What will be the future of FPS? - editorial

What will be the future of FPS? - editorial

During the approaching appointments to the EA Play Live in July, an event designed to raise the curtain on the near future of the American giant, the developers of Respawn Entertainment working on the tireless Apex Legends and the DICE guys working on Battlefield shared with the public the vision of the company about the FPS genre.

A genre, that of the first person shooter, which in the course of the history of the medium has adapted itself as a perfect transformer to the dominant creative currents, changing several times for form and ambition in order to maintain its hold on the scepter of engagement rankings.

We have witnessed the golden age of arena shooters, the first discovery of LAN games, the revolution brought about by the Source Engine from Half-Life, to the competitive drift of Counter-Strike, to the compelling narrative of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, to the extraordinary fantasy of Ken Levine's Bioshock, even to the approach to the MMORPG universe that took place through Destiny, to the combination with the survival experience brought by Escape From Tarkov, without forgetting of course the incredible success of Battle Royale.

Microsoft has awarded Perfect Dark to The Initiative . His biggest and most talented studio will do an FPS. Ask the gamer audience what is the best formula according to which to decline an FPS and you will get as many answers as there are fans; However, there is one evidence that you can't close your eyes on: over the past decade, the only first-person shooter capable of taking home a Game of the Year award has been Blizzard Entertainment's Overwatch, an undoubtedly extraordinary work but definitely far from obtaining full recognition of its artistic dignity.

We have often talked about the clear supremacy imposed by the formulas of action and third-person shooter, inspirations that have led to works such as The Last of Us Part 2, the Uncharted series, The Legend of Zelda, The Witcher and many others to accumulate several hundred awards, crystallizing a sort of "golden recipe" that any developer should perfect to obtain the maximum recognition of the public and critics.

The question arises: if a title like The Last of Us Part 2 was an FPS, would it work the same way? What features that escape the subjective view have guided the hands of the most talented creatives around in other directions? Why what is without ifs and buts one of the most successful genres in history struggles to express all its artistic potential?

The Bioshock series, recently, is the only one to have transcended the classic boundary creative first person shooters. On the one hand, it is evident that the direction taken by the world of FPS is a reflection of the very high demand for competitive experiences that characterizes the contemporary market, and it is sufficient to observe a couple of data relating to the last two years to realize the dimensions of the phenomenon. On the other hand, though, as Respawn and DICE executives recounted their multiplayer shooters, Twitch and YouTube chats were flooded with comments clamoring for news about Titanfall and its campaign.

And this. is the first ideological clash that seems to be investing the communities of fans. While it is true that we often read complaints about the absence of the campaign mode in titles such as Battlefield and Call of Duty, it is even more true that the metrics speak for themselves: most FPS players choose to jump on foot. campaign to jump into the multiplayer sector from the beginning.

Even more eloquent are the sales figures of numerous titles embroidered around the solo FPS experience. SuperData, for example, has estimated that a giant like Doom Eternal has reached three million copies sold in March 2020; Wolfenstein, in the same way, has never been a juggernaut in terms of revenues, and the same goes for similar formulas such as that of Prey, which while not a shooter in the strict sense has struggled to gain public recognition. >
If The Last of Us Part 2 were an FPS, would it work the same way? Basically there is an evident friction between what fans say they want and what they actually end up playing and buying; it is as if complaining about the absence of impactful campaigns were a sort of founding dogma in the "gamer's handbook", and when the sums are summed up, numbers in hand, the competitive multiplayer-oriented shooters simply embarrass the results achieved from single player formulas.

It is also worth mentioning the Cyberpunk 2077 case, an unfortunate CD Projekt RED production that at least on paper should have mixed the characteristics of pure RPG with the typical action of subjective action , combining a combat system very close to that of the classic FPS with an unusual narrative component and a gigantic open world.

At Night City we all know how it ended: the unforgivable delivery of CD Projekt has irremediably damaged the project, effectively cutting the legs of a work that could have embodied a real creative renaissance for subjective video games. On the other hand, it cannot be ignored that waves of complaints addressed to the formula in the first person had already flooded the web well before the day of the launch, once again demonstrating the aversion of a large part of the public towards this inspiration.

So is it possible to create great video games on the banks of first person shooters? Can you win a GOTY with a narrative FPS or should you just embrace the competitive world?

Arkane Studios' Deathloop could be the next big surprise in this world. At this historic moment, the answer may lie in the hands of Microsoft alone. The Redmond house seems more than ever convinced to dodge the hunting ground of the competition, or the third-person action, to create its own "trademark" through not only the continuation of the historic Halo series, but above all the rebirth by Perfect Dark, the historic brand shooter assigned by Matt Booty to the "superstudio" The Initiative.

The desire to engage the largest, most talented and ambitious software house of the company on an FPS is an extremely courageous act, since everyone would have expected from The Initiative a concrete response to the works of Naughty Dog and Santa Monica Studios. Well, perhaps Microsoft has in mind to fight on a battlefield more familiar to her, transforming the shooter theater into a subjective weapon capable of fighting the competition.

Looking back, it was the only series by Bioshock, crowned by the triumph of Infinite, to have transcended the classic boundary of the first-person shooter, creating narrative universes capable of imprinting itself in the memory of millions of fans. Looking to the present, however, alongside the incredible success of competitive titles such as Valorant or Call of Duty Warzone, formulas that are much closer to arcade and caciarona inspiration are establishing themselves, such as the Borderlands co-op series and the open worlds of Far Cry. .

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Sure, Cyberpunk 2077 has the undeniable merit to have tried an experiment, and Resident Evil Village itself followed in the footsteps of its predecessor by adapting its survival horror nature to a modern first-person view, but the day we see a pure and simple FPS sitting on the roof of the world still seems far, far away.

At this point, there is nothing left to do but turn the ball to you: why the formula that more than any other should favor immersion fails to conceive great experiences narratives? Why did the action in the third person win the war for the recognition of artistic dignity? But above all, what would you like to see from the future of next-gen FPS? Probably, the first study that will be able to find a concrete answer to all these questions will change the history of the medium forever.

And in the end, the beauty of the world of video games is also this, just like it happens in football : there is always another season, there is always another generation, there is always a new creative vision.

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