I'm Tired Of Hero Shooters

Lawbreakers' first Closed Beta weekend just ended and while I enjoyed the FPS quite a bit, it stirred up my nostalgia for older shooters. Every modern multiplayer game with a gun—at least the ones from the last couple years—have incorporated the same ingredient: characters, singular choices that have abilities or weapons that only they can wield. It's a page from MMORPGs or MOBAs. Instead of a weapon dictating how you rack up frags, a character/hero-class decides how you play. And you know what? I'm tired of hero-based shooters.

Maybe I'm just old. I don't understand the newer generation of gamers and their insatiable appetite for zany characters spouting one-liners.

Does anyone know what happened to games where every player, regardless of their avatar model, starts a match with the same gun and has to collect new weapons scattered about the map, along with health packs and maybe a shield buff? I'm not sure why the style fell out of favor. It was my favorite.

Back in high-school I took a Tech & Design class, and my teacher—bless his heart—had no control. We sat on computers and played Quake 2 every period, every day. The kids in Java class across the school had a similarly disposed teacher and also played Quake 2. It was some of the most fun I had in an FPS. Everyone was on equal grounds: rushing across maps, collecting weapons, and climbing the leaderboard to brag for the rest of the day. It was good, wholesome, fun, where your skill defined your character, not a character defining how you play.

The only game that hearkens back to the old days is Epic Games' Unreal Tournament, but last time I hopped on it felt like a tech demo for Unreal Engine, rather than a title being pushed to market. Which is fine. I have options. But why are so many studios following the same formula?

I started this article with Lawbreakers because it was great fun to play as a deathmatch, and you could see glimmers of the past through its gameplay. Yet, it's ultimately—as of the Closed Beta test I played in—another hero-shooter orbiting around objective gameplay.

Speculation suggest that studios looked at the success of MOBAs and thought, "how can we take these team-based elements and bring them to the FPS. Everybody loves MOBAs right?" So we get Overwatch, and Battleborn, and Lawbreakers, and Paladins, and First Assault, and Gigantic. And even though Randy Pitchford thinks his team was inventing a genre, what I see is a natural progression, that multiple people at multiple studios all had the same wattage light-bulb shining above their head simultaneously.

And I don't mean to say I don't like those games. I like them for what they are. I just wish the genre was a bit more expansive, rather than jumping from one trope to the next, until its dried up and the next formula proves it's a successful bandwagon.

There are a handful of shooters that tried to bring back the past, but they ended up with modern elements like perks that detract from what made the past great—looking at you Doom multiplayer. Even Quake Champions is going to have a character roster, a pool of characters with abilities, strengths, weaknesses.

Maybe the classic arena shooter is dead. After all Toxikk tried to bring back "Fragging like its 1999," and didn't manage to attract a substantial playerbase—which may have been due to its monetization model and rush to Early Access. Maybe I'm old, drunk on nostalgia. Maybe the correct answer is for me to just play Quake Browser with the other tired players.

Then again I don't think I'm alone. Which is why I wrote this article. Are you tired of hero-shooters? Or are they here to stay, the right formula for the 21st Century FPS?

Other Gaming Tropes I'm Tired Of:

Zombie Survival Games Need To Die

From Mega Man II to Ape Escape, I've been playing games for as long as I can remember. I've spent months killing porings in Ragnarok Online and more recently lived a second life in Eve Online. I usually play as gUMBY, gUMBLEoni, or gUMBLes in-game.

  • Victor Hugo

    It´s exactly what I think. We are full of shooters, and competitives games. Unfortunaly, the producers only thinks in what will bring more money. MMO´s are delayed every day, and shooters are launched every week. Sadly.

    Sorry for the bad english.

  • Gristuth

    I believe that heroes add to the genre but it needs to remove tank and support classes. Then it would have the capacity to have the proper deathmatches I crave without the RNG of picking up weapons like in Unreal Tournament. Even if you know where it is, you won't get the rocket launcher/flak cannon if someone else picks it up first because they spawned closer. And abilities do add some flavor elements. The characters just need to be better balanced than they were in Overwatch. Hmm... Sounds like a good idea actually, Overwatch deathmatch style using only offense and defense heroes...

    • I think deathmatch is what Lawbreakers desperately needs. It's the only thing I wanted to do while playing; the objectives were a secondary concern. I kept my eyes on the leaderboard.

  • LAMBDA471

    Like MOBAs were before that, now hero shooters are the fad. And before MOBAs it was the traditional shooters. And even before that it was the traditional MMORPGs.

    I had a chance to try Overwatch for free on two occasions, didn't like it. Player Paladins for about 7 hours on Steam, didn't like it, in Paladins mostly because there wasn't a character to my liking, but even if there was in Overtwatch (Soldier 76), that wasn't enough to get me hooked, the whole gameplay mechanic is something I find a hassle.

    I suspect Overwatch and Paladins will remain the top hero shooters while the other will either remain a niche or fail, kinda like the MOBA Heroes of Newerth or many traditional MMORPGs or FPS games never got big and never will... and then a new fad will come and everyone will try copy it. Eventually when all possibilities are exhausted, it will go in circles - the same, but slightly changed. Kinda like Windows 10's flat UI that is very reminiscent of the UIs back in 1993-1995. In that notion I bet that gradient UIs will make a return - the same, but slightly changed too. But I digress.