Why do we almost unanimously hate recent Shooters' Stories?

This topic is locked from further discussion.

#1 Edited by whynotdairy (467 posts) -

It has typically been a common criticism of First Person Shooters in the last few years that the campaigns seem cheesy and unimaginative.

I find this interesting because this criticism was not so common during the days when AAA FPSs were mostly set in WW2, and re hashing a well documented historical event is not the pinnacle of creativity.

Medal of Honor thrived when it was set in WW2 and CoD campaigns also thrived and got good reviews.

Since the transition to modern day scenarios, Medal of Honor, Battlefield, and CoD have all received particularly stinging reviews concerning the campaign portions of their games despite them coming up with stories that haven't actually occurred, nor are not set directly in modern day conflicts. There was no call of duty where you invade Fallujah or Baghdad in the context of simulating the Iraq or Afghan wars.

What is also interesting is these games have moved away from having you be a grunt among grunts, to being SEALS, SAS, JTF2, etc. Even Battlefield Bad Company has you part of a "rag tag" super squad...

In summation, since dropping WW2 as a setting, AAA campaigns have received much more criticism despite the fact that they are much more original than re-telling different aspects of WW2.

Why do you think we are less forgiving of modern campaigns, is it because there is no emotional connection like we are taught to have to WW2? Has the move away from having the player be a grunt among grunts taken away from the experience? Or does it lend credibility to the player's character having abnormal abilities?

*Disclaimer* Despite the fact that Call of Duty and MoH referred to the Afghan and Iraq conflicts, there were no campaigns involving real battles like Op Medusa, etc.

Disclaimer 2* Also, The CoD series while some parts take part in middle east, it uses the context of a war between Russia and USA, then South America and USA.

*Disclaimer 3 - MoH abandoned having the player be a common grunt and moved to SOF units operating, therefore avoiding the real war part as well

ALSO*** If you think that shooters are pretty unimaginative and bad stories, I challenge you to post a basic basic plot that is better than lets say, BF4, which on a story level at least was pretty interesting.

#2 Posted by Shmiity (5100 posts) -

They are just not human enough. Watch this hyper-american white guy shoot a bunch of bad guys while recovering from bullet damage. It's detaching, and lame.

#3 Posted by whynotdairy (467 posts) -

@Shmiity: But WW2 games are way more "hyper-american", and its a FPS. who cares what colour they are

#4 Posted by Mesomorphin (821 posts) -

Because most of them are BOORING! Except for Bioshock and Halo, they have excellent stories! Seriously though for anyone who hasnt played Homefront, guys please dont judge this game soley as a cod clone (which it is) but actually pay attention to the game's story, its actually quite good.

#5 Posted by DarthGumballs (194 posts) -

What's it matter, the games are multiplayer games.

#6 Edited by IndianaPwns39 (5037 posts) -

Well, they're usually awful, that's a good reason.

Though another reason is because of a disgusting lack of originality these days. Shooters are a dime a dozen and their stories are almost always the same: following a rag tag group of soldiers trying to save the world from a terrorist threat.

Even games with different settings follow this formula. Crysis might have you fighting aliens eventually, but the first half of that game you were part of a squad trying to stop North Korea from doing something or other.

It also doesn't help that they're wildly over dramatic with no semblance of real human emotion or connection to the characters. It might sound harrowing to have to slice off your comrades leg after a mission went south, but it's hard to care when this happens 5 minutes in the game and you have no idea who these characters are or what they're doing. Plus, those 5 minutes have you slaughtering dozens and dozens of elite soldiers while taking on an attack chopper, further detaching you from any sort of emotional connection.

#7 Posted by pboontap (20 posts) -

most likely because they are the same stories and missions we have been playing since ps2 and xbox. now it is the next "next" generation of consoles and guess what........ its the same thing. every other genre has evolved a helluva alot more in the past 15 or so years

#8 Posted by The_Last_Ride (71196 posts) -

@whynotdairy: Because games have the means to tell good stories, not all of them did back in the day. Most of the shooters were either singlplayer or multiplayer. They didn't shoehorn them in like today

#9 Posted by ReddestSkies (4087 posts) -

Because they're telling the exact same stories they were telling when they were all WW2. Except that now, Nazis are replaced with various kinds of brown people.

