The open beta for Modern Warfare 2 shows Activision's accessibility shortcomings

The open beta for Modern Warfare 2 shows Activision's accessibility shortcomings

The open beta for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 has come to an end. Although I found the visibility and repetitive inputs of Modern Warfare 2019 difficult, I spent a lot of hours in it. Despite a drop in graph fidelity, subsequent entries are still lacking.

Because I have to devote hundreds of hours to the experience, I can adapt in sessions across a range of scenarios, mainly due to multiplayer games lasting around 15 minutes and frequent checkpoints in the campaign.

It''s dismal that in three years between Modern Warfare entries, accessibility does not appear to have progressed. It''s true that what we''ve seen in the last two weekends has been limited to multiplayer, but that''s why the settings are available.

That the beta immediately dropped the player into a marketing screen, without proper instructions on how to leave, wasn''t ideal. More than once I tried to back out and was booted back to the connection screen.

As they were discovered behind a small, divergent menu on PlayStation 5, it was difficult to access outside of a match.

What options were available on colourblind filters and button remapping. Other aspects were more general. You might reduce motion blur and sharpen graphics (no amount of fiddling with which improved visibility for me), modify the FOV, and have excellent control over dead zones and appearance sensibility. Also helpful, given the obfuscation of the beta''s menus, were options to alter the size of the UI and text.

There isn''t much difference between the settings found in Modern Warfare 2019 and its sequel''s beta. Indeed, settings across the previous three Call of Duty renditions have been remarkably similar, and there''s little indication in the beta that Modern Warfare 2 will offer anything but a basic - at least, as defined by Game Accessibility Guidelines.

Infinity Ward has maintained across both recent entries in the series that it wants to encourage a broad range of playstyles, something that has sparked criticism from a vocal and unpleasant core of existing players. If that is, it would be useful to see some evidence of that.

I asked disabled gamers on Twitter for input on what this evidence might look like from their perspective. Various suggestions, including aim assist, possibility toggling, and sensitivity adjustments, are already implemented, at least partially.

Some say damage sliders are difficult to balance in online multiplayer but they should be standard in single-player modes and private matches. However, these should not be the general presets found in previous iterations, however, it''s also frustrating to not see options for single-stick modes, auto-movement, or screen reading.

Infinity Ward''s response to feedback on the beta''s first weekend did not mention accessibility. It appears that greater accessibility will not be forthcoming.

It''s a lack of progress that suggests Infinity Ward and Activision aren''t understanding the relationship between its potential players'' abilities and the obstacles presented in its games. Yes, these mechanics may play well in competitive environments. It''s leaving huge swathes of players behind with little effort to address the issues that are firmly established in the series.

For example, visibility in Call of Duty has been trouble for some time. Instead of implementing some form of contrast mode, Infinity Ward removed the nameplates from opposing players in the open beta, increasing visibility.

Might this shift in characterize players like me? Perhaps, but a few weeks after the release, multiplayer will be filled with anime-inspired tracers and cat ears. Sure, that''s why Activision may not go for it, given how lucrative selling skins is for the publisher. But if it''s an option for players like me, it might be turned off.

This is linked to the community''s ongoing resentment about diverse play styles, which, in itself, is a concern that avoids accessibility. Many players are confused about the rushing style many Call of Duty''s vocal supporters promote. Instead, other methods of play are more comfortable. For some, it''s about putting guns on the ground, limiting my choice but reducing repetitive inputs.

We may slam Infinity Ward for the limited accessibility provided in the open beta, but we must also ensure that the game''s community - and Activision''s relationship - isn''t helpful.

When you refuse to provide adequate accessibility, it''s no longer about slow progress, c''est about a deliberate exclusion of players, seemingly for the sake of retaining a core of vocal players who aren''t happy with accessibility and the change it represents in the series.

Because if there''s one thing Call of Duty fans fear - more than changes to their beloved mini-map, more than someone sitting in a corner - it''s change.

This may sound unnecessarily inflammatory, but if you''d spend as much time in Call of Duty discussions as I did researching this, you might feel less than grateful for a group of players who are vocally opposed to access while making small complaints.

That Activision''s studios are more willing to cater to these groups than to as large a large part of the gaming population is an odd stance. Given how mercenary Activision is, to exclude a huge potential market is, if nothing else, stupid.

It''s quite clear the IW engine isn''t built with that in mind, but the scope of accessibility in the Open Beta of Modern Warfare 2 is worryingly small.

It fills a troubling gap that other studios may employ to create an open FPS similar to Call of Duty, but it alleviates accessibility that Activision feared. Perhaps Battlefield 2042''s disastrous attempt to attract disgruntled Call of Duty supporters may put people off, but it''s clear there''s plenty of potential here.

Swamp is an audio first-person shooter that demonstrates how accessibility, with the right focus, can be used even in a competitive FPS environment. Yes, I''m a bit uneasy about some of the accessibility that might be added to Call of Duty''s multiplayer, but games like this show that accessible, competitive multiplayer is possible. However, many of the features mentioned above - and more - should be standard in PvE modes in 2022. That''s unacceptable.

I envy those who can look at Modern Warfare 2''s open beta and complain about minormap changes ruining their chances of causing disappointment for inexperienced players. For me, and many others, the open beta was a sign of Activision''s persistent apathy toward meaningful accessibility.

Despite Activision''s apparent apathy towards accessibility, Infinity Ward is sincere about appealing to more players. The open beta suggests an ignorance about who those players are, and a maintenance of the fact that Call of Duty is still not for everyone. Even though it, and all gaming, should be.

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