Wii U Voice Chat: Great Feature, Bad Set Up
All of us are anxious to find out more about the Wii U online gaming community. Some feel that Nintendo’s lack of information points to a less than stellar experience, others feel that Nintendo won’t let us down. Regardless, we all have to wait and see.
A small clue to the online gaming experience comes in the form of voice chat. The Wii U will allow players to speak with one another, via a headset, much like Sony and Microsoft’s online community. For me, this alone makes the online experience more robust than we have previously had.
Although I am excited to correspond with my teammates, and foes, in online battles, I am a bit worried about the set up. Currently, the Wii U Pro controller does not have a headphone jack. This means that, in order to use the headset, you must connect it to the Wii U game pad (the one with the screen). Note, the gamepad does have a mic, but the mic is not compatible with online game play (at least at this time, but hopefully in the future).
Another downside is that there are only two officially licensed headsets currently available, from MadCatz and Turtle Beach and neither of them are wireless, so as you play, with the Pro controller in hand, the head phones must be tethered to the Wii U game pad at your side. It also appears as though voice chat will only work with the officially licensed controllers, although I am sure we will see third party’s creating their own versions (hopefully wireless) soon . It is unclear whether any wired headset will work, so it is possible that it will use a proprietary connector (this has not been confirmed). Another hope is that a future version of the pro controller will have a headphone jack.
Finally, it does not appear as though all multi-player games will even support the voice chat feature. Most of the big titles, such as Assassin’s Creed III, will support the feature. However, don’t expect to have an all day gaming marathon with friends while planning your next move in Black Ops. The Pro controller will allow you to easily play for around 80 hours (rumored) on one battery charge, but the Wii U game pad only has an approximate 3-5 hour battery life. So, you might need to take a break while the batteries recharge or sit quietly in the background.
I have faith that we will see a bluetooth headset soon, but until then, I am just happy to see that Nintendo has given us a more robust online experience by adding the voice chat. Now, if only they will share more information about the online experience!
What are your thoughts