Five Things Online Shooters Should Do Less

Last time, I told you about my (possibly crackpot) ideas on how to improve online shooters by listing what they should do more of. We're talking things like, letting me play dress up and giving me an 'everything unlocked' mode. Now I'm here to tell you my (possibly crazy) list of what I think shooters should do less. I have a feeling this list is much less agreeable than the other one.

1. Show Us Our K/D

Listen: I obsess about numbers just as much as the next person. Perhaps too much — it's easy to get discouraged if you're doing poorly mid-match, never mind having to walk around with the constant reminder of how bad you are if you have anything less than a 1.0 kill/death ratio.

I don't think this stats obsession is always a healthy one. K/D focus is the cause of rage-quitting and bad sportsmanship, for one. And in team-oriented modes, it absolutely gets in the way of focusing on team-oriented play if you're too worried about how you, personally, are doing instead of worrying about the larger picture. In games that are traditionally rewarding of lone-wolf play, like in Call of Duty, getting someone to focus on something other than their K/D can sometimes be a nightmare.

Getting someone to focus on something other than their K/D can sometimes be a nightmare.

How many times have you played a game where someone stops going for the objective and just tries to pad their ratio? Or worse, if you're losing, see someone give up and just focus on kills instead? Finally, if there's a quickplay playlist, like in Gears of War 3 — what do those numbers even matter? You're not playing ranked or anything.

I know this isn't something most people would like, but I genuinely think that developers should play with not letting us see our K/D on occasion. Especially if there's some other stat that is way more important than kills — which should be the case in an objective gametype.

2. Make Me Grind

Stop. Just stop. I'm grinding just to exist in games now. At one point, I found pleasure in putting in the time and effort to 'earn' the right to play how I want to, but now I mostly think about how much time I'm wasting just to have the privilege of playing a game the way I want to. It especially infuriates me to know that the 'real game,' the metagame, doesn't open up until I have everything available to me.

I've gone on about this before, both in the previous list and in a whole article about grinding, so I'll spare you the whole rant. But it bears repeating: stop making me grind so much. If nothing else, it means that I have to be more selective of what I play because I have to dedicate so much time to it, and that might not work in a game's favour.

3. Give Players Kill Streaks (Or Scorestreaks, Killing Sprees — Whatever You Want To Call Them)

Poor Halo. You weren't like this before. Now it's not about having a good trigger finger and having a good grasp of the map thanks to ordnances, which reward you with powers or weapons for getting streak of kills.

While admittedly, ordnances feel more balanced than killstreaks, I'm not a big fan of the idea of rewarding a player that is already doing well — and more games are doing it with every new release, like the Medal of Honor reboot (though they don't always call them kill streaks — I use that term because people recognise what it means). If a player is doing well, they're...already doing well. They don't need the help. If they're going to keep doing well, let it be of their own doing.

And if you absolutely must include killstreaks — because I know that like K/D, they're not going away — don't do what Hybrid did. One kill is not a killstreak.

4. Pretend A Game Is Anything Other Than Kill-Oriented Because There Are Support Points

A game has to be built from the ground up to be team/objective-oriented for it to have the right to be called anything other than kill-based. A game is not team-oriented if it JUST gives you extra points for doing a support option, for example. Unless the mode is built in such a way that you can't progress easily unless you receive the help of others, then it's not a team-oriented game mode.

There is a stark difference between Call of Duty and Battlefield here, I feel.

A game is not team-oriented if it JUST gives you extra points for doing a support option

Maps on Battlefield will be designed such that, say, you need to man a tank across a vast space. You need an engineer to keep that tank afloat. Once you get in close you need the assaults to lead a charge. The snipers keep the coast clear, and the medic keeps everyone alive. All are necessary components in playing efficiently, and the fact that you get bonus points for repair/heal/revive/restock is merely the cherry on top.

Black Ops II is not designed this way, so even though it now it has 'scorestreaks' that reward you for performing support actions, it remains a largely lone-wolf type game... but the fact that the community has been taught to play this way for years doesn't help.

5. Require An Online Pass If You Buy Used

More and more, games are including an 'online pass', which is something that restricts you from accessing something in the game unless you input a code. Online passes are implemented to discourage buying games used, because whoever bought it new is likely to have used the code the game originally came packaged with. You'll need to purchase an online pass for pretty much any game with an online component nowadays — this means playing multiplayer.

