Trends in the industry could spell the death of the FPS single player campaign.
In recent times a developmental trend has been taking place that puts more emphasis on multiplayer game modes. This trend has been particularly prevalent in the FPS genre. Battlefront, Titanfall and Evolve are a few shooter titles released recently that scrapped a single player campaign. This could indicate a trend, meaning the death of the FPS campaign.
As an FPS fan, the inclusion of a campaign mode is an essential part of the experience. Not only does it help to justify handing over £45, but it also helps to immerse you in the title for a while. The campaign is a great opportunity to exercise story telling, staggering the frantic action. It can also be a great opportunity to include some really cool moments. I don’t know about you, but taking Lieutenant Shepard out in Modern Warfare 2 remains as a personal gaming highlight. A bad campaign sticks out like a sore thumb, even more so if the marketing campaign has raged on for months.
Destiny’s campaign for example was a real mish mash. Some great moments were in there; the inclusion of other players on the planet was a really nice feature. Unfortunately there were also some absolute howlers. The first 30 seconds of the first mission illustrate this perfectly. To set the scene, you are awoken/revived by a Ghost, not a spooky ghost, outside of an abandoned industrial building in future Earth. Peter Dinklage tells your character that he has been looking for you and that you need to leave the area quick, there are enemies coming. That’s it. No backstory as to how you came to be there, the circumstances of your death or why the Ghost came looking for you. After the player has spent time customising the character, choosing their race, special abilities and what they look like it feels lazy. Bungie have veteran staff and a budget of a few hundred million dollars. With those resources, perhaps the details of the character origin should have been explained.
It has been estimated that a single player campaign for FPS games can gobble up 75% of the budget. The majority of FPS players also seem to invest far less time in the single player campaign. Devoting the majority of playtime to multiplayer modes is not an uncommon thing. It is certainly cheaper to develop titles that focus on multiplayer entirely. Video game production is a business, first and foremost, and so compromising on content is a crucial aspect of development. But if profit becomes the all-encompassing aspect of what content features, will it not undermine the entertainment? That is why games are played after all, for entertainment. When developers don’t include a single player campaign for reasons of cost, I can’t help but feel they fail the players. Especially in the downloadable content (DLC) world we currently inhabit. When accessing the total features of a game can set you back £100 or over, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth if a campaign is not included.
Split screen functionality also appears to be loosing momentum. Halo 5: Guardians had no split screen option for campaign. As a fan that was devastating. The squad-based gameplay dynamic seemed to set Guardians up so perfectly for a split screen campaign, but alas it was not there. Every Halo title predating Guardians featured split screen co-op, the function has created some incredible moments and it would be a shame to loose. 343 Industries have hinted that split screen will feature in Halo 6 due to the online backlash from Guardians.
Hopefully these incidences do not indicate a trend and the campaign experience will continue for FPS.
(Spoiler alert for those who haven’t completed Modern Warfare 2 for some reason)
What are your top FPS campaign moments? Would you miss the campaign if it disappeared?
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