Ever since Activision announced that Modern Warfare 2 would not feature dedicated server support in online play, gamers around the world have been up in arms. Instead of the old dedicated server model, Modern Warfare 2 makes use of Steam in conjunction with IWet. Instead of games being hosted on third party dedicated servers run by the likes of iBurst or SGS, they are hosted by players.
The peer to peer hosting solution bought up a number of concerns, with the most worrying being that local ADSL lines may not handle the bandwidth requirements.
When we first tested out the online component last week on launch day the results were disappointing. Many Call of Duty fans’ fears were realized when it seemed that the matchmaking system was not able to find low latency games for players to drop into. It seemed at this point that Modern Warfare 2 online was simply not destined to be as successful as its predecessor.
Not content to give up so easily, local gamers quickly worked out a contingency solution.
Within three days, three separate Modern Warfare 2 Steam communities were setup. This biggest group currently consists of 397 unique users, while the other two each have around 60 users each.
All users need to do in order to take advantage of Modern Warfare 2’s excellent multiplayer component on local latencies is join the group and add a few players as friends. From the Steam interface, which can be accessed easily in game (Shift+Tab), players can view players in their friends list that are currently in games. From there they can simply right click on players that are currently playing and select ‘join game’. While this will not work on every session, as sometimes the game will be full, it works often enough to make finding a game straight forward and easy.
Furthermore, with almost 400 users using the Steam group, one can easily expect between 100 and 300 users online at most times.
It is worth noting that players with anything less than a 4Mbps ADSL line should not host games. Those with a 4Mbps line can invite players to join their parties and then host the game themselves, although this reportedly uses around 200Mb per hour. Update – Some users report as much as 200MB data use per hour, while others report as little as 80MB. Once the party has been created, Steam selects the player with the best connection to host the match.
Furthermore, it is not possible to play Modern Warfare 2 online using only local bandwidth. This is because players must remain connected to Steam at all times during their gaming session.
When playing on locally hosted servers, players can anticipate 4 signal bars, or at worst 3. This is comparable to between 50ms and 100ms latency, which most gamers will find satisfactory.
Easy access to low latency online matches makes Modern Warfare 2 viable for South African gamers. While occasional lag and instability do affect gameplay, for the most part players can expect a smooth experience. The system does not work as well as the dedicated server model, but it works well enough to negate the early fears that Modern Warfare 2 online would be unplayable locally.
Discuss MW2 local MP community in the forums