I'm a big 'buy used' fan, and I don't believe anyone should be punished for not being able to afford a game at full price.

And that's my personal list of things online shooters should do less. Perhaps you think these are stupid; perhaps you have your own ideas. What do you think online shooters should do less?


    So you want to destroy all aspects that promote replayability? this is a terrible suggestion.

      That's why the author isn't a game designer!

      Maybe I'm just old (well, no maybe about it), but I remember when you'd play online games over and over just because they were fun to play, not because grinding would earn you a new virtual hat.

      Yep, it's my lawn. Get off it.

        I said promote replayabilty not allow, what you said reigns true still but incentivizing a good game makes it a greater game.

        It sounds counter-intuitive but it's what demand dictates..

          Sorry I agree with the author, this grind to unlock shit is bad, very bad. It does not make it a greater game, and to the less rabid FPS fan it makes it much much worse. I gave up on BF3 a long time ago for this reason, I don't find it "fun" to spend hours playing the game with the crappiest guns with the possibility of playing with the nicer ones. I don't like to feel gimped just because I haven't had the time (or in some cases money) to throw away to make ensure I am more bad ass than (time)poorer people.

          Ranks and novelties are fine, if they are purely cosmetic, if you enjoy the artificial grind you should enjoy the artificial rewards.

            The grinding issue for me is a case by case scenario, depends on how games implement it for some games I agree for some games I disagree.

            Should it be removed because of a few bad developmental oversights or sheer accustoming to the hardcore crowd? no

              I DESPISE unlockables. I don't have a lot of time to pour into online multiplayer, and the only one which I really felt like I wanted to engage with was Resistance 3. But, I got my arse handed to me again and again by people with better loadouts and perks.
              I deperately wanted a mode which levelled the playing field and just chucked in respawning weapons a la Unreal Tournament, or Quake, or whatever.
              I haven't spent much time with online gaming in general, again due to time contraints - maybe I'm still stuck on old school design. However much I game, though, I'll always prefer Counter-Strike to CoD, purely because of it's simplicity and reliance on skills rather than perks.

                Agreed, playing the heck out of CS:GO atm, got it on the Steam Sale for 8 bucks, easily the most fun I have had in an online shooter for many years. You drop in, play, get out with nothing but fun on your mind, not grinding crappy guns or roles just to get to the next 'ding'.

            I would have to disagree with about the weapons on BF3. You dont need to unlock new weapons to be competitive. The starting guns are some of the best guns in the game. The vehicles on the other hand is different story all together. I hate how the game makes you unlock attachment to vehicles. New comers to BF3 can barley stay competitive when using vehicles and planes with no attachments now.

        I actually booted up TF2 for the first time in ages a few weekends ago, and I got trash-talked by someone because of the hat that my character was wearing. THE HAT.

      A game shouldn't be relying on grinding for it to be addictive. It should be relying on its gameplay.

      Why did people play Halo 2 for years Jen there were no unlocks, rank ups or gold stickers?

      For fun. The best incentive for replay ability is fun

        Trust me, if the creators of Halo 2 have the foresight to add killstreaks and other such incentives they would of.

        Why can't we also have our cake and eat it? I see no reason why we can't have both incentives and great gameplay. they can be independant you know.

          Ah, see I read the part where you said "So you want to destroy all aspects that promote replayability? this is a terrible suggestion." And I thought you meant 'all'

          That's just wrong, completely. They released Halo: Reach long after Modern Warfare and it had no such Kill Streaks. That's because they knew padding out the gameplay with that nonsense takes attention away from making each moment as fun as it could be.

          They had visual unlocks, something I think is perfectly fine in multiplayer games and fulfils that need some players have to have a carrot constantly dangled in front of them. But they didn't add anything that affects your game.

          Now 343 have added all that rubbish to Halo 4 it has completely dulled the experience. I spent months after the fact playing the online multiplayer of previous Halo games, I played Halo 4 for only a week after it came out.

          But Bungie were too smart to put killstreaks in, because, unlike the Gears of War guys who seem to be forgetting this these days (ie. Judgement and Deathmatch mode), they know that being different is GOOD. Good for your players, good for business, good for the industry.

          Every developer is going for the same piece of the pie these days, while the rest of the damn thing is completely ignored. It's idiocy.

            That game had cosmetic announcement 'kill streaks' double kill/killing spree/killing frenzy etc etc I cannot tell you why exactly they didn't include it completely maybe they didn't want to harshly effect the games balance, maybe they didn't know how to implement it properly, or perhaps they didn't want backlash from the community.

