We’ve only had Warzone 2.0 for a few hours, and it’s already clear that proximity chat is an absolutely bonkers new feature. Today, the brand-new battle royale from Call of Duty launched an hour or so earlier than planned, and there are a ton of new features to parse through—an entirely revamped inventory system, a tag-team gulag, and proximity chat aka toxicity in your vicinity.
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A video from FaZe Clan member ZooMaa shows off just how powerful proximity chat can be as a means of weeding out enemy squad members—and talking so much shit they get nervous and choke. “Come here buddy, I hear you dude,” an enemy says during ZooMaa’s stream. ZooMaa then smack-talks him back, repeatedly asking “where are you?” before the two engage in a hilarious shouting/shooting match.
Of course, famous Call of Duty streamer TimTheTatman has also already weighed in on the proximity chat discourse, sharing a video of himself telling an enemy to “peep the head” before he headshots them and calling the new feature “content.”
It’s unclear how close you have to be for proximity chat to kick in, and if you have your in-game chat off or your mic muted, it won’t really matter. But when it does start working, it’s obvious that it’s the kind of feature that will only spawn more chaos, more yelling, and in a lot of cases, more toxicity. Will this game make playing against dudes more insufferable? Maybe. Will I double down on being equally annoying? You bet.
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During my first Warzone 2.0 quads match, my teammates and I picked up a bounty contract and were given the location of an enemy player to take out, which would award us a fat stack of cash. As we drew closer to the location on our tac-map, it became clear that the enemy, aware of the bounty on his head, went to the tippy-top of the highest building in the area. As we climbed it searching for him, his voice suddenly rang out in my headset, his name in the bottom left-hand corner of my scream.
“Get the fuck away from me!” he yelled, panic rising in his voice. “I’m coming for you, baby,” I sang back. My team all began singing “we’re coming for you” like the ghosts of schoolchildren from the 19th century until we flushed him out. His last words were “god dammit.”
It is abundantly clear within the first few hours of launch that Warzone 2.0’s proximity chat is going to be a polarizing feature. For marginalized people playing Call of Duty, it could be yet another way for them to be the subject of harassment. Fortunately, you can turn off proximity chat, voice chat, and last words chat all in the Warzone 2.0 settings menu. If you’re like me, however, and have been hardened by 20 years of abuse from straight cishet men in FPS titles, you’re welcome to join me in keeping proximity chat on.