First person shooters, abbreviated as FPS, is a genre that has taken over gaming. The biggest franchises are all presented through the eyes of the protagonist. Whether it’s fighting a future war, or waging and old one, this genre represents billions of dollars for the industry each and every year.
That being said, it’s clear that gamers are starting to get fatigued. The latest Call of Duty trailer has the most dislikes of any trailer ever, while the Battlefield 1 trailer has the most. What does this mean? What’s the future of FPS games? Time to find out!
The State of the Union
These days, if you walk into a video game store, you’re going to find more varieties of first person shooters then flavors of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Several of them have annual releases, and others spend several years incubating before they are released.
Among all of these shooters, competitive online multiplayer represents one of the biggest motivations for gamers to pick up a copy. Personally I play for story, not for keeps, but to each their own. I can’t deny the popularity of multiplayer in today’s FPS games.
Take Blizzard’s new IP Overwatch. This game is a team-based competitive shooter. No campaign, no storyline (except for one told through videos outside the game). All of this, and people eat it up like it’s made of gold. There’s no denying the popularity of it.
Some games have taken this to the next level. Destiny, for example, is a hybrid MMO-shooter that is always online and always getting new updates, events, and expansions. The publisher, Activision, wants the game to last ten years and plans to keep it updated all the while.
While not first person, Ubisoft’s The Division is another game that has blurred the line between a massively multiplayer game and a shooter. While these are in the minority now, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that more shooters will take this hybrid approach and keep people online with their friends throughout the experience.
The FPS genre is in a state of experimentation right now. It’s unsure of where to go next, so it’s dipping toes into all kinds of new ventures. Some work better than others, but it’s clear that innovation is in order.
I could be something as simple as a setting change (looking at you Battlefield 1, WWI certainly is a change of pace). Or, it could be a move towards more integrated, massively multiplayer experiences. Throw in the rise of virtual reality, and you have the recipe for change.
New mechanics and cool settings aside, where is all of this going? It’s time to look at the paths that the first person shooter genre could take.
Where Do We Go From Here? 3 Ways FPS Games Could Change Forever
I’m no time traveler, but I see a few ways this can all go down. When it comes time for the PS5, what will the average FPS look like? How will it play? Here are three ways I could see the genre evolve:
1. Single Player Goes Extinct
This one hurts the most, but I have to be realistic and consider all the angles. Stories are what drew me into video games from the beginning, and stories inspired me to become a writer myself. As a species, we’re hardwired to enjoy a good story, but we’re also competitive to a fault.
Titanfall, Evolve, Star Wars Battlefront, these are all examples of games that threw off the single player coil and embraced multiplayer. They had varying degrees of success, but are they going to be the future of the genre?
Some of the best stories I’ve played were told through first person, but trying to split a development team between single and multiplayer can be taxing. Sometimes it’s better to just pick a side and go for it. I don’t think single player games are dying now, but I do think that the big dogs will decide the fate of stories in the FPS genre.
If Call of Duty or Battlefield decide to drop campaigns in their games going forward, it will send a ripple through the industry. They hold all the cards when it comes to how gamers will respond. Their power is immense, and their decisions affect countless other developers.
If it does happen, it will be gradual, but multiplayer may take the cake on this one, with perhaps a sparse few developers keeping the campaign alive.
2. All Online, All the Time (The Destiny…destiny)
Perhaps Destiny holds the future of FPS in its hands. The game isn’t a record-breaking hit, but it is alive and well almost two years into its plan. It’s given rise to another major IP in the form of The Division (come on, they both start with D, that can’t be a coincidence.)
A hybrid-FPS future would bother itself with separate modes for campaign and multiplayer. Instead, it would simply put them all in the same big world. The level of story compared to the competitive elements would vary based on the game, but most likely there would be a designated area for PvP and the rest would be for cooperative missions.
It wouldn’t have to be an MMO hybrid either. FPS may merge with other genres in the hopes of revitalizing its appeal. Take Gearbox’s Battleborn for example. This game mixes elements of a MOBA (Massive Online Battle Arena) with an FPS. While the mixture isn’t perfect, it certainly works, and it offers the possibility that other genres will mix themselves in.
Imagine a strategy game where you command your armies from above, only to dive down and join the fray during the chaos? We’ve seen plenty of RPG-FPS hybrids like Borderlands and games like Bioshock, but what if we take that a level deeper and really create a complex RPG from the first person perspective?
Meshing genres together is a possible future as well. It goes beyond a cool mechanic or a feature. It’s the birth of a new genre that blends perspective with chaos, strategy with action, or immersion with atmosphere.
3. FPS Exclusive to VR
My final prediction is one that depends solely on the success of the latest virtual reality craze. Virtual reality places you in the world. There’s nothing more “first person” than that. If we combine this technology with a physical gun-shaped accessory, you can hold (not unlike the Sharpshooter Sony did for the Move) then we’ve achieved an experience that transcends anything before it.
Once we’ve hit that plateau, it wouldn’t make any sense to go back to the old ways of FPS gaming. All of your first person games will be presented via virtual reality. To develop a game for the traditional console would be financial suicide. Of course, this is only true if VR becomes the new standard.
If this new tech doesn’t have the install base it needs, then this future won’t be a possibility. We have yet to see how the world will truly react to virtual reality, but its success or failure will once again make waves in the FPS genre.
Over to You!
I’ve said my peace. I’m not sure which future appeals to me the most, but I want to know what you think? Where will the first person shooter genre go in the coming years? Let us know your predictions in the comments!
Note: The thoughts expressed in this article are the opinions of the author (Bradley Ramsey) and do not yet represent facts or the opinions of Sony Computer Entertainment. Although it will probably be accurate, for now it is pure speculation. Thanks for reading!
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