5 Features That More Shooters Need

Shooters, shooters, shooters. Gaming is full of them these days. I mean, one has to look no further than this year’s gaming line-up of heavy hitters and system sellers like Call of Duty: World at War, Resistance 2, FarCry 2, Fallout 3, Gears of War 2, Mirrors Edge, Quantum of Solace and the like to see that shooters have replaced the titles of old. 

With all of these titles coming out, it’s easy to start wanting a little more from the genre. At this point, we’ve slaughtered so many imps in Doom and Nazis in Wolfenstein 3-D that we kind of know what to expect.

However, there’s the occasional shooter that has a unique and exciting feature, or an old one that’s given a facelift so well that you wonder why nobody’s done it before. Mirror’s Edge, for instance, is coming out this month and has platforming elements unlike any shooter has ever seen. Today, we’ll be looking at other similar features and what made them work so well, and how they could work for other games.


5 Features That More Shooters Need

5. Vehicle Combat (Halo Series)

While many new shooters are adding vehicle combat, none have still quite matched the brilliance of the first Halo CE game. Heck, in recent weeks, I’ve played the new Standoff Heavy gameplay mode in matchmaking, and found it to have some of the most addictive and fun vehicle combat I may have ever played.

Nothing beats driving over huge jumps in warthogs, rolling over and pummeling enemies with turrets, or watching a vehicle explode above you as you down it with a spartan laser. I’d love to see mechanics like this worked into more shooters, because it really ups the scale and adds to that feeling of huge battles. The Battlefield series has come close, but the vehicles just don’t have the same feel as they do in the Halo series.




4. Buying weapons (Counter-Strike)

I know that other games have had weapon buying systems, but none of them were as good as one of the first, Counter-Strike. It’s simple, it’s fluid, and it gives much greater variety than just picking a class and starting with whatever weapons come available.

It also balances gameplay in a way unlike no other shooter I’ve played before. Players are forced to be smart, strategic and thrifty in order to budget for the weapons and armor that they want in each round. It really makes you think about what you’re doing, what your options are going into each round and changes the gameplay accordingly. Do I buy a smoke grenade or a flash grenade? A kit or a frag grenade? These are the kinds of choices more shooters need.




3. Perks and Rewards (Call of Duty 4)

Really, there are a slew of features from the Call of Duty series that could have made it into this list, including the last stand, where players are on the ground using their pistol Saving Private Ryan style until they’re finished off. However, one of the shining features of Call of Duty 4’s multiplayer is the way that its perks worked. Players being able to choose bonuses for their character really added not only depth to the multiplayer, but longevity as well. Juggernaught, martyrdom, conditioning, all of them made fore a more robust experience.

In addition, rewards for killing sprees kept the other team on its toes, but also varied up the gameplay enough each round to show you visibly when the momentum might be shifting in your team’s favor. Nothing was more devastating than almost getting a lead back only to discover that the other team had a little jerk saving a helicopter ambush to clinch the victory. I would love to see more features like this in the shooters, whether it means air strikes, alien helpers, whatever. It just rules.




2.Contextual Commands (Rainbow Six: Vegas, RE: 4, Gears of War)

I had to list all three of these games, since all three of them implemented this feature so well. Contextual commands in shooters really give the player a lot more freedom in terms of becoming the master of his environment. Plus, how freaking cool was it in R6:V to drop down on a rope and smash through a window to take out a room full of terrorists, all with a few button presses. Or curb stomping a dude in Gears of War.

We love adding these little features, and I can’t wait to see even more creative ones in the future. Heck, Splinter Cell was the master of these commands at one point, but has since lost a lot of its luster. Even MGS implements these in a way that is clunky and confusing. Where are our two sneaksters?




1. Squad Based Command Structure (Battlefield 2)

If you’ve never played it, the squad based command structure, when it works, is one of the coolest additions to a shooter I’ve ever seen. Basically, the team of 32 is divided into several squads, each with their own squad leader. Your spawn point is always your squad leader, and the squad leader is in a squad of sorts with other squad leaders, and then the commander issues orders to them.

It adds a huge strategic element to a battle, but also helps you feel like you have a real place in the war, instead of just being one dude that runs around trying to change the tide himself. It’s not Halo. Sure, if some little noob manages to be the commander and makes a total mess of your army, it’s no fun. But when it’s good, it’s great, and I’m dying to see more shooters organize big team games in this way. If you’ve ever played Big Team Battle in Halo, you know exactly what I’m talking about.


So what about you guys? What are some of your favorite features in shooters these days and how would you like to see them added to new games?

