The most popular genre in gaming today is the first-person shooter. Not even the most close-minded fanboys can deny this. Each year, the Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Halo franchises break records and rake in truckloads of money from millions of sales. The total number of hours logged into these games by players all over the world are almost uncountable. This even extends to the PC front, where old games such as Quake Live, Team Fortress 2, and Counterstrike still have strongly dedicated fanbases and receive new content on a regular basis from both the creators and the fans.
It’s such a shame that the FPS genre is also notorious for being one of the most stagnant genres around.
Everywhere you look, a new shooter is being released, yet the core mechanics are completely identical to one another. Whether it’s Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Killzone, Homefront, Battlefield, or the upcoming Halo 4, they all boil down to the same thing. You hide behind a chest-high wall, peek out and shoot at some Commie-Nazi-Korean Terrorist from Space, duck behind said wall so your health can recharge, and repeat until the credits roll after some idiotic cliffhanger ending three hours later.
Multiplayer is worse still. New players are constantly stuck with the worst guns for the first several hours, and there’s a never-ending supply of douchey players that turn what is supposed to be a fun way to kill time into anything but. Of course, this is all assuming that the shooter you invested money in still has people playing it a couple weeks after release.
Yet people still buy into these shooters time and time again, only further encouraging developers to not change a thing. With so many cookie-cutter shooters (Cookie-shooters? Is there a patent on this?) being released at such a high frequency, it’s only a matter of time before shooters as we know them will die out. We saw the same thing happen to the JRPGs and the instrument-based music game this generation. Evolution is a necessity for any genre in any medium to survive, and it’s high time the first-person shooter started making the advancements that it has been long overdue in.
Luckily, I have just the ideas that would guarantee a new era of amazing shooters.
Please keep in mind that all of these ideas are geared towards the multiplayer end of the shooting spectrum. I mean, let’s face it, single-player campaigns in FPS’ are little more than glorified training modes that don’t actually prepare you to be good online. Even crappy PC-only shooters like Planetside realized this ages ago; many popular ones don’t even have a campaign anymore, just a training mode with A.I. opponents. There’s only so much you can do with A.I. that doesn’t notice you’re there until you start shooting at it, so let’s focus on the mode that people actually buy these games for.
I’ll begin with a popular issue that has plagued many a multiplayer shooter since the genre’s beginnings.
Kill the Camper
You know the drill: a match starts up, and you rush out of the spawn point all excited to plug digital holes in people. Next thing you know, your head’s been blown off by some butthole halfway across the map, and you’re stuck waiting for the respawn timer to count down so you can play again. You finally come back into the game only to discover that another enemy is now in your base and shoving his rocket launcher down your throat before you can so much as take a single step.
This is the camper, a.k.a. the guy out to ruin the fun for everybody. How is a player supposed to show off his sick skills when these lazy losers never give you the chance to even figure out where you just spawned? Campers cause nothing but headaches and destroyed controllers. It’s time for them to learn some actual FPS skills like everyone else.
My solution is a simple one: put a system in place that monitors potential camping activity in every match. If someone starts to rack up kills without moving an inch, the game will automatically kill that player and punish them with an increased respawn time. If said camper does not learn his lesson and tries to return to the same spot, he will immediately be killed again and will no longer be allowed to use the weapon he made those previous kills with for the rest of the match. If for some reason the player is dumb enough to try this again, he will be ejected from the match. Repeated instances of camp-kicking will result in a permanent account ban with no chance of being appealed or lifted.
To make sure the camper does not attempt to come up with a workaround, any players bored enough to spectate a match can report a player if they start displaying camp-like behavior. In addition, this system will never be discussed in any preview of the game, thus removing any chance of potential butthurt campers from dissing the system and turning away potential players. Camping has its purposes, but unless they involve marshmallows and sleeping bags, then none of them can be found in multiplayer shooters.
If you’ve played a multiplayer shooter for more than five seconds, then you know that a teabag is not what you put in a pot to make something to drink other than Mountain Dew and Powerade. It’s still baffling to this day that despite the pacing of the multiplayer match steadily growing faster, you’ll still find these guys happily shoving their digital junks into a guy they just killed. It serves no practical purpose whatsoever, and the victim rarely gets a close-up of the virtual stank.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, I say. Since teabaggers seem so adamant on teabagging, let’s reward their attempts at proclaiming their sexual orientation.
