Innovation. This word has been butchered by every new developer creating an amazing “new” first person shooter. To be honest innovation in first person shooters have been dead for quite some time. There is hope for games like Brink and it is one of my most anticipated titles but the most innovative thing to the FPS genre was Bungie and their improvements.
Their improvements had nothing to do with the actual gameplay but rather the interface. They essentially created the first matchmaking system and turned the entire online gaming experience from a simple join matches->shoot enemies to a whole community on a disc. Offering a much deeper experience than a simple kill stuff and get on the leaderboards approach.
That is my point though, creating a FPS is mostly about luck. You gamble on gameplay decisions and if you are lucky people will love it and you will sell millions of copies. Then your publisher will force you to make a copy each year until people stop liking them and then close down your studio. (See what I did there?)
If you are a new studio and want to do something truly new and courageous it will have to be outside of the popular FPS genre. It is obvious that there is almost no room for improvement for FPS, yet for some reason no one has taken the knowledge of what makes them good and used that information to create better action games.
Now I enjoy action games but they are mostly single player experiences that don’t have the re playability of a shooting title. You can’t tell me though that with such great advancements in technology that we are still unable to work out an effective way to make a Hack-n-Slash type action game where players can compete against each other.
I understand that is no easy feat but who has really tried? Fable uses the stereotypical combat system and the first Dragon Age had combat that was so terrible if it wasn’t for the amazing story I would have never finished it. Dragon Age 2 seems to have stepped in the right direction with A working as a simple hack-n-slash attack that you can use while your skills charge up. The skills are X,Y, and B and then you can hold down LT to get an additional 3 skills. The skills are tied to cool animated moves depending on your class but regardless they make the combat more fun and brutal looking.
How effective that system would be in a multiplayer session is up for debate, but although it would probably be hectic I think that it would still be possible to whip up some multiplayer.
That isn’t the best example of course. One of my favorite titles and probably most underrated is the Assassin’s Creed series. Ubisoft offers a unique storyline and great gameplay. I feel that I can cause guards to attack me and enjoy the gory and well choreographed kills that follow until I am 90.
Not only does it look pretty the combat system in itself is unique and offers strategic gameplay. If you are unfamiliar with its style, basically you engage enemies and it turns into a classic sword (or whatever weapon) fight. You strafe around each other waiting to make a move. You are given the options of countering (where you can wait for them to swing), swinging yourself, grabbing the enemy, or delivering a kick (knocking them off-guard). Now as you can imagine the choices all have their risks and rewards, and although you are given the advantage in a single player session where countering is easy and you are meant to be a force to be reckoned with that doesn’t mean it can’t be tweaked to add more skill into the combat.
For example countering can be extremely difficult to pull off by making the window to counter very small, and grabbing an enemy which can be lethal can also leave you open for attack. It would be a very strategic rock-paper-scissors match with a lot more blood being spilled for the loser. Also it is worth noting that every combat instance would not force you to get in a showdown but rather it would happen when enemies are both on guard and ready to fight. In other instances in the game unless the NPC’s are engaged on you, you can simply attack them and receive a 1 hit kill with a mean animation.
On top of all of that Assassin’s Creed offers various weapons with different statistics along with armor types and the works. So maybe with the addition of armor types effecting player speed/mobility it would offer a great aspect to multiplayer by letting players choose how to build their own assassin.
I feel that this is the road that Assassin’s Creed might be going down and I encourage it. I loved the multiplayer in Brotherhood, friends and I made it to level 50′s and enjoyed the strategy and change of pace it was from different titles. The only way I can see it getting better is with the combat coming along for the ride. The single player even let you control a group of assassins you recruited and put them on missions. They leveled up and gained different weapons, you could even change the color of their robes. That could easily be a preliminary feature that they wanted feedback on to see if it was worth pursuing.
The possibilities are endless with that game and the developers behind it realize that the sky is the limit because no one else has tackled what they are tackling and they will be praised regardless.
This is one studio, how long will it take for other companies to realize that their is something here in this genre? That there can be true INNOVATION by creating something as simple as a good combat system. That there is more to multiplayer then shooting enemies with guns.
Rest assured multiplayer action games will have their day. Hell, maybe by that time I can be one of the people to bring this dream into reality.