If you know me, you know that when I play a videogame I like it to have a good story. It isn’t a deal breaker if it doesn’t, but I like to at least have some sort of direction and understanding of the stakes. Now in my personal experience I usually see three different ways a story is incorporated into a game. The first type of story is one that is meant to have a tight fitting plot. It is designed to be an interesting story that you can experience along with the gameplay. The second is when the story is part of an overarching storyline where the storyline is part of a larger sequence. The third and final type is when the story is essentially only background noise so that you can spend time focusing on the gameplay. Now, obviously I am generalizing so there are some exceptions, but for the most part I think they play out in one of those three ways. Now I would like you to hear me out on which type I would like to see more of in shooters and, by extension, games in general.
Now let’s start with the third type because I feel like this type is the most prevalent in the industry right now. Many shooters are a one and done sort of affair with many not being referenced much after a few months of spotlight. These types usually, not always, have campaigns that do not add much playtime to the game and are usually only there to justify the game being at full price. Truth be told there is no point in justifying why the videogame companies choose to do things like this, but I feel that if you don’t want to bother putting in a decent story for the single-player campaign, then you shouldn’t be charging full price for the game. A multiplayer experience is great, but without the single-player experience it still feels like there is something missing. The problem I have is that the types of games that have this type of model to them seem to only be doing it to pump out titles as efficiently and as quickly as possible without making the experience feel like it will last for awhile. I just don’t think that is a healthy practice for both the producers and the consumers of these games.
Now you might be thinking since I harp on story so much I would like to see more of the first type I listed earlier when talking about videogame stories. Well you would be right, but that is mostly because of the fact that I mainly want them to balance out the oversaturation we seem to have of the third type. There aren’t too many shooters that have a serious focus on story, but when they do they can be really good. In the end a good story will always last longer than a multiplayer server. the thing is that most good stories involving shooters tend to deal with darker and depressing themes. That is fine, but it is not the thing that you would want to come back to each time for some fun. Ultimately the reason why we play videogames is to have fun and unwind. So, multiplayer tends to win in that regard since playing with other people is usually more fun than playing by yourself. The exceptions of course are any games in the Mario Party series as that only destroys friendships.
So truth be told I believe that the second type is that one that I want to see the most of in the industry. You know, more games along the lines of Halo where there is an overarching story that you can come back to it and it has a story that is at least meaty enough that you can be comfortable with the weapons going into the multiplayer. Is it me, or are there less and less games in the shooter genre that actually have tangible story threads with their predecessors? It is too much to ask for a bit of context while we are taking down our enemies? Just wondering if we can have more series lead to bigger stories and bigger conflicts while also allowing for fun multiplayer modes and experiences. That’s all I ask. Does that seem too greedy, because if it does then I think you are not greedy enough. Seriously, how many series in the shooter genre have established themselves long enough to be relevant and actually fall under this category? Sandbox games don’t count here. Look, you may think that the current way games are done is fine, but I think we at least try for a bit more variety.