Written by

I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

26 thoughts on “5 Features That More Shooters Need”

  1. I really liked Halo’s vehicle controls. My fave though is COD4’s perks and rewards. So addicitive, so fun and God, I hate martyrdom!

  2. Lol, don’t we all… especially when it’s FF and HC mode… I got into CoD:WaW beta.. and can you believe they brought it back?

  3. Environmental destructibility. Seriously, I really noticed how cool it was in Bad Company, and now I think every shooter should allow you to blow the shit out of everything in site.

  4. I agree with Anthony, Halo seems to have nailed the vehicular combat that most shooters sorely lack.

    Battlefield did come close, but the vehicles in that series are usually crippled by some strange bugs.

  5. Great post. I think no one can beat the vehicle combat from halo. It’s very hard to beat the steering fun of the warthog.
    I wish there was a fps game with all these features combined. Like a “FPS All-stars”

  6. [quote comment=”1787″]Environmental destructibility. Seriously, I really noticed how cool it was in Bad Company, and now I think every shooter should allow you to blow the shit out of everything in site.[/quote]

    Ooh, good addition. I never played Bad Company but I hear that it’s addictive in that way. It’s nuts, I still don’t know if we’ve got enough horsepower to build huge complex environments and then completely destroy them just yet. But I’d love to see it. 🙂

  7. It IS the Age of the FPS, and now we’re seeing the core FPS element being implemented into other genres, particularly RPG. The first FPS-RPG in my mind is Counter-Strike because of its customization which even today is a solid way to add balance and strategy to fast-paced combat. But as we play more FPS’s, we have come to expect things: smooth sensitivity, realistic or cool weapons, smart AI, and generally a new experience, as well as bringing something new to the table. Maybe it’s a new gametype – like Gears of War’s Capture the Flag where the person is the Flag – the ranking system and its rewards – CoD4 and World at War – a large environment – Fallout 3 – and we always enjoy the truly reckless and unprecidented game – this time it’s Mirror’s Edge. Now I’d like to give my opinion on each of your points.

    1. VEHICLES. Many games are tapping into vehicles as the new frontier. Even though it is far from new, vehicle combat is a tricky but often very rewarding aspect of a game. Take Halo. Halo was probably the first game to have effective vehicle combat. The vehicles, whether a huge Scorpion tank or a Ghost hovercraft, felt and fought how you’d think they would, and Halo did an amazing job of keeping and expanding on its awesome vehicle combat throughout its life. Now we’re seeing Gears of War 2 and World at War. I haven’t played GoW2 and haven’t used the vehicles, so I don’t know if they nailed – but they probably did; they’re Epic, come on! – but World at War I HAVE played and I have used the vehicles. World at War does a great job of balancing the classic Call of Duty experience with your boots on the ground and gun blazing with the resurrected vehicles from CoD3. In WaW, the Tanks are fairly badass, but ONLY if you can survive in them. There are always lots of nooks and crannies for enemy infantry to rocket you from, or maybe the enemy has set up a clever trap of Satchel Charges and will blow you up as soon as you pass over them. So it’s nice to see the vehicles have a lot of power, but they have a lot of vulnerabilities, too. You need your friends to give you infantry support. So the Tanks are powerful, but relatively weak, so in most cases, the Tanks are UNDER-powered. But I’d rather have that than get killed by some noobatron whoring the Tank. So CoD:WaW looks like a promising template for future war games using Tanks. At the very least, World at War will be awesome.

    2. ECONOMY. Like I said before, CS was one of the first games in my mind to have customizable FPS action. You had a money system to deal with when choosing your equipment, so you couldn’t run around with a M249 and full armor being a noob. You’d have to go with maybe an AK-47 and then you get your armor. So as one way to add balance to a game and give it strategy, an Economy is a tried-and-true method of doing so.

    3. REWARDS. The way I measure a game’s awesomeocity is “Can it tear me away from my old love?” That’s what CoD4 did the instant I played it. It introduced a never-before-seen gameplay mechanic that rewarded you for EVERYTHING you did. Each kill or assist got you points, and there were challenges to reward you for loyalty to a weapon or a kickass kill. World at War takes this method – another tried-and-true method with just as much effectiveness as CS’s economy – adds ten more levels, a lot more challenges, and simply let’s you experience the joy of unlocking weapons and perks the same way you did in CoD4, but with fresh new perks and weapons. Well, they ARE WW2 weapons, but seriously, you can’t beat a Tommy Gun with the round drum and Stopping Power. You just can’t. Unless you’re a sniper. And there’s another thing. If you excel with a sniper, you get better scopes and such, or if you excel with an SMG, you get Suppressors and extra-large Magazines. A great way to hook players and let them feel like each action has a purpose and a reward.

