[E3 2016] Will EA’s New Shooters Feel New Enough?

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This is probably just a personal preference thing, but all the shooters Electronic Arts showed at its EAPlay press conference on Sunday (three in all) looked kind of… conventional to me.  That probably sounds crazy to a lot of people given the games are Star Wars, a game with giant robots, and a game about the first World War, but in all three I kind of see the same general structure of game design.

When EA first announced Battlefield 1, I did a post wondering if a change in setting was enough to really make the game feel different. I now ask the same question of Titanfall which is coming out basically in the same season and maybe Star Wars Battlefront 2 as well. What I’m saying is, I have a feeling that no matter what setting you get, it’s still gonna be shooting through linear set pieces in relative close quarters or deathmatch and conquest multiplayer.

Battlefield 1 is going to have a whole new set of weapons and other technology, but it’s probably still going to follow the same overall flow of Battlefield games. You will probably still play conquest where you take control points with infantry squads, armored units, and aerial units. Maybe the horses and swords will add something new to the mix. The campaign in the end will probably feel pretty similar to the Battlefield 4 campaign. I don’t think EA is going to try something drastically new with Battlefield campaigns like it probably needs to. I imagine Battlefront 2 next year will still be pretty similar even if the Stormtroopers look like the Stormotroopers from The Force Awakens. I think the Titanfall story campaign will ultimately feel a lot like a Call of Duty campaign but with big robots.

Maybe that change in imagery is indeed all that matters to a lot of people and they like that current structure of shooters. Battlefront in particular is selling off of the Star Wars brand. Maybe people really do like playing the same kind of first person shooter but with a WWI coat of paint. My personal issue is with the underlying mechanics that don’t seem to be changing as much as the outward look of these games. Again, I said this might be entirely subjective, but my problem is probably that I’m largely done with linear cinematic military shooters and deathmatch multiplayer.

Titanfall has a good chance of having a really well-designed campaign from the designers of Call of Duty 4 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I enjoyed all the Modern Warfare games a lot because I think they have great level design and really tight controls. I just got tired of all the shooters that imitated those games. Maybe Titanfall 2’s campaign will bring back that spark. Even there though, I’d still be a bit disappointed with its use of the setting and ideas.

I’m starting to think the kind of fast-paced close-quarters combat of Titanfall might be a waste of the potential of mechs. The mechs here are basically vehicles. They’re tanks with legs, which means you’re dealing with mechanized combat. The normal style of shooter multiplayer is great for infantry combat but I think mechs might be better served in more open spaces with longer and larger-scale battles. Actually I think the kind of multiplayer you see in Battlefield might be a better fit for Titanfall’s mechs. Maybe I just want a sequel to Battlefield 2142.

In any case, the two shooters I’m really interested in seeing more of are Ghost Recon Wildlands and ArmA 3 Apex. This is probably because my interest right now has turned towards sandbox shooters which give players greater degrees of control over the action and much wider play spaces. If I could play a game like Wildlands or ArmA with mech combat that would really be something new.

BULLETS:

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