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Power Member - Level 10
Inexplicably I recently happened upon an available copy
of Call Of Duty: Ghosts for Xbox 360 at my local Redbox. Typically I check available games at the
nearby Redbox out of hope rather than any expectation that the games I want are
available. Simply due to the
availability I rented the game for the weekend.
The disc only allowed multiplayer access and I reasoned that the $2.00
nightly fee (plus taxes) was cheap access into the vaunted multiplayer.
Once I grabbed the right thermal imaging scope this map made much more sense. Hint, do not run in those lower paths between the cliffs.
I am not a Call Of Duty expert. In fact my time in multiplayer gaming has
largely been limited to fiddling in multiplayer for the Assassin's Creed
franchise and the cooperative play for Mass Effect 3. Throughout this generation I felt lost in
multiplayer modes. Indiscriminate noise
with no clear directions coupled with a different control scheme than I was
accustomed to from my time in the single player campaign left me feeling isolated. Multiplayer for me was often a scramble for
the sprint button before I died, again.
I am a deaf gamer. Deafness is not the loss of all sound. Hearing is measured by assessing at what
decibel (or volume) does an individual hear a frequency (or sound). Each person experiences a different impact by
hearing loss that depends on what frequencies are most impacted. "Off the chart" hearing loss is when the
machine is turned to its highest volume setting for a frequency and an
individual cannot hear the sound. The
Call Of Duty: Ghosts' features that finally allowed me multiplayer access do
not result in an accessible multiplayer for all deaf and hard of hearing
gamers. By happenstance, in the last
breath of this generation I felt included and finally understood the widespread
appeal of multiplayer.
A little discussed feature but the inclusion of female avatars is great and really adds to the battlefield diversity.
Upon entering multiplayer, us noobs are recommended to begin
our multiplayer experience in the squad modes.
The squad modes are mostly cooperative play with other online players
against bots whether surviving enemy waves or capturing flags. I heeded the recommendation and jumped in at
the recruit level.
Multiplayer traditionally has a nearly indecipherable
introduction or none at all.
Understanding the controller scheme, mode purpose, and just what is
going on requires a lot of inferring information and internet searches. All the while playing matches as the team's
deadweight. Squad modes allow for
practice. Not much more introduction is
given, the modes are a safe place to learn the different maps, the modes, and
experiment with different load outs while leveling up multiplayer
In squad mode, wargames cycles through the multiplayer modes
such as Blitz, Cranked, and Team Deathmatch.
Or safeguard pits players cooperatively against enemy waves. I stayed with the squad mode eventually
ending a recruit match with the high score.
Now confident, I jumped into a regular multiplayer team deathmatch. Initially, I died often but I quickly learned
how to plan for my devious peers rather than the dependable bot strategies.
My new multiplayer lessons included an immediate death upon
entering a room when another online player stepped out from their hiding spot
behind the counters. Additionally, a
well upgraded sniper rifle picked me off more than once while holed up in a
tower. Eventually, I learned to stop
running out into the open areas for the snipers to pick me off. Instead, I crouched around the wooded area at
the map's outskirts and in epic revenge killed a prone sniper lying in wait for
me but facing the other direction.
I finally grasped the fun in multiplayer. There is a thrill in out maneuvering and
being out maneuvered by others as well as the frustration in being outgunned
due to unlocks.
I haven't used this perk yet but I just unlocked the Companion Drone and hoping for a chance to deploy it soon.
Multiplayer experience nets squad points that are used to
purchase all items including gun types, attachments, other weapons, perks, and
kill streak rewards. From the start,
points can be used on any item regardless of player level making the unlock
dependent only on having enough squad points.
This flexibility allowed me to immediately target my needed attachments
that allowed for visual cues such as thermal imaging scopes.
Unsurprisingly, I often miss audio cues. While I can hear the guns fire, the explosive
booms, the dogs barking and the helicopters whirring I have little to no idea
the direction of the sounds. The
onscreen visual indicator of the direction of oncoming bullets only applies to
bullets and the dark red color is easily lost on the busy screen. The new unlock system that allowed me to
immediately access the various thermal imaging scopes and quickly experiment
with the imaging that best suits my disability.
Now, I can actually compete online rather than grind through endless
deaths in hopes of fun if I can only reach the items that I need.
Thermal imaging rocks! I just have to not die while I am looking down a scope. Hint, always look behind you before scoping an area.
In the Whiteout map, known by its snowfall and a snowman
that I died while admiring in a yard, thermal imaging scopes made all of the
difference. Rather than confusion from
echoing noises ringing from white hilltops, a careful review of the map let me
find and target enemies while I stayed defensive for enemies finding me. My kills were not lucky accidents and my
deaths were due to my mistakes, not necessarily due to my inability to hear and
recognize audio cues.
This map fascinates me with its old school ruins but frustrates me to no end when looking for the opposing players.
There are still changes that would make multiplayer more
accessible for me as a deaf gamer.
Captioning or subtitling the in-game multiplayer audio cues would be a
big help. Unbeknownst to me, the game's
default audio with the microphones muted still includes verbal warnings such as
"There's a sniper" or "They're behind the tank" that I do not hear.
Perks and unlocks helps players "see" other players easier
but audio cues such as the sound of running boots or dogs barking relay
warnings of imminent death. Adding a
visual component to those audio cues such as the indicator of bullet direction,
even as a perk, would assist with missing oncoming players not shooting their
weapons and the arrival of snarling dogs.
For player to player communication, I suggest an in-game
text communication tool with pre-written statements, such as "Cover me" and
"Enemy ahead," for quick communication would be a boon. Unable to understand speech in the
microphones, I do my best reading other players' non-verbal cues that include leaving
a sniping perch that is already occupied or providing flanking support to
players under fire. I welcome the idea
of text based player to player communication.
Call Of Duty: Ghosts is not
perfect. The squad points are initially
confusing and more than once I accidentally spent valuable points
misunderstanding my purchase. For
example, unlocking the remaining 9 slots on your 10 person squad requires squad
points and each character's load outs past the class based defaults must be
individually unlocked. Save your squad
points for perfecting your main character's load out first.
Additionally, as a woman gamer
I would be remiss not to acknowledge that the soldier avatars are customizable
as both men and women soldiers for the first time. The gender diversity on the battlefield only
adds to the feelings of inclusion.
I did not expect an
understandable much less an enjoyable multiplayer experience. Yet, I was suddenly reluctant to return the
game. The game is returned and my newly purchased copy sits on my pile of "actively playing" games.
In gaming, there is a game for everyone and now the multiplayer
experience has broadened to include me, a deaf gamer.
This piece was recently posted at www.dagersystem.com and feel free to check out the site for gaming information through the lens of physical disabilities. Again, many thanks for reading here. Each view is appreciated. May your long weekend be glorious and include multi-day gaming marathons (anyone remember trying not to leave family events too early the fall that Skyrim was released?).
Are you playing COD: Ghosts' multiplayer? Or what multiplayer game is holding your attention this fall?
In multiplayer do you typically prefer close quarters maps or more open maps?
Given the Thanksgiving weekend, what video game sales have you taken advantage of (I bought Sniper Elite V2 ($14.99), Final Fantasy XIII ($4.99), and The Cave ($3.74))?