#1 Posted by BisonHero (6051 posts) -

While they're certainly increasing in technical complexity, I just haven't felt like first-person shooters have been thinking bigger for...quite a long time.

When you think back to Thief, Hitman, System Shock, and Deus Ex, those games were pretty nuts in terms of how much scope they had for the time, and how many things you could do, and how you could use their mechanics and systems. I guess some would make the argument that the games had so much complexity that the games became unwieldy or clumsy to play, but I think it is more than worth it.

When I look at what those series' have become, most of them are, at best, the same game like a decade later. Some of them are much simpler (Hitman: Absolution comes to mind). In either case, they don't seem to be thinking bigger. Is there just not much more that developers could cram into an FPS without it becoming full-on Fallout 3 and more of an RPG than a shooter?

Sure, there are indie/off-beat games doing weird stuff in FPS games, but I doubt it's ever going to start some new zeitgeist in the FPS genre. Receiver and ARMA have a high degree of specificity in one area, though they don't have the same kind of scope as the other games I mentioned. And uhhhh, Zeno Clash lets you shoot weird crossbows and spearguns made out of animal bone and shell and whatever, and then you barely use them because the game is actually a brawler, so I'll award points to them for doing something weird. Still, those things are not really raising the bar on the genre as a whole.

#2 Edited by JouselDelka (967 posts) -

Can you specify whether you're talking about

  • games in the first person perspective (everything in first person), or
  • first person shooters (pew pew), or
  • both first and third person games that are not hack and slash (DMC) or open world (GTA) but rather level-based story-driven action/stealth games? (Hitman, as you've mentioned)

Just for the sake of clarity.

But either way I think I get your point. And no I do believe these 'first person' games can offer much more than the same recycled formula we've been seeing in games such as The Darkness 2 where all that is added is certain (fun) gimmicks on top of the same level design and pacing and mechanics as the myriad of first person games that came before it.

DX Human Revolution did a great job maintaining the Deus Ex legacy when it comes to simply providing more to the experience than this recycled and safe formula. Giving you real freedom and making the adventure of navigating your way through a level, a real thrill. Crysis to me was the last first person shooter to actually take the genre birthed by Doom and established by Call of Duty into a new exciting place with new mechanics to learn and environments and AI to adapt to. And the relatively new Dishonored pushed the genre forward beautifully.

There's much more to do in this genre, there are many more mechanics to create and improve, interactions with the environment we've never dreamt of could happen, all kinds of stuff that provides a new exciting experience for me as a player, instead of following Elizabeth around waiting for a good story to unfold.

#3 Posted by BisonHero (6051 posts) -

@jouseldelka: I suppose your middle option, except I mean shooters of any perspective. "First- and third-person games that aren't hack and slash or open world" is rather broad, and I'm sure some games have raised the bar in that space.

But I really feel like shooters haven't raised the bar in what they actually do in a long time. They're raised the bar in spectacle and in being a linear thrill ride (Alan Wake, BioShock Infinite, Call of Duty, Half-Life 2), but I still feel like they've been rather stagnant since the early 2000s had all those games I mentioned.

#4 Edited by Ubersmake (754 posts) -

Do Thief, Hitman, System Shock, and Deus Ex count as FPS games? Thief is a stealth game that just happens to be in the first-person. I recall shooting more torches than people in that game. Hitman 1 wasn't technically in the first-person. Deux Ex was an RPG that had gunplay in it. System Shock is probably the closest to being a "first person shooter," with an emphasis on the "shooter," because of how much of the game was combat, but even that's arguable. It's not that I'm dismissing what these games did for the genre, but I feel like "FPS" is the most generic genre label out there.

It sounds like you're referring specifically the linear combat-heavy games that borrow from the Doom > Quake > Half-Life lineage. In that case, I don't think there's much more that can be done for that specific style of game, because they are, by design, linear and spectacular. They're a series of combat scenarios, possibly with navigation puzzles to give it variety. You make it more open, and you lose the linearity and the heavily scripted nature that games like Half-Life pioneered. You lose the scripting, and it becomes that much more difficult to make things spectacular, because who knows when the player will actually encounter those events, or even simply witness them. You lose the scripting, and it becomes that much more difficult to tell a story.

