Online Shooters Need to Move On

by Benjamin Yoder, posted on 08 July 2011 / 5,082 Views
Online Shooters Need to Move On
Shooters have seen a heavy presence across the industry for many years. Quake dominated the late 90s, the Halo series kept the original Xbox alive for years, and the Call of Duty franchise has been bringing millions upon millions back with each entry. And now-a-days, first-person shooters play the biggest role in the industry, probably closely followed by third person shooters.  But, in many cases, gamers' aren't picking up these titles for an epic single player campaign, they're picking it up for the multiplayer. 
Ever since 2007, the Call of Duty franchise has remained not only the king of the first person shooter market, but also left almost every other shooter in the dust. The series has continued to push forward with yearly releases. Each release not only pulls in the existing fanbase, but also brings in friends and family join in on the fun. The original Modern Warfare revolutionized the online multiplayer scene with kill streaks, perks, the streaming-lining of customizable load-outs, a rank system and plenty of other online goodies. But ever since Modern Warfare, the online multi-player scene has become a bit stagnant. Companies are constantly trying to play catch-up with the franchise and, in many cases, rarely catch on
Multiplayer shooters have gone for significant periods of time without innovation in the past. 1995 through the early 2000s relied heavily on domination of the map and weapon spawns to build yourself arsenal to fit every situation. After that, online shooters saw a step by step transformation as titles like Halo, the original Call of Duty and Battlefield took the scene. It feels like we're due for some sort of big mix up in the online shooting realm. To a certain extent, that may be the Battlefield franchise. The concepts may not be new, but it is a refreshing change from what Call of Duty has been bombarding us with each year. 
Recently the Uncharted 3 beta launched on PlayStation Network. Having not played Uncharted 2, it is a bit hard for me to say where the multiplayer has or hasn't improved. But there was a single stand out feature. One of the stages has a Power Stone 2-like multi-level system. For the first few minutes of combat, you're jumping from truck to truck trying to take control of a plane while fighting the opposing team. After that, the match moves to a hanger where where players duke it out until the timer hits zero. It's a small change, and who knows, maybe in the final product that will be one of only a couple levels that pull this sort of structure. I don't expect this feature alone to mix up the scene, but it still offered something fresh that reminded me how little has changed over the last handful of years. Sure, most shooters have slight changes in terms of play-style, but they aren't different enough to shake-up the market. Well... Outside of the pseudo-single player and multiplayer found in MindJack, but that was so bad there was absolutely no hope of it innovating anything. At least it was trying.
The whole scene almost reminds me of the MMO market and how most titles are shooting for a comfort zone within World of Warcraft's formula. And while from a game design perspective that's definitely a safe bet, it almost back fires as the the titles don't differentiate themselves enough to outweigh the majority's invested value into World of Warcraft, or in this case, Call of Duty. It's important that a developer tries to change the scene, while not completely leaving out features that just flat out work. With the right mix and the right budget, a new player may come on the scene that could shake-up the online shooting realm. But Battlefield 3 is probably the safest bet in the foreseeable future.

Shooters have seen a heavy presence across the industry for many years. Quake dominated the late 90s, the Halo series kept the original Xbox alive for years, and the Call of Duty franchise has been bringing millions upon millions back with each entry. And now-a-days, first-person shooters play the biggest role in the industry, probably closely followed by third person shooters.  But, in many cases, gamers' aren't picking up these titles for an epic single player campaign, they're picking it up for the multiplayer. 

Ever since 2007, the Call of Duty franchise has remained not only the king of the first person shooter market, but also left almost every other shooter in the dust. The series has continued to push forward with yearly releases. Each release not only pulls in the existing fanbase, but also brings in friends and family join in on the fun. The original Modern Warfare revolutionized the online multiplayer scene with kill streaks, perks, the streaming-lining of customizable load-outs, a rank system and plenty of other online goodies. But ever since Modern Warfare, the online multi-player scene has become a bit stagnant. Developers are constantly trying to play catch-up with the franchise and, in many cases, rarely catch on.

Multiplayer shooters have gone for significant periods of time without innovation in the past. 1995 through the early 2000s relied heavily on domination of the map and weapon spawns to build yourself arsenal to fit every situation. After that, online shooters saw a step by step transformation as titles like Halo 2, the original Call of Duty and Battlefield 1942 took the scene. It feels like we're due for some sort of big mix up in the online shooting realm. To a certain extent, that may be the Battlefield franchise. The concepts may not be new, but it is a refreshing change from what Call of Duty has been bombarding us with each year. 

 Recently the Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta launched on PlayStation Network. Having not played Uncharted 2, it is a bit hard for me to say where the multiplayer has or hasn't improved. But there was a single stand out feature. One of the stages has a Power Stone 2-like multi-level system. For the first few minutes of combat, you're jumping from truck to truck trying to take control of a plane while fighting the opposing team. After that, the match moves to a hanger where where players duke it out until the timer hits zero. It's a small change, and who knows, maybe in the final product that will be one of only a couple levels that pull this sort of structure. I don't expect this feature alone to mix up the scene, but it still offered something fresh that reminded me how little has changed over the last handful of years. Sure, most shooters have slight changes in terms of play-style, but they aren't different enough to shake-up the market. Well... Outside of the pseudo-single player and multiplayer found in MindJack, but that was so bad there was absolutely no hope of it innovating anything. At least it was trying.

