When did regenerating health become realistic?

E3 2012: Medal of Honor: Warfighter is being billed as realistic, but this claim is as fictional as the fanatical combat.

by

Standing in a secluded demo area for Medal of Honor: Warfighter, I watched a briefing reel that explained the purpose of the game and what separates it from the countless other military shooters. Phrases such as "respect for the soldiers" and "extreme realism" hung in the air like hopeful promises, and these ideas stayed in my mind as I watched a detailed breakdown of the various weapons and soldier classes contained in Warfighter. Sadly, once I watched players compete in a multiplayer match, I could see that those ideas were little more than marketing speak. Though so many other military shooters cause this deflating feeling in me, listening to insincere claims about Warfighter added to my growing frustration.

There is a severe disconnect in military shooters between the painstakingly lifelike weapons, environments, and all of the army-approved ancillary details and the actual combat. While I was watching Warfighter, one player was shot multiple times in the back by an enemy attacker, quickly turned around to face his assailant, and struck him dead with a few well-placed shots to the head. Kneeling behind a pillar, the victorious player's screen slowly shifted from a red-streaked mess to a clear view as he returned to full health. Fully healed, he marched off to find another player to kill. Obviously, Warfighter is hardly the first military shooter that portrays war in this manner, and it won't be the last, and that trend is scary.

This is a common occurrence that looks downright mundane spelled out, but the fact that it's expected is disconcerting. Soldiers cannot, in fact, take multiple bullets to the back, shrug them off like they're mosquito bites, kill whoever had the gall to fire in the first place, and then return to 100 percent health, all in less than 10 seconds. And this scenario is so utterly preposterous that it negates everything we're told the game is striving for.

By focusing on instant satisfaction and extreme accessibility, they turn real battles into a virtual fantasyland where no harm is lasting and no danger exists.
Developers continually talk about how much respect they have for real-life soldiers, but you'd be hard-pressed to find evidence of that claim in their games. Warfighter is just joining a growing list of games that include Battlefield, Call of Duty, Homefront, and too many more to list. Getting shot hardly matters in these games. Movement isn't hindered in the slightest even though a bullet is lodged in your leg. Aiming is just as steady even though your arm is shredded by shrapnel. The only hint that you've been wounded is a slightly obscured view, but that hardly communicates the horrible pain and life-threatening conditions.

One of the "innovative" features in Warfighter is the ability to team up with another character so that you can always see an outline of them, even when they're offscreen, and appear behind them when you respawn. This showcases the camaraderie that soldiers develop on the battlefield but also highlights how poorly death is handled. Infinite lives is the norm in military shooters. If you get lackadaisical on the battlefield and find a knife lodged in your back, you reappear moments later at full health, as if nothing bad had happened.

When I asked a developer from Danger Close who was giving the demonstration about this conflicting message, he explained that these decisions were implemented because the game focused on fast competitive play. That's a plausible answer, but the marketing speak from the development team doesn't reflect that this game isn't meant to be taken seriously. You can't say that you have respect for the soldiers only to trivialize their sacrifices on the battlefield by making things such as death slight roadblocks on the road to success.

Because I was told that regenerating health and the like existed for competitive play, I asked if lives would be handled with more care in the single-player campaign. Sadly, it doesn't seem like that's the case, either. When you die, you respawn at the nearest checkpoint. Regenerating health ensures you won't need to carefully consider every move you make. Instead, you can run into battle, absorb a few rounds, and then duck behind cover like nothing happened.

This doesn't resemble real-life battles at all, and I find this very upsetting. Military games have turned war into a silly good time, and yet they hide behind their realistic claims as if they're doing justice to the armed forces. In reality, they're exploiting the people who give their lives for a cause they believe in. By focusing on instant satisfaction and extreme accessibility, they turn real battles into a virtual fantasyland where no harm is lasting and no danger exists.

