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Words: Lu-Hai Liang
Earlier this year, I found myself trapped in Japan as coronavirus-enforced lockdowns spread around the world. I lived in a hostel in Fukuoka, the biggest city on the southern island of Kyushu, hardly going out during the State of Emergency the Japanese government imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I kept myself busy, though, both by working hard on my laptop to earn enough to survive in expensive Japan and with a new game to keep myself sane: Call of Duty: Mobile on my iPad Mini.
If you didn't already know, Call of Duty: Mobile is free to play, and the download comes with multiple playing modes. I duly pitched into Battle Royale for the first time. Not since the PlayStation 3 days had I played any Call of Duty online, not touching any of its deathmatches or variations thereof. But the killstreaks, perks and gun mods I remembered were all there, their rewards offering a sense of smooth progression lacking in a real world caught in a state of stasis. After a month or so I found a new mode in the Featured section, 'Attack of the Undead' and I gave it a go. It's since become, by far, my favourite mode (albeit a 'featured' one, so it won't always be in rotation), and one I couldn't stop returning to even as Japan's pandemic restrictions began to ease.
Here's how 'Attack of the Undead' goes: there are 10 players and, after a tense countdown, one of you becomes an Undead (the rest are Survivors). As an Undead you must kill the others, and each one that you successfully dispatch will join your ranks. You're initially allowed a gun, but you end up with only a knife and a throwing axe. And you differ from your classic zombie archetype by having the ability to move at far greater speed than Survivors. Meanwhile, the objective for Survivors is far simpler: stay alive until the timer runs down.
Players have devised multiple tactics and strategies for how to play - and how to survive. I've observed three major survival strategies across the game's eight maps, which range from frosty compounds to airport terminals. There's the run-and-gun style, where players move around the map shooting down Undead whenever they come across them. Depending on your skill level, this style is either brave or foolhardy, and I wouldn't recommend it for the middle game when the ranks of the Undead swell and start to come at you from all angles.
The second strategy, lockdown-and-camp, is favoured by many players. Find a safe area on the map with few entry points, and it offers you a choke point to aim down. These spots can be made more secure with the use of trip mines, sentry guns, and transform shields.
The third style I've noted is something of a hybrid, and I've seen it most often among higher-level players. These players may run-and-gun during the early game; switch to camping for the middle game, in a secure area; and then switch it up again for the endgame. There are so many ways to play 'Attack of the Undead', and so much inventiveness on offer. There's even a nuclear blast available to those who end up killing tons of Undead, basically ensuring survival.
Whatever the map, the developers at China's TiMi Studios are always making tiny adjustments and tweaks, making sure neither Survivors nor the Undead have too great of an advantage. And because you never totally feel dominant in 'Attack of the Undead', there's a great camaraderie felt by Survivors, as we camp and watch each other's backs. And then there's the thrill of being The Last Survivor: the heart quickens, the senses become heightened, and you give your utmost to repel the Undead in an attempt to make it to the dying seconds of the timer. Surviving is hard. But surviving is glorious.
As I played Call of Duty: Mobile, so my days in Japan started to improve. My life in that hostel in Fukuoka was about survival, initially - but as the weeks progressed, I began to adapt. I learned to find bargains in the supermarket (wait until late in the evening). I managed to rustle up enough work. I relieved some of the pressure which, in retrospect, might've been self-inflicted. I even started to enjoy my time in Japan, unable to leave. And between the hours of work and hanging out with some local friends, I played 'Attack of the Undead' above anything else, blowing off steam by shooting down the hordes, and finding a kind of peace amid the chaos of a battle against the odds.
If 'Attack of the Undead' is available and you decide to test your skills, here are some tips on how to maybe - just maybe - survive until the very end.
Tips for the Undead
Tips for Survivors
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