The game of the week for this week's Retro Weekly is one that is very close to my heart: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
What First-Person Shooter Games Need To Do To Keep Me Enticed
The recent announcement of Call of Duty: Ghosts got me thinking about my own opinions about the first-person shooter genre. FPS’s have never been my strong suit, and as such, I have never played too many of them in a year. However, every once in a while, when new releases are few and far between, I acquire the urge to play these games. I don’t play it because of the story, but mostly for the game play. Current-gen FPS’s all have fairly addicting game play mechanics, and serve to relieve me of a few afternoons of boredom. Although, I usually wait until a shooter’s price is dramatically reduced before I buy it. For example, I only played Black Ops II for the one weekend that the multiplayer was free on Steam. I knew I would only get a couple of matches out of it, but it was good enough for me.
Because of my lack of experience with the genre, whenever I do find a game that I want to spend a while with, I usually groan at the multiplayer due to the extremely varying skill levels. Also, of all the shooters that I have played, none of their single-player campaigns have really stood out to me as “incredible.” I have never played the campaign of a Call of Duty game, although I have heard mostly good things, while the campaigns I have played, such as Crysis 2 and Far Cry 3, have had less than satisfying stories.
So, because of the reasons above and a few others, I have composed a short list of features that when included in shooter games, really entice me and make me want to play them for a much longer time than I would otherwise.
1: Interesting story / character development
Oftentimes when I play shooters, the stories and characters leave much to be desired. If you were to ask me what happened in Crysis 2, I absolutely could not tell you, and I played through the campaign twice! Whereas, while I know what happened in Borderlands and Far Cry 3, that doesn’t mean I have to be impressed by it. Those games all have different mechanics that make them entertaining, but it could not hurt to improve the story. Gearbox took the hint with Borderlands 2, and it is a better game because of it.
In Far Cry 3, the story actually interested me quite a bit, at least in the first half, but the character development was severely lacking. I understand that it is difficult for developers to correctly demonstrate the transformation from an innocent person to a killer, but Far Cry 3 completely forgoes this with its protagonist Jason Brody. He starts out as a mostly innocent kid trapped on an island and only wanting to get off, but that quickly evolves into a character who slaughters countless hordes of men, but still says “yuck” whenever he cuts open an animal. However, the story is the only thing about Far Cry 3 that I did not like, and it is the inspiration for the next item on my list.
2: Open gameplay
Far Cry 3 is an open world game much in the vein of Skyrim and Fallout, although the size of the world does not begin to touch those games. The game gives you set tasks to accomplish, but no time limit to accomplish them in, and while this takes away from the realism in some aspects, it is fine by me. As far as I am concerned, this is one of the main reasons that the Call of Duty series bores me. I understand the appeal of a shorter campaign, but my taste in games usually call for a long story to play through.
The Borderlands series also does this fairly well, although the world is not “open” in the same sense as Far Cry 3. Borderlands 1 and 2 are both far from linear, offering a plethora of side missions to anyone willing to embark on them. In my opinion, any optional content is good content, as it is not mandatory to complete the content, but it can still prove to be entertaining. However, Borderlands does something else even better…
One of the things that Borderlands does best is its progression system. The ability to gain levels and purchase skills that influence different aspects of your character is undeniably entertaining. The difference between the protagonist of a Battlefield game and the protagonist of a Borderlands game is that while the former may gain insight into their character throughout the game, they never play any different, whereas the Borderlands protagonist eventually becomes someone who can setup turrets that heal them and revive allies, or summon a bat to kill their enemies. I may not be extremely insightful as to the game play of Battlefield and Call of Duty, but I’m almost positive that that kind of stuff does not happen in a military shooter.
4: More than a dozen weapons
Another thing Borderlands does well is supplying the player with such a variety of guns that no two players have the same arsenal. This not only provides replay value, but it also provides a good talking point with friends. Two people can compare the absurdly powerful and ridiculous weapons they get and even share them with their friends. The Borderlands series is successful for a reason, and I believe that the main reason for that is the abundance of weapons it offers the player.
5: Balanced matchmaking
My final point is for improvements to the online matchmaking components of games such as Call of Duty and Crysis. Since I do not play FPS’s all that much, my skill level is far below that of the people who prestige several times throughout their time with the game. My skill level may be low, but that does not mean I will not ever want to play the multiplayer. However, at times when I would like to sit down and play a few matches, I always end up getting paired with a couple of people that are twenty or thirty levels ahead of me, and can easily destroy me, as they have clearly been playing the game longer than I have. I do not know exactly what would need to be changed, but some sort of mechanic that would only match people with those a couple levels within theirs would be much appreciated. Although, I have spoken to other people about it, and have come to the conclusion that I may just be unlucky, as others that I have talked to recall having decent matches with fairly leveled people.
These five points are by far the biggest things on my list as far as what makes FPS’s interesting to me. Unfortunately, I have yet to come across a game that has delivered all of these components in one single package. To date, Far Cry 3 probably does the best job, although it does not dish out a huge amount of weapons.
Are there any games I did not mention that fit these criteria? If so, please comment on it below, and thanks for reading!