In Deep Water, Call of Duty Mobile’s fifth seasonal update of the year is now in full swing. Dexerto spoke with the development team directly to uncover what goes into the game’s major seasonal updates and to get a glimpse of the bigger plans in store for the rest of 2021.
CoD Mobile Season 5 launched on June 28, bringing everything from new maps and operators to fresh competitive experiences. The rapidly expanding player base has grown accustomed to these massive content drops on a near-monthly basis. But what does this process look like for the dev team working behind the scenes?
From picking new weapons to balancing an evolving battle royale, and even crossovers with mainline entries in the franchise, there’s always something new in the pipeline.
CoD Mobile’s general manager Matt Lewis gave Dexerto a peek behind the curtain and revealed how the team stays on top of one of Activision’s biggest properties.
How CoD Mobile settles on classic maps to restore
More and more we’ve seen classic CoD maps being brought back to life in recent years. Treyarch’s Cold War has already integrated six fan favorites back into the mix but no title quite matches the range of CoD Mobile.
From Modern Warfare hits to the best of the Black Ops series, the handheld title is constantly bringing familiar locations back into the spotlight. With Season 5, we saw three more Modern Warfare maps added. With such a range to pick from, what exactly goes into deciding the next CoD Mobile maps?
“First and foremost, we look at the data available to us and try to understand which maps have performed well within the Call of Duty ecosystem. Next, we look at how well the map will translate and if the community has actively engaged with it.
“We also take into account what the community has been asking for as our player’s feedback helps drive our decisions.
“Because Call of Duty: Mobile has a new theme every season, it’s important to contextualize these maps and introduce them when they fit in well with the narrative of the season. For example, in our current season, Season 5, we decided to go with maps such as Docks and Suldal Harbor because it fit well with naval-inspired content of the season.”
Which CoD guns deserve a mobile spot?
In the same vein, CoD Mobile also seeks to bring many of the most popular weapons over from previous titles. This time around, Season 5 gave us the CR-56 AMAX, a Modern Warfare Assault Rifle that’s had its fair share of attention in recent Warzone metas.
When bringing guns over to the handheld title, does the dev team adopt a similar approach to the map selection process?
“When we look at what weapons to bring to each season, we ask ourselves three simple questions in addition to looking at trends and how it relates to development timelines.
How did Call of Duty fans enjoy the weapons in the console experience? Does this weapon fit within the larger weapon meta we’re making? Does it require other nerfs or buffs? Are players going to be jazzed with the introduction of the weapon?”
Balancing CoD Mobile’s Battle Royale mode
Not only does a new season mean new tools to play with, but it often means new classes to experiment with in CoD Mobile’s Battle Royale. For Season 5, we were introduced to the Time Traveler.
The latest class allows players to warp back in time, something completely new for the handheld experience. With more than a dozen innovative classes now available, how does the team keep balance in mind when designing these new abilities?
“We’re always ideating and coming up with new ideas, but what sounds good on paper doesn’t always translate well into action. Sometimes, the ideas can feel out of place even if they might potentially work well and sometimes just don’t add a lot of value to the mode itself.
“When we playtest, we try to evaluate them as a player would and gauge the value it adds from that lens. Again, it’s all about how it evolves player experience against other options, and we try to add classes that maintain the overall balance in the game but at the same time offer our players something new to experience.”
Improving success of CoD Mobile’s seasonal structure
For Warzone and CoD’s yearly titles, seasons work on a different schedule. New seasonal updates arrive every two months, with a mid-season update adding further content along the way.
With CoD Mobile, however, new seasons arrive at a much faster pace. Throughout 2020 alone, the handheld title saw 11 full seasons. That output has kept up in 2021, with major updates landing on a near-monthly basis.
Will this cycle continue indefinitely or could there be a future where CoD Mobile seasons align with Warzone and the annual CoD entry?
“Seasons are a key framework in how the Call of Duty: Mobile team packages and delivers new maps, modes, cosmetics, and new functional items to players. Most console and PC games have seasons somewhere between two and four months, and that works great for their audiences. On mobile, we’ve found players prefer seasons that are shorter and more thematic.
For example, with the launch of our latest season, Season 5: In Deep Water, the content is not only jam-packed with new maps, weapons, a limited-time event that’s super fun, but the season also has a Naval aesthetic and we’ve brought back a fan-favorite character from the Call of Duty franchise.
“This gives you insight into how we’re approaching our content drops for fans that’s different from what can be done in a console or PC game where the storyline is a bit more streamlined.
“We’ve worked hard on planning a cadence throughout the year that we think players are going to like. We certainly have bigger thinking around Call of Duty Mobile seasonal content that we can’t wait to share with fans. For now, this is what works for us.”
More Warzone and Black Ops Cold War crossovers in the works
In recent weeks we’ve seen CoD Mobile collaborate with Warzone and Black Ops Cold War in unique ways. First was the Season 3 crossover event to celebrate the launch of Verdansk ‘84 in Warzone. Then came the 80s Action Heroes bundle seen across every active CoD title, a first for the franchise.
Moving forward, can we expect to see more of these collaborations for special occasions?
“Yes, we scratched the surface with events like ‘80s Action Heroes and look forward to much more to come. As we continue to build this ecosystem, we’re not only reaching new players in new geographies, but we’re able to reach our players creatively and in fun new ways.”