 The whole scene almost reminds me of the MMO market and how most titles are shooting for a comfort zone within World of Warcraft's formula. And while from a game design perspective that's definitely a safe bet, it almost back fires as the the titles don't differentiate themselves enough to outweigh the majority's invested value into World of Warcraft, or in this case, Call of Duty. It's important that a developer tries to change the scene, while not completely leaving out features that just flat out work. With the right mix and the right budget, a new player may come on the scene that could shake-up the online shooting realm. But Battlefield 3 is probably the safest bet in the foreseeable future.


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18 Comments

IAMAWESOME (on 08 July 2011)

What happened to fps when nobody cared for a multiplayer..? I love playing shooters with a great campaign. Honestly every shooter i get i dont care what the multiplayer has to offer. Multiplayer dont make games great. This is why i prefer rpgs, nobody is nagging or talking about multiplayer.


Strife91 (on 08 July 2011)

Truthfully. Call of Duty never revolutionized anything. A lot of those features you were talking about were in earlier Battlefield games in some form. Call of Duty just took it and made it more simple and mainstream.


Chrizum (on 08 July 2011)

If you want to see an original take on online FPS gameplay check out Section 8: Prejudice.


oniyide (on 08 July 2011)

Those days are dead iamawesome i for one am with you, still think Bioshock is the best FPS this gen, but we are outnumbered by COD freaks


MO-MO-KILLA (on 08 July 2011)

GOD, Do I agree with you buddy. I'm not going to sit here and pretend I'm almighty and that i don't like shooters, but I do play less and less of them because there is no innovation. CoD MW was a great game because it was a departure from the tried and true WWII formula, which was beginning to to get tiresome, but what Activision has done to it now, is damn near criminal. I always preferred third person shooters over first person, so I am an avid Gears player and was and still am addicted to the uncharted 2 MP, and I also participate in the UC3 beta and I can tell you that I absolutely love it. It is very much an improvement over the second, of course there are still things, like health, hit detection among others, but over all it feels like the finished product will be much better than the second.


MrMofongo624 (on 06 December 2011)

I think its time for developers to start being more creative. What happened to games like chrono trigger,final fantasy (the good ones), and grandia? developers just dont make rpgs nowadays. The only ones are demons (dark) souls, 3d heroes, valkyria chronicles, and ff13, the others kinda suck


Linkasf (on 09 July 2011)

Most shooters now FEEL like a Call of Duty game, and oddly their controls feel too similar as well. That's why I will not buy another shooter until I see some real changes.


Michael-5 (on 08 July 2011)

Just wait until next gen, it's not too far. Call of Duty exclusive map packs for 360 end in the 2012 installment, so it's likely CoD 2013 will be a next gen and likely this gen game. Also, outside of Call of Duty, shooters have innovated themselves. Gears of War 2 didn't introduce a waved based Horde Mode, but it really revolutionized it and made it so good that nearly every major multiplayer franchise has copied it, even Call of Duty. Left 4 Dead is it's own type of online game, and Battlefield Bad Company plays nothing like the main franchise Battlefields. It's just the leading franchise has grown stagnant, but people will eventually get tired of the same formula. I wouldn't be surprised if CoD came second to another online franchise next gen.


AceOfCakez (on 08 July 2011)

Agreed


snakefisher (on 11 July 2011)

this article should say fps's should stop ripping off halo


WiseOwl (on 11 July 2011)

Where did all the RPGs go?


RockMan10 (on 10 July 2011)

Have you played Halo: Reach?? They have Hockey.. and Hog Potato. It has nothing to do with being able to play an FPS, and it is loads of fun. Not to mention being able to mod your game and create your own maps.


Phoeniks.Wright (on 09 July 2011)

I've only got 2 suggestions: stop trying to be like call of duty, and how about on release, instead of having only about 10 maps on release, have something like 20. Or more, instead of bleeding DLC.


usrevenge (on 09 July 2011)

soon as EA/dice get off the PC bandwagon and start giving console support for their games their sales will pick up though. i think battlefield 3 will come closer then BC2, but it will still fail because their main platform is PC, and shooters last 2 gens have been pretty low sale wise.


usrevenge (on 09 July 2011)

call of duty is simply the best pick u and play arcade style FPS. it has no real depth but it made it easier for the younger crowd as well as older people who just wanted to kill an hour mindlessly killing people. COD has done as much bad for the industry as good. its on the level of halo ODST bad, except every year we get call of duty 4+newlocation.


vashkey (on 08 July 2011)

I don't see how shooters not constantly making drastic reinventions make them any less innovative than any other genre. The same could be said of pretty much any other genre. Shooters are constantly changing bit by bit. Creating and sharing user created content is finally catching on shooters, Bad Company made a real push for real destructible environments, the phased based matches described in the article for the Uncharted 3 beta has already been implemented in games like Halo: Reach, MAG and Killzone. Nothing big has really happened these past couple years but it's kinda ridiculous to expect huge innovations and immediate mass adoption of these ideas on a regular basis.


thranx (on 08 July 2011)

Other shooters have similar modes already. The multi objective team based modes. CoD and Halo each have a playlist like that. Or I am missing your point. Also shooter have been evolving this whole time. I dont know which ones you have been playing but shooters seem to add new features all the time to differentiate themselves from each other.


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spurgeonryan (on 08 July 2011)

Multiplayer, playing with others, co-op is the new and still next thing that people want to do. No one (well there are a lot) wants to sit and play a single player game anymore.