In military games like Warfighter, that preach how much they respect troops and how realistic they are, I find it sickening and shameful that health is treated so unrealistically. Making a quick buck on the backs of soldiers instead of educating consumers of the horrible truths of the battlefield trivializes the very things these development teams say they value.

Discussion

588 comments
naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

I think it's very irresponsible of them to claim that they're portraying an authentic version of war, and it's downright cowardly to backpedal and say that "authentic" is not the same as "realistic".

There's millions of kids playing this game.  That's what they're going to see war as, because they sure as hell don't see it anywhere else.  And no they're not "idiots" for building their view of war on a video game.

There's a whole generation of kids who are growing up thinking war is just a minor inconvenience  and even then, only to American soldiers; the recipient country is just full of soulless moronic barbarians who, since they refuse to be educated, deserve to die.  Those stupid monkeys you're gunning down by the hundreds are representing *human people*, and the fact that they're not American makes the game all the more dangerous.

Of *course* if you've actually been in a war situation, coming back and playing a video game *is* going to seem trivial and inconsequential.  The people who've been in a real war situation should have *less* say in the matter, not more.

These developers are claiming that if you just died and stayed dead, it wouldn't be a fun game.

I say, if you can't make war realistic and fun, then too bad, you shouldn't be making a GAME out of WAR.

hobobobo00
hobobobo00

It's silly to criticize a game for being unrealistic. The first thing any video game player (and especially gamespot column writers) should realize is that the purpose of games is to entertain. It's what separates video game shooters from war simulators.

I disagree with the belief that respecting soldiers means making more realistic video games. Respecting soldiers means depicting them respectfully in video games, which all the major titles very compellingly achieve. 

I would guess by the same logic Tom McShea is offended by movies such as The Expendables, Act of Valor, and Skyfall because their unrealistic depictions of combat "disrespect" real soldiers. If anything, McShea shows that if you try hard enough, you can make yourself offended by anything. 

pseudospike
pseudospike

As my grandmother would say: What a schmuck!

JOYRIDEME
JOYRIDEME

Seeing as MoH sucks and the story is terrible I feel as if Danger Close owes an apology to Mc Shea.

Villimax
Villimax

Well, he probably should have written this article about the 10th annual Call of Duty, which is way more offensive than Medal of Honor, but still, it's true!

resoin
resoin

I totally agree with Tom Mc Shea and this article. It holds the truth.

 

The new fps games are piece of garbage shit because of the infinite health. Regenerative health = infinite health. It totally ruins the gameplay.

 

This is why I hate COD series and the new war games. What the fuck is the respawning in the MOH? It's an other annoying thing. Ok, this is an other game that I will never play.

 

If a game is realistic, it means the game is good and enjoyable! So there should not be health regeneration, respawning and others. It would be good if in the new fps games, the player had 100 health and he had to be careful because he don't have infinite health! I want to see a game with first aid kits and without health regeneration.

 

As you can see the commenters here are primitve. They say that the game isn't reality. Yes, but this is why the games are created! You can do things in the game that you can not in the reality. These games are made to be the same as the reality but with changes. But if a game is based on the reality, it must be authentic!

 

For example Left 4 Dead. Many people say that the beta version was more realistic (yes, it was). And the primitive Left 4 Dead 2 community always says that "the game is not made to be reality, zombies aren't real". Yes, zombies aren't real, but this is not an argument. This is not means that the whole game should be unreal! Everything else should be realistic.

 

So throw out that shit regenerating health and others, and add the old features that makes the game good: save game feature, first aid kits, ...

Nexrad
Nexrad

shut the hell up you clown

 

ITS A GAME, WE DONT WANT IT TO BE COMPLETELY REALISTIC.

 

these games would be stupid if you died once and you were done. If youve been in this industry and dont realize that your a complete joke. If anything making the game simulate war very closely would be worse and more people would complain saying its TOO realistic.