    4. CONTROL. Commands and control are the core essentials of any game. If your controller doesn’t make sense, is clunkly, or is just plain bad, your game suffers as directly as it could ever. Assigning complex commands to single buttons is a good way to let players feel like they can do something – they’re not just pressing a button when it comes on the screen. If I want to scale a wall, let me hold down X and watch my character jump down, while allowing me to rappel down at my disgresion. If I want to curb-stomp someone, let me smash their brains, or chainsaw them once in a while. Letting the player be able to do complex commands with a single press of a button is a great way to give the player control as well as help the game’s overall fun factor.

    1. SQUAD. The Squad is a new idea that we’re seeing a lot more of in modern FPS’s. The Battlefields did a great job of using the Squad System to make you feel like an actual soldier, coordinating your team and overwhelming the enemy with superior tactics and strategy. I think that if someone wants to make a war game that really makes you feel like you are a solider, the squad mechanic is the way to go.

    Man, why can’t we have essays about Video Game Theory in school? I’d ace that course.

  8. Marty is brutal in CoD:WaW.

    I would have to say I completely agree with this article, every single aspect of it!

    I’ve never played BF2, I always thought it looked bad, but now that I know it has squad based play I might go about buying soon, or rather after buying all of the games coming out at the moment. (Christ i’m almost broke.) I really agree with the CS/CSS style weapon buying system, it really is flawless, competitive play requires that you be smart about what you buy, Ex. Low on money then buy a cheap gun as an economical substitute. (Although i wish that they would bring back the pistol round -.-).

    This is one of my favorite articles on GS to date 😀

    Keep up the great work!!

    I’ll be telling my friends on xfire about this 🙂

  9. This is a great list! Honestly,though, I’m not a big fan of Halo’s vehicular combat and control. It’s pretty good, but I lean more towards the control and accessibility of an older title called Tribes:Vengeance. Though not great in other aspects of the genre(Its too damn hard to hit anyone), the vehicle combat, utility, and control is unmatched. Vehicle combat is #1 on my list any day 😛

    As for Squad-based command structure, I think its one of those things thats great on paper and awesome when you have the right people but just one bad commander can ruin your day. Or one squad leader, or one wayward unit. Too difficult to filter the n00bs and idiots to ever be implemented effectively imo. 🙁

  10. [quote comment=”1792″]
    Man, why can’t we have essays about Video Game Theory in school? I’d ace that course.[/quote]

    heh, great post to you too dude.

  11. Really great comments, dudes! Another feature that I wish I could include in this list was some kind of magic/superpowers feature. I don’t feel like any shooter has quite gotten that right just yet. They just don’t have the feel that they’re supposed to, I guess, since you’re watching an animation play out. I loved the way Bioshock handled plasmids and the like, but I still have yet to play a shooter that makes me feel in control of the elements, though being a Jedi in Star Wars: Battlefront ruled.

  12. I def agree on the vehicle part. I also think shooters need a bit more than the shooting in them. And not only standard melee. Idk. Like an rpg shooter? no idea. But I think something else needs to be added to the fps to make it epic. Kinda like BioShock. It was a shooter..but it had a lot more to it than just “roam around and kill”..you know?

  13. I had this really cool idea for a game a while back. It’d be rpg but shooter if you wanted. And fantasy too. It would be epic..but idk..maybe there’s a game out like it already..dunno..wish I had someone to review my script =/

  14. one thing you should of meantioned is the counterstrike shooting, games of become too unrealistice when every bullet you aim is perfect, it would be nive to see more games when the more bullets you shoot at a time the worse your aim is.

  15. [quote comment=”1814″]Doesn’t Mass Effect fall under RPG/Shooter? Even Fallout 3 has RPG elements.[/quote]

    Oh yeah for sure, and I still include them in that statement. I’ve never quite felt that shooters have gotten those RPG elements juuuust right. Like they’re always brushing against it but not quite getting there. It always feels tacked on.

  16. i beg to differ about mass effect. the shooter aspect of the game was, in my opionin, pretty poor. the RPG elements were kinda bad too. i played through multiple times and i never really felt my gameplay differed.

  17. Hehe, Halos vehicular combat is unmatched.

    Eddy, Heavy is the ONLY way to play on Halo 3 now. They actually put the Gauss Hog in *tear* Im so proud.

    And I love the perks system, though sometimes its kinda lame…but to be honest, buying weps and perks would be ridiculous. Much variety!

    Only downer would be when that duchebag takes Juggernaut and like super explosions and buys a grenade launcher XD

  18. Grenade launchers = epic win ^^ btw I’ll try to get you a shortened version of the script to check out. Gotta re write it n add in a few stuff ^^

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