Breaking The Trends – What’s Next For Shooter Games?

It seems that the entertainment industry has fallen into a rut over the past decade or so.

Whether it is gaming or movies – when something finds success the typical response isn’t “What will they do next?”… it is “When is the sequel coming out?!”

A recent article that features an interview with DICE suggests that the next movement is going away from Modern Conflicts and towards ‘Near Future’.  This brings a few things to mind and really presses for an honest answer that will only be given in sales numbers.

Are you getting tired of fighting the same war with different names?

What Is So Different Between Current Day and Near Future?

If you have paid any attention to the ‘new’ direction for Call of Duty Black Ops 2 you will see that it is now based in the Near Future.  The worst part about this concept is that it involves very little true innovation other than simply stating that it is based in a time period that has more flying robots and drones, etc. Modern Warfare 3 already saw places like New York City in ruins, now we get to go into new ‘future’ places and see them destroyed by war?… Yeah, really refreshing.

So… in the near future there will be guys dressed like Master Chief with Flying Drones like we already have in almost every game?…
So much for innovation.

Does Time Period Need To Be Stated?

Outside of historical reference, does it really matter ‘when’ a game is taking place?  If you have read any sort of fiction you will notice what happens in books that directly refer to technology or entertainment of the time.  It ages the story and often makes it difficult for future generations to relate to the ‘power’ of whatever is being referenced.  Try reading Jurassic Park or American Psycho without laughing about their references to CD-ROMs and Walkmans, or better yet – Huey Lewis and the News.

It isn’t as if time period should be cut out completely, but it should be merely hinted at in the presentation.  Bioshock did a great job of this when you see the character flying in an airplane that allowed smoking (even if it did make direct reference to the year “1960 – Mid-Atlantic”).  There is even the amazing presentation of NBA 2K12 that allows you to play with retro teams with a TV presentation style of the time period.

Where Is The F**CKING ORIGINAL STORY?!

There is something to be said for what Activision is doing with Call of Duty and that something is called ‘milking a concept until the game dies’.  Look at what they did with Guitar Hero and you will see what will eventually happen to Call of Duty.

If you take a look at the direction of Microsoft, they aren’t too dissimilar when it comes to milking games and game series such as Gears of War and Halo.  Speaking of which, new rumours have started creeping up about Halo 2 Anniversary Edition.  Not that anyone should be surprised… it is just upsetting for gamers that want to play something new… something fresh.

What type of time period or setting do you want to have a shooter game based in?  Leave comments below!

Is Black Ops 2 The End of COD As We Know It?

There always comes a point when you simply can’t make something better than you have before.  You can reinvent the wheel from stone to wood to rubber and maybe along the way you will make slight changes to the design.  However, when it comes to games…especially First Person Shooters… there are only so many iterations of a game you can make before it becomes either stale or simply a mockery of its former self.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
We have seen this game before… EIGHT TIMES.

Black Ops 2 seems destined to be the bitter end for Call of Duty games at this point.  With massive sales still coming for COD games, there seems to be something about Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 that is missing.  That something is a feeling of freshness that can only be brought by a hiatus.  If you consider the fact that Modern Warfare 3 essentially finished a trilogy, you would think that means it is going to be time for a change.  Furthermore, if you consider the fact that Black Ops 2 is set in the future with drones and x-ray rifles, there isn’t much more ‘Modern’ Warfare can cover that hasn’t been covered or won’t be covered by BO2.

Does this still excite you?

We mentioned in the title that it might spell the end of COD as we know it.  That doesn’t mean that it will be discontinued (face it, that isn’t Activision’s M.O.) but it could mean something big is on the horizon for the series after BO2 is released.

If we cover what has been done in COD we can see that World War 2, Vietnam, Modern and now ‘near-Future’ will be covered by the end of 2012.  With all of those ‘interesting’ wars covered, it might  do them some good to get away from the same old ‘jump on a turret and shoot down waves of enemies’ formula that has been in every shoot’em up FPS game from Activision.

What needs to happen is development of a game series over multiple years.  The real problem facing Call of Duty games is the fact that Activision wants a new one every year to drive profits.  The problem is that this will end up leading to the same brutal end that Guitar Hero met only a couple years ago.

You can only reinvent the wheel so many times before people stop looking at it as ‘just a wheel’.  Call of Duty needs a break in the worst way, and after Black Ops 2 comes out in November it would be a perfect time for them to announce that the next Call of Duty game will be coming out on launch day with the next generation of consoles rather than yet another version of the same game in 12 months.

E3 is supposed to ‘Unveil Innovation’, but right now it looks like it is simply ‘unveiling’ the same stuff we have seen over the last few years.  First Person Shooters are becoming as common and overplayed as re-runs of Two and a Half Men and Call of Duty is turning into the Ashton Kutcher version.  If they are about #winning, Activision will push their next major FPS onto the next generation of consoles, where they can impress people with some actual innovation.