I think the big thing that happened with these games is that 3D happened, and developers started to do 3D on a GPU and everything else on a CPU. Half-Life had a software renderer (remember those?). System Shock 2 isn't even running on the same engine as the original System Shock. I think the next big thing will occur if devices like the Oculus Rift take off. Screens are restrictive, and there's only so much you can do with Track IR. If players can be given more situational awareness, developers will have more room to create interesting experiences. At the very least, they can do things they couldn't before for the sake of fun, because it isn't fun to be punished in a game for a lack of awareness that you couldn't possibly have. Even if processors get more and more powerful, it's difficult to scale up the experience if the player's awareness can't scale up along with it.

#5 Posted by Scrawnto (2433 posts) -

It seems like if Fallout 3 doesn't count for you, it's your definition of FPS that is keeping the boundaries from expanding, not a lack of effort from developers.

Why is it that the inclusion of RPG mechanics in System Shock and Deus Ex count as advancements for the FPS genre, but suddenly the expansion of many of those same things by Bethesda disqualifies them? Is it a ratio thing? Shooting/Other stuff? If that's the case, then it stands to reason that you can only add so much to the mechanical complexity of a game before the game is not strictly a shooter. There are only so many kinds of problems you can solve with bullets, so anything on top of that is something other than shooting.

#6 Edited by BisonHero (6051 posts) -

@scrawnto: When I think about it, I guess Fallout 3 straddles the RPG/FPS line as much as Deus Ex. I wanted to disqualify Fallout 3 on the grounds that your Small Guns (or whatever) skill just magically makes each shot do more damage and have less spread as you level it up, which seems like a pretty RPG kind of abstraction, but then the first Deus Ex (and only that Deus Ex) has basically the same system, where you level up a proficiency in a certain weapon and do more damage and have less spread.

So I give credit to Fallout 3, for taking the mechanics of the previous Fallout games and translating them pretty well to a first person shooter with considerable scope. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. deserves similar credit, I suppose.

I guess what I'm not seeing is any bold new moves being made in shooters with some linearity. You used to have some pretty cool options in Hitman games, but Absolution didn't give you very much freedom outside of the King of Chinatown mission. Bioshock doesn't have the same character customization that System Shock 2 had, and Bioshock Infinite is basically the same game mechanically as Bioshock except "yo dawg sometimes you skyline to a place instead of walking, and Elizabeth will randomly throw you items or help you by opening a tear".

Dishonored might be the best example of what I'm looking for, in that it has combat that does work a lot better than Thief or Deus Ex, but has missions that well designed and equally doable when you use a stealth approach.

#7 Edited by Animasta (14633 posts) -
#8 Posted by BisonHero (6051 posts) -

@animasta: I've totally been meaning to, but I kinda forgot until you reminded me just now. Thanks.

#9 Posted by Ares42 (2556 posts) -

While it might not have been some major leap forward (which also is sorta unrealistic to expect as things have had more time to develop) I'd say the tower climbing in Far Cry 3 was something quite different and well executed we haven't seen much of before. You also gotta remember that the games you talk about all comes from the era when first-person was the hip new thing and everyone wanted to make games based around that. In all honesty first-person has been going out of fashion this generation, with third-person taking the reins, and it's now mostly only preferred by the people who want to focus on making very adrenaline driven, intense, twitch gameplay games. For almost all other purposes third-person does a better job.

#10 Posted by phantomzxro (1558 posts) -

The problem you face is shooters with a larger focus often fall closer to niche titles that don't sell great numbers, while something like call of duty is printing money for publishers. So you will see far more shooters go the call of duty route then being some large open shooter. Now you will get some surprises and games that come close like far cry 3, Bioshock, and metro and crisis but i guess these would be more comprises then the full fleshed out open shooters.