One of the key design tenets in Battlefield: Hardline is getting you to the action quickly. The team received feedback saying the thing players hated the most was running across a map forever before having any sort of confrontation. So, out of curiosity, I decided to time myself and see how long it took before I got into a fire fight. On the small maps it took maybe 20-30 seconds to find someone and in the bigger maps it took upward of a minute if I wasn’t using vehicles. However, the firefights were much shorter. Most of them were over in a second or two.
I decided to check this out in other shooters and my experiences were the same, or worse. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare took even longer to find action, but its firefights were longer due to the introduction of jetpacks. Evolve took even longer still, with minutes passing on end before we even saw the monster once.
So this got me thinking are most of our modern day shooters really about doing nothing?
Of course, I don’t actually mean nothing. The downtime in shooters is of course very important. You have to choose what route you want to go, consider where the enemy is, try to put yourself in an advantageous position. It’s not at all brainless or simple or anything like that. But it’s also not shooting.
Compare this to the single-player modes of most of our favorite shooters. These modes put you up against an ton of enemies, all crouched behind cover. All in advantageous positions, and it's up to you to, well, shoot them. Nearly the entire single-player campaign of most shooters involves shooting galleries of some sort. You shoot people on a helicopter. You shoot people underwater. You shoot people in a tank. You shoot people with a dog. It’s all just varieties of shooting, with maneuvering and stealth sections being in the minority.
But in multiplayer, there are whole perks devoted to not being seen or heard and moving around quickly. In multiplayer a huge group of enemies crouched behind cover is almost assuredly a sign that you need to run away or find another route. In multiplayer you only shoot your opponents for the briefest of seconds before you score that kill and try to find another advantageous position.
And so I posit, maybe our modern day first person shooters aren’t really testing our ability to shoot at all. Maybe what they are really doing is testing our ability to plan. They are all about spatial reasoning, speed, silence, and using the right tool for the job. The idea of strafing, aiming, and making yourself hard to hit is dwarfed by the idea of not being seen in the first place. So maybe modern shooters aren’t really a natural progression of games like Quake and Doom. Maybe modern shooters are actually an evolution on the strategy genre.
What do you think? Do we spend more time not shooting than shooting in shooters? Let us know in the comments.
Former Contributing Writer