One thing I didn’t go into specifics on is the mechanics on more modern day shooters. The entire structure for them has changed and there are certain things one can expect to see from them. One of the most notorious is regenerating health. Now while it wasn’t an entirely new concept, I don’t expect that people who played classic shooters would have believed that it would become a staple part of the genre. I’m pretty sure that starting in the 2000s everyone starting making the shift over to this formula. Although the Halo series manages to pretend they don’t by having a regenerating shield which at least makes more sense. Regenerating health is something that doesn’t make a lot of sense when you really think about it. You take about fifteen or twenty bullets and then instead of bleeding out, you hide in a corner and all of a sudden all of your wounds go away. Unless you are some sort of superhuman then by all accounts that many bullets just leads to death. Now to be fair, some shooters do start out by saying that you are some sort of super soldier, but the majority of the more realistic ones do not have any such excuse. So you have to ask then, or at least you should ask, why do they put regenerating health in as a game mechanic? Well, it would be because it is a mechanic needed for the experience. Let’s take a look at how this mechanic works.
Now shooters used to be very fast paced. They would have you keep moving and shooting anything that entered your line of sight. You could use whatever you wanted to kill the enemies before they killed you. However, the game has now changed. The goal is still the same since you still don’t want to leave a single enemy alive. The only problem is that due to the heavier emphasis on realism, to our now have to reload and can only carry limited amounts of weapons and ammo. Also, every single enemy will get the drop on you as soon as one is alerted. Presumably because the enemies all have some sort of psychic link with each other. So naturally, you will end up needing to hide a lot when you lead to reload or get some ammo or maybe just take a breath. That’s is where regenerating health bars alleviate some of the pressure and help even the scales. Since you can’t just go in and start shooting with reckless abandon, you need to pay attention to the timing. You have to figure out when to shoot, when to reload, when to dodge, when to take cover, when to grenade, when to use the bathroom, wait…. ignore that last one. Anyway, things get a lot more tactical and so having more control over your health bar should make it easier to make decisions when you need to make them. You don’t have to worry about how much health you have if you know you can get at least some of it back so long as you don’t accidentally stick your pinky finger out of cover. They’ll come for those pinkies man. So you need to play smart if you want to succeed. With all that being said, doesn’t this justify the mechanic’s placement in so many shooters. Absolutely not.
You probably got I was going to say yes for a second didn’t you? Well, if I were going to defend this topic I wouldn’t have titled this as being a cliché in the first place. I just wanted to make the point clear that I don’t hate the mechanic itself, but I do not like the way it is currently used. You see regenerating health makes the most sense in games that are built around having lots of cover and needing to find certain vantage points. The pacing is meant to be controlled that way and so it makes sense for things such as regenerating health to exist in shooters that have that type of mindset. So tell me why we have this same mechanic in almost every single game that has come out as a AAA title in the last ten years. I understand I am being a bit dramatic, but do we really need this mechanic for everything? We even see it in stealth games now. STEALTH GAMES. At least in a shooter you have to get the bad guys, but you don’t have to do any of that in a stealth game. I don’t get it. Are you just supposed to hide and suck your thumb after you get caught so everyone forgets about you and moves on? Weren’t games supposed to be getting more realistic? The least they could do is make it a consumable item that you could find more of depending on the difficulty you play on. Something more than just peace out and come back later when you feel like this time I might absorb enough bullets before needing to run away. Heck at least in Far Cry 3 it made sense that the main character could breeze through all that. He was so juiced up that he may as well have been superhuman. Although if he really wanted to be indestructible he should have taken whatever Nathan Drake used to survive half of his adventures. Look, I am not asking for a lot here. Okay, maybe I am, but can we at least take moments to consider why regenerating health has to be the default and only option for so many games? I’ve given up on shooters because at least that formula works, but if I ever see a dating sim with regenerating health then I might just lose my mind.