There's more to a story than a setting. These games have terrible dialogue, uninteresting plots and bad characters.

#10 Edited by platinumking320 (666 posts) -

Outside of the first Modern Warfare, the rest felt like Activision cashing on post-cold war paranoia of the Middle East, East Europe, and Far East. Iraq and Afghanistan war is our era. So you'd think a dev would handle the topic with a little more self-awareness and greater scope. 'ala Black Hawk Down' instead of celebrating, destroy these brown people and sure Black Ops attempted to be a little more self-aware, but If Konami went ahead with Six Days in Fallujah it might've handled the topic even better I think.

Whereas Nazi's have been commercial enemies in American media for so many decades, they're as cliched as zombies. but even Germany was majorly upset about the first release of 'Wolfenstein 3D'

Also because a lot of shooters with stories (excluding Halo) take some of their design influences from Half-life but apply them in poor ham-fisted ways. They don't vary up the action as much with other tasks and emergencies, they limit character movement in scripted events where Half-life never did, and can't at least be as cryptic, layered or self-aware with characters and events.

#11 Posted by SovietsUnited (2277 posts) -

They all feel very uninspired and formulaic. After all, they're stories conjured for yearly releases.

But military shooters CAN indeed have superb plots, just look at Spec Ops: The Line; it's the single best video game story of this generation.
IMO, atleast

#12 Posted by The_Last_Ride (71196 posts) -

Because they're telling the exact same stories they were telling when they were all WW2. Except that now, Nazis are replaced with various kinds of brown people.

There's more to a story than a setting. These games have terrible dialogue, uninteresting plots and bad characters.

Exactly, they haven't done anything. The only games i can think of that have done good stories are Bioshock and Far Cry 3. And those were singleplayer experiences. Far Cry had a decent multiplayer, but that's not what the focus was on the game. Because compared to COD or Battlefield, those are much tighter experiences

#13 Posted by Maddie_Larkin (6473 posts) -

the unoriginal stories and settings does harm, and I agree with the overly "USA best in World, rest are cannonfodder or poorly trained". I can not name alot of games of modern shooters (well placed in a modern setting anyways, there are exceptions). where you do not play a White male with a 90 or so % chance of being American. Someone stated that it was not different with the ww2 craze, but I beg to differ, atleast we playied russian, British and American on regular basis (despite D-Day has been so overly used that it was sickening).

Now that you play an American soldier in most fps games, is not really a downside in itself, it is the story that tends to follow. I can name games that broke the mold, but aperrently some terrorist is threatening the World and you are sent in to kill him and his 1000 friends, and you find out that the real brains behind it is either an American or British, because you know, outside of the western World no one seems to have a brain to make the simplest of plans.

Basicly we know the story the second we see the first level. there may be small parts that are different, but almost always the same. If you want to make an fps with an interresting story don't make it a twisted mirror of the real World, or if you do atleast make it a twist, let us be the beforementioned terrorist fighting the big opressive West for once, just to have a spin on the tale, explore viewpoints that are not so Black and White (pun intended), and seen from more points of view. They could make a shooter where you play a role of 3 or so different people in the same conflict from different sides. Oh and the hamfisted nature of said games are barf inducing.

Games set in a Less "familier" envioment tends to fare better. Shadow Warrior is a tongue in cheek bad hong kong movie pretty much, it does not have a good story, but it is far better then the modern wars take. games the HALO games have lived long on the sci fi setting, where one can be more liberal with the story and less about forcing a good image on the person you play as. If you want a fairly good somewhat recent fps game, look up singularity. Quite good. Even the Metro games seem to fare better, despite the stories are "meh" at best, the way it is presented makes up for that.

#14 Posted by wiouds (5115 posts) -

There is not much you can do in these stories. You need a soldier and you need a large number of enemies to fight.

#15 Posted by firefox59 (4378 posts) -

@ReddestSkies said:

Because they're telling the exact same stories they were telling when they were all WW2. Except that now, Nazis are replaced with various kinds of brown people.

