Recently, online gaming has been dominated by one sub-genre of games. With the releases of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the Battle Royale genre took flight and hasn’t stopped for fuel since.
Since then, the developers of the big first-person shooter games have tried to incorporate their own version of the Battle Royale genre, either into their game, or as a stand alone spin off. Apex Legends, made by Respawn Entertainment, is the most recent Battle Royale game that has seen major success. Meanwhile, Battlefield has just launched their own version – Firestorm. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 implemented Blackout as their version back when it released in October 2018.
The first-person shooter genre is what started my love for video games. I owned many games going back to the GameCube, but I didn’t really get sucked into video games until the release of Halo 3 on the Xbox 360. That’s when I started playing online, and that’s where I fell in love with the genre. I figured out ways to get my hands on almost every single major FPS game on the console from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare to Gears of War 3, and everything in between. I did play a lot of other great titles from the different genres on the 360, but I always found myself coming back to FPS games. I would come home from school, load up whatever shooter I was playing at the time, and play until I needed to go to sleep. I could play alone, or in a party with friends, it didn’t matter.
But something changed after the switch from 360 to the Xbox One. I would buy shooters and play them for a very short period, just to put them down and never pick them back up again. It started with Titanfall, and then continued into whatever Call of Duty was releasing that year. In fact, there were only three titles that managed to keep me playing for longer than a week: Halo 5, Battlefield: Hardline, and Rainbow Six: Siege. The rest were put down almost as soon as they were picked up. The only reason I played these games for so long was because my gaming circle was focused on them. I was good, but I played more for the socialization aspect rather than for the game itself.
Shooters had become boring to me. I found myself asking what the goal of the game was. Was it to win? I didn’t think so. Winning feels good, but you forget about a win as soon as the next round begins. And somehow that’s the end of the reasons I could think of. I tried to come up with any other goal, but I failed.
It’s easy to figure out the goal of most other games – to tell a story in a way that gets the player involved. Most of the time, the experience tries to be fun as well. I think we all can agree that we play video games for fun. Some people try and make a job of it, and some of those succeed. But for the vast majority, we play games for fun. Shooters have almost completely gone away from telling a story. The most recent Call of Duty didn’t even have a campaign for the first time ever. Battlefield has switched to a vignette style of storytelling, while Apex Legends and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds just have the Battle Royale mode. If you ask the majority of Fortnite players I would bet they didn’t even know that the Battle Royale option was a standalone version at the time of release of the cooperative survival game, Fortnite: Save the World.
Even shooting games with a story haven’t sucked me in. I played Anthem for all of eight hours. I played The Division 2 for even less time than that. These games aren’t even strictly shooters, and they don’t interest me. It must be said though that both Destiny games kept me playing for a decent amount of time, but that seems like the exception rather than the rule. There has yet to be a shooter that has kept me around and made me want to keep playing. Even old faithful (or its sequel) couldn’t make me play for long stretches of time.
I have tried basically every major shooter this generation and nothing has enticed me to stick with it. I’ve had fun with some of these for an evening, but never found myself going back to them. I have fallen out of love with the genre that started my fascination with gaming and that saddens me.
I’m not so full of myself that I think shooters aren’t fun for anyone anymore. There is a reason both Fortnite and Apex Legends have millions of concurrent players after all, and I doubt they would have that high of a player base if the genre itself wasn’t fun. However, the genre definitely stopped being fun for me and it remains to be seen if the next iteration of my beloved Halo, and to a lesser extent Gears, will reignite the passion I used to have for the genre. Sadly, I don’t have much hope.