The FPS scene on consoles is now heavily dominated by Call of Duty and Battlefield, two games in direct competition which both strive for realism. They both have their legions of fans and are involved in a war of their own, but both are detrimental to the genre as a whole. Here I shall explain why.
Their dominance breeds a lack of creativity in the genre
Imagine having an original idea and trying to go up against both these powerhouses. Developers simply cannot justify spending big money on original AAA FPS titles as almost certain failure will occur. Sci-fi and fantasy based shooters have become a thing of the past and no gripping storyline or kick ass multiplayer will change that. It creates a situation where we will never experience another great Unreal Tournament or Timesplitters because military shooters have sucked in many old fans and demand simply doesn’t justify the budget required in creating these games. It’s not either of the games fault, it’s our fault for putting realism before anything else.
Even the recently released Titanfall held a lot back. Instead, it catered to the Call of Duty crowd and failed to explore the wonderful surroundings we seen glimpses of in the cut scenes. Titanfall took the template of Call of Duty and Battlefield and added more misery by completely removing a campaign, something I expect to happen a lot more often in the future. FPS games seem to focus less on single player these days, the cost and the effort involved are too much considering no-one seems to play them anyway. It’s a sad time for the genre.
The importance is now on physics, graphics and animation
Yearly releases make them feel more like sports games. No real improvement, just minor graphical tweaks seem to be what we’re stuck with. Gamers have shown throughout the last few years that they do not care how a game plays, only how it looks and feels. There is no soul to shooters anymore, they are mindless, fast paced, bullet-spam fests with no purpose or emotion. I don’t care about the characters involved, I feel absolutely nothing. It’s a strange feeling considering the amount of emotion war can bring out of an individual. I don’t worry about dying because I already feel dead. If developers really wanted to go down the realism path then surely feelings are real too?
Isn’t the point of games to offer an escapism from reality?
Sure, they both have elements which are unfortunately not part of real life (such as respawning) but beyond this the games try to mirror a real life war. When I play a game I want to be taken to a world full of endless possibilities, strange creatures and futuristic, reality defying weapons are the order of the day for me. Games of old gave me this in abundance but they are becoming few and far between these days. Halo is probably one of the only big FPS games which is still going which offers this, although with dwindling sales it’s hard to see the success continue.
I understand the need for military shooters to focus on realism but the sacrifices they make to get there should not be overlooked. When was the last time you actually played one where the campaign blew you away and everyone played it? Probably before the introduction of online gaming I bet.
What does the future hold?
Probably more of the same I’m afraid. The success of the Call of Duty doesn’t seem like slowing and Battlefield always puts in huge numbers. We always go on about what games like Quake, Halo and Unreal Tournament did for online gaming but it’s what they did for the genre as a whole which is most commendable. They created their own worlds, own weapons and made Sci-Fi stand tall against the relentless wave of miltary shooters. I long for the days of fantasy and sci-fi games to be back on top, I fear if Halo flops like I predict it will then we could see the death of a sub-genre which has captivated gamers since Doom hit our PCs all those years ago. I still have hope.