There's more to a story than a setting. These games have terrible dialogue, uninteresting plots and bad characters.

Exactly, they haven't done anything. The only games i can think of that have done good stories are Bioshock and Far Cry 3. And those were singleplayer experiences. Far Cry had a decent multiplayer, but that's not what the focus was on the game. Because compared to COD or Battlefield, those are much tighter experiences

The Crysis story as a whole isn't that bad. The writing in 3 was pretty awful but it's definitely better than most of the other run-of-the-mill FPS stories out there. I'll also throw Singularity in there as a game with an entertaining plot and a good twist. It's difficult to write a good FPS though, most of the time the dialogue is predictable and shoehorned into this typical military jargin. I think gamers are just sick of it.

#16 Posted by whynotdairy (467 posts) -

Well, they're usually awful, that's a good reason.

Though another reason is because of a disgusting lack of originality these days. Shooters are a dime a dozen and their stories are almost always the same: following a rag tag group of soldiers trying to save the world from a terrorist threat.

Even games with different settings follow this formula. Crysis might have you fighting aliens eventually, but the first half of that game you were part of a squad trying to stop North Korea from doing something or other.

It also doesn't help that they're wildly over dramatic with no semblance of real human emotion or connection to the characters. It might sound harrowing to have to slice off your comrades leg after a mission went south, but it's hard to care when this happens 5 minutes in the game and you have no idea who these characters are or what they're doing. Plus, those 5 minutes have you slaughtering dozens and dozens of elite soldiers while taking on an attack chopper, further detaching you from any sort of emotional connection.

But, as stated in the opening post, WW2 games were not original whatsoever. All of the newer games set in contemporary times use imagined conflicts, or extensions of conflicts. They are by definition more imaginative and original.

#17 Posted by IndianaPwns39 (5037 posts) -

@IndianaPwns39 said:

Well, they're usually awful, that's a good reason.

Though another reason is because of a disgusting lack of originality these days. Shooters are a dime a dozen and their stories are almost always the same: following a rag tag group of soldiers trying to save the world from a terrorist threat.

Even games with different settings follow this formula. Crysis might have you fighting aliens eventually, but the first half of that game you were part of a squad trying to stop North Korea from doing something or other.

It also doesn't help that they're wildly over dramatic with no semblance of real human emotion or connection to the characters. It might sound harrowing to have to slice off your comrades leg after a mission went south, but it's hard to care when this happens 5 minutes in the game and you have no idea who these characters are or what they're doing. Plus, those 5 minutes have you slaughtering dozens and dozens of elite soldiers while taking on an attack chopper, further detaching you from any sort of emotional connection.

But, as stated in the opening post, WW2 games were not original whatsoever. All of the newer games set in contemporary times use imagined conflicts, or extensions of conflicts. They are by definition more imaginative and original.

But, as stated nowhere in my post, I wasn't defending WW2 games. Even then, that's a poor defense. One genre's overall shittiness doesn't magically become good simply because another genre isn't attacked for the exact same reasons.

Furthermore, I wouldn't necessarily say any modern military shooter is more imaginative than various WW2 titles. Despite taking part in various battles that actually happened, virtually every WW2 game had a fictitious story following made up characters against the back drop of shooting Nazis in the face. The setting wasn't original, but neither are 95% of military shooters. Are we truly defending "generic middle eastern terrorist movement" with an end game of "the Russians are invading" story now?

And, let's not forget, no military shooter has anything on Wolfenstein. That would be cool. You raid a middle eastern strong hold only to find a portal to hell and have to battle off demons.

Seriously. Let's shoot demons again. Humans are boring. They shouldn't be, but the last game that tried to have competent AI was FEAR.

#18 Posted by turtlethetaffer (16711 posts) -

Have you SEEN some of the stories FPS's have been putting out recently??

#19 Posted by The_Last_Ride (71196 posts) -

@The_Last_Ride said:

@ReddestSkies said:

Because they're telling the exact same stories they were telling when they were all WW2. Except that now, Nazis are replaced with various kinds of brown people.

