November 6, 2009

Tempest in a Teacup: Modern Warfare 2

Ars Technica is running an article about the trials and tribulations of upcoming military-shooter, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. In the article, they provide plenty of quotes from the game's developers showing some blatant disrespect for the PC version of the game:
We thought the lack of dedicated servers was bad, but now we can add the lack of console commands, the inability to have a say in who hosts the game, a lengthy pause while the game migrates to a new host if the currently selected host quits, no leaning, no option to record matches, and no way to kick or block trouble players, hackers, or cheaters.

You have to wonder if there are any actual PC gamers working at Infinity Ward, as it will be a challenge to find any member of the PC gaming community that will stand up for any of these omissions, not to mention all of them bundled together. At launch, this will be one of the most locked-down, inflexible, and gamer-unfriendly game ever created.
While the above quote is a bit sensationalist, it does illustrate how frustrated some of the core audience for the CoD franchise have become, particularly on the PC.

Personally, I don't feel the loss of dedicated servers or a restriction to 9vs9 is all that horrible. In the current Modern Warfare game, any game above 9vs9 feels overcrowded or is a blatant cheat server designed to unlock accomplishments and/or gain levels. Secondly, its almost impossible to find two servers running the same rulesets these days. No snipers here, no perks there, this perk not allowed, no airstrikes, etc. It all gets fairly annoying when a player just wants to play the game.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) is not a strict or heavily-leaning PC title. I have no qualms with it being "consolized" in the PC version. We would be having a different discussion if this was Team Fortress 2, a game BORN from the PC platform, and heavily dependent on a customized experience on each server. Modern Warfare 1 was big on the PC, but it truly took over the consoles. It is not surprising to see where Infinity Ward is basing their design.

With that said, IW should accept the fact that the PC gaming industry will probably reflect the "consolization" in their reviews. For example, Borderlands has some fairly obvious console leftovers in the PC version, but its still a good game and uses the same sort of Peer2Peer multiplayer hosting as MW2 will. Most reviews docked Borderlands on the PC for the console leftovers, as they should, but not because they were mad about it!

There's a quote in the Ars Technica comments section that describes the situation best:
This is a tempest in a teacup. Either buy the game or don't. This is not the end of PC gaming as we know it.
My best suggestion is for PC gamers to forget that this is part of the Call of Duty brand. It was originally meant to be called Modern Warfare 2, a somewhat separate product from the Call of Duty series. Move on if dedicated servers and other features are a must. Plenty of PC gamers will do fine without them and play the game without you.

NOTE: IWNet is an interesting move towards Peer2Peer hosting for such a MAJOR multiplayer game release.