A leaked Call of Duty: Mobile skin turns a gun into a 3D animated WWII diorama where tiny little men fight and die in a miniature war, and it's so absurd I don't care how much it costs

captain price
(Image credit: Activision)

This leaked Call of Duty: Mobile skin is a gun turned into a battlefield, a miniature battlefield with tiny men who run around on top and fight and die, all while carried by a tiny guy who lives only to fight and die on a miniature battlefield inside of your phone, which is in turn held by you, a tiny person who lives only to oh God.

Let's back up here. A video of this upcoming skin for CoD: Mobile was shared to YouTube by Alyn Gamer, and I barely know where to start with the thing⁠—it hardly resembles the historical MG 42 machine gun it replaces. You're essentially holding a long chunk of terrain with a tank and crashed fighter plane lodged into it. The battlefield is crisscrossed by a tiny stream towards the stock of the gun, and little guys can be seen running around and shooting at each other between anti-tank obstacles.

For the weapon's "reload," an offscreen airstrike destroys the tank, with the player lodging a new one in like they're replacing a mag. The pièce de résistance, though, is the weapon inspection animation: The camera zooms in on intensified combat on the diorama while some real classico WWII music with sad strings plays, followed by a rousing speech by none other than Brian Bloom, voice actor for Wolfenstein's BJ Blazcowicz and Varric Tethras of Dragon Age.

"Don't worry soldier, I'm with you every step of the way," Bloom intones (it is utterly indistinguishable from a dozen such monologues in the Wolfenstein games) while one little soldier helps another one off the ground. "We stand together, we fight for the generations to come." The helper soldier then disappears like an angel in a movie, with the one who got up looking around quizzically, before a faded black and white unit photo blows through the wind and sticks to the camera for a second before blowing away.

And you know what? It's rad as hell, man. I'm not a microtransaction guy⁠—I wrote a full screed last year about how much I disliked a $20 suit of armor in Diablo 4⁠—but this is so different. Compared to the stultifying churn of Destiny armor sets with RGB lighting, CoD Prime guns with animated camo, or assorted celebrity tie-in skins, this freakish CoD: Mobile gun is like a thunderclap. The craft, whimsy, and cleverness of it genuinely impress me, while I also feel like it's this example of conspicuous skin consumption brought to some kind of apotheosis—it's a proverbial solid gold toilet, and I goddamn love that.

As for getting the thing, it's unclear when it will go live, and you can forget prosaic complaints like "spending a lot of money." Apparently, you don't just buy things on CoD: Mobile, it has one of those intricate, tokenized, vaguely gambling-reminiscent monetization systems that put my beloved crusty old CRPGs to shame in terms of pointless complexity. PCG FPS specialist Morgan Park described it to me as: "You buy draws that get more expensive each time until you have every item in the pool. Simply unlocking this gun could cost $150, and leveling it up could be hundreds more."

I'm going to level with you: That is the worst thing I have ever heard, but isn't that excessive horribleness the perfect companion to the skin's own sumptuous excess? Over on Call of Duty: Mobile, we are witnessing a new kind of surreal art that pairs the strangest work of gun view model crafting ever conceived with a microtransaction system that makes me want to go get beat up behind a bar just to feel something, and I think that's incredible.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.