BEST FPS’s (FIRST PERSON SHOOTER GAMES)
Recently, we were asked by a student in our online video game design school, what some good FPS games to study are. So we thought we’d create a blog post to answer the question in more detail.
While we all do enjoy games with quality narrative, some intriguing and original plotlines, character depth to help with the RP (roleplaying) immersion, visual aesthetical appeal and musical quality, sometimes what we really need is to simply indulge into some high-quality guns blazing.
Different genres of games offer different things and appeal to both different demographics and different needs of the consumers, and while we all want to switch it up a bit from time to time, eventually it comes a time when we want to indulge into some cut and dry and to the point, a modern gentlemen’s prolific discussion of bullet exchange, hehe.
PUTTING THE ACCENT ON THE CORRECT FEATURES
While many FPS games have some form of single player or campaign mode (both older and newer releases), it’s usually not the bread and butter of the game.
While older ones put lesser accent on visual aesthetics and more on level design/character depth and VA, in retrospect modern shooters due to the technical advancements in computing technology can produce some of the best cutscenes out there, offering unparalleled immersion.
Still, the main appeal of FPS games boils down to their ability to either present you a high quality method with which you can indulge into bullet exchange.
Whether it’s against NPC enemies for the GOG shooters or the multiplayer experience in modern ones where you can test your marksmanship skills against other players, effectively putting your hand to eye coordination and muscular motor control to the test, FPS games need to deliver exactly what their design and genre affiliation accords to.
TIGHTNESS IN THE CONTROLS/INNOVATION ON HOW THE ARMAMENT FEELS
Just how a quality RPG needs to entice you with the narrative, storyline and the VA, in the same way an FPS needs to offer you an arsenal of guns, bombs and other weaponry that will behave in a similar manner.
They should either feel extremely powerful and fun to use, regardless of how silly or fictional they are or be more realistic but with extreme tightness in how they’re handled and how they operate, giving you the ability to truly test out your marksmanship skills due to the level of realism on which the given guns operate.
THE MAIN DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE OLDER AND NEWER FPS GAMES
Due to the technical limitations at the given time, many of the older FPS games have either minimal or non-existent multiplayer. As such, many of the older FPS games put a much higher accent on the level design, NPC behavior and weaponry cosmetics as that’s what you’ll experience most, if not all of the time.
On the other hand, many modern FPS games who if barely even have a single player mode, have it more for the sake of having a single player mode rather than not having it, without a doubt aiming to focus on the multiplayer experience and everything that comes with it, such as balanced skirmish maps, balanced aiming system and firepower, flexible weapons with both pros and cons and so forth.
While GOG FPS games would usually go to the extreme with both the power and the cosmetic outlook of your available arsenal, modern FPS games understand that you’ll not be fighting NPC’s, but rather other players and weapons of obscure power or simply too goofy looking can take away from the genuineness of the multiplayer experience.
As the former StarCraft: Brood War professional gamer and now professional RTS commentator and game strategy analyst Sean Plott (known as Day9) said:
“If you had an ‘I_Win’ button type of weapon that instantly kills somebody available to you, even if you could only use it once every 10 matches which on use disconnects you from the match, the victim of the badly designed weapon would still have a worse day than you”.
Such designs in how weapons operate are not fun for either party, regardless if you’re on the giving or on the receiving end of the transaction.
Having gone thoroughly through the introduction, which are some of the best FPS games of all times?
1. DUKE NUKEM;
Duke Nukem is an oldie but goldie in which you play as the most masculine man on Earth, Duke Nukem (a.k.a the Duke that nuked them, hehe), a not so sensible nor PG respectable vigilante who’s more like an antihero rather than a dignified protagonist, the Anathema of the alien invaders who are here to steal our women and ban hard liquor!
Totally opposing their ideologies, Duke Nukem goes on a mission to single-handedly liberate Earth by killing the Alien Overlord, and if you played the campaign right, he succeeds, making us wonder what’s the purpose of the Earth’s military complex if we have him, but hey, the game is not glorified for its logical sensibility but for its ability to make you feel like a man of steel.
As most of the FPS games from that era, Duke Nukem offers no multiplayer options available and is a single player FPS solely.
As such, it has a much higher accent on level design, alien and weapon cosmetics, and last but not least, one of the most notable one-liner VA in existence that’s probably the main factor that made it a cult classic.
Since there’s no multiplayer available, all of the guns are horrendously overpowered and goofy as they can get, from handheld tactical nukes to freezing and shrinking guns, aimed at telepathic octopuses and alien pigs dressed up in enforcement uniforms.
The guns are powerful, their handing feels great and making enemies pop just as they cry out their death sound is simply wonderful. The shotgun is probably my favorite weapon.
2. QUAKE 4
While a more modern installment of the Quake franchise as Quake 2 is the installment that actually made the franchise a cult classic and actually had a functional multiplayer even though it came roughly around the same time as Duke Nukem, Quake 4 is ultimately the superior game.
