Regarding the Party system, here's my compromise. In the Regular modes (With Lock-On and Radar), the team's would be mixed regardless of friends/rivals etc. While in the Hardcore/Competitive/Real Men Play Here modes (No Lock-On, Radar) you would be paired up with your friends so that way you can actually talk to them In-Game.
Oh, and someone made this comment in donkeypunch's topic: "Most players don't want to try hard."
You don't go into a ranked online match to screw around. There's a reason it's ranked. Go into a private match if you want to screw around. I personally like the way Halo does it, having Social (Non-Ranked) and Ranked (Stats are Tracked) modes. That way you can screw around with people and have fun when you want to.
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