I admit FPS isn’t my favorite genre but I do love the good ones, and sometimes I play the mediocre ones when they it sounds like they are trying something new.
My overall impression is that FPS needs some fundamental changes. Everything that goes on in their gameplay is a mix of the same elements that have populated them for the past generation. Even though these are not real life shooting simulators it’s clear that the industry has been moving toward an abundance of reality-based experiences. If that’s the case then why are developers still using archaic design principles dreamed up decades ago as a basis for modern games?
Generation changes used to mean things got recalculated, more problems were solved and better experiences crafted. In the FPS genres so far the PS4 and Xbox One offerings appear to be more of the same. That’s not too unusual for the beginning of a generation but I think it’s time for developers to rethink how the experience should go down for players.
“How can it get any better? How would you change it?” folks may ask. As always you want to use the current computing power to solve the problems. A big problem is that for all intents and purposes you are actually driving a camera around with a gun attached near the lens. You don’t move like a human being. Sometimes a bob is added to simulate walking but this is an old practice that can develop no further. Most FPS have little or no weight, with some Killzone games being the exception. The perspective is usually wrong, either viewing the world through one’s chest or off the top of one’s head. You are able to run smoothly in all directions while facing any direction so easily it is as if your legs are operating independent of your body.
I propose a new method of creating an FPS. Third person shooters have addressed most of their issues through the years in a progressive fashion and I think they hold the key to bringing FPS back to life. If a brave developer were to construct their world and levels to the proper size (FPS currently gets dimension measurements wrong on a regular basis) then they would have a game world in which to place a character that will serve as the player. This player would have all the body physics and gravity effects associated with a detailed character model in a state of the art third person game. At this point the camera is mounted inside the head of the character so that everything people see is a reflection of what it would be like to look through that character’s eyes.
The gun moves with the arms and the camera realistically follows the head, which makes the walking genuine. Walking backward and sideways would no longer be like slipping along on ice skates, it would be subject to all the troubles that doing so could cause, giving the player a reason to face forward and run, which would likely raise your adrenaline more than taking and returning shots while you try to slip n slide your way to cover. Cover mechanics would work much better as well, FPS in its current state just can’t seem to get those to feel right.
The controls could use a shake up as well. Right now I have to say I’m feeling disconnected from the games that simply prompt me to press a button to perform all the actions. If I’m pressing a button to make my character do something more active than opening a door then that’s a missed opportunity for more controller interaction. Imagine that instead of jamming the same button over and over again to pull open an elevator you could instead place your hands on the doors with the trigger buttons and then rotate the sticks clockwise to apply pressure. Things can always be made more personal through proper controller interaction. They key is to make it just difficult enough to make it feel like something was accomplished.
Crouching would be like, well like crouching. When we crouch now it is the same as lifting the lever on your desk chair and letting it lower itself all the way down. The crawling in Outlast could serve as a model for how to move forward from just becoming a slightly slower midget as we always have. There are many considerations on how to make the rest of the game fit these parameters but that’s where new and exciting ideas come from. I am just a humble writer and know nothing about game development aside from industry news. However, even I can see that the old way of doing things in this genre is getting rusty. Perhaps this idea wouldn’t work, but I refuse to believe the visionaries in the industry don’t have some ideas.
Why change anything when Call of Duty is still the gold standard? Good question, because it’s easier to make the old fashioned games, it costs less, and they sell incredibly well. Sadly that tends to throw a monkey wrench into innovation, which is why so many games get the “generic” label these days. I wonder if any new experiments will take place at all this generation. Right now the only thing that gets headlines is trying to change how the online experience will be rather than the games themselves. I think things can still be improved, and with so many awesome single player experiences like the new Wolfenstein it’s time to shake the genre up by solving all the old issues with the new technology.
Who knows, maybe it will take the public playing first person games with the Rift or Morpheus on their head, recognizing that we don’t actually go into battle looking through our chests, to learn that adjustments must be made if you are in favor of advancement in the genre.