E3’s been and gone, and while our All-Powerful Master WiNGSPANTT makes it safely home, I want to go through my top picks from the show, divided by genre. Today is the ever-present FPS, but unlike the current gen, where it’s been modern warfare and little else, it seems next gen is all about the future. To that end, here are my favorite offerings from the shooty shooty bang bang camp.
Headed to a new Battlefield
Battlefield 4 might be a better looking, bigger version of BF3, it’s the next gen Battlefield I’ve been waiting for. DICE is bringing back a lot of old mechanics, from big destruction to Commander mode and full 64 player support, I want to think BF4 will have much longer legs than its predecessor. Of course, that assumes DICE have a large backlog of DLC, new game modes, and the support required to maintain interest.
As I go back to BF3 in preparation for its sequel, I notice two things I’m looking forward to most: Commander mode and destruction. Having started my Battlefield career in Bad Company 2, where destruction was rampant (if scripted), I missed it immensely in BF3. Over time, I learned to accept that game’s focus on infantry combat as opposed to environmental and vehicle warfare, but seeing what Frostbite 3 is capable of, I’m ready to drop everything and blow some shit up. I know much of what we saw in the demo was scripted, especially the skyscraper collapse and road destruction, but I honestly don’t care. I want to use the world as a weapon like I could in BC2, and I want to use more of it. Hopefully DICE deliver.
Speaking of delivering, I’m interested how the Commander system of missile strikes and UAV sweeps will work out. Especially if you’re on a tablet (itself a cool twist), there’s the issue of communication with a squad in need of support. In spite of that hurdle, it’ll be awesome to have a bird’s eye view of the whole battle and if implemented correctly, every commander will leave a match feeling like he’s a general playing a grand chess game that never really ends.
On BF4’s launch, expect articles from me covering Commander mode and how best to use destruction to your advantage.
When Titans fall
Respawn’s message is clear as day, and I need not repeat it. That aside, I’m hesitant to go full fanboy on their new venture, for a couple reasons. First, while it is created in Source and Valve are awesome, go back far enough and you find the Quake engine, the same one that built Call of Duty. I’ve watched what gameplay’s available, and I see the old Infinite Ward in stark relief, despite all the window dressing to the contrary. Granted, that isn’t a bad thing, as I do actually enjoy the early IW Call of Duty games far more than the recent offerings, but I don’t want them sticking to their guns too much.
Which is, of course, where the giant robots, jetpacks, and wall running come in. Few games contain any of the three, fewer still possess two. Titanfall is the only game I know where a game with a multiplayer focus has all three. Indeed, it’s the only game I know that has all three, though some of you in the comments probably have examples to the contrary. The gameplay on offer shows a fine balance between each of these mechanics and real reasons to use all of them strategically, not just because you can. The map design takes all into account, no surprise from a team like Respawn’s.
Again, I’m looking forward to Titanfall, especially knowing it’ll be out for PC as well as the Xbox’s One and 360, and expect at least some coverage of it around release time next year. Whether it takes down BF4 or my next title for the top spot, we’ll see.
Seize your Destiny
I know, I’m covering the big titles, but shooters usually are, and you won’t see Bungie’s old series on this list any time soon. Instead, their new approach to the multiplayer space has my attention. It doesn’t look exactly like Halo, nor does it seem to play the same. The most important part, for me anyhow, is Bungie’s focus on open world storytelling without being a full-on RPG or MMO.
The differences to Halo begin there, of course. Whereas the series that but Bungie on the map was focused on linear storytelling and small, fast(er) paced competitive multiplayer, Destiny looks primed to bring players together and pit them against each other not simply because “hey it’s multiplayer, shoot these guys,” but for a larger purpose. They’ve got ten years to fill with Activision before the contract’s up, and it seems likely they’ll be pumping out new content on a much more frequent basis than for Halo.
What I didn’t see much of was the actual gunplay of the game. Like the rest of the game, it seems Bungie’s focusing on variety and choice than one or two powerful setups. Whereas in Halo there are two guns worth using, and maybe three different types of enemies, Destiny’s weapons run the gamut as far as usefulness is concerned.
There are still surprises incoming, and I’ve no doubt we’ll be exploring the inside of the Traveller at some point, even in this first outing. How much will be open remains to be seen, but as a storyteller myself, I’d think Bungie fools if they didn’t give players at least a glimpse inside the last human city’s silent protector. It is, after all, a kind of alien technology. And humans are all about the aliens.
Caught in a Division
I know this doesn’t technically fall under the category of “First Person Shooter,” but dammit if I’m not a little excited for a post-apocalypse story that doesn’t involve zombies. Better still, there’s some near-future tech mixed in, and a serious focus on exploration, PvE and PvP. The chaos of a bank raid complicated by intrusion by another group of loot-seekers followed by a full on war between allied factions? Sign me the f*ck up!
The Division isn’t out for almost another year, which might be vexing if the gameplay they showed wasn’t already quite impressive. I’m fully aware of FUSE and how it transformed from an interesting looking title to a generic pile of schlock, but I can’t help but hope for The Division. They’ve got more than twelve months to polish and test, polish and test before release. There’s a lot that can change in that time, but the game looks like it’s got a lot nailed down already, and much of the work is finishing out the world, building in quests, balancing skills, and tuning the combat a little bit.
Of course, for all these titles, we’ll just have to wait and see.