With firmly refined graphics, a highly compelling single-player campaign and a fully functioning multiplayer mode which allows you to play as either, well, us, the Human faction or their nemesis, the alien Strogg, Quake 4 finds the balance between the best of both worlds, succeeding in managing both realism and science fiction on a very balanced and a believable scale, which is quite compelling to be honest.
While there are silly weapons like the Dark Matter gun, even some of the more sci-fi guns like the Hyperblaster which supposedly fires ionized plasma particles, still feels really tight control-wise when using it with its high damage output and rate of fire but low ammo clip and unreliable targeting.
The shotgun and standard Assault rifle even though have some coloring that makes them look sci-fi are ultimately nothing more than standard ballistic weapons we have today, but with the use of proper sound effects and tightness in their control, they still manage to not only remain relevant but on pair feel really good when used.
To make a list of some of the best FPS games out there and not include the game that solely revolutionized how game physics and ammo recoil works in modern FPS’s, on top of giving birth to one of the first hyper-competitive multiplayer FPS games which is Counter-Strike would amount to what would be heresy in the fan base of the FPS gaming community.
I am, of course, talking about none other than the first installment of the Half-Life trilogy.
Half-Life as an FPS had not only a complex single player campaign but as well as one of the most active multiplayer communities, on top of giving birth to not only Counter-Strike but to many other multiplayer based alliterations, such as Team Fortress and Garry’s Mod.
The game was created by Gabe Newell (referred as the God Father of videogames in the community as a running joke since then), based on the at-the-time revolutionary Source Engine, (a heavily modified version of the Quake Engine).
Half-Life was followed by three expansions and a few non-canon alternative perspective DLC’s, with no closure up till today even after a whole decade since the original installment (hence the running joke when anything is mentioned within the hexagonal system, going “Half-Life 3 confirmed!”).
4. HALO 2
While Halo: Combat Evolved (a.k.a Halo 1) was the first installment in the canon 4 part Halo franchise we have today and probably was the blueprint installment which popularized and in retrospect, effectively gave birth to the franchise as a whole, the original Halo was more centered around the modern single player experience and quality story/narrative with no strong ambitions for extending its gameplay possibilities to the multiplayer.
All of that however changed with the arrival of Halo 2.
While Halo 2 also had an equally great story and equally high-end VA/narrative for its singleplayer mode, the focus was heavily shifted into the multiplayer.
Many of the weapons were revamped, as instead of fighting alien NPC’s, now you were battling other people; as such, many changes were made to balance out the power of the weapons and a lot of effort was put into the creation of the whole plethora of Halo 2 skirmish maps we have today for the optimal multiplayer experience.
For an example, the standard Assault Rifle from Halo: Combat Evolved which was clunky, big, had low aim and firepower but huge recoil and a 60 bullets mag was revamped to a much smaller, more compact assault rifle with a 30 bullet mag, but now packing much higher firepower with lesser recoil and higher accuracy.
While in Halo: Combat Evolved you’d effectively unload full clips of ammo into a singular enemy, the devs knew that for a quality multiplayer FPS experience, the guns and the controls need to be much tighter and impactful.
As such, the whole design philosophy went from “spray and pray” to “make every shot count”, making the multiplayer experience much more alike a marksmanship competition rather than a bullet storm.
This addition was not only highly welcomed, but also managed to pave the road for the further development of Halo games which all now adopted this new design philosophy, giving a much deeper attention to the multiplayer experience while still keeping the single player experience as refreshing and refined as even before the multiplayer was added.
Last but not least, I’d like to give a warm honorable mention to Overwatch, the fantasy based FPS created by Blizzard that was joyfully welcomed by Blizzard fans who after enjoying many years of Blizzard RTS (Warcraft III / StarCraft: Brood War and StarCraft II), MMORPG (World of Warcraft), the Diablo Franchise, a MOBA (Heroes of the Storm) and even the famous Blizzard card game (Hearthstone), finally got a Blizzard based FPS.
Overwatch is solely meant for multiplayer, having both casual and competitive (ranked) gameplay, occasionally even hosting worldwide tournaments in which hyper-skilled and professional gamers duke it out, while thousands of more casual players sit back and enjoy.
With many different characters to choose from, all with different activatable abilities, lore background and cosmetic differences, Overwatch is a really fast-paced 6v6 hyper-competitive fantasy FPS for both the younger and more mature audience, with different team compositions as characters have roles such as tank, healer or assassin, offering even optional cosmetics for purchase that have no effect on the gameplay, but are there to allow players to have the ability to customize their character to their delight.
The art style is cartoonish and the gameplay is colorful, yet some characters have dark lore backgrounds or even visual appearances.
For Blizzard product fans, the arrival of Overwatch on the shelves was a delight.