A single new feature in Warzone 2 is already changing how the game is played. Proximity chat, or the ability to hear the mic chatter of nearby enemies, is now on by default in all Warzone modes. You'll know you're hearing an enemy when you see a red chat indicator on the left of your HUD.
In the first hours of Warzone 2's launch day, proximity chat encounters are ranging from surprisingly wholesome to heartbreaking tragedy. Players are utilizing their freedom of speech to negotiate truces, form temporary alliances, taunt each other from afar, and of course, stab each other in the back.
How about a nice one first? This clip shared by Redditor AntiPiety warmed my jaded Call of Duty heart. Piety tracked two players in a battle royale match for several minutes by following the sound of their voice comms. When he finally caught up to them, Piety managed to knock both into DBNO and chatted with them before finishing them off. The trio exchange pleasantries, share a laugh about which one of them has a self-revive in their pocket, and then Piety decides to let them both live.
"Aw I love that, thanks man," one of the spared players says as Piety leaves them be.
It cannot be overstated how unlikely that outcome would've been just 24 hours ago in Warzone 1.0. When enemies don't have a voice, it's easy to forget there are real people behind those keyboards trying to have fun in the same videogame you're playing. I certainly don't expect most Warzone 2 firefights to end in a ceasefire, but I love that it's possible.
On the other side of the coin are players discovering the sociopathic potential of using proximity chat to attract allies so they can immediately betray them, as demonstrated by CoD streamer Jack "CouRage" Dunlop:
Proximity chat in Warzone 2 is going to be absolutely incredible #Warzone2 @StoolGametime @CouRageJD @timthetatman pic.twitter.com/QgcPxuB7LVNovember 16, 2022
"Let's be friends, I promise I won't kill you. This is my first time ever playing this," the excited fan says to Dunlop's squad.
"We won't kill you, come to our building," Dunlop insists. The fan obeys, offering his humble firearms to the streamer's cause. Dunlop instructs the fan to open his ping wheel and request to join their squad, and moments later empties an entire AK-47 clip into his head.
"Welcome to Warzone 2, b*tch!" Dunlop yells before laughing for 12 uninterrupted seconds.
There are a few other examples of this deceitful tactic in action so far, mostly from streamers who are presumably looking for opportunities for easily shareable clips. Streamer DiazBiffle and friends managed to coax a lone player down from a tower, rob them of their armor plates, and make them dance before executing them:
Proximity chat is gonna be too fun 😂 #Warzone2 #ModernWarfareII pic.twitter.com/7d1Ntr8itXNovember 16, 2022
I consider this the "baby's first" response to proximity chat. It's naturally one of the first things we think of doing when given open comms in a competitive environment. We saw the true potential of social engineering and tactical swindling explored in the early days of DayZ and Rust. I had my share of Dunlop-like encounters in DayZ (as both the aggressor and the betrayed), but that was 10 years ago. With hindsight, you realize that being a clever jerk in a videogame is still being a jerk.
On the other hand, I laughed pretty hard at the guy fighting with AlmondTV in this clip, who is presumably so busy antagonizing the squad outside his building that he loses focus:
I LOVE PROXIMITY CHAT 🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/kVLFdMpMPuNovember 16, 2022
There are also ways to have meaningful interactions through proximity chat while staying respectfully competitive, as shown by YouTuber Xed_FPS' impromptu rooftop pistol duel with a nearby player:
Proximity chat is the best thing #Warzone2 has ever added!😂😂 pic.twitter.com/t0QJCeLZveNovember 16, 2022
One player has even managed to weaponize the chaos of proximity chat to make an enemy believe they have the upper hand. In this clip, streamer Devious (whose POV isn't shown but can be heard) impersonates an enemy squadmate and tells them there are two downed players inside.
LMFAO I faked being on their team in proximity chat and said 2 were knocked to push across the road and they fell for it I'm dead pic.twitter.com/Xre0s2KAzONovember 16, 2022
"I knocked two I knocked two, push push push," Devious fibs. Almost immediately, one enemy emerges from cover, approaches the building, and gets wiped out.
"I thought you said there were two knocked in the building?" the bewildered, dead player cries.
"That's not us," adds a distant voice.
There is beauty and chaos to be had in proximity chat, but also plenty of opportunity for toxicity. I plan to keep it on while it's fun, though the shine might wear off after a few weeks. If you'd like to turn it off forever and never have to worry about some random screaming obscenities in your ear, you'll find the toggle after scrolling down a bit in audio settings.