Pixel Count: How Do You Like Your Shooter Campaigns?

Welcome back to “Pixel Count Tuesday”!

Having just wrapped up Crysis 3, I’ve been thinking about the way shooters are leaning these days in terms of how their campaigns are structured. Very few games walk the line the that Crysis 3 does by having its levels be a blend of openness and linearity; most of the time, games are just corridor shooters like Call of Duty or open-world type affairs like Far Cry 3.

While it does have a lot to do with the mechanics (Call of Duty would never work as a semi-open shooter in its current form), it also boils down to personal taste. Some people can’t stand linear games, while other get turned off by games that are too broad. What about you guys? What kind of shooter floats your boat?

What kind of shooter campaign do you prefer?

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mitch@gamersushi.com Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Mister_L Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: PUBG, Rainbow 6: Siege, Assassin's Creed: Origins, Total War: Warhammer 2

8 thoughts on “Pixel Count: How Do You Like Your Shooter Campaigns?”

  1. As much as I loved Far Cry 3’s open world gameplay, I still feel that the strongest experiences are going to come from more linear set-ups. I think the “something in-between” works well when it’s masked (like Mass Effect, for instance) to look like something linear is actually fairly open. In the end though, that just comes back to linearity – you have to be forced down a certain path to really receive an awesome, tailored story.

  2. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. I think that a really good linear game can be as good as a really good open world. It just depends.

  3. Definitely something in-between, Far Cry and its spiritual successor Crysis both nailed this one perfectly. You weren’t going through corridors or stuck in what were essentially walled arenas. You had these big sandboxes in which to experiment, but you also had a linear narrative which kept the gameplay meaningful and interesting.

    Half-Life 2 had a great campaign as well. It was definitely more corridor-based, but the traversal through areas like Ravenholm and City 17 felt natural and clever, and the vehicle trips were really something special. Cruising along Highway 17, you see all sorts of outposts and sheds that you can either break into and scavenge for ammo, or simply ignore and continue down the road. It was really well-done.

  4. I voted for Open World before I really thought about it. I was mostly thinking of Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Even in those games, once you get to a vault or building, there is a natural linearity because of how buildings work. Of course, you don’t have to do most of the missions, which I think is more of the point. Almost all of the best stories in Fallout 3 were not part of the main storyline and just out there for you to discover, which I absolutely love.

  5. I think it works best when a game gives you the same kind of structure that Half-Life, Bioshock, Serious Sam and Doom give to the player. There’s a linear succession of levels that you must complete to get from the beginning to the end, but the levels themselves have plenty of branching paths for rewarding exploration (or deadly traps). You’re able to build a cohesive enemy roster and themed challenge around the level (like how Ravenholm was a physics themed challenge level for testing out the newly gained Gravity Gun, or how in Bioshock the levels and challenges are generally made to compliment whatever special plasmid or weapon you’ve recently obtained).

    Games like Modern Warfare which have completely linear missions that drag the player around by the ear are fun and all, but they lack the natural flow of being subtly led and being allowed to make choices to look around. I guess it doesn’t make a terrible lot of sense to be in the middle of an invasion of your homeland and you’re just dicking around in a sewer off to the side looking for better weapons or medkits, but it does make a lot more sense that a player character is just easily distracted enough to do that than that they want to do that but simply cannot because of invisible walls/walls that hardly transcend nipple height/screen text telling you to turn around. It just feels too stiff when things get too linear.

    On the other hand, games like Skyrim and Just Cause 2 leave me wanting more from my game because they’re neither structured nor consistently interesting. In any of these games I can be left walking through copy and pasted wilderness for hours fighting the same basic enemies. That’s the current problem with open world games is that none of the game is formed to create a cohesive feel. All of the enemies are made to be randomly dropped into the world, all of the weapons are meant to be multipurpose. You can’t have any interesting challenges when everything in the game has to be more or less basic in order to allow for them to fit into whatever the game randomly drops them into. At least Skyrim gets close to having interesting challenges, but those are entirely because of the mostly linear dungeons which have everything that I said was great in the first paragraph. Open world games have great potential to really create great gameplay, but in my opinion developers haven’t even come close to that potential yet.

  6. Each has good and bad parts but my personal favourite has to be the Dues Ex style of multiple linear paths around/through a relativity open area. Not sure if that’s because I’ve been playing too much Dishonored lately but something about the choice without being overwhelmed with options is very appealing to me.

  7. I’ve gotta say the best experiences I’ve had have come from semi-open, Deus-Ex style campaigns. I like having choices of how to tackle a situation as well as how to advance the story, but there needs to be some control or direction by the developer. Linear experiences can be just as exciting, too, because linear situations can be fine-tuned challenges. It’s why meandering around Skyrim can be boring, but fighting down a corridor in 2D Metroid can be exhilarating. (btw I’m Cossack)

  8. Something in between like Deus Ex, Borderlands or Bioshock. Enough freedom without becoming overwhelming and without loosing the well set up set-pieces.

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