State of the First Person Shooter

Brendon and I are back with another Casual Conversation!

Today, we’re taking a look at the increasing diversity in first person shooters. In 2016 alone we’re seeing shooters inspired by MOBAs, a rebooted classic, an expansion to the popular RPG Destiny, and two juggernauts going head to head with Call of Duty Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1.

Nick: So, Brendon…great to have you back! We’ve been talking a lot about Battleborn and Overwatch lately, which seems like a good starting point. These two games are stylistically similar and releasing in close proximity, so the comparisons have been running rampant. I got a chance to play around with the Battleborn beta for an hour or so before launch but haven’t tried Overwatch yet. What’s your experience with the two titles at this point?

Brendon: Greetings video game fans and aficionados, it is great to be back.

While I have only played a little of the Battleborn beta, I have also had the opportunity to watch a bunch of coverage. On the other hand, I have played several hours of the Overwatch beta and have loved every minute of it.

It’s funny. These two games are not very similar from a game play perspective and I think both have done very little to dispel that notion. That strategy or lack thereof, is hurting Battleborn on the public opinion front and the game has struggled since its release. It also does not help that Battleborn is a game that struggles to find an identity. Mix this with some seriously questionable design choices and you have a dangerous combination of factors that could easily sink a new IP.

Meanwhile, Overwatch has had a number of successful betas and is a blast to play. The mechanics feel good, there is legitimately a character for everyone, and they have streamlined some of the in-game nuances that can slow down the modern day shooter. The pedigree of Blizzard shines through Overwatch through and through and it is reflected in the fans reception of this new franchise.

Nick: Yeah, I’m kind of confused about the strategy behind Battleborn. It feels like they haven’t ever really said what the game is all about. I remember the initial announcement making reference to MOBAs but not much else. Stylistically I love both of them, but I wasn’t a fan of Battleborn’s gameplay when I spent some time with the beta. It seems like something I’d have to spend a little more time with to get into a groove, which is a tough sell for me these days. With limited time to game, I really need to be hooked right away or I don’t get pulled in.

Overwatch on the other hand looks quite fun. The speed of play seems faster and it’s a little easier to digest what’s going on in a match. It’s something I’d be more interested in if I hadn’t gotten sucked back into Destiny with some friends recently. That’s been pretty good at scratching my shooter itch for the past couple years.

In between Battleborn and Overwatch is a pretty huge throwback game, Doom. I never really had computers capable of gaming, so Doom isn’t totally on my radar. I did see this week that review copies aren’t going out until launch which is always at least worrisome. Did you get a chance to participate in their betas at all? What are your expectations?

Brendon: I had a chance to take part in the Doom multiplayer beta, but I decided to hold off because quite frankly, Doom’s multiplayer does not really interest me. I really should be more interested, especially when you consider that Max Hoberman and Certain Affinity are handling the multiplayer portion and they have an impeccable record (see Halo 2), but Doom has always appealed to me as a single player game.

Furthermore, I honestly do not know why Doom did not delay until summer, regardless of the name it carries. Not only is it coming out between Battleborn and Overwatch, but also Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is just around the corner. I realize that Mirror’s Edge (not technically a “shooter”) will not necessarily move a ton of units and it is more of a love letter from DICE to fans of the original, but it will still eat into some of Doom’s piece of the pie.

While we are in the midst of this huge clash of first person shooters, there is still another fight brewing come fall with Call of Duty: Infinite War, Battlefield I, and Titanfall all scheduled to be released right upon one another. Have we hit maximum capacity for FPS games?

Nick: If we haven’t we’re damn close. We still have Homefront The Revolution scheduled for late May also.

The most interesting thing is that EA is launching Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 back to back this fall. Is this their push to finally unseat Call of Duty? Or at least cut into their market share significantly?

Personally, I’m most excited for Call of Duty and Titanfall this year. I feel like the only games I ever played for a decade were WWII Medal of Honor and Call of Duty games. While WWI is obviously a different setting, going back to the past for shooters doesn’t really interest me anymore. It seems to be an unpopular opinion this week, but I’m far more interested in the futuristic games these days.

Brendon: I honestly do not know how many of these games I will actually pick up this year. I know I will pick up Overwatch and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, but after that, it gets a little more difficult because I am still playing Halo 5 and Star Wars Battlefront on occasion. I am not someone who sits there and limits the games I get if there is some overlap with genres, but these publishers are flooding the market right now.

When it comes to setting, I actually find myself typically attracted to the more futuristic games, but I am not overly fussy. For example, a few years back Wolfenstein went back in time and took a new approach to World War 2 and executed it almost flawlessly. As long as these games are doing something new and interesting I am willing to take a shot, regardless of the setting.

Nick: Yeah I agree. I just think the gritty realism has started to wear me down, and I’m not sure how you take WWI into a direction that isn’t horrific. It has my attention but I’m skeptical.

Aside from Titanfall, I’m probably most excited to see what Bungie does with Destiny this year. I’ve been a huge fan of the game since launch and it’s gotten a lot better with the Year 2 Updates and The Taken King expansion. We know through investor calls that we’re getting another expansion this year and a full blown sequel in 2017. Are you still into Destiny at all?

Brendon: World War I is certainly a fascinating conflict to study, but games have always struggled to represent how everything played. Even though WWI is often considered the first modern war, it was still deeply rooted in some old combat traditions, ultimately serving as more of a setup to World War II. It will be interesting to see how they pull it off, but I think they will have to get creative if they want to put together a cohesive campaign.

Right now, Destiny is on my backburner as I am also waiting to see what they release later this year. Their latest update was a nice diversion for a few days, but I am looking for something a bit more substantial, especially considering I have quite the backlog of games building up from 2016 alone.

Nick: Ugh. The backlog…

On that note, maybe it’s time to get back to that. I still have Black Ops 3 to play! haha

Brendon: Yeah, I should probably get working on mine as well, but right now my games are of the third person variety. Nathan Drake and Jack Joyce call to me.

Thanks for hanging out with us again! Let us know what you think of this year’s FPS lineup in the comments!

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