 

No one plays a game and says hey this is what war is like dumbass

viciouskiller
viciouskiller

this is stupid iam in the infantry and deployed to afghanistan twice and you know what to me war is fun and nothings better than killing another person thats tried to kill me so with all u retards claiming sacrifice this and respect that you dont know shit about how we feel or what we do only what youve seen in movies that give us a stigma of everyy returning soldier being fucked up in the head oh and by the way most of these service members u adore dont do shit when they deploy just sit on a fob and get fat while iam out gettin shot at so screw all of you.

 

mpmrad321
mpmrad321

that comment was directed to Tom Mc Shea.  he should know that about fps games by now.

mpmrad321
mpmrad321

thats why they make hardcore modes. HURPA DURP. yea theres a slight chance u get shot in the finger and can still regen health. but for the most part hardcore takes care of that issue. and im positive warfighter will have hardcore modes.

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

well this is nothing new, but at least its being acknowledged now.  im just happy to see the subjects being discussed more openly after all these years.

Leems
Leems

So, Tom, I guess you want a game where a customer creates an onscreen character and then, if he "dies" in the first five minutes of battle (which I'm sure happens all the time in real life) then you can't play the game ever again because, well, you're dead. Or, maybe you only get "wounded" and your games locks up for 12-14 months while you heal. Is THAT what you're looking for? If so, count me out. But, be my guest in trying to develop, market, sell and PROFIT from such a game. These people are in the business of selling enertainment and making money. I would suggest if you built the game you want then you'd be the only one playing it. Personally, I still get a great sense of what our soldiers go through from playing these games despite the regenerating health and re-spawns. And, from what I can tell, many of our armed services men and women enjoy these games as well. Why not let them speak for themselves? I don't hear any complaints from real Tier 1 Operatives calling the game "sickening" and "shamefull". After all, they were integral in the game's development. And, I'm guessing you've never strapped on anything deadlier than a backpack full of books. I don't think they need the likes of you "defending" them.

And, by the way, I've played Red Orchestra and Arma and Operation Flashpoint. All terrific games. I find them all FUN!!! If they weren't, I wouldn't play them. I have to ask, if they're not "fun" why the hell are YOU playing them?! All games, no matter how frustrating they can be at times, are designed for the sole purpose of providing FUN and ENTERTAINMENT.

Hell, I was choked up at the end of Saving Private Ryan, but the movie was still "fun" and it gave me a great respect for what my father's generation endured.

Conte_Vincero
Conte_Vincero

This is the reason why I still play Delta Force 2, You die after one or two shots, the maps are infinite and so you can take your own approach to the missions, and if you die in a single player mission you must start the mission all over again. Also the not so good graphics (It's a fairly old game) mean that camoflage works quite well in multiplayer games

thereal-15-cent
thereal-15-cent

Making a realistic war game is impossible. They can never simulate the stress, fear, and pain of an actual war. The Military FPS needs to die now, and they need to start innovating.

Gamerfan182
Gamerfan182

You do know that you haven't PLAYED ANYThING YET!!! LMAO....how can you even write a whole article based on what you "saw" at other people's screens at E3???

 

That is not journalism when you aren't even getting hands on knowledge of a product you plan to write a HUGE article about....esp one where you rail against it's "realism"....these are real men...

What? you think they don't know death "isn't fun"??? You think they look at the game as "who can kill more hadjis?" You are overtly abrasive and not too keen on how you just got RUINED in a game of semantics....you know, the one you lost to a guy who just tried to be friendly after being mad at you???

 

Good work, champ

 

lol 

Narok
Narok

Isn't the most galling part of the War Game genre the fact that it exists at all? War ISN'T a game. War is, in fact, very boring, tiring, and stressful. It is long stretches of time wasted in the heat of the desert, carrying 70lbs of heavy equipment on your back from one checkpoint to another. The monotony is occasionally punctuated by someone stepping on an IED, or getting shot by a sniper. Perhaps you'll get to fire your gun, but almost every shot will be suppressing fire. Most of your work in the "kill dudes" department will be done by artillery, drones, or snipers. Your enemies are poorly defined and easily disguised. Most of the time you won't know where shots are coming from, and you'll hardly be able to see who you're shooting. You very well may kill more civilians than combatants, and as long as you can claim that you had somewhat reasonable cause, no one will care.

