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Infinity Ward sticks to its guns amid Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 mini-map furore

"...we do not want to punish players for firing their weapons."

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
Image credit: Activision

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's first beta weekend is done and dusted, and developer Infinity Ward has updated players on changes they can expect to see when it returns.

The highlight here is Infinity Ward's explanation for Modern Warfare 2's divisive mini-map, which has come under fire from some players for failing to provide enough information on enemy players.

Unlike some previous Call of Duty games, Modern Warfare 2's mini-map only shows enemy player dots when a UAV is active. This means it does not display red dots when enemy players sprint or fire their weapons.

The open beta was PlayStation-exclusive for its first weekend - next weekend the floodgates open, with PC and Xbox players joining the fray.Watch on YouTube

In its blog post, Infinity Ward explained the design decision around Modern Warfare 2's mini-map:

"The design reason for this is that we do not want to punish players for firing their weapons. We also want players to actively search out the origin of a gunshot versus just traveling directly to where the dot is on the mini-map. We continue to gather feedback on how the game is playing in regards to this topic."

Infinity Ward's comment here has certainly set the cat among the pigeons within the core Call of Duty community, with subreddits and social media alight with opinion on the rights and wrongs of this approach.

Part of the negativity around Modern Warfare 2's mini-map has to do with the feeling its design helps so-called casual Call of Duty players have a better time in multiplayer. As Infinity Ward alludes to in its comment, players can no longer zero in on a red dot on the mini-map for a kill. This potentially gives casual players more breathing room as they move around firing.

Here's a snippet of the reaction:

As with most features of Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer, the mini-map should not be considered in isolation. Many factors go into the pace and feel of the shooter, including, for example, the loud footstep audio, which Infinity Ward said will be toned down a bit:

"Footstep audio in week one of the MP Beta was very high, giving players long distance directional information about enemies. For Weekend Two we have some changes coming in. We are reducing the range of footstep audio for the various player movement states (jog, sprint and tactical sprint). This will help soften the cost of moving around the map. The second change is that enemy and friendly footsteps are now distinct. This should help players better understand what's going on as things move around on the battlefield. More details to follow."

Elsewhere, Infinity Ward discussed Modern Warfare 2's controversial new perk system. Under the new system, the more powerful perks can only be used in a match after a set period of time.

"We've seen varied feedback on the Perk Package system," Infinity Ward said.

"Some players love it and others feel it's an unnecessary departure from the original system. We feel it's a nice shake up to how perks work and to the general progression of a match. We've also balanced the ultimate perks to be more powerful as you earn them later in the match. We'll continue testing throughout Beta Weekend Two, including drastically accelerating the earn rate of these to see how players react. Our goal remains improving the flow of all perks ahead of launch."

Coupled with the new perk system is a significant change to Dead Silence: what was a popular perk in previous Call of Duty games is now a Field Upgrade that operates on a cooldown in Modern Warfare 2.

Again, Infinity Ward is sticking to its guns here:

"Dead Silence is another hot topic as many players have expressed that they would like to see it as a Perk instead of a Field Upgrade. We believe it is important to game health that rushers are not able to move at high speeds without consequence. Dead Silence as a Field Upgrade creates a balance between freedom of movement and predictability of combat."

While Infinity Ward won't budge on some aspects of Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer, it did confirm some welcome changes in response to player feedback.

The developer said it will improve target tracking by reducing muzzle smoke opacity and increasing the visibility of the muzzle flash, and it's also looking into more ways to visually differentiate enemies and friendlies outside of standard nameplates above heads of the opposing players (something previous Call of Duty games have had).

And on the beta's confusing user interface, Infinity Ward said improvements are coming ahead of launch.

Martin and I had a chinwag about the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 beta, if you're wondering what we think about it.

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