Splatoon, the upcoming Wii U exclusive shooter that pits teams against each other for inky supremacy, will not feature voice chat when playing with strangers. Whether or not this means it’ll include the feature when playing with friends has yet to be confirmed, but we do know for sure it’ll be absent when playing against randos from around the world.
According to the developers, the concept is simple enough that you can look down at your off-screen map and plan your own strategy accordingly. And judging by how toxic lobby and in-game chat can be on more prominent shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield, I suppose I can understand why Nintendo wants to avoid that type of atmosphere for their younger player-base.
Who knows though, that may not even be the reason it isn’t being included in the first place. And if it is, why not just offer a way to, I don’t know, mute people?
Chatting with squadmates and planning strategies on the fly is what makes a team-based shooter fun. Having a squad of people run around like chickens with their head cut off typically leads to frustration in modes like Team Deathmatch or CTF, and rarely, if ever, a victory.
Personally, I have no interest in taking my eyes off the screen to look down at a mini-map to determine where I’d like to strike next. This is a personal issue I have with the GamePad in general though, and unless I’m using it as my primary screen, I find it distracting to switch back and forth between them. Voice chat isn’t exactly a new concept either, so the stubborn decision to leave it out is questionable at best.
If the concept really is as simple as it sounds, maybe their approach can work. I try to be open minded about things before putting on my pessimistic hat, and I’ve played other games online without voice chat just fine. They weren’t competitive at all, but it still worked; and, more importantly, was still fun.
But as a company that’s constantly under fire for being behind the times, Splatoon isn’t going to earn them any votes. This is the same company that opted for cartridges in the CD era; decided to forgo internet connectivity on the GameCube when online gaming was coming in to its own on Xbox and Playstation 2; decided against HD graphics on the Wii.
It’s not like voice chat is a missing feature on the Wii U either. Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. offer voice chat, as does Call of Duty: Black Ops II–a Wii U launch title, and a third party game.
As a fan of Nintendo, and an advocate for the Wii U in general, I sincerely hope that if Splatoon forgoes voice chat while in a party with friends, that it works. Like I said earlier, they haven’t confirmed whether or not it’ll be in the game, other than it won’t if you’re playing with random people.
But if Nintendo decides against voice chat altogether, does that kill your interest in Splatoon?
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling reviews, public relations, and our social media communications on Facebook and Twitter. He’s an aspiring video game journalist that one day hopes to make this writing thing a living, and will always miss living in his hometown of Baltimore. If he’s not writing, he’s usually glued to a game or watching low budget horror films with his three cats. Get in touch with him by e-mail at the address above, or follow him on Twitter.