            However if you think Bungie made a self concious decision to purposely not adapt due to their convictions on how to develop a game I would have to say that is extremely debatable and all I've been reading is conjecture and generalisations.

            Also Halo 4 is a hit, and the reception it received was positive.

              We're not seriously saying "A Hit = Good" now, are we?

              I think Hollywood has debunked that myth for a long time now, and with the games industry the same is becoming clear also.

              There's no doubt Halo 4 has moved a lot of copies, but is there a way to work out how many people are still playing the game? Look at something like Star Wars: The Old Republic, that sold through the roof then dropped off completely.

              And the it's no secret the review process is hardly a foolproof method of judging a games' quality, even when the reviews appear unanimous. A quick look at God Of War II's metacritic page, or (and I know this is too easy) Call Of Duty's, can show you reviewers are more like a hivemind than a real barometer for engaging experiences.

      My hundreds of hours playing Goldeneye 64 with fun as the only incentive for replayability is the reason why gaming used to be more fun.

      Yep, there's that wacky, childish notion. Fun - in gaming! Playing not to win, not to develop a false notion of accomplishment having unlocked a texture for a weapon I spent dozens of hours of forced boredom, but fun.

      Your attitude is the exact reason why the atmosphere in online gaming has been getting progressively more antisocial and unenjoyable.

        I suppose you think they created all these just to piss you off and ruin enjoyment? you need to be more open minded, nothing ventured nothing gained, not to mention you are probably mistaking your childhood zest for gaming, if you tried to play that game today you would think the game is ass.

          You got that from what I wrote?

          I suppose you think they created all these just to piss you off and ruin enjoyment?
          1. I don't believe that developers have taken to this trend to simply piss me off. I believe they've tapped into a previously overlooked flaw in people's thinking in order to prolong the amount of time a gamer plays their game - as it appears to be easier than creating a game that garners its longevity from being genuinely fun.

          you need to be more open minded
          2. I'm open minded. Just because someone disagrees with you, does not mean that they are narrow minded.

          nothing ventured nothing gained
          3. Uh... thanks.

          not to mention you are probably mistaking your childhood zest for gaming, if you tried to play that game today you would think the game is ass.
          4. Yes, I didn't enjoy and get loads of replayability from games like Goldeneye, Banjo Kazooie, GTA:SA, Ocarina of Time or Age of Empires because they were good games that relied on enjoyment rather than a false sense of achievement, I enjoyed them because I naive and in fact all of those games were 'ass'.

            To be fair though, Goldeneye now is 'ass'. It was crazy good back then when we didn't know any better, but how the hell did we ever control that mess of a game, because it sure has hell doesn't make any sense to me now. Games like Banjo and FF7 have aged far better because of the nature of their gameplay, but Goldeneye, and even Perfect Dark, not really.

      The author isn't saying there is anything wrong with killstreaks and k/d, just that in certain situations and styles of game they could be removed. In objective based games the key focus for the player should be to complete that objective. having a team that is focused on that is what makes the game enjoyable.
      When people are not wanting to help achieve the objective because they might die and ruin their k/d then it affects the other players in the game. You then get insults thrown about based on k/d when the person with the lowest k/d was the one who was trying to complete the objective nobody else would go near because it was likely death.

      In a kill based game, have it all (but I agree with the why give people doing well more help than somebody who is struggling). But for games where the number of people you kill isn't the primary reason then what does it matter what your k/d is?

    I disagree with every single point you have made in this article.

    How does she still have a job, I don't understand??

      She's provocative! She gets the people going!

        Or, if you actually stopped and thought, you'd realise she has some good points.

        Online gaming has shifted from a purely fun-driven exercise to an obsessive, antisocial chore masquerading as a hobby.

        I played hundreds of hours of online games before achievements and unlocks were implemented, and the atmosphere was far superior to what it is now.

        Why do you like achievements? Or unlocks? Is it the false notion that you've actually accomplished something that makes you superior to another player? Why do you need to 'work' towards something in the first place - isn't having fun enough?

        Imagine if someone kept keeping score of how many hours more they'd spent practicing yoga than you, or kept a tally of how many meals you've cooked that you've enjoyed versus ones you haven't - or how many more art galleries you've seen than someone else? Wouldn't they be missing the entire point of their past time?

