After years of annualized releases, you might think that the basics of: Duty-such as the user interface and heads-up display- should be quite standardized by now. But this weekend’s PS4 beta test for the new one Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has sparked controversy due to its off-again, on-again, re-altered relationship with the mini-map.
Activision announced in August that: Modern Warfare would be the first game in the franchise since the 2007 original Modern Warfare to get rid of the mini map in multiplayer. It was an attempt to add more “realism” to the game, and this weekend’s beta test of the game was the first chance for most players to see how that change affected multiplayer clashes. Without a mini-map to give players quick situational awareness, many pros found the new one Modern Warfare felt too slow and careful.
“No mini-card in Duty = Anyone on the map who plays turtle,” FaZe Clan Codfish pro Austin “Pamaj” Pamajewon tweeted about the move. ‘We need Minimap. Is not the same.’ Matthew ‘Skrapz’ Marshall echoed the same sentiment in a short video rant (NSFW audio): “What’s this? 98% of my gameplay is the damn minimap! I can’t even play pubs! CoD needs it bro. Bad idea.”
Those thoughts just scratch the surface of the instant pushback. An informal poll by Trevor “TmarTn” Martin’s Twitter followers found that 76 percent wanted the mini-map back after more than 25,000 votes.
The reaction did not go unnoticed. “Let’s talk about minimap. We hear you loud and clear,” Infinity Ward senior communications manager Ashton Williams wrote on Reddit Thursday, following the start of the Early Access beta. “Along with your feedback and the data we’re continuously collecting, we’ll be experimenting internally with a few different options and will update you if we make any changes you see during the beta.”
That was not just any chat. By Saturday, the mini card was turned on again, but with a slight twist in that it “showed no enemy fire”. That’s no small change, either: The telltale red dots that appear on a mini-map when an opponent fires an unmuted pistol were key to planning tactics and positioning in a fast-paced firefight. For Monday, the last day of the open beta, the developers took the UI tweak a step further and “[turned] off contours that exist on your teammates in the world.”
“We’re still looking at different ways to work with the minimap, team contours and the compass,” Williams tweeted Friday night, before the revised mini-map was relaunched. “Let’s see how tomorrow goes and the rest of the beta for weekend two.”
“We read your comments not only about the map itself, but also about the compass and other on-screen UI elements,” Williams added on Reddit Sunday, after the revised mini-map went live. “Reading your feedback has led to some very enlightening conversations here in the studio, so thank you again.”
While many online beta tests simply serve as a glorified demo for a near-completed game, this is the kind of basic level game that the concept was really designed for. It will be interesting to see how Infinity Ward synthesizes all the data and feedback from these A/B tests for Modern Warfarelaunch October 25.