If when playing Modern Warfare 2, you were annoyed by the fact that Infinity Ward rendered it nearly impossible for you to chat with your friends while on the virtual battlefield, you weren’t the only one. A heavy criticism of MW2‘s multiplayer component was that Xbox Live’s “Party Chat” feature was blocked in virtually every objective based game-type.
Though the decision didn’t necessarily go over well with the COD community, there was a method to the developer’s madness. Realizing that Modern Warfare 2 was a game that would attract attention from pro gamers and leagues (most of which operate online), Infinity Ward went to great lengths to ensure that the Party Chat feature was useless mostly to prevent teams from abusing it through the concept of “ghosting.” PC gamers will probably be more familiar with this term as ghosting (when applied to pub servers), through a chat system like Ventrilo or TeamSpeak, is an annoying little technique that players on the same Vent or TS channel can employ to gain valuable information on enemy team players and their positions on the map. In most servers, when a player dies they have the option to change their camera view to a spectator mode. This allows them to enter into a sort of “free-roam” camera view in which a dead player can traverse the entire map through a first-person view of the camera. The dead player spectating could then in turn give away the positions of enemy players, via Vent or TS, to players still alive in-game.
This annoyance is a frustrating thing to endure when you simply want to jump into a game and play for fun, but not every single group that uses the Party Chat system is in it to gain enemy intel. Some use it for a more simplistic reason: to play and chat with their friends in-game. Infinity Ward’s Robert Bowling addressed this issue recently and stated that Modern Warfare 3 will be better suited for a wider array of audiences:
A major focus of Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer is allowing you to have a lot more control over [how you play], looking at those restrictions and doing away with stuff like [Party Chat blocking] that’s super hardcore. It’s about giving options. We will have places where competitive guys go where you might have restrictive voice chat. And then you have an option to maybe play that same mode without the same restrictions if that’s the type of player you are.
Bowling went on to state that “the only place where Party Chat should be blocked is Search & Destroy.” In the S&D game-type, players are given a single life per round and if killed, have to wait until the start of a new round which begins after all of the players on a given side are killed. Just like in games such as Counter-Strike for example, those directly looking to cheat through the concept of ghosting would be able to quite easily. Bowling did state however, that the Party Chat feature would not be blocked for modes like Domination.
Though this announcement isn’t likely to sway those gamers who are already locked-in to buying Battlefield 3 in October, Infinity Ward is nevertheless not entirely relying on the name to sell units as it appears that attempted improvements to the series are being made.