Splatoon and Overwatch are brothers in arms of a sort, bookends to what has been the revival of the first person shooter. This may sound a little silly, or even hyperbolic to you, Splatoon is not even a first person shooter, and Overwatch just takes the framework that has kept the ‘Moba-likes’ rolling along over the last four years and applies it to an FPS. Yet it can’t be denied that until the vibrant, stylish, and quite original new Nintendo I.P. arrived on the scene, things had been looking a little, stale, for a while.
Outside of Battlefield and Call of Duty, there was very little to write home about. Very little that provided choice or originality. After a decade of same-same military shooters, the majority of shooter fans and multiplayer-centric gamers were without much to scratch their itches.
That’s not to say there haven’t been FPS experiences arriving and doing something successful. Destiny certainly made its own dent on the landscape, all be it one that’s left a lot wanting. Its story wasn’t what many expected, it’s depths not as deep as it needs. It still carved out its own space. All be it a very solitary feeling one. Destiny’s major failing was how it made you feel like you were alone. Not really in a multiplayer space, despite always being one.
Then there are titles like Bioshock Infinite, that present their own flawed concepts. Games that look different, sometimes feel different, but become ever more solitary and ever more simplistic while striving for complexity in entirely the wrong ways.
What Splatoon reopened the doors to was the colourful shooter. Its core is not about blood or explosions, but colour. You won not by scoring the most kills, but by covering the most ground in your teams colour. It’s bright, startling colours and frantic gameplay opened the doors to the younger players. Ones that would not have been able to play the Battle-Duties of the world, or were just not allowed to, had a totally new space to hop into. More importantly, though Splatoon’s core mechanics have a depth that rewards all types of players. It’s constant reward system has the addictive feel of levelling up in other competitive shooters.
Overwatch does this too, the younger cooler sibling to Splatoon, it doesn’t reinvent the FPS wheel at its core, instead, it refines and tightens them, snatching a handful of modes from different shooters and crafting an ever fresh grab bag from them. It’s modes being bound instead to its stages allow for a might tighter flow to each match. Better still it takes the character based gameplay ideas of Moba-likes and uses them to constantly keep mixing up what you can do.
You start out with a mix of characters, all individual, where your first task is to understand one or two. Before long though you’ve started experimenting with others, mixing up how your character teams with your friends and started using ever expanding news skills to twist each stages mode to your advantage.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve also seen the rebirth of both Wolfenstein and Doom. Both taking drastically different positions on the updating of two classics but both just nailing the feel right from the start. Then there was Titanfall another flawed but fun title that took chances that didn’t fully pay off.
So what’s to come? Well, the aforementioned Titanfall’s follow-up (we’ll let you guess what that’s called), is looking promising. It’s story mode looking to address the issues people had with the originals lack of a campaign.
Quake: Champions is also a really exciting prospect after the shock success of Doom earlier this month. The notion of Quake with more individual heroes is exciting, although quite how well Saber Interactive will do with a new Quake is to be seen obviously. Here’s hoping ID keep a close eye on things.
Lastly, there’s the 3rd on the conveyer belt of hero based team shooters coming along for Xbox One in the form of the quietly forgotten Gigantic. This games “animated cartoon” look and interesting gameplay concepts have some of us curious. Also, there’s a bird-archer with some sort of pet ferret.
We know we probably missed a few games , so feel free to share any highlights you’ve played in the comments.