 

Any videogame that consistently features heroic, intense, close-range infantry action, cannot call itself "realistic". War is not fun, exciting, or fulfilling. It is a place only a sociopath could enjoy.

pupp3t_mast3r
pupp3t_mast3r

It's one thing to market a game like CoD or MoH as fast paced FPS shooters but if the new MoH game's trying to stand out by advertising that the game's going to be more realistic it actually puts me off wanting to play it. Don't get me wrong, that's not to say I wouldn't love to play a proper War Sim game, but when you pick up a copy of Medal of Honor the last thing you'd expect or think they'd implement into the game is realism.

 

It just sounds like a sloppy marketing spin to make the game stand apart from what really has started to become identical gameplay to CoD games. If you're planning on making a game realistic try and implement ideas that make a player actually worry about when to turn a corner or peek out of cover to make a few shots. To actually feel nervous enough to count down the bullets being fired from an enemy magazine in order to figure out when they'd have to reload and to make your move. The last game that actually managed to convey that sense of realism across of Brothers in Arms, and it was actually incredibly enjoyable because it conveyed that sense of reality.

 

Realism doesn't always have to be a bad thing in a game and in a lot instances when implemented effectively into a game can actually improve the overall experience. I see where Tom's coming from but I think the most damage this marketing spiel is doing would be to itself. People are going to go into the game expecting a brand new menu to order from but find out all they got are the same meals just labelled differently.

robfield
robfield

Tom, you've been on this diatribe for too long.

 

While the marketing is exaggerated when they use the term "realistic" the point of a videogame is to mask the punishment of retrying and damage while still presenting a narrative.

 

Regenerating health doesn't have to mean that the player is ACTUALLY getting hit by bullets. It could just mean that the player is getting shot at a lot, but the bullets aren't making contact. That is the way that I interpret regenerating health (except in Halo where the armor is actually doing something).

 

Its the same case with lives and checkpoints in other videogames. While the player can fall into a pit of spikes and die, the CHARACTER doesn't actually have that happen. When the character is sent back to a checkpoint it's as if everything that happened between reaching the checkpoint and being sent back to the checkpoint did not happen.

 

By the way, when a non-playable character comes back its because they didn't actually die. That's just a game mechanic to punish the player because it's still supposed to be a game, not a movie.

darkredliner
darkredliner

Basing a game on real life combat would have a 1000 hour campaign where you never really see the enemy, you just shoot in the direction you think they are shooting from for hours on end with single-shot weapons while hoping that one of their pop shots doesn't hit one of your guys. If you want to play a game like that, your best bet would be to just enlist. These are video games, and no matter how realistic developers try to make it, they will always have to sacrifice realism for engaging gameplay to keep the player interested.

mercenary66
mercenary66

Im going to make a game where once you die you never respawn again and all that shows is "gameover". then the disc disintegrates.

joju_australia
joju_australia

oh my god what a stupid write up! my boy you are missing the whole point of GAMERS: there are one type of gamers that want ALL HARDCORE, one shot one kill. Otherslike ME just want to be entertained with a decent story within the game. To have a system of damage that kills me everytime i make the wrong move, well it would lead to THIS OTHER half players out of a game all together! To be expecting so much from these games : realism is pure preposterous . You want MORE, go and join the Armed Forces FOR REAL and get some real bullets fly passed ya, in the meantime, lets enjoy a good story in the form of a DIGITAL GAME of xbox, ps3, nintendo, etc etc.