Enter the Atomic Teabag, an ability fit for any class-based shooter. To make it work, simply pick the designated class and dry-hump a few corpses to charge a meter. When fully charged, the player can now insta-kill a single enemy within range by leaping high into the air and coming down on their face sack-first.
There would be limitations to this, naturally. You can only gain charge by teabagging players you just killed, and missing an enemy with it would result in instant death. Why wouldn’t it? You just racked yourself at the speed of terminal velocity, champ. That would make any grizzly, bald, muscleheaded marine (i.e. every protagonist in every modern shooter ever) weep like a little girl.
Now I know this seems like a wildly stupid and unrealistic power-up that could only be used in the most obnoxious of shooters, but I feel that it could be useful for any shooter. I mean, it’s not like most military shooters these days are all that realistic to begin with.
If there is one aspect of most military-focused shooters that is outright baffling, it’s regenerating health. These games are made to simulate real-life military conflicts as closely as possible, yet this feature is the most unrealistic addition possible. How am I supposed to take a game about saving the world from crazed terrorists seriously when my guy can undo dozens of bullet wounds by sitting behind a corner?
Real life statistics tell us that if you get hit anywhere with a bullet, you’re pretty much out of the fight. Common sense also tells us that an untreated bullet wound can cause all sorts of nasty problems down the line, most likely ending in some form of painful death.
So why not go the extra mile and add some more authenticity to the genre? Instead of your health going back up when you’re finished with a firefight, have it get progressively worse. Took a bullet to the leg? Lose health faster when you sprint. Got one in the arm? Shooting costs you health. The only way to reverse this is to hope a medic class shows up and performs some first response on you before you die from shock and blood loss.
Implementing this feature will immediately solve two problems. First, it prevents lazy developers from just slapping down a few chest-high walls in a corridor and calling it a level. Secondly, it helps to insure some strategy in the genre. Nobody will want to run around like they’re Rambo when they know they can’t just simply run and hide while their HUD slowly removes the raspberry jam blocking their view.
But on the off-chance they still do, I know of just the catch-all method to put a stop to that.
Suckbans and Fagbans
The biggest problem that has plagued competitive online matches since the first Doom multiplayer match is poor balancing. No matter what, it’s impossible to ever get into a match of evenly-skilled players. It’s an issue that is by no means limited to just the FPS. Playing a fighting game online, for instance, is like playing Russian Roulette with only one empty chamber. You either get the guy who doesn’t know how to block, or the guy who traps you in an inescapable combo a fraction of a second into the fight.
Whether you’re the curbstomper or the curbstompee, matches like this are just not fun. You know, that thing we play these games for to begin with. Genuine rounds that don’t progress like watching a pro wrestler take on a fat grade-schooler are far too scarce, and every attempt at a proper matchmaking system has yet to fix this issue.
There’s only one way to truly create a competing ground of equals, and that is to kick out the extremes.
Presenting the Suckban™ and Fagban™. Though named differently, these two features are one in the same. A secret, completely invisible number is attached to every player’s account. This number goes up and down depending on a variety of stats such as kill/death ratios, win/loss ratios, rankings at the end of matches, time played, gaps between play sessions, and reports from other players.
Should this number ever reach zero, the game will declare that the player in question sucks too much to appreciate the game, and thus is not fit to play any further, rewarding them with an immediate lifelong ban. On the other hand, players who achieve a ridiculously high number are declared a loser whose exceptional prowess comes at the expense of everyone else’s fun, and are also banned instantly. And that’s all there is to it. No more noobs ruining your team’s chances at victory, and no more hyper-skilled no-lifers ruining your chances at entertainment.
Now, I can understand players on both extremes being upset with being kicked out of a game for being too good or too bad, but let’s be honest here. If you suck too much to play, then maybe this just isn’t your game (Might I recommend Kirby’s Epic Yarn?). If you’re a fag, then you’ve been playing this game long enough, and it’s time for you to move on. There are other games out there for you to aggravate players in; many of them won’t even ban you for it.
I have plenty more ideas for improving the FPS experience – crotch shots in place of headshots, throwing flags like javelins, banning the keyboard/mouse controls and making controllers mandatory on PC shooters – but these four ideas are sure to usher in a new era of FPS. An era made by gamers who play games for fun, not to make their wang seem larger or make other people yell obscenities.
Now if only these shooters would make their way onto the Wii-U.
About the author: The Sheep is a die-hard Nintendo fanboy. Having grown up with Nintendo games, he can’t imagine how anyone can not like Mario and the classic Nintendo franchises. He owns a full collection of Nintendo plushies which he poses accordingly.