Looking back at my stats, I spent around 30 hours playing "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" multiplayer, but in "Modern Warfare 2," I only spent about a third of that time. Why the discrepancy? Sure, prevalent hackers played a part in my frustration, but that wasn't the main reason. The main reason was that, in just about every objective-based mode, Party Chat was blocked.
Infinity Ward's rationale was that, by blocking Party Chat, it would encourage teamwork among strangers and cut down on cheating as Party Chatters wouldn't be able to join separate teams and give valuable intel to the other side.
While that's great for the most hardcore players, I'm really just interested in playing and chatting with friends. There were work-arounds using Xbox Live security settings, but it was still an unnecessary chore every time I wanted to play "MW2" multiplayer.
Yesterday, at an event in New York City, I spoke with Robert Bowling, the creative strategist at Infinity Ward for "Modern Warfare 3," about whether the same Party Chat restrictions would be in place.
"When designing multiplayer, especially 'Modern Warfare' multiplayer, you have 30 million people [playing]," said Bowling. "They all are very different. You have guys like you, playing just for fun, just want to jump on there and have a good time. You have your hardcore competitive guys. You have your casual guys that maybe are competitive, they're just not as good. It's all about delivering a platform to allow you to have fun the way you want to have fun without hindering the other audiences."
The crucial difference between "Modern Warfare 2" and "3" is that the former's multiplayer was designed as if it were a professional sports league, whereas the latter allows for both professional, triple-A and amatuer leagues. Bowling wouldn't go too in-depth about how the game would separate different players, but he did give a few examples.
"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."
He finished by saying, "The only place where Party Chat should be blocked is Search & Destroy." In that mode, players are given just a single life per round, so those attempting to cheat with Party Chat would definitely give players an advantage. It wouldn't, however, be blocked "for modes like Dom[ination]."
It's encouraging news, given Infinity Ward's historically stubborn reputation regarding competitive multiplayer. Looks like those with a sub-1.0 K/D ratio might actually be able to enjoy themselves this time around.