We're living in a golden age for first-person shooters
Ever since Wolfenstein 3D appeared back in 1992, first-person shooters have always been successful.
The success of GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64 helped to turn it from a PC-only genre into a console stalwart, even though there had been somewhat unsuccessful ports of the likes of Quake and Doom for the 16-bit era. By the time the Playstation arrived in 1999, the likes of Medal Of Honor helped to make the FPS a mainstay and really pushed the boundaries of what could be done.
They didn't just have to be set in some kind of far-off, fantastical imagery. They could actually be about real people and feature real stories, and get players more emotionally involved with what was happening on screen. Before long, Halo arrived on the Xbox and managed to subvert the genre again by adding in a completely new feature - vehicles and terrain. In the interim, PC games like Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight used the initial framework of first-person shooters and added RPG elements to it.
Games like F.E.A.R., Silent Hill and BioShock pushed out further from the original thesis of first-person shooters and blended influences from horror, psychological thriller and meta-storytelling to the mixture whilst the likes of Oblivion, and later, Skyrim took the first-person elements and made them into fully-fledged role-playing games. Massively multiplayer next appeared, with Battlefield 1942 creating the concept of a huge playing field of players on one map. Now, it's something of the norm.
This year alone has seen a raft of first-person shooters - all of them unique and individual in their own way, giving players the kind of choice they've never had before in the genre. Overwatch is a hero / team-based shooter that has echoes of Team Fortress 2 and, to some degree, Street Fighter II. Destiny and The Division, meanwhile, offer players a new kind of experience - loot 'n shoot - that was made popular by Borderlands.
Highly futuristic shooters like Halo 5, Titanfall 2 and Infinite Warfare have high-concept maps and stunning new visuals. Titanfall 2, in particular, is shaping up to be one of the most unique gaming experiences this year. More traditional shooters like Battlefield 1, for example, use incredible details and Hollywood-like production values to bring players on a journey through World War I. Rainbow Six: Siege and the remastered Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, meanwhile, move more towards the tactical, strategy-based shooters that were once limited to PC. Even games like the rebooted Doom are almost veering into post-modernism, what with its blatant acknowledgement of its own insanity and its slyly subversive take on videogame violence. Not only that, almost all of the AAA first-person shooters released this year have scored over 80% on Metacritic.
As players who grew up with the likes of GoldenEye 64 and Quake 2 reach maturity, games and first-person shooters need to be smarter, more engaging and more worth the time to commit to them. After all, the older you get, the harder it is to crave out space for gaming - and, thankfully, first-person shooters are still rewarding players who make the time for them.
Story by Brian Lloyd | 18:04 | Sunday 6th November 2016 | Games