencent would continue adding other major titles to the service. And when Call of Duty Mobile launched worldwide, it became available through Tencent's official PC app too.
The app is called Gameloop, formerly known as Tencent Gaming Buddy. For now, it's basically an Android emulator that lets you customise things like the resolution you play at, DPI of your mouse, key bindings, what games you want to play, a method for sideloading Google apps and the Google Play Store, and even a portal for a couple of Chinese livestreaming services. You'll mostly find non-English streamers playing mobile games there, but when I went on this morning, someone was just having a good time watching cooking recipes on YouTube.
But you're not sideloading an Android emulator to learn how to make curry. I'm here to slay some poor mobile players. And as soon as you load up the game, you'll get a quick rundown of how the controls have been remapped to the keyboard.
After working your way through the initial tutorial, you're free to point and click heads to your hearts content. You'll get a quick guide on your keybindings at the start of every game, though. And you're not segregated from other players: you're playing against other people on their phones, although occasionally I ran into other players who were obviously on mouse and keyboard as well.
For the most part, the controls are pretty smooth. You'll have to deal with a fair amount of auto-aim, because that's inbuilt into the mobile version. It's fine for the most part since it counteracts the slight lack of precision added by the emulation.
But largely, you're still miles ahead of every other player by default. It's actually so unfair to anyone playing on mobile, I'm kind of curious as to why Tencent even allowed it at all. Something like Team Deathmatch on Nuketown is hilarious, because you can just pivot from target to target with a level of recoil control that turns the whole game into a laugh. Ranked matches are a little slower — they're also played on standard, larger maps where everyone has more time to respond — but just as unfair.
It's obviously not the same crispness or smoothness that you'd get on a console or PC with Modern Warfare. But if you just wanted to feel like you were playing Black Ops 1 or 2 again, on some of the best maps COD has ever had, COD Mobile does the job.
And if you want to feel supremely smug by slaughtering a bunch of poor people on their phones just trying to have fun ... well, Tencent's emulator is a good pick me up for that, too. In the footage below, the match was so unfair I just started running around with a pistol, because it wasn't like the other players could do much to stop me.
There's local servers for COD Mobile as well, so I was getting about 35-40ms through Tencent's app, which is pretty good.
There's an enormous caveat with all of this, though. Every time I loaded up the official Tencent app, Malwarebytes would give me a range of warnings. It only occurred when the program first launched and connected to Tencent's servers, and I didn't get any prompts during gameplay itself.
But it's more than understandable to avoid the whole experience when you get this prompt:
It's not the only prompt that Malwarebytes has thrown up, either. Malwarebytes has blocked multiple connections to Tencent's content delivery network — usually cdn.wetest.qq.com or pm.myapp.com — over concerns about malware or a trojan. Having looked into it over a couple of days, I couldn't find any concrete evidence that my PC wasn't just throwing up warnings over Tencent's emulator layer. A combination of Windows Defender, BitDefender and Malwarebytes have prevented any rogue processes from appearing, but it never hurts to be too careful.
So that's a huge problem for a lot of people. But if you're confident in your anti-virus and anti-malware setup, and you like the idea of mopping the floor with a bunch of COD players for a laugh, then Gameloop offers a nice alternative.