Call of Duty Warzone is a Waiting Simulator

It’s always fun when a splashy multiplayer game comes to mobile because they are few and far between, so I was excited to see the notification about Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile (finally) launching last week and wanted to try it out. As someone who was familiar with the PC version of the game, I thought I had a good sense of what to expect, but I was surprised to find myself quickly bored with the mobilized battle royale.

To be clear, Warzone Mobile doesn’t seem to do anything drastically different than its console and PC counterpart. In fact, it retains its high player count, boasting now to be the mobile battle royale with the highest amount of live players per match. It also retains all of the features that distinguish the Call of Duty-branded battle royale apart from the others. So, I guess what I’m saying is that before you read on, know that if you are just interested in knowing how much Warzone Mobile is like Warzone, the answer is very.

Therein lies the problem, though. In making such a big game basically come to mobile in as untouched a form as possible, some of the pain points in the game that have gone unresolved stand out a little more. My main problem with Warzone Mobile is that I spend an inordinate amount of time in the app not really doing anything but waiting. I wait to queue into a match. When I match, I load into the “target practice” lobby which is also just a waiting room. Once that’s done, I’m waiting on a plane or helicopter to agree on a drop point. Then, when I land, there’s actual action, or at the very least looting. If I’m doing well, I get into a few firefights and the game feels dynamic and action-packed. If I’m not, I get downed and wait for a revival, or die and go to the gulag, which is yet another pen to wait in. And, if I lose the gulag, I get to start this whole process over again.

I know that this is the exact same way that the original version of Warzone works as well, but on mobile it just feels more agonizing for a number of reasons. On PC, I’d play Warzone by hopping onto a voice chat with friends and we could pal around and catch up during all of the downtime. There was also just the visual spectacle of playing something that’s at least somewhat impressive to look at. Warzone Mobile is not something I have a friend group for, and it looks impressive for a phone game but even by those standards it isn’t remarkable.

Then, there’s the platform to consider as well. Mobile gaming is meant to be convenient, or at least quick for play sessions. Warzone Mobile is neither. Matching into games takes a pretty inconsistent amount of time, with some sessions stretching upwards of 5 minutes (which is about half the length of a real match if you make it to the end of one). By the end of a given play session, it is very easy to have spent most of your time not doing much of anything at all. This gets compounded by live updates to the game that have already occurred on occasion and can lead to minutes where you are in the game but not allowed to close or try to play it while an update installs.

I’m no stranger to a lot of these aspects of live service and/or multiplayer games. I am a dedicated Genshin Impact and League of Legends: Wild Rift player. These games have their fair share of downtime or waiting periods, too, but they do not feel nearly as bad as they do in Warzone Mobile because–once you are done waiting–you are guaranteed to have a good portion of time to spend actually playing the game. In Warzone, if you drop to a super hot area and catch a stray bullet early on in a match, your play time could very possibly have been under a minute before having to start the waiting process all over again, and that’s just not a good feeling.

If that’s a risk you want to take (or perhaps you fancy yourself to be so skilled at the game that this wouldn’t happen to you), knock yourself out. Warzone Mobile seems to be operating as intended. It just seems like–at least for people like me–that deciding to play Warzone Mobile often results in not actually playing all that much of anything.