You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. Anyone with their ear to the ground in the gaming world has heard it: the new Battlefield franchise entry is rumored to take place in World War I and it’s supposed to be released later on this year, around October, if a listing on a Swiss retailer is to be believed. It was changed rather quickly so I would be surprised if there wasn’t, at least, a little validity to it.
I’ve really fallen out of good standing with first person shooters, these days, especially in the last few years, for a few reasons: first and foremost, the games are becoming more and more multiplayer focused and some of them may as well not have a single player mode at all; also, the games, especially since Titanfall have all started to become incredibly overpowered, ridiculous, and unrealistic; probably the worst, though, is that there has been an incredible focus on expanding arsenal without really considering whether or not it’s needed.
I’d written an article quite a while ago about what Call of Duty could do to make their games way better but that has failed miserably and it doesn’t look to be getting better anytime soon; there doesn’t seem to be much hope but there was a time when I actually enjoyed first person shooters and there was a time when I was actually not half-bad at them, as well, but this was also a time when you had no online multiplayer at all. This predicted trend of going back to World War shooters gives me a lot of hope for the future but I’m extremely cautious so there’s a couple things that I’d like to see from future World War shooters, should there actually be any more, going forward…
No, I’m not talking about the highest poly counts, the most visible wrinkles and sweat on the skin of characters, the best explosions or even the best movement or AI; I’m talking about making these games easy to relate to and as close to the World War experience as possible. Let’s say, hypothetically, that we have a shooter that gives you the ability to play the D-Day invasion of Normandy on Omaha Beach and you’ve been playing for a while and you’ve established relationships with your team. You don’t get to soak in a million bullets as you become the one man who can take on a million: you take one errant bullet in the wrong spot and you go down for good. You don’t get to just patch up if you take a bullet in the leg. You don’t get a compass or a objective finder. You have one goal and one goal only: breach the beach and kill any Nazis on the way. Those guys have turrets and embankments and, essentially, the home advantage. You have what you can carry on your back, which isn’t saying much. The odds are terribly stacked against you in a scenario so unfair creeps in Dark Souls are pissing themselves. You don’t get autosaves. You either make it or you don’t.
That’s the kind of thing I want to see: something that evokes what being involved in a World War is really all about. War is not one of those one-against-the-world kind of scenarios where one man has the power to take down entire opposing forces; it’s about sometimes fighting for reasons you don’t understand, against people you don’t know, thrown into situations you likely won’t survive and, even if you survive, you will never, ever be the same. A game that tries to hone in on World War scenarios have the technology and the capability to really capture these feelings and I think that if someone really does take advantage of that and they’re one of the first, they will rake in money by the millions.
No Arena-Based Multiplayer
There’s enough multiplayer focused first-person shooters out there and if you want to get your competitive gaming strut on, there will continue to be games released in that category but if you want to do well with a game that features a World War scenario, let’s try to make this as single player as possible: if we’re going to involve multiplayer, let’s create scenarios where co-op is key: again, think about the Omaha Beach situation I brought up earlier and how much more exciting that might be if the entire battalion was made up of player characters. Turn on friendly fire so the realism gets pitched way up: I’m sure there were some people who snapped during those battles and went to crazy land and started shooting everything.
However, we need to stop with basic objective, arena-based multiplayer and it certainly does not belong in a World War era shooter. It’s had its time but it’s worn out its welcome with me and I would feel a lot more at home with scenario with a scenario like the one I outlined above, where you weren’t plopping the set pieces, characters, and armaments from the game and plopping them into the same old tired scenarios so gamers could achieve the same damn thing over and over and over again. With its place in eSports, I don’t think it’s ever going to truly go away but I certainly could stand to see less of it and this would be a brilliant place to see a start.
You might call me kind of a sadist but I would like to see the same kind of punishing difficulty found in Dark Souls and apply it to a shooter where you were constantly on your guard because you were in foreign territory and even a piece of shrapnel from an explosion that didn’t even have anything to do with you could kill you. I’m not sure if I would be good at a game like that but you certainly would not see me complaining about it because I’m picturing it in my head and I think it would be so unbearably cool to see either myself or someone who’s good at the game tear through something this unforgivably realistic.
Would you like to see this become a trend? What do you think?