I play lots of online shooters — from esoteric indie ones like Waiting For Horus to popular ones like like Call of Duty. This means I have (possibly crackpot) ideas on how online shooters could improve. While it's important that different franchises retain what makes them special, there are some things that I think nearly every shooter could benefit from adopting.
Here is my personal list of six things more online shooters should do.
1. Give Me A Mode Where Everything Is Unlocked
Putting your time in and 'earning' your guns, perks and skills can be gratifying and all, but lord, I can't be the only one that's getting tired of having to do it in nearly everything I play. I'm not saying get rid of unlocks entirely (though I wouldn't miss 'em if they absolutely went away), but at least give me a mode where everything is unlocked from the get-go — like Black Ops II does with League Play.
Sometimes I don't have the time or inclination to grind out earn the 'privilege' of playing how I want to play — and there is nothing wrong with that. Really, there isn't. More importantly, high level play doesn't start until I can mess around with everything at my disposal. Hence, when everything is available to me, I can start considering the finer details of how I should put a bullet between someone's eyes.
2. Let Me Tag The Enemy Or Points Of Interest
I love it when games like Battlefield or Gears of War let me spot an enemy.
Typically, this is a mechanic where I can mark a visible enemy, allowing everyone to 'see' that enemy. I can, for a brief time, vaguely tell where someone is, and so can my team mates (if I have any.) That's beneficial. And, spotting adds a layer of nuance to a game. What's not to like?
3. Let Me Play Dress Up
Choosing between different characters or classes is not enough. Every last one of us is a special snowflake, and our murder vehicles should reflect that, goddammit. I know we like to act tough and make fun of Team Fortress 2 for the hats, but straight up: customising cosmetic stuff is rad as hell. I like letting everyone know that my character is mine.
The sense of attachment cosmetic customisation brings is great. I felt a little closer to my mech in Hawken when picking out its paint job. Even stupid stuff like choosing a mobile phone charm for my gun in the Blacklight games feels personal and touching in ways I can't explain. And I was saddened when Black Ops II took away the ability to put face paint on my dude. That was the best part! How am I supposed to look like The Joker or KISS now?
So: give me more hats. All the hats. And lets not forget tops, pants, helmets, armour, guns, charms, decals, paint jobs, and, and...!
4. Let Me Trade
Yes, trading items and unlocks with friends is useful and creates an economy of sorts. But on a smaller scale, it's nice to be able to switch a weapon with a buddy, if not trade ammo.
If I can hold it, I should be able to give it away if I want to.
5. Give Me Incentives To Target or Beat Scoreboard Leaders
A game should do everything in its power to create a balanced match. This means creating situations where one can threaten a comfortable lead.
Special modes like Regicide in Halo 4 tell you to target the best player in a match for extra points. Similarly, Homefront did something interesting in its Battle Commander gametype, where actions would give you a certain level of threat that would then result in X number of people being 'assigned' to kill you. The better a player you were, the more people you had nipping at your heels.
I'm more of a fan of what Uncharted 3 did in its normal multiplayer: power plays. I didn't have to play in a special mode or anything. But what it did was, when it recognised that a match was being won by a wide margin, special conditions would activate where a losing team could close the gap. A winning team, meanwhile, had an incentive to keep the lead for extra money.
Power plays could be stuff like double damage or being able to see where an enemy was — these examples are no laughing matter, but they only last for about a minute. But what deliciously tense, hectic minutes those were.
Giving you incentive to go after good/better players can be done in a small scale, too. Gears 3 for instance gives you a medal for getting revenge on someone that's killed you a lot (i.e., your 'rival,' as far as the game is concerned.)
I want more games to experiment with ways to keep a match close — not to mention more interesting for the people in the lead. And I don't want to go into a special mode to experience it.
6. Let Me Bro Fist. Or At Least Buttslap.
I need to show my bro some love, man. Like I said last time, being a bro is all about bravura and veneer of cool, with an earnest lifestyle that puts camaraderie and love above all. And I need games to give me avenues to express my brotherly love for my bro.
Really, in a way, what I'm asking for is more light-hearted taunts involving my teammates — this is another thing Uncharted 3 did well. I'm saddened that none of the options in Uncharted 3 are "buttslap your buddy," but I guess that would get out of hand quick. Alas!
And that's my personal list of things more online shooters should do. Perhaps you think these are silly; perhaps you have your own ideas. What do you think more online shooters should do?