There's more to a story than a setting. These games have terrible dialogue, uninteresting plots and bad characters.

Exactly, they haven't done anything. The only games i can think of that have done good stories are Bioshock and Far Cry 3. And those were singleplayer experiences. Far Cry had a decent multiplayer, but that's not what the focus was on the game. Because compared to COD or Battlefield, those are much tighter experiences

The Crysis story as a whole isn't that bad. The writing in 3 was pretty awful but it's definitely better than most of the other run-of-the-mill FPS stories out there. I'll also throw Singularity in there as a game with an entertaining plot and a good twist. It's difficult to write a good FPS though, most of the time the dialogue is predictable and shoehorned into this typical military jargin. I think gamers are just sick of it.

i was just mentioning some, but yeah. They might not have been the best written games, but at least they aren't linear as crap generic shooters like COD

#20 Posted by jun_aka_pekto (15975 posts) -

I'm still burned out from WW2 and modern warfare shooters. Good thing there are FPS shooters like STALKER, Far Cry, Bioshock, Metro, and even Hard Reset (PC). I haven't missed going back to WW2 and modern day shooters.

#22 Edited by Randolph (10500 posts) -

Bulletstorm had the best story in any FPS. True story.

#23 Edited by platinumking320 (666 posts) -

@whynotdairy: here's kinda where modern military shooters lose their opportunity.

Halo, Metal Gear, Half-life, Spec Ops try to invest you in the environment or characters in certain ways, that it can give pause when their lives are at stake. So the player knows what has been lost.

ex: in half-life. while its easy to dismiss the scientists as dumb for getting killed in the most ridiculous ways, there exists at least a capacity to feel sorry for them, as they display how much they're just poor ill-prepared office dudes who really didn't see the black mesa disaster coming.

Battlefield 3, MW2-MW3-Ghosts etc use loaded imagery mirroring real world conflict but mainly on surface level, and without much emotional connection to the soldiers or terrorists or citizens suffering, so it comes across as tone deaf.

#24 Posted by barrybarryk (436 posts) -

I don't mind bad stories in shooters. I mind the bad story getting in the way of the gameplay like CoD and Battlefield etc.

Shooters don't need great stories to be fun, but if you're going to stop the player every 30 seconds and force feed them dialogue, exposition and set pieces, they better be good. Most of my favourite shooters either have no story or at least have the decency to have it stay out of the way during gameplay. Blood, Quake, Doom, Duke 3D etc all had pretty non-existent stories, even the famed Half Life series has virtually no story beyond the basics. Some have been a bit more ambitious in fleshing out their world and pulled it off while still being great shooters, F.E.A.R, NOLF and Sin spring to mind. (And Yes, I deliberately picked games that come from a time before every major western shooter developer decided the only story worth telling in a game with guns is "'MURICA HO!")

A bad story isn't a problem, it's not even just shooters, most games have awful, clichéd stories everyone has heard a hundred times before, but when you use a bad story as a crutch for a game that just isn't fun, the superfluous bad story you've forced on the player to proceed will be the first thing that draws criticism.

#25 Posted by Treflis (11519 posts) -

Well since you've essentially focused on Military shooters then I'll give you my answer on them.

However First Person Shooters are far more then COD and Battlefield series and I know many of which people do not dislike the stories off.

But Military shooters.

You have those that are about WW2 or Vietnam War which I don't dislike since we know what happened and the exploits of each nation, Do I wish for a WW2 game with a singleplayer campaign where you are a soldier from all the nations that were in the Allies and Axis and following how they progress in the story. Sure, and I can see some very powerful stories being made in a game that would show both sides of the same coin.

Then you have Modern Military Shooters, I'll admit I liked them to begin with but after sitting down and look on them as a whole I noticed something about the single player stories. They all revolve around the same thing. American patriotism. Which I'll say that I can understand since the US is in a conflict when they're made however I view them more as Propaganda games at this point. They're likely not designed that way by intention but in every game you are an American primarily fighting Middle eastern or Russians and you always win cause the US is superior. I also suspect people are bored with the whole concept as there's no innovation, no psychological story themes or difference in themes then " Fight the enemy so you can win"