p4kman88
p4kman88

socom 1,2, and confrontation didnt have regenerating health...even in their nonranked matches....and how fun was that?!....and then came regenerating health in socom 4.....and how fun was that garbage?....i agree, that tom took it too far with the "REALISM" aspect...but nonregenerating health makes the GAME much more fun and forces the PLAYERS of the GAME to communicate (THAT'S NOT TRASH TALKING) and use teamwork. Honestly as cheesy as it sounds it feels 100x better to win one match in socom than to win 10 matches in a row in a call of duty game. There's just something about being stuck on a team of random people and working together to find a solution and win. man, i miss the old socom series.....

p4kman88
p4kman88

DAMN....you pissed off a lot of people...and to you i say. Bravo.

cephas90
cephas90

"By focusing on instant satisfaction and extreme accessibility, they turn real battles into a virtual fantasyland where no harm is lasting and no danger exists."

 

This is why I play DAY Z. I have more fun, thrills, and memorable experiences in a free mod for a 3 year old game than anything I would experience in a modern day shooter.

dmon2793
dmon2793

You know, I could understand complaining about this if it was hardcore. Every game has a "hardcore". There's regular and hardcore for that reason. No health regen in hardcore, hud,or any of that, com on now.

endorbr
endorbr

So Regenerating Health = Disrespectful to real life soldiers?  So then should we create one life FPS games?  Most players, even great FPS players wouldn't make it past the first level even on Easy if every bullet was instant death or put the player into a disabled status.  The realism in these kind of games is about immersion and authenticity of situation NOT realisitic reactions of the player character.  Some level of realism has to be lost otherwise it wouldn't be a game.  Most gamers should be smart enough to seperate reality from fiction and understand this.  It doesn't glorify war or disrespect soldiers to take realism to a point but leave some obvious concessions at the door.

Spinnerweb
Spinnerweb

What with From Samus to Lara and now this... what happened to GameSpot's good articles? So you want them to be real life? Sorry, that can't happen.

TKavney92
TKavney92

Basically what he is saying is that he wants a game that when you die you're done. Okay, so if you play the campaign and die, the games over. Well then you'd just start over from the 1st mission (which is technically respawning). Are you going to complain about that? Seriously, video games are not supposed to be real life, that's why they're GAMES. If you want something realistic then go get drafted or enlist in the army and go to war. Oh and did they hurt your feelings by supposedly not keeping their promise to making it realistic? Are you going to cry? Games are realistic to an extent buddy, if you can't accept that then maybe you shouldn't play them.

Devin-B
Devin-B

Unfortunately if military shooters were 100% realistic nobody would play them.  Getting shot once and waiting for a medic to cross the battlefield to patch you up or your gun jamming a certain percent of the time just isn't fun.  Realistic? Yes. Too frustrating to enjoy?  You bet.

Wockit
Wockit

This article is god awful.  It makes a pass-time of complaining.  How does Tom McShea even have a job?  The premise of the game is about authenticity and immersion.  To nullify the premise of the game on the basis of regenerating health?  To each his own, but this article is terrible and shallow.

PutU2REM
PutU2REM

I think everyone's missing the point. Tom's complaint isn't that regenerating-health, tactical shooters aren't fun or challenging, but that touting them as "realistic" is an insult to real-life soldiers, minimizing their sacrifices and bravery by portraying war as fun and forgiving.

 

On this, I partially disagree. While it may be false advertising, I don't think I'd necessarily call it disrespectful. I'm a huge fan of realistic tactical shooters like the ArmA series, but while they may be mechanically accurate, they are emotionally detached. CoD- and MoH-style games may be less realistic, but they make far more of an effort to get you emotionally invested in the action. Playing the first Rainbow Six made me appreciate soldiers' skill, but playing my first WWII-themed CoD made me appreciate their courage and dedication.

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

thank you for writing this article in these dark times for games.  They just keep simplifying them to sell to the lowest common denominators with every new game that comes out.  

BrainFart01
BrainFart01

WHAT THE HELL PEOPLE. Its a VIDEOGAME. Cant we all just boke a smowl, eat some doritos, and get along?!

