Shooters, first or third-person, have been the overarching video game flavor of choice for close to 20 years now. Call of Duty, Battlefield, Deus Ex, Doom, Half-life, and Halo are some of the most profitable, recognizable, and iconic gaming franchises. Nowadays almost every game has elements of a shooter; modern Deus Ex has a first-person camera and a third-person cover mechanic and Metal Gear Solid V could technically be called a third-person shooter as could The Last of Us despite their stealth focus. These hybrids aside, modern shooters have not had much to offer other than opportunities to complain about DLC practices. But in the year of our Lord 2016, the three largest AAA shooter releases were all quality games and each one offered something different.
Campaign: Doom 2016
One of the largest gripes many players have with modern shooters is their lack of quality single player content. When Bethesda and id Software announced a new Doom game, skepticism kicked into full gear. It didn’t help that there was little to no actual press prior to the game’s May 13th release and that the multiplayer beta left many a player cool on the game. So when the game finally got into the hands of the press and the community, it was shocking to hear such high praise for this game but once the reviews and impressions finally got out and the general gaming community got their hands on this game, Doom evangelism was in full force. And with good reason.
Many players today hadn’t grown up with Doom as many others had the critical and fan praise lavished on Doom 2016 came from old fans and people who had never beaten the original FPS classics. Doom managed to capitalize on what made the originals amazing without being slavish to the old or new trends. You move at approximately 200 mph and the Doom Marine has no need for aiming down sights and can carry around an arsenal that makes the two weapon limit of other shooters a harsh limit upon revisiting them. The enemies are exceptionally well designed, both visually and mechanically, with each enemy having different behavioral patterns that makes tackling diverse groups a frantically tactical challenge. The multiplayer is functional, but nothing too write home about, especially with the other AAA shooters released this year.
Overwatch was born from the ashes of Titan, Blizzard’s epic, large scale…something that they scrapped.
Switching the method of control from just clicking and hotkeys to a polished FPS brought the complexity and balance of a fighting game or MOBA to the near universal FPS scheme MOBAs was a stroke of genius. The character synergy and mechanical complexities of Overwatch invigorates every match. Some may say the counter-picking is too strong but it forces people to experiment, every character has a near fatal flaw that can be easily countered with another character. With massively different characters and constant balance updates from Blizzard the meta-game stays fresh. The character designs are some of the most immediately memorable and appealing designs since Persona 4. There’s a character for everyone in the cast, aesthetically or mechanically. If only there was a shooter with a great campaign and multiplayer…
Best of Both Worlds: Titanfall 2
The first Titanfall was a masterpiece; no lack of a true story mode or 400 unlockable attachments for each of my guns could keep players from enjoying the wall running, parkour, mecha/Titans, and the glorious feel of it all. So when Titanfall 2 was announced people were beyond ecstatic.
Then the online tech test launched with a lackluster mode, maps, and other small changes that added up to a portion of players writing the game off from their October purchases. But then the CoD: Infinite Warfare beta launched. The Titanfall 2 tech test didn’t live up to players’ memories of what Titanfall 1 was, but the IW beta showed everyone how much worse it could get. Despite all of CoD’s famous polish and production values it couldn’t even match the fun players had being disappointed by TF2.
Titanfall 2 is a sublime experience, on and offline. The campaign is great, it’s well-paced with various locales, with situations and mechanics that aren’t simply there to introduce you to multiplayer features. The multiplayer has expanded your arsenal from TF2 without it feeling bloated. The maps are not as tight as TF1, but using the various new movement abilities on top of the parkour and learning the maps gives you a feeling of mastery of the traversal system that no other game, shooter or otherwise, can offer this year. The gunplay, Titans, and all the various combinations of pilot and Titan loadouts are icing on the delicious movement cake.
Take Your Pick
Titanfall 2’s mechanics allowed it to master both single and multiplayer. The parkour movement and Titan systems are satisfying regardless of whether it’s a human player or NPC you’re decimating. Overwatch’s characters and systems are designed for fast paced mental play, multiplayer match-ups, and metagames. Doom’s multiplayer is lackluster, but perhaps its campaign is incredible. Each of these games displays a mastery over a different aspect of the FPS genre, and all are different enough in tone, style, and play that if you have any affection the first-person shooter genre, 2016 had something for you.
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