In a year where a LOT of first person shooters have been released, especially in November, it’s been surprising reading that most of the praise from reviewers this time around has focused on the single player campaigns rather than the multiplayer components which have been core to many of these franchises over the years.
There was a lot of surprise from players when the new DOOM arrived earlier this year and in the reception it received. The game whose original namesake helped coin the term “deathmatch” was generally criticised for its multiplayer but was praised for a campaign that was bold, violent and not afraid to poke fun at itself.
Then you have the arrival of the big two in Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – titles whose popularity come primarily from the huge number of players they pull in for their online components. Though both are targeting very different time periods with BF1 set during the first world war and CoD aiming its sights on a far future conflict, the care and attention lavished this year on the stories have been some of the best seen in years and reviews seem to reflect that.
In the case of Battlefield 1 it is perhaps the best thing DICE have ever done outside of the Bad Company series. The opening “War Story” is thrust on you the moment you start the game and even warns you that you will die often – it is a brutal affair that does much to show players that the reality of war was that it often a short lived experience for many of the soldiers involved and every death is marked with an obituary reminding the player of the loss. It’s difficult to not be humbled by the experience and the developers deserve a lot of praise for accomplishing something so significant.
Then there’s Titanfall 2 which added a campaign that its predecessor desperately needed but tried to pretend it had… kind of. That the guys at Respawn could come up with a decent one isn’t questioned, as the founders helped set that foundation when they worked on Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare, but it’s a shame that it had taken them to create a sequel to give us a taste of this new universe of theirs as there is lot of potential for new stories here and good campaigns can really help drive players in the direction they want to take it.
It’s encouraging to think that at a time when there was much discussion about the value of adding a single player component to these online focused games that the developers have delivered some of their best campaign content in years. For someone like me who isn’t always focused on multiplayer it makes me think that this could be the first year in many where I’ll pick up more shooters to play than any other genre.
Do you think shooters are returning to their roots with this renewed emphasis on the campaigns? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.