ADDADAC
ADDADAC

Tom your interview made me lose any respect i could ever have for you, thank you for showing me that just because you call yourself a game jouranlist, it doesnt make you a journalist. You are a joke

theshonen8899
theshonen8899

 @Nexrad And yet that is exactly that Medal of Honor is saying, that this is an authentic depiction of war. You're proving his point right. EA doesn't give two sh*ts about veterans. They wanted a CoD clone, and now they have one. "Authenticity" is their gimmick to lure people away, making them say "call of duty is so unrealistic!" when they're playing the exact same game. This is how EA gets their money, by ripping off others and pretending to be original.

Dragon5-1
Dragon5-1

 @viciouskiller You are very possibly the most offensive and obviously fake troll I have ever met. Newsflash kiddies: To be admitted into the army, YOU STILL NEED TO HAVE AN EDUCATION, and can therefore TYPE PROPERLY and CAPITALIZE. 

Karn1254
Karn1254

 @endorbr I think its simply more the fact that the game is advertised as "paying respect" to veterans. To stick such a label on most modern fps is a sheer act of hypocrisy as no first person shooter actually has a mature and interesting consideration of death. It's not that there can't be games where you always respawn and death doesn't mean anything, it would just be nice to have some developers begin to RETHINK death in games. What if you had a game where you played a soldier and there was a good, well-written story, where you got to know that character and your "band of brothers" so to speak. Then you die. But your character doesn't respawn, perhaps you would then control another character, the point being that the implications of death and what it actually means to be a soldier would be thought about in a more engaging and interesting way. 

TKavney92
TKavney92

 @PutU2REM

 Did you even play the recent MOH? I think they respect soldiers there bud.

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

 @PutU2REM yay someone else who "gets it" Tom isn't saying its a bad game, just bad advertising basically. This game is just like CoD pretty much but they claim its authentic. But the game is what it is, its a FPS game made to be fun, there is nothing authentic about dying and respawning a few seconds later, or taking multiple shots ducking behind a wall and then healing as if nothing had happened.

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

 @BrainFart01 that has been the excuse thats ruined the industry for over a decade.  Ive seen game play standards fall and fall and fall with that on peoples lips...

 

Ill still blaze wit u tho :P

CapZac
CapZac

 @tomislavgrujic

 excellent! this sums up the whole interview in a nutshell. i'm glad did the interview and not me, it would have ended badly....

viciouskiller
viciouskiller

then sign up see how fake iam being or do you not have the balls. good catch on the mistakes i made typing look iam still doing it cause i dont care about impressing you.

endorbr
endorbr

 @stan_boyd I would agree with you on the advertising thing but McShea has beat this dead horse too many times before.  His point is that military shooters glorify war by making the sacrifice of soldiers seem meaningless.  So he doesn't like these kind of games for whatever reason, fine.  But that doesn't mean that he should write ridiculous articles trying to say that soldiers are being disrespected because the realism in a video game only goes so far. 

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

 @CapZac no Tom is saying that they call the game an Authentic game, when its not, its just CoD with the advertisers claiming its authentic. The devs should just call it what it is, a modern warfare FPS game. Not an Authentic Modern Warfare FPS game. Authentic means real http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/authentic?s=t and there is nothing real about ducking behind a wall after you been shot 10 times and suddenly being healthy. He never said the game is bad, just that its not authentic.

TKavney92
TKavney92

 @SpearM64

 Way to assume that's what I was referring to? I was saying that Tom is bashing it, they agree with him so Um, wait.. I think they are too. At least in my mind they are.

SpearM64
SpearM64

 @TKavney92

 Um, wait.  Saying a game "is what it is, it's an FPS game made to be fun", is bashing it now?  Maybe you should actually learn what "bashing a game" is before you post.

LatinproX
LatinproX

 @Gelugon_baat it`s called a joke dude. And yes, you got owned. He made you fall for it.  You know, trolling.  Don`t  go for the bait so easily.