          Uh.. It was a joke.. It's a quote from Blades of Glory. I couldn't care less about the article.

            I think it was an accidental reply to you, buddy. Pretty sure it was aimed at 'mind'.

    Other than the grinding issue, which I agree on (I know I hate to agree with anything here), these are things thats could be implemented in different, better, ways. Not just "i dont like the way you do things, can it". Sure there are people who loves these things too, there should be a game for you for this, oh wait there is its call CoD, so can we just keep it in CoD and everyone else do something different?

    Guys, the article isn't saying that these points should be removed and banned from existence, it's saying that some games don't need to follow in these same footsteps to be good or successful.

    I mean, really, who took the time to fully level up in Dead Space 2 or Bioshock 2? Or, how annoying is it in Ghost Recon to play in a team of snipers who are only concerned about their K/D ratio?

    Completely agree with dropping the grind. Just unlock all the weapons, perks etc from the word go. It just makes the game completely unbalanced for anybody who isn't playing it from the very beginning. If you go and buy BF3 or BLOPS2 today and try playing it online, you're screwed because you've got nothing and you're up against people who have unlocked everything. It doesn't matter about your skill level, you just don't have the equipment to have an even chance.

    People who have been playing for months already have the advantage in that they know the maps well, they've figured out the loadouts that suit the way they want to play, etc. There's no need to stack the deck further in their favour by not even allowing new players access to the weapons. Imagine if you went to play a game of cricket and were told that because it was your first game you were only allowed to use a little kid's plastic bat until you'd scored X number of runs. Meanwhile all the guys on the other team could use any bat they wanted because they'd been playing long enough to have scored 1,000,000 runs. It just doesn't make any kind of sense in terms of balance or fairness.

    And it's not like having to unlock stuff is any kind of incentive to keep playing. If that were the case then people would STOP playing once they'd unlocked it all and the number of people online playing COD / BF etc show that clearly people aren't doing that.

    This relates to SP in shooters and all games. They need to stop QuickTime events. I hate nothing more than that crap.

    Like in BF3, you're defusing a bomb. Just do the damn animation. Don't make me quickly press random keys quickly to do it.

    On kill streaks, they are fine if they don't get ridiculous.

    With COD. They were fine in COD4 and WAW. In MW2 they just went over the top and became too powerful. With AI making a million kills from a chopper, which in that game everyone forgot you could shoot down.

    In MOH 2010 I really like it's score chain, where they were support actions to help the team where you had some choice.

    "I’m a big ‘buy used’ fan"

    Then you are part of the problem. If you buy a game new, however cheap, the companies that produce, distribute and develop them, get a slice. You buy it used.. it goes to gamestop or whoever else. The online pass thing, is so they can recoup even a small amount of money, that they spend on maintaining the servers that you play online with.

    If you want a motto - try "Buy less, Buy good"
    Be happy to pay for good games, and stop buying terrible ones. Encourage diversity, so in the future we aren't just all playing mw99:blops

      That is also a bit of a fallacy, seeing as the game was traded in the first place, that person bought another game or gaming related gear, which further ons the profit into the industry. Most people who buy used do so because that is the only way they can (most) just because you buy used doesn't mean you're the problem, chances are you weren't going to buy it new anyway. It's the same with piracy.

      But I agree whinging about the pass is silly and I think the passes are fair.

        "Most people who buy used do so because that is the only way they can". I've never really understood how that argument stands up when the price of used games is so ridiculously high you can usually shop around (or online) and buy it new for significantly less than what most retailers charge for the used one.

          While this is true there are a lot of people who a) are unaware of this b) don't shop online by principle. Just because you know and do something does not mean the rest of the population does. This will probably change in the coming years, but there is a reason eb are still around.

    It's why I only play SWAT in Halo and Barebones in CoD (on the odd occasion I even play CoD).

    Those modes are all about who is better. No radar, no bullshit. Just everyone and their gun.

      Not exactly, that's about who's better with those set rules and options. Not better in general.

      I find SWAT to not be like Halo, no shields, no motion sensor, one shot kills. Just doesn't seem like Halo.

      I understand it's there for people who like it and I'm not saying it should be removed I just personally don't like it.

        I've always liked SWAT because it's far more pure. For me personally, even more so than 'traditional' Halo.

        I like the fact that's all about the players and their guns. Nothing else.

          SWAT has been a sub-culture of Halo for long enough to be considered a true halo experience.

          I suppose it's comparative drifting in Forza, not exactly supported by the makers originally, but thankfully accepted and promoted in later games.

    I agree with the point here regarding kill streak bonus. It lets players that are already doing well get further ahead of the game. If someone is already winning he doesn't need more help in it.
    Rewards are fine for doing well in the game but it should not be in the form of performance boosts that makes it harder for other players to catch up. This makes competition stale and boring.

    Adding to this I see no reason for developers to promote this style of gameplay cept to satisfy K/D hos.

    I can think of one thing I wish online shooters would do less:

    -Inspire patricia hernandez to write articles

    All this is about Halo 4.

    I don't like K/D, when I play Halo with friends some of them are obsessed over K/D, what does this mean? Slayer, Slayer, Slayer, Slayer & SWAT (Which I don't like).

    What about Dominion or Extraction (Capture and Hold Bases, Extraction they move), no it's hard to get a good K/D because you have objectives. What about Oddball? Nah K/D is effected by carrying the ball. How about some CTF? (I don't like being able to cap with the flag missing, seems wrong) No it hurts my K/D. Crimson DLC (We all have it) nah we might only get objective choices no Slayer.

    Seriously it's essentially put blinders on people. Can't we have a ranked mode for people so it matches you with people of a similar K/D, but for us idiots who play for fun we can ignore it. Oh and I can play something other than Slayer with my friends.

    As for the rewards for Kill Streaks... i think you should get more points towards Ordinance for dying or objectives rather than killing, helps level the playing field.

    Grinding, I don't mind armour unlocks, I hated the point buy system, I'm not too thrilled with the gated bonus specialisations (Which I have BTW). Would it have been so hard to unlock all three of the human guns and the maybe a few of the Armour abilities and all the loadouts. Seriously if you lock everything away why lock the loadouts?

    Unlocks should be frivolous things, like different colour grenades or Tracer fire, no more arguing over who stuck him mine was the red Grenade.

    "I’m a big ‘buy used’ fan, and I don’t believe anyone should be punished for not being able to afford a game at full price."

    Then buy them from the UK. Cheaper than used games as well as being new.

    I put thousands of hours into CS and CS:S, quake 3.... no unlocks in those games, no levels, just pure skill and fun.
    Cosmetic items are fine, better weapons and gear the longer you play should NEVER be in a game.

    And this is why I play Natural Selection 2, A game based on team play to win. NO grinding, no K/D ratio's , Support Roles are extremely important, Commander's get no kills or almost no points yet are the most important role in the match

    I can understand the issues with grinding, but I think the player-levelling and equipment-unlocking customization provides a more individual journey through a game, even if that game isn't story-based.

    That said, I do not like how games limit the unlocking of certain equipment until you are a really high level (unless that piece of equipment is highly overpowered.)

    Personally, I think a solution here would be to allow the player to choose a basic kit of whatever weapons, then use in-game XP to choose which weapons they want to unlock. The majority of XP should be delivered based on what the person is playing. TDM for example; the winning team should always get more XP than the other team.

    ALSO: "I’m a big ‘buy used’ fan, and I don’t believe anyone should be punished for not being able to afford a game at full price."

    Buy the game when it becomes cheaper. I believe devs/pubs should be able to protect themselves against the pre-owned retail racket.

    get rid of snipers in COD, they arent made for maps like cod. and it makes me feel like i have to quick scope

    I'm not usually a big fan of Patricia's articles, but I agree with everything she says here 100%. It's why the only online FPS I play is CS:S

    While number 4 is a strange and possibly deeper topic to discuss, the rest of the points are quite valid. Games like UT, Quake and CS did not have any of the crap (yes CRAP) that modern shooters have, and were usually more enjoyable and had higher skill ceilings as well.

    The K/D ratio argument is also spot on. K/D means absolutely nothing about how good of a player you are. In a death match game, the goal is to hit a score limit or have the most kills after a certain amount of time. If person A does this better than person B, but has a worse K/D ratio, does this mean person B is a better player? No. Person B did not reach the goal of the game before person A, so person A was the better player. If the goal of the game was to give the person with the highest K/D ratio the win, then person B would be the better player, but it isn't. In the context of almost every FPS game mode (DM, TDM, CTF, Domination etc), K/D does not detail any indication of how useful a player you are other than the fact that you can kill more people than you can die. If you still lost the game, then what was the point of trying to